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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Sagan's Busy Bag

I feel like it's cheating to write a post about this because it was a project I made almost a year ago and I already exploited it for attention on Reddit and Pinterest. 

And I'm doing this post anyway.

So my dear friends have a son, Sagan, whom I have mentioned a few times already. Sagan's birthday is a week and a half before Calvin's so at his first birthday party last year I was big huge pregnant, and Calvin was born exactly one week after the party. Since I was on maternity leave, I had time (which I should have spent preparing my own son's baby clothes and furniture) to make him a "busy bag" for a birthday gift.

A busy bag is literally a bag full of things to keep your little one busy while you are out of the house and they might otherwise be bored (and whining). My mom used to call it a "bored bag." When I was a kid, she usually brought one that was stocked with paper and crayons, a walkman and headphones, a couple of different Wee Sing tapes, and a book or two. I spent many a Giants game listening to Wee Sing Around the Campfire or Wee Sing Silly Songs.

When I decided that this would be a fun gift to make, I scoured the interwebs for ideas. I was looking for activities that I could easily make myself or buy cheaply. I was also trying to figure out what would be age-appropriate for a young toddler. What I ended up with was not really age-appropriate at the time, but I figured he could grow into the stuff that he wasn't ready for. Which was almost all of it.

I already showed these in my last post, but here are the sensory bottles again.
Water + food coloring+ corn syrup + sequins.
Except the red one which is water + food coloring + oil.

Cards for a matching game.
Pieces of stiff art board covered with scrapbook paper.
I wish I could have laminated these to make them put-in-mouth-proof.

Ice cream cone felt board.
That dark orange scoop is supposed to be Thai Tea flavor
which was my favorite from Mitchell's until it was discontinued :(

Shape matching board.
Wood shapes covered with scrapbook paper + foam sheet + Velcro dots.

Puff balls + Ikea kitchen container with holes.

Threading activity.
Felt shapes + ribbon with buttons sewn onto the ends.
One button is bigger to keep the shapes from sliding off. In theory.

And here are all the activities including the ones I didn't make myself.
In addition to the handmade ones, there is a notebook with crayons,
mini play dough jars with cookie cutters, and robot finger puppets -
all purchased from the dollar section at Michael's.

I put each activity into its own bag and I put all the bags into a tote bag decorated with a big letter S.

So who wants to make one for Calvin? Just kidding ;)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sensory Bottles and Shakers

Oh Pinterest. Thank you for guilting me into inspiring me to do more crafting, cooking, and creating. Now that I am past my first trimester, I am feeling like I have a little more energy to do little projects again.

Care of Pinterest I came across this post from Messy Wife, Blessed Life on activities for babies from 6-12 months. One of the activities she suggests is playing with "sensory bottles" which are just water bottles with floaty things in them for babies to look at and shake and nom on, of course.

I made something similar last year which I gave to my friend's son, Sagan, as a part of the "Busy Bag" gift I put together for his first birthday. Here are the ones I made for Sagan:

For these, I added corn syrup to make the sequins flow slowly.
The tubes came from brewer's yeast James used for his homebrewed beer. 

For Calvin's sensory bottles, I bought a pack of kid-size water bottles and a bunch of little craft items to put inside. I decided to go with a rainbow theme so that I can also work on colors and color signs with him.

Pink puff balls, purple glittery puff balls, blue bigger puff balls, green glitter, yellow glitter, orange buttons, red heart sequins, rainbow square sequins, and silver star sequins.
(Sorry, I know this is not the greatest picture. James is the photographer!)

Calvin rolls them around and gathers them up like a dragon hoarding his treasure...

...But mostly he noms on the bottles. 
Here's a video of Calvin with the bottles:

For now, I don't have the caps glued on. They are just screwed on tightly. I will definitely glue them eventually - any suggestions on what kind of glue to use? I suppose as long as the glue is under the cap it won't get into his mouth? 

I also made him some "shakers" out of baby food jars and a spice jar.

Rice, quinoa, black beans, and gold jingle bells.

He's a little bit into shaking them to hear the sounds, and a lot into putting them into his mouth :) 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Shock and Awe

Baby number two is on the way!

When we saw those two pink lines on the home pregnancy test the first thing that happened was a jaw-dropped, stunned silence. The next thing that happened was us cracking up laughing at ourselves.

Since the days when our dating relationship was getting serious and we were starting to talk about hopes and plans for the future, James and I have hoped and planned to have at least two children. We feel so blessed and lucky to have that hope fulfilled.

But even though we always expected a second child, we never expected it to be so soon after our first! The baby is due in July, which will make the two kids 15 months apart... unless she/he decides to come a month early like her/his big brother in which case they'll be 14 months apart!

Getting pregnant with Calvin was carefully discussed, timed, and planned. I just assumed we'd have the same luxury with our second pregnancy. I'm sure God thinks that is funny. And while I still find myself in disbelief at being pregnant again! So soon! I also find myself in total awe of the fact that this is my family and my future taking shape before my eyes.

