Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Teaching Time for Toddlers Tuesdays--Swimming

Swimming is an important skill that most (if not all) kids should be taught.  Even if you aren't the pool or beach type you never know when a kid will encounter water.  Rivers, lakes, creeks, fish ponds, neighbor's pools, wading pools, fountains, even tubs are everywhere and can be potential hazards.

As a teenager I spent a lot of time at the pool--swimming competitively, teaching swim lessons, coaching, and guarding.  Post graduation I've had a much more limited access to the water, but I still love it and hope that my child(ren) will too!

Here are a couple of tips:

  • Bring your little ones to the pool early in their life! Many parent and child classes start as early as six months.  While your child obviously isn't going to learn to swim at these classes they can be a great way to introduce him to the water.  Most pools have swim lessons available, take advantage of them!  (Studies are mixed, but some indicate that children aged one through four have an 88% reduction in the risk of drowning with formal lessons.)
  • If they accidentally go under water do not freak out, they will pick up on this and think that it is something to fear.  
  • Teach them early to blow bubbles in the water--"blow out the candle".  
  • At first most kids hate getting their ears wet, help them get comfortable doing this--"listen to the fish".
  • Once they are a little comfortable in the water teach them to float on their backs.  Tell them to float when they get too tired to swim or when they can't touch the bottom.  When I was guarding I remember one little girl who got pushed into deep water.  She could not swim, but before the closest guard got to her she was floating easily on her back with a giant smile on her face.  
  • Do not rely on water wings--I can't tell you how often they slip off of kids arms.  As a lifeguard I hated those things!  Parents always seemed to have such confidence in them and would allow their non-swimming children in over their head and sure enough one wing would come off and the poor kid would be drowning.  This goes for all other flotation devices as well.  If you are looking for straight up safety find a Coast Guard approved life jacket
  • Do not depend on the lifeguards to watch your child.  Every pool is different--the main pool where I guarded we aimed for a 30-1 patron to guard ratio but many other places can be as high (or higher) as 75-1.  Have you ever tried to keep an eye on 75 people at once?  Do everyone a favor--watch your kid(s).
  • Be vigilant, a young child can drown in as little as an inch of water and in less than two minutes.  
What are you doing with your toddlers this week?  What did you do last week?  I'd love to see!  

Monday, May 28, 2012

Craft Stuff Storage Problems

We live in a one-bedroom apartment.  We have extremely limited space in general and a tiny amount of storage.  We also have a lot of stuff.  And, as you can tell, I have various hobbies that require materials.  (My hubby also has his fair share of hobbies, it's not just me!)

I have been working on a plan to re-organize my closet and my crafting materials.  (This includes: fabric, sewing machine, yarn, scrapbooking stuff, more yarn, Christmas decorations, clothes Catherine has outgrown, sports equipment, shoes, and more.)  Right now my closet literally depresses me.  (And, yes, I am using "literally" correctly.)  As you might imagine this is not something that I can do in an afternoon with my wonderful toddler's help!  My current line of thinking is to make the closet purely storage in back and actually hang my clothes in the front (my hubby hung a new rod for me!) and have all crafting supplies organized on shelves in the hallway.

I really want it to be perfect and have been looking through various magazines, online photos, Pinterest, and other people's blogs to see how they make a functional and organized closet and (separate) craft storage area.  I came across this awesome craft closet by Lina at Fancy Frugal Life--I wish I had a closet where something like this would work!  I really love what she's done with it.

Since I don't have an extra closet--or one that would be the right size anyways--here is a cabinet that looks like a nice piece of furniture, but it holds tons of stuff!  Just look at all of the cubbies and storage spaces.  There is even a small table that folds down.  How convenient is that?  Sadly, this is not cheap.  It's roughly $1500--although it does include lots of the bins.  I would love to have this, but it just isn't in the budget. (Actually, it's not even close to being in the budget!)

