Sunday, April 29, 2012

Playing Ball

The weekend has been crazy and it only looks to get more so this week.  SO much going on right now, it's insanity, y'all.  Our little man played his first real baseball games on both Saturday and Sunday.  
And you know what?

He's actually pretty darn good.  Dang it...I mean, yay!  I was a killer first baseman on the softball field growing up way back when (she says so humbly) and I'm so glad he really enjoys it and has a knack for it.  But this team, or at least the league and requirements are definitely a bit more intense than what I remember growing up.  However, I promised myself I wouldn't complain about it (anymore) so I won't.  I just have no idea how this would ever work in the future with the other boys as well!  But for this year, we'll enjoy it and just see how it all goes.  He is such a boppy, focused, spirited player and he is so funny and excited bouncing around on the field.  It's quite fun to watch him have his 'thing'.  

The boy even earned today's game ball and his first position ever on the field?  First base.  That's my boy :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Top 20 Reasons We've Gone Cloth

(In no particular order...)

They are EASY.  No really, they are.  If you can push the button on your washing machine, you pretty much just figured out about how much extra work they are.

There are no crazy chemicals right next to your baby's important itty bitty parts.  Have you ever seen what happens when a disposable "explodes?"  There are those little gel who-knows-what balls that get in every tiny crevice of your baby's nether areas.  I don't know what those are but I know they shouldn't be there, especially if you have a girl.  Who knows WHAT sorts of issues we could be causing?

Want to save some serious money?  Yep, you do.  When we first started using cloth, this was our primary motivation.  Now it's probably our last.  But still an awesome benefit to cloth.  Depending on what kind of diapers you choose, you could spend about $150-$200 to diaper your child TOTAL.  (And if you factor in that many times they can be reused for another child...Shabam.)  You can definitely spend way more than that if you go with fancier types but if you go basic, really, you save a ton of money.

We are open to life and don't know how many children the Lord will bring to us.  Using cloth allows us to be more open to whatever He wants for us.  That's a good thing.

They're stinkin' cute.  Case study:

See?  Scientific proof right there.

Hey, you know those crazy up-the-back get-out-the-scissors explosion of poop everywhere blowouts that you get with newborns?  They don't happen with cloth.  I have no idea why,  but they don't.  The worst we get is some leg seepage.  This may be the best marketing strategy that cloth diaper manufacturers have yet to employ.

As a Catholic, I do my best to live out the teachings of the Faith in the fullest way I can.  Using cloth diapers for me in my current situation is an obvious and natural expression of CCC 339.  To me it seems a "disordered use of things" to toss a diaper into the trash every time my child has a bowel movement or wets.  And when I picture the landfill piles that would be created from just our family using disposables on a normal, every day basis, I would feel like I wasn't doing my best to live that teaching out.  Please don't go hearing things I'm not saying here.  I'm speaking for myself and I know there are situations where disposables are very warranted and they are certainly not inherently evil.  I can definitely think of situations where they would be ideal and it is not my place (thankfully) to decide for other people.  But that teaching of the Church is certainly one that factored into our decision for cloth.  
They're soft on your baby's sweet little bottom and must be so much more comfortable than the plasticy-paper alternative.  (Ladies, you know what I'm talking about.)

Okay, want to hear something weird?  When I started using cloth diapers (we didn't with our first and I really regret it), I actually started to ENJOY diaper changes.  I know.  It sounds crazy, doesn't it?  But they looked cute and were soft and I knew I was taking a bit of extra time to do something better for my baby and it made it seem less of a chore and more of an act of love and it became fun.  I know, weird, right?

Once you have your stash you NEVER have to worry about running out of diapers or making late night trips to the drugstore or adding yet another thing to the grocery list.  If you're like me and would rather rip out all of your fingernails than go shopping or have another thing on the to-do list, then this is a VERY big advantage.  Plus, cloth diaper shopping is almost always done online...bonus for the agoraphobe.

You get to have the wonderful experience of people giving you incredulous wide-eyed looks whenever you happen to have to change your baby in public.  "People still use those?"  And they watch in awe.  It's kind of funny.

You could have scenes like this in your backyard:

For real.

There are so many different options now for whatever will work best for your lifestyle.  It's not just Gerber flats (please don't use those, they're glorified burp cloths), pins, and a vinyl cover.  You don't use pins and if the old-fashioned kind scare you, there are types that go on and are used just like a disposable.
The diapers can be used again for another baby.  If you don't have another baby, they can be resold or given away to help out another family.

There isn't a crazy amount of paper, plastic, chemicals, and energy used to produce them.