When my brother and I were younger, my parents and their friends used to say that you're not parents until you have two children... with one you're just a couple with a kid. And I suspect that they were right. Just knowing that the second baby is on the way is a total game changer. Especially when the timing is so unexpected! Two in diapers, two in car seats, a double stroller? A high chair and a booster? Two Ergos? How do you get two kids to nap at the same time? How will I put them both to bed if James is working late? Will Calvin be jealous if the new baby is breastfeeding? Am I going to be able to carry Calvin in the Ergo on my back when my pregnant belly gets big? I don't know the answers to these questions, but I am sure going to find out!

But as many new questions as there are, there is also a brand new shiny glimpse at our future... I feel like God never lets me see very far down the road ahead. Just far enough to make decisions for now and just close enough to make me appreciate the present. But every once in a while something happens that is so important that it reveals possibilities I could never have imagined. Of course I still can't know what exactly lies down the road ahead, but new hopes start to take hazy shape in the light of this unexpected blessing... with two kids close in age they can be playmates; they can appreciate each other and learn from each other in ways that I suspect would be harder for kids distanced by more years. They'll be able to do the same activities, though they may have totally different interests. They'll be able to go to go to the same school most years because they will only be separated by one grade level. James and I really want to travel with the kids, and with them close in age we won't have the issue of having one kid too old to appreciate wherever it is we're visiting, or one too young to remember (although we'll have an infant on each lap when we fly to GA this Christmas!).

What I've heard from parents with kids closely spaced is that the first couple of years are hard, but the rest of their childhood is worth it. So we'll take the challenges with the blessings. The dirty diapers, the lack of sleep, the crowded apartment... with the joy of having a new baby and seeing our family grow like we always hoped it would.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

And a Partridge in a Pear Tree

Happy Epiphany! It's the 12th day of Christmas! And to celebrate, as well as express my gratitude for the wonderful Christmas season it has been, here's a top 12 list of awesome things from our holiday...

12. Chicken Foot

This Dominoes game seems to be mandatory at gatherings of James' family. It's a variation on Mexican Train and the way my in-laws play it, there is a lot of drinking, a lot of playing the Chicken Dance polka song on someone's cell phone, and the occasional deep philosophical discussion.

11. Our First Date (Since Calvin's Arrival)

James and I went on our actual first date over 8 years ago to dinner at a Thai restaurant and then to see Spider Man 2 at the theater near my parents' house. So it seems fitting that our first date post-baby was to the same theater, this time to watch The Hobbit. We knew Calvin was in good hands with my parents, so it was great to spend time just the two of us! I wish they didn't live so far away because I know they'd love to babysit more often. My mom was practically shoving us out the door to get to spend some quality time with Calvin!

10. Holiday Lights at Atlanta Botanical Gardens

So gorgeous!! We went with my parents.

9. Santa Babies

Two of my very dear friends in Georgia both had babies this December! I felt so lucky to meet both their brand new boys while I was in town. The babes are beautiful, and I'm so proud of their mamas! Congrats again, my dear friends!

8. The "Baby's First Christmas" Outfit

This is outfit is from my first Christmas almost (but not quite!) 30 years ago! My brother also wore it 8 years after me. I didn't think it would fit Calvin because he is so teeny for his age, but apart from the legs being a bit long, it actually fit fine and he looked totally adorable, if you ask me!

7. Calvin's Christmas Presents

Lots of new toys for our little tot! Made packing for the flight home a little more difficult, but luckily stuffies are lightweight ;) Thanks to our fam and friends for all Calvin's (and James' and my) awesome gifts!

6. Calvin the Dog Lover

One of James' brothers and his family brought their little dog, Georgia, with them to James' parents' house. I wasn't sure how Calvin would react to her, but I never imagined he would love her so much! It was totally adorable. I know sometimes in his pictures it's hard to tell if Calvin is laughing or crying, but trust me, in this pic he is squealing with excitement :)

5. Snow Flurries

It was nothing like the Great Snowcation of 2010, but we did get some flurries up in the North GA mountains, so Calvin got to see his first snowflakes.

4. Baby New Year

James insisted on waking Calvin up to ring in the new year. I am a little sad that his birth year is over, but I am excited about what 2013 will bring for our family!

3. James and Calvin's Matching Pajamas

James is always talking about how Calvin has such awesome pajamas, so for Christmas I got him a matching pair!

2. Family All Around

It was such a blessing to get to see so much of our east coast family for Christmas. We spent time at both of our parents' houses and got to see all our siblings, plus most of their spouses and all our 14 nieces and nephews! We also got to visit my grandparents and spend some time with my uncle and his son plus our cousins from Florida whom we hardly ever get to see!

1. The Big Reveal

Getting to see our families and some of our friends in person also gave us the perfect opportunity to share some very big news. I made Calvin this onesie with a very special message to help us drop the bomb tell everyone...

How's your vision? Did you get the message? ;)