Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Hunting Eggs

There's really not a whole lot to say.  I'm pretty sure I've got the cutest kid ever.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

It's Spring!

...and we are dying eggs to celebrate.

I got up early this morning to boil 15 lovely, snow white eggs we've been collecting from our White Crested Black Polish hen, Millie.  Each and every one boiled perfectly, not a crack among them.

Now I'm busy readying our dyes.  As I work, I have a sweet sleepy on my back, recovering from his morning playtime with daddy and recharging for this afternoon's fun.  I'm using dye recipes from Better Homes and Gardens, but there are tons out there - simply do a quick search on Pinterest!  Here's a quick pic of the beets and cabbage boiling - whew the SMELL.  (Please take a moment to admire my stainless cookware, a birthday present last year.)

I put the dyes into plastic cups, thinking this would be the safest and least messy way to do it.  As you can see in the video below, Eamon found a way to make it messy!

It's quite interesting how the eggs turned out, especially the grape juice ones.  The best I can figure, the acid in the juice must have reacted with the egg shell, because they have this sparkly, cracked quality now that they've dried.

We are going to hide and hunt on Saturday, so hopefully we'll get some good pictures!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

St. Paddy's Day!

The greatest lesson I learned this St. Patrick's Day is: drunk people think a baby in a bar is adorable, not inappropriate.  Thankfully.

Here's a few shots of Eamon enjoying his second St. Paddy's.

I know this one is out of focus, but the sheer joy in both their faces...

Eamon was dying to get on stage with Daddy.  When he finally did, he wasn't sure what to do!

A little impromptu jam session at Elmwood Park in Roanoke.

Eamon in the bar.  He totally stole this balloon from the bartender.

A cute family photo at Elmwood Park.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Podaegi Tutorial

This tutorial is not for a beginning sewer.  The project itself is not difficult, but I do a very poor job of remembering to explain steps that seem second nature to me (like seam allowances, etc).

Stitching a baby carrier:  Precious cargo!  I use high quality thread (usually Gutterman) and a very short stitch length.  I use Xboxes where two pieces are sewn together at a stress point, and I always top stitch.  It not only makes a neat finished look, it also adds strength.  All hardware (rings, buckles, etc) should be individually tested and purchased from a reputable manufacturer.

Total Time to Completion: 2.5 hours

The basic pattern I followed is outlined here.  I chose to make my blanket 20 by 27 inches.  I like the longer "skirt" at the bottom.  I wanted a reversible carrier, and chose these two fabrics.  I doubt the flower side will see much use - Eamon points to the guitars and says, "Tars!"

Cut from blanket fabric: 2 pieces, 21"x30" (1 each of reversing fabrics).  With pieces this large, I usually make a rough scissor cut of approximate size, then clean it up with the rotary cutter.

Pin pieces together right sides together.  I made a curve at the bottom of my blanket, just because it's pretty.  If curve is desired, draw that now.  Trim 1/2" away from drawn line.

Sew pieces together along the 
long sides and bottom.  
Turn, press, and top stitch.

Set blanket aside for now.  Cut strap fabric seven inches wide by 180" long (ideally, you would have one long piece of strap.  For whatever reason - probably financial - I didn't get 5 yards of my strap fabric, so I had to sew two pieces together).  Whenever I sew pieces together on a carrier, I triple sew the seam.  In this case, I sewed the wrong sides twice, then pressed the allowance and sewed that down.  Fold your strap right sides together, then find the middle and mark it.  Lay it on your workspace.  Fold your blanket in half, mark the middle, and line it up with the middle of the straps.  With a washable pencil or marker, make a mark on each half of the straps to show where the blanket will fit into the strap.  You will sew your straps together from each end to this point, leaving the middle open to slide the blanket in.
I added a taper to the end of my straps.  No particular reason, just because I like the finished look.  Make 'em straight if you want.
Once the strap ends are sewn, turn and press.  After pressing, I bundle mine as shown below.  This makes it much easier to wrangle the bulk while you are sewing the blanket in place.  Also press the middle area of the straps, turning the raw edges under.
Measure your padding (I used a double layer of quilt batting) to fit the area where your strap is not sewn yet.  Mine is about 2" wider on each side than the blanket.  If you want padded straps, it would probably be best to sew in the padding when you sew the strap.  For what it's worth, I wish I had made padded straps.  I'm going to make some strap wraps to give myself extra padding over my shoulders, so that when I wear it ruck style it's not digging into my bones.  How I actually fixed my straps: cut off the ends, sewed a "tube" of batting, stuffed it into the strap, sewed it down with quilting lines, reseamed ends of straps.
Insert the padding into the strap, and tuck it behind the raw edge of the strap fabric.  The easiest way I found to do this is to mark the middle of the padding, match it up to the middle of the strap, and start tucking.

Insert the blanket into the strap, pin well, and sew.
I (with Eamon's help) marked every inch as a sewing line. I like the quilted look, and having that many lines of sewing makes me feel good about how secure the carrier is.