Less diaper rash.  Cloth diapers are known to prevent rashes for many babies.  We've never had an issue with rashes but from other parents I know, switching their rash-prone babies from disposables to cloth was the solution to a happy, pain-free baby. 

Cloth diapers often help a toddler learn to use the potty faster.  Because they can feel it when they are wet, it helps them understand their body cues earlier and are more motivated to learn the bathroom gig.  No promises, though, toddlers are not known for being extremely predictable in this whole area :).

You do have to change cloth diapers a bit more often because they don't hold as much liquid.  That sounds like a bad thing but really, it's kind of gross to play the whole 'what's the least amount of diapers I can use in a day?' game.  I know.  I used to play it (sorry, firstborn).

I'm boring simple and classic and love white diapers.  But if you are all about style and color and making your baby into a little fashionista, they are hundreds of colors and adorable prints in which to express that sense of style.

And last but not least:

I'm just sayin'.
  (Tongue in cheek, people...Actually, almost every picture I could find of the baby Jesus had him naked so maybe those Elimination Communication people are onto something...)

So there's my sales pitch.  Questions always welcome!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Making It Count: Homemade Laundry Detergent

I like this soap because while not completely organic and natural, it is much better than the mainstream detergents and from friends' testimonies, it actually works.  I've tried all sorts of natural detergents and I just can't get them to work well.  It also uses way less detergent than the other brands, is far less expensive (estimated at 1 cent per load!) and is supposedly more septic-safe.  Oh, it also means less packaging as well.  Win times six.

I've been working the past few years to use only biodegradable and natural bath, body, and home products for our family and I think it is well worth it.  I remember when my husband and I were learning Natural Family Planning before we got married and the instructor talked for a bit about how fabric softener and perfumed detergents could actually affect a woman's mucous cycle.   I was like wha-huh??  You mean how I do my laundry can affect whether or not I conceive a child?  Craziness.  I think that was the start of me realizing that just going mainstream when it came to eating and cleaning and bathing and all the rest was not always the healthiest or wisest decision and perhaps not the way God planned it to be. 

Anyhow, apparently I am late to the train on the whole 'make your own detergent' thing because there are about three trillion recipes for this basic homemade laundry detergent online.  I've never even bothered with pinning it because I knew I could quickly search and find one of them.  Hey, here's one right here.  But I finally decided to do it today since I had run out of the other detergents that were in my laundry that I was trying to finish up.  The one I linked to uses a 1/1/1 ratio of Borax, A&H washing soda, and Fels-Naptha (all found in the laundry aisle).  Other recipes I found used different ratios.  I realized as I was gathering the ingredients that the full box of washing soda that I thought I had actually only contained about a half cup in it.  So I suppose this is my trial batch :) I went with the all equal parts ratio.  

I'd actually had ambitions to do this years ago while I was (I think) pregnant with David.  Do you see the old style packaging on both the Borax and the Fels-Naptha?  Yeah, I didn't get too far.  I only know that I was pregnant at the time because I remember trying to grate the soap with a tiny cheese grater and gave up because I was about to collapse in exhaustion.  There is no way I am that pathetic when I am not pregnant.  Right?  Maybe?  Well, we'll go with that.

There are ways to make the detergent in liquid form but I figured if it supposedly worked just as well in powder then I wasn't going to bother with the extra mess.  Besides then I get to use my awesome vinatage-looking glass laundry soap know you want one.  

So...I mixed 1/2 c. each of Borax and Soda and about a 1/4 bar of the Fels-Naptha that I pulverized with my handy dandy Cuisinart chopper into a fine powder (no more debilitating graters for me, people).  Put them in my dorky super cute laundry soap jar, shook it up and it's good to go.  I know, it's a measly amount but since you only use one tablespoon per load (for HE washers), that should last me probably two weeks or so...enough time for me to pick up another box of the washing soda so I can make a full batch.  Once the Fels-Naptha is used up, I plan on using a more natural soap like Dr. Bronner's.  Using up that stuff first is probably more responsible than throwing it in the trash in order to buy something more natural and eco-friendly, eh?

I'm linking up today with Pam and Sarah as they make their time online count for something good.  Feel free to pop on over there and see what others are up to this week!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Big and Green

Well today I had something else in mind to post but oh, seeing as it's SNOWING outside, the plans must change.

So today I'm going to direct you over here to Simcha because she totally must've been reading my thoughts again and pretty much wrote what I was going to.  It's a good read.