I have already purchased some nice canvass bins.  (Similar to these.)  I have been waiting to see one of the shelves that holds these nicely go on sale--or on Craigslist, or Freecyle, or even *gasp* out on trash day.  (Used items are a great way to save money, but I highly recommend thoroughly disinfecting them.  I usually do it twice.)  UPDATE: I did purchase a cheap shelf to help tame my yarn stash.  I still will be on the lookout for a bigger and better quality shelf though!

I have a bit of fabric as well.  Currently it is all together in a giant black garbage bag.  Fancy, huh?  It's altogether a terrible setup.  (As I was reminded recently when I made some practice shorts and a lined skirt out of material from my stash.)  I gotta say, I like the way that Teresa has organized her massive stash.  I love the fact that she can find what she needs quickly.  It also is being protected from bugs and dust and whatever else.

I am sure that there are tons of people out there in my situation: small space and lots of crafting (and other) stuff.  What do you do?

Check out some of the awesome places where I link up!

Friday, May 25, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday--Some Favorite Websites

I didn't/don't have too much time for blogging this week, so I decided to share a 
couple of websites that I like to frequent regularly--if not daily!
  1. I always have Gmail, Facebook, and Blogger tabs open in my browser! I also just signed up for Twitter; but so far I am not in love with it.
  2. One of my favorite online recipe treasure troves is allrecipes.com.  It is so much fun to type in ingredients and see what comes up!
  3. I do have reservations about Pinterest (which I plan to expound upon someday) however, I do enjoy the site.
  4. Even though we have no idea where we will end up moving once the Hubby is finished with his PhD I love searching Realtor.com
  5. It is easy to get lost browsing through Etsy--there are just so many fantastic items!
  6. Besides searching through Blog Land to find new crochet projects I love to look at Ravelry.com.  
  7. A new site that I am finding helpful is myfitnesspal.com.  It is a great site for tracking calories and exercise.  

Saturday, May 19, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday

I cannot wait until Catherine really talks.  She uses quite a few words now, and she jabbers constantly.  She understands so much!  She does not really string words together yet--except for "peanut butter" and "I love you".  Hopefully soon.

While browsing though Pinterest, I came across this awesome How to Frame a Large Photo post.  I really love the idea and want to give it a shot.  I keep going back and forth on whether or not it would "work" in our small, and quite full, apartment--or if this is a project to save for later.
My hubby and I just watched the most recent Psych episode--we watch them on Hulu, so it was a bit delayed.  I just have to say it.  OH. MY. GOODNESS.  What a way to end the season and bring viewers back next season.  

It's almost pool season!

This picture is from May 2011--one year ago.  It was Catherine's first time in a pool.

While playing at the park the other day, I was shocked, impressed, and a little scared that Catherine was able to climb over five feet up on the rock wall WITHOUT ASSISTANCE.
It was very similar to this wall.  However, this is not it, nor is that Catherine.
She sure is a climber!

I think that my next big crochet project will be a dark purple and grey chevron afghan.  I haven't tried chevrons, or ripples, or waves, or anything like that yet and I think it is time.

Check out more Quick Takes!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Teaching Time for Toddlers--Play-doh

Play-doh is a fantastic "toy".  It helps with fine motor skills, creativity, provides a new sensory experience, helps to develop small muscles in the hands that later help with writing, and can help with colors.  I must admit, I hadn't really thought about letting Catherine play with my Play-doh (yes, MINE) until recently when I began surfing the net for toddler activities.  I had thought that it was an older kid's activity, but I guess not!
Catherine was a little hesitant to even touch the Play-doh at first.  I showed her how to squish it and pinch it.  Eventually she became a little more curious and enjoyed putting it in and taking it out of the classic yellow container.  This is certainly an activity that we will be coming back to again.

The lovely folks over at Familylicious have compiled a list of thirty homemade playdough recipes that you should check out!