Eamon says, "It's 'tars!"  And then proceeded to ask me put him on my back.  It's amazing how he knows that anything with straps is probably used to carry him around.

Monday, March 12, 2012


Since before Eamon was even conceived, I've known I wanted to use sign language with him.  We started introducing signs when he was about four months old.  His first successful use of a sign was "dog," which he started to use around six months old.  After that, it was quite a while before he started using any others, but he certainly understood them.

When he was about eleven months old, I began to insist on using a “nurse” sign – he was grabbing at my shirt, flailing his arms, and yelling at me to indicate his desire to nurse.  It took about three days of reminding him to sign “nurse” before he caught on, and started coming up and shaking his little fist in the air when he wanted to nurse.

After he started signing “nurse,” I introduced a few new signs.  He started picking them up really quickly, and we started to see Eamon’s very own spin on his signs.  The baby signing experts call this “approximation.”  It makes sense that babies can’t perfectly imitate our motions, but sometimes seeing the attempts are hilarious.  “Cracker” and “cheese” both have a sort of grinding motion.  When he starting signing them, I couldn’t figure out why Eamon was flapping his elbows like a chicken - until I saw someone else sign “cheese” to him - the grinding motion makes your elbows move, and apparently that’s the part of the sign he noticed.

In the past month, (around fifteen months of age) Eamon has started to learn signs at a phenomenal rate.  All the baby sign resources say that’s what happens, but it’s still shocking.  He can learn a new sign in just a few days.  At thirteen months old, he signed: dog, nurse, more, all done, up, ice, water, cracker/cheese (he uses one sign for both), book, sleep, toothbrush, sticker, popcorn, and bath.  He is adding signs to his vocabulary so fast, I can barely keep up!  When he wants to know the sign for something, he will point at it, and look at us expectantly.  Right now we are working on apple, egg, and stop.  He will repeat apple and egg, and responds to stop, but doesn't use the signs spontaneously yet.  At fourteen months, it's impossible to list all his signs - I would guess he has thirty or so now.

Sometimes people are skeptical of baby signs.  They think it will delay verbal communication.  But the truth is, very few one year olds have the oral dexterity to repeat words in an understandable way.  By giving Eamon a communication method he does have the dexterity to master, we have prevented countless meltdowns and miscommunications.  The sign helps bridge the gap between nonverbal and verbal communication.  When Eamon says, "chee..." I'm not sure what he means.  But when he signs along with the spoken word, I know he is trying to say "cheese," and I can respond appropriately and help him with pronunciation.  I think his use of signs makes him more in tune to us, as well.  Not only does he listen to us, he watches us as well.  And he delights when someone outside our family signs to him.

I can't say enough about baby signs.  Even if you only use a few, they help.  I've found them to be addictive.  Once Eamon learned the concept, he became hungry for signs.  And I've learned a lot by feeding that hunger.

Update January 2013: Once Eamon began to have very understandable speech, he stopped using signs. It's a little sad to look back at these pictures and videos and remember the time (around eighteen months) when he knew somewhere between sixty and seventy signs, but he really doesn't need them anymore. The main purpose of Baby Sign Language is to bridge the gap between a child knowing his needs and being able to verbalize those needs. As you can hear in the video below, his pronunciation could have created a lot of confusion, since many spoken words sounded the same. Once he perfected the spoken word, he abandoned the sign unless we were confused about what he was saying, and now, at two years old, he doesn't sign at all.
It's hard to tell the difference when Eamon says, "ball" versus "balloon."  
But when he signs "balloon," it makes it much more obvious.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Crafty Sunday

I've been working on several projects for a few weeks now.  It seems like my sewing pile gets larger and larger, instead of smaller and smaller.  I have many more UFOs (unfinished objects) in my sewing than my knitting, which is really saying something!

I've recently gotten the sewing studio/Eamon's room cleaned up enough that he can (mostly) safely play while I'm sewing, which has really helped me get a lot more accomplished.  Today, I managed to get the blanket for Eamon's Nap Mat finished, so now I just have to put the whole thing together!

I also got his Quilted Growth Chart sandwiched, and started the quilting.  I'm doing a line of quilting every inch, so it's really easy to keep myself motivated by gauging how far along I am - right now I'm 1/6 of the way done!

I'm headed to the fabric store tomorrow to pick up a few things while I have some killer coupons, and I'm hoping to get a tutorial or two posted later this week.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

First of March

Totally lovely day today...

Eamon and I got to spend the day with one of our favorite baby boys - Jameson.  Eamon had so much fun with him, reading to him, sharing toys, showing him the chickens.  Like Eamon, Jameson is a delightful little guy.  He's happy and friendly, engaged and curious.  He spent the whole day just watching Eamon.

I've been wondering if I would have white eggs to dye for Easter.  Answer?  YES.  Millie finally laid her first egg today.  It's the most beautiful, tiny, snowy white egg I've ever seen.  She's exactly 7 1/2 months old, so it's about time.  I don't expect more than three eggs a week from her, so I'll be saving all the eggs until Ostara.  I found a tutorial on pinterest for a really unique egg dying technique, and I'm excited to try it.