Being open to children and being good stewards of this beautiful world can go amazingly well together.  Many of the large families I know are much 'greener' than the average small family simply by necessity.  None of these families are wealthy (by our country's standards) but yet all of them have one parent staying at home to raise their children.  This requires a whole lot of planning and conserving and more often than not is...environmentally responsible.

Our family of six creates about one bag of garbage a week.  That's it.  The rest is recycled (thankful to live in a municipality whose waste management allows almost everything to be recycled), reused, composted, or just not created at all.  I know single people who create more garbage, use more energy (electricity, gas, and otherwise), and output more pollution than our family.  Having more than the average amount of children doesn't mean that we care less about the environment and if you were to examine our lifestyle, you could see that in many ways, it forces us to care MORE.

Vilifying those who have more than the acceptable amount of children because it is ecologically harmful is wrongheaded and when you understand how large families usually work, it is fairly ignorant.  Almost always families with more children are not shy about passing down clothes, thrifting, not buying things they don't need, reusing pretty much everything when possible, saving electricity, making food from scratch (thus eliminating lots of harmful chemicals and wasted packaging), growing their own food and so on.   For a variety of reasons the large families I know are more concerned about organic food, making their own natural home and body care products, and it must be said, are not contributing to the tremendous amount of artificial hormones that are now found in our water supply due to pharmaceutical contraceptives.  It is ingrained from youth (or should be) in most large families that you don't waste things, that you take care of the things you have and any hint of consumerism is quickly curtailed.  

It is the people who have more disposable income or who are intentionally avoiding conception in order to have more things that are much more likely to use more than is just.  It is the large family that conserves and reuses and sees ecological living as simply a way of life and less of a movement. Certainly these are broad statements and there will always be exceptions but to ecologically admonish the large family simply because they are large is baseless.  And more than this, these families are creating one of the greatest natural resources that exists...people...and that contribution? Priceless.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

It is Good.

False dichotomies drive me crazy.  Placing two ideas in opposition to each other that can, in fact, live very well together.

How about this one?  REAL Catholics and Christians don't concern themselves with the environment, right?  You have to worry about the unborn and contraception and whether or not it's okay to hold hands during the Our Father.  There is certainly no time for this nonsense talk about pollution and whatnot.  That's for those other Catholics.

Have you ever heard people talk like that?  They bash the environmental movement as being hippie, new-age, wrongheaded, or even -gasp!- liberal, as well as any other as-bad-as-it-gets type of language that they can think of.  And, to a certain extent, I can agree insofar as the political false environmentalist movement is concerned or when it becomes a religion unto itself.  There is certainly a whole lot of money and political power at play when it comes to the 'green' movement and many of the ideas and positions of the hardcore so-called environmentalists are upon real examination HARMFUL to creation and the people it is supposed to serve.   (Case in point, there is no way in HECK I am putting lightbulbs that contain mercury into my home in an effort to save electricity.) You can be sure that those mean old big corporations that many of a left-leaning persuasion love to vilify will be much rewarded when certain policies and laws are enacted under the guise of fostering environmental awareness.

But I digress...
We bemoan 'cafeteria Catholicism' wherein people claiming to be Catholic at the same time also publicly dissent from the doctrine of the Church.  At the same time many who lament such contrived selection of doctrine do not even know the full teachings of the Church themselves. 

Let's look at a little book I like to call The Catechism of the Catholic Church, shaaallll we? (I'm pulling out my Dana Carvey church lady voice, can you hear it?):
(339) "Each of the various creatures, willed in its own being, reflects in its own way a ray of God's infinite wisdom and goodness.  Man must therefore respect the particular goodness of every creature, to avoid any disordered use of things which would be in contempt of the Creator and would bring disastrous consequences for human beings and their environment.
(340) God wills the interdependence of creatures.  The sun and the moon, the cedar and the little flower, the eagle and the sparrow: the spectacle of their countless diversities and inequalities tells us that no creature is self-sufficient.  Creatures exist only in dependence on each other, to complete each other, in the service of each other." (emphasis mine)
Beautiful.  But also eye-opening when we unpack it a bit. 

God specifically wills each creature.  That means, contrary to what I've heard devout Christians espouse, that they are not JUST there to serve us.  It's not all about us.  Oh, I hear you...people have a different dignity and are more valuable than a tree or a bird or that gross spider in the corner of my bathroom and we have eternal souls and I have a right to eat meat...  You're right.  But that still doesn't mean it's all about us or that every piece of creation was specifically made for our personal consumption.  In their very being each piece of creation gives glory to the Creator, separate from us.