What are you doing with your toddler(s) this week?  Or what did you do last week?  Or even last year?  I'd love to see it!  Link up any toddler related post and check out what everyone else is up to.  (It would also be really cool if you'd put my button on your blog somewhere--it's over on the left!)

A Brief History of Play-doh
Picture Source
Play-doh (official site) was originally created in Cincinnati (my birthplace!) as a wallpaper cleaner.  Its secret non-toxic formula and no mess composition made it a perfect grade school modeling clay.  In 1956 it was sold in Washington, DC, at Woodward & Lothrop Department Store's toy section.  At that time it only came in one and a half pound jars, that often had rusty bottoms, of off-white.  By 1964 new colors had been introduced and it was in international markets.  In 1986 the iconic plastic containers replaced the cardboard and metal cans.  To date, more than 700 million pounds of Play-doh have been made.

National Play-doh Day is September 18th.

For more information check here or here.

How to Make a Lined (or Reversible) Skirt

I recently purchased a new sewing pattern.  I really liked the shorts, and ultimately that's why I bought the pattern, but also was attracted to the skirts.  After making a couple of pairs of shorts I decided to once again raid my stash and make a skirt!

I wanted to add a lining to my skirt.  The cotton fabric prints, while super cute, are often rather see-through--especially in the sun!  Certainly not a very modest look.  I decided that I wanted to make the lining nice enough that it could even be considered the "right side" which would make it reversible!

The pattern that I used, view F of New Look #6354, is very simple with only four pieces: skirt front, skirt back, yoke front, and yoke back.

To add the lining simply cut another set of skirt front and skirt back.

Sew the bottom edges of skirt fronts together--with right sides facing.

Long tube of fabric before pressing seams.
Do the same thing with the skirt backs.

Press seams.  (I hate ironing.  Really hate it.  However, when sewing an iron is your best friend. Use it.  Even if you hate it like me.)

Matching hem seams sew the sides.  Start at the top of fabric one and sew all the way down the side and finish at the top of fabric two.  Repeat on the other side.  At this point you should have a long tube of fabric.

Skirt Hem -- Notice how nice and finished
both the "right" and the "wrong" sides are.
Press seams open.

Pull the bottom half of the tube over the top half with the seams neatly hidden inside.

Carefully press the hem.  Top-stitch--I kept the edge of the skirt along the very edge of the foot.

Press the entire skirt make sure that there aren't any strange bunches or wrinkles and that the two fabrics are lying together nicely.

Proceed per instructions for adding the yoke.  (I used 1.5 inch elastic and did not add a drawstring or ribbon.)

Not only am I very pleased with the resulting skirt it was a fairly frugal project--everything was either on sale, clearance, or I had a coupon.  This project cost less than five bucks.  Not bad!

First Note:
I did not make the yoke with one fabric on one side and the other on the reverse--but it would have been easy enough to do and this would make it completely reversable.  The next skirt I make I will do it this way.  I will cut the yoke in half width-wise and add a seam allowance.  Then I will continue pretty much the same way that I did when making the skirt part.
"Wrong" side of waistband.  I do think
that it is nice enough, and co-ordinates
enough that it could be worn "wrong"side out.
"Right" side of waistband.  
Second Note:
I am not an expert seamstress by any stretch of the imagination.  This is just what worked for me. There is probably a much more "proper" way to do this!

I enjoyed looking through PatternReview.com before actually purchasing this pattern.  You can check out the reviews to this pattern here.

Check out all of these awesome places to party!

Friday, May 11, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday

Don't these brownies look delicious?  They look mouthwateringly moist!  (I'm a big proponent of fudgey over cakey when it comes to brownies!)  They taste pretty darn good too.  Don't tell Catherine (because she's such a picky eater) but the main ingredient is black beans.  That's right, beans.  Honestly, I am impressed by how good they are.  I can't seem to find the recipe that I used, but it is very similar to this one by Tammy.  As far as I can tell (remember) the only difference is that we used half a cup of sugar.  I also didn't have enough chocolate chips on hand so I threw in some peanut butter chips and M&M's.  Tasty!