Creation is amazing.  You've seen some of it, right?  Right.  Those crazy weird animals and plants that are in the ocean?  That tiny little itty bitty seed that grows into a full-blown plant?  That little thing we call the Solar System (totally freaks me out)?  C'mon, this yoda-bat??  God had so much fun, didn't He?

As Catholics we are supposed to take care of creation and respect the environment because it's God's. He made it and we love Him so we take care of it.  Did you see that 'contempt of the Creator' part? Hoo-boy.  That means when we do not respect the natural order of things and respect creation we are showing HATRED to God.  Yikes.

This flower is called a Bleeding Heart.  How can you NOT think this is cool?
Can you imagine being the wife of Leonardo Da Vinci?  (He had a wife, right?)  And you walk into the room where he is working on his newest painting.  He is pouring his very self into it because, well, that's what he does.  He is an artist.  And he also hopes you will love it, too, and it will make you happy because he loves you.  And you, of course, want to love your husband.  What do you do with said painting?  Do you take care not to spill anything on it or mess it up or in any other way compromise its beauty?  Do you treat it with great care not only because it is beautiful in and of itself but because you love the maker?  Or do you take it with a gruff 'thanks' and then put it somewhere where the kids will get at it with the Renaissance equivalent of the sharpie?  Do you flip it over to use as a serving tray?  Do you mistreat it but then say that it shouldn't matter because other issues are more important in your relationship?  If you were to intentionally abuse or neglect it, you would be showing contempt for our spouse.  Of course you don't worship the painting or value it more than your husband or children but you love your husband, and therefore you treat his art with great care and use it in the way it was intended by him.

God, the Master Artist, has invited us to be espoused to Him.  He wants us to rejoice in the masterpiece He has created.  He wants it to bring us joy and for us to use it well.  He wants us to be served by it, yes, but also for us to love Him more because of it and through it.

Do we do that?  Do we revel in the beauty and the weirdness and the intricacy that is His work?  And do we do our best to take care of it?

No, we should not be slaves to the environment.  We should not place human dignity on equal level with plants and rocks and other created things.  But to be truly human, to truly live out OUR dignity, we must take care of this beauty He has given us in a reasonable and loving way, as temporary as it may be.  We do not need to fear that by taking care of the earth that we are somehow slighting God.  The exact opposite is true.  By NOT taking care, we are slighting Him. And so we as Catholics or Christians or just people of good will, can work to take care of it and preserve it and use it wisely because we love Him and because it is beautiful and because He said it Himself, it is good.

Friday, April 20, 2012

7 Quick Takes - The Vain, Weepy, Youtube Edition

You wanted to know some random weird and pointless facts about me, right?

I thought so.

My's falling out.  Again.  Every postpartum time I think I'm going to get away with not going bald afterward and then around three months...boom.  Clumps of hair coming off my head, clogging up drains, hair all over the house.  And I can't even take some sort of solace in the fact that my hair gets all thick and luxurious and beautiful while pregnant because it totally doesn't.  My hair REALLY is thinning on top and you can see it.  And everyone seems to claim that it's normal but I just think they're trying to keep us postpartum women from going all hormonal on them.  So if anyone has the real cause and/or solutions to the postpartum hair loss dilemma, I am all ears.

Flash mobs make me cry.  Almost every time.

So do marching bands.

So does any sort of group singing of a patriotic song.  

So does this:

Goosebumps too.  And if you're like me you totally wanted to vote for Gandalf or Samwise by the end.

Oh my goodness.  What if there was a marching band flash mob that played The Star Spangled Banner??  I would be a total hot mess.  But it would be the coolest thing ever.

Except for this.  I love this:

I enjoy this a lot.  Too much.  It's probably unhealthy.  And I know this is a month or two late but I still think it's funny.  I apologize if you do not have my absurdly weird and/or obnoxious sense of humor and you are offended.  There, you are warned and can't be mad at me now.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Yarn Along

I feel like a real knitter now.  Oh, not because I've actually wrote out two little patterns.  And not because it's my go-to mode of unwinding and relaxing at night.  No, not because I now know how to cable and kfpsso and such.  But because I just spent a ridiculous amount of money on fancy yarn.

I went to the real yarn store a few weeks ago and left feeling inspired and guilty and with a bag full of beautiful yarn for which I only had the vaguest plans.  But boy is that place tempting...  Right now, I'm using a Madeline Tosh merino.  That's right.  I saw the name in the yarn store and was all like "hey, that's the GOOD stuff."  So the girl who has put back the skein at Michael's because it was $5 and I didn't have my 40% off coupon just bought a hank of $20 yarn.  But it is sooo worth it.  It knits up so much better and looks so much nicer than the cheap stuff and the color I just love.  It's called 'Bungalow' and I was so proud of myself for picking something that looked sort of weird on the hank but I trusted that it would knit up beautifully.  The variegated yarns sort of turn me off when they're on the skein but I love them so much more than the plain when they are actually worked.  