Speaking of my picky eater, can raisins and Cheerios be counted as two separate food groups?

Last week I hosted my first link party.  I am hosting my second right now.  I am going to try to make Teaching Time for Toddlers a regular thing on my blog.  (So, please, if you have any posts that are about toddlers come and share!)

My sewing skills are slowing returning.  I made a practice pair of shorts; which I am moderately happy with.  I made another pair of shorts that I think are better.  And finally, I made a skirt which I think is the best.

I am completely in love with the Gemini Baby Carrier.  A wonderful friend of mine saw it recently for a steal and thought of me.  Probably to get me to stop asking to borrow her Ergo!  Catherine, who has become quite the climber lately, took a tumble the other morning and wanted to be cuddled and held for the majority of the day and this carrier completely saved me.

I stumbled upon this Stroller Exercise Routine the other day.  I'd like to give it a shot.  People passing by might think that I am crazy, but oh well.


Here's an awesome photo that my husband took.  

Be sure to check out more Quick Takes.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Sewing a (Practice) Pair of Shorts

I mentioned before my need for a new pair of shorts.  This past weekend I scoured Goodwills all over the area to find a pair that fit nicely--with no strange bulges, gaps, creases, or pulling.  I also did not want short shorts.  Apparently, I am a strange size because I tried on at least a dozen pairs and none met my criteria.

New Look 6354
I've been perusing so many crafty blogs lately that I was inspired to use my incredibly rusty sewing skills.  After looking for patterns online for awhile I decided that I liked this one.  It is an easy pattern and supposedly only takes two hours!

This past weekend we went thrift store and fabric shopping.  It had been ages since I was able to peruse the aisles of a fabric store.  I had so much fun.  I eventually settled on on fabrics for two pairs of shorts (and maybe more!).  Somehow I did manage to misread signs, because on one of the pieces of fabric I ended up paying more than double what I thought I would.  Oh well, our normally frugal lifestyle allows for small hiccups and mistakes.  (The shorts will still be cheaper than the pair that fit me best at Target.)

Even though once upon a time I had some sewing skills and this pattern didn't look difficult I was a little hesitant to make that first cut (especially since I felt like I overpaid for my fabric!).  I decided to make a practice pair.  So I brought out some fabric from my stash.  The fabric pattern is one that I like--but is maybe a little odd for shorts; however, it had been in my stash since before I got married and I picked it up super cheap from a Wal-Mart clearance bin.

I am glad that I started with a practice pair.  They turned out pretty well--but there certainly are some flaws/things I need to work out.  I think that there is a little too much fabric in the front and that causes it to droop a little strangely.  I don't think that I am going to add elastic (at least to both pairs).  The drawstring with bow adds a nice touch.  I also think that I will make one pair of shorts a little longer and another pair a little shorter.  It was obvious that it had been awhile since my last big sewing project--I wasn't as steady and confident as I had been, my seams weren't perfectly straight, I had to rip out an entire seam, etc.

(By the way, it is absolutely impossible to get a decent picture of yourself in your new shorts with your toddler running around and no sunshine.  Just sayin'.)

Check out these awesome places where I like to link up!

Teaching Time for Toddlers--Montessori Based Activities

I have been introducing Catherine to various activities that (at the very least) stem from the Montessori method.  Most recently we've been practicing pouring and scooping both water and beans (not at the same time, of course!).

She very diligently used the ice cream scoop to get all of the water from the green bowl to the metal bowl.  I was prepared for quite a mess (there is a cookie tray underneath the towel) but she spilled very little--even the first few times!  As much as she enjoys the scooping, right now her absolute favorite activity is the toothpick and "salt shaker" work.  Instead of a salt shaker we just use the toothpick jar, which is very similar to these:

Source: Amazon
There is one small hole in the lid for her to slip the toothpick through.  I thought it was amazing how quickly she improved while doing this.  At first she was very shaky and it took a couple of tries to get the toothpick in the jar, but eventually she became quite adept.  (Another great version of this work can be found at My Child-Centered Life!)

(Disclaimer: I will be the first to say that I don't know a whole lot about the Montessori method.  
It is something that interests and intrigues me and certainly deserves a place in our home.  
These are just things that I've done.)

Last week we had twenty-one fantastic links!  I can't wait to see what everyone has this week(or this year).  I'd love if you'd add my button (to the left in the sidebar) but you don't have to.  Please feel free to link up as many posts as you would like--as long as it is somewhat relevant.

Friday, May 4, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday

I purchased a pool membership for this summer this week.  I am super-duper excited.  I love all things swimming.  Seriously.  There was a point in my life where I probably had as much chlorine as blood in my system.  (Not literally, obviously!)  I swam competitively, guarded, taught swim lessons for all ages, coached, etc. for years.  Then I moved away from home and I rarely had the time or money.  Now that I have the time, and we can  make the money work, I plan on becoming a pool rat.  I have big plans to go swim early morning laps (just like swim team days!) before the Hubby leaves to start his work day.  Then later go back for a couple of hours every day when they have toddler swim--just for toddlers, which will be perfect for Catherine!  I'd like to stay longer on some days, but we will have to see how much Catherine likes it.  Again, I am super-duper excited!

 I love these shoes.  They are from Lands' End and I would love a pair in every color.  They are WAY out of my budget.  Maybe they will go on sale after the summer is over!
Of course, the other problem is that I don't do very well walking in heels.  But I could practice!

I went shopping yesterday looking for a nice pair of shorts and every pair I tried on just fit wrong.  I am hoping, scratch that, planning on losing weight this summer, so I don't want to spend a lot of money on something that I only need for a couple of weeks since I do have a few pairs that I love that aren't too far away from fitting. I am seriously thinking of digging out my fabric and sewing machine this weekend. I haven't looked at my fabric stash since before Catherine--and she will be two in July--so I don't remember exactly what is in there.  I also don't have a shorts pattern, but it seems like a project where I could "wing it".  With help from the internet, of course.  (You can see shorts that I like on my Pinterest board.)

Here is a completely random photo of me from January 2011.  I am at the Mayan Lamanai Ruins near Belize, Mexico.  It was truly an amazing visit.

I've been reading Paper Roses, a cute Christian romance novel on my Kindle that I picked up for free on Amazon.  Of the completely random free books I've read so far this one is one of the better written ones.  It's not show stopping spectacular or anything, but quite a pleasant read.

Last night we made a BBQ Chicken pizza.  It was quasi from scratch, Peter had found a dough mix on sale a while back that only needed 5-10 minutes to rest and rise.  We had chicken, peppers, onions, BBQ sauce on hand and grabbed a bag of Italian blend cheese while we were out and about.  It was awesome!  Super tasty and delicious.  We did manage to make it fairly frugally--everything was either on sale and/or picked up with a coupon; however, without those things I think it would be cheaper to order from Domino's.  It certainly would save on washing dishes! Catherine refused to try it, opting for her current favorite a peanut butter sandwich.

Happy Star Wars Day!  You have to check out these cookies!

Check out other 7 Quick Takes, including my sister's very first blog post!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

One Trip Grocery Bag Holder


Oh. My. Goodness.

I want one (or two) of these!  I love the concept!

Unfortunately, I checked out the reviews on Amazon, and it looks like they might be a bit cheaply made--but I still love the idea!

One of the most difficult things to do with a  baby/toddler while living in an apartment is bringing in groceries from the car.  There is just too much to carry!  And taking multiple trips back and forth can seemingly take forever.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

Bead threading is a great activity for toddlers! (This is our set.)  Catherine can poke the string through the bead fairly easily but still struggles to pull it through.

(By the way, if you have a post about/with/regarding/etc your toddlers, feel free to link it up to my Teaching Time for Toddlers post!)