So, what am I knitting?  This is a Milo vest for my almost three year old's birthday coming up in a few weeks.  In his favorite color green, of course.  I think it's neat that the colors are almost coming up to have sort of a camouflage look.  And I just love the Milo pattern.  I made my husband watch as the circular knit suddenly transformed with one row and took shape into a little 3-D vest top.  I love that part.  He wasn't as mesmerized as I hoped he would be.  Silly man.  I mean, who WOULDN'T want to watch someone else knit, right?

John Paul and I are half way through The King of the Golden City.  What a beauty of a book!  It's a very obvious allegory but still really well done and I've been taking a lot out of it as well.  I also have just one chapter left in Life of Christ by the great Sheen.  I highly recommend this book.  It's taken me about eight months to get through but it is so well worth it and now I want to go back and go all crazy with the highlighter so I can burn this stuff into my brain better.  Lastly, we're going to be starting Charlotte's Web as a read aloud together.  I'm thinking this sounds like a good spring read and we just finished listening to the audio Trumpet of the Swan also by E.B. White.  After hearing that one on various car rides, the boys wanted to start Charlotte right away.  I'm looking forward to sitting outside and reading with them and hoping for more beautiful sunny days like we had the other day to make that happen.

Heading over to Ginny's to see what others are creating...

Have a great day!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Super Simple Divine Mercy Cake

Happy Divine Mercy Sunday!

For those reading that don't know what this is, let me just give you a little snapshot.  In 2000, Pope John Paul II declared the first Sunday after Easter Sunday to be the feast of Divine Mercy.  A day to celebrate and basically revel in the amazing, over the top, crazy mercy bestowed on us by Jesus on the cross.  The mercy we don't deserve, could never earn, that is embodied by the blood and water which flowed from his open side.  He was prompted to declare this feast by the revelations written down by an obscure Polish nun Maria Faustina, now St. Faustina.  We are not obligated to believe in the revelations but they are pretty amazing and the message of mercy given to Faustina by Jesus is enough to bring you to tears.  His mercy is so great.

So, today we celebrate His mercy.  Mercy I need.  Mercy the world needs.

So, here's a little dessert I make in honor of the feast...

This one is actually brownie but last year we did the same with yellow cake and you can pretty much use any type of cake or baked good that bakes in a pan.  And can I show you something cool?  You probably already know this but it is so easy to make a cake in the shape of a heart.  I learned this a few years ago and now I pass this wisdom on to you, dear reader...

Square Pan + Circle Pan = Heart:

Easy right?  And see how the strawberries and whipped cream representing the blood and water are perfectly placed to cover the seams?  Nice, right?  Canned whipped cream is obviously easiest but for homemade or from the tub can work, too.  Strawberries could even be switched out for cherries if you prefer.  Simple and sweet and a fun little way to honor the feast.

May the Divine Mercy penetrate our hearts and souls this feast and always.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

7 Late Quick Takes

The Lukester is four months old today.  FOUR MONTHS.  I don't really know if I want to talk about it.

But I will show you a picture:

 Post nursing goofy joy

And another...

Okay topic change...I've decided to open the blog up to pins again...I know, don't go crazy pinning all those awesomely cool ideas I have ;)  Pinterest changed their terms of service so I think I'm okay with it now and I've added a 'Pin It' button down below my posts.  As long as people don't get all weird and start pinning pictures of my kids or something.  Then all bets are off.


Overheard outside...

Michael:  "David, you MAY NOT hit me with the flag!  That means you don't love America!"

My little patriot.

Know what would be really nice, what with this Picnick closing and all?  Blogger should allow pictures to be edited within a post.  WHY would they not have that ability?  I have no idea why they wouldn't do that.  Makes so much sense, right?  But then again, that would make things easier, and well, Blogger doesn't seem to think that way.

So I need you to do me a favor.  Our old laptop came thisclose to crashing the other day.  Seriously, it was making Pong-type noises and flashing blue screens and all.  (We finally updated and I now have a Macbook...yay!  I've been feeling my way around trying to get comfortable with all these new gadgets and different ways of doing things.  And thank heavens for the computer-savvy husband who was able to somehow save our pictures and documents.)  Anyhoo, now the colors on my blog look all funny.  With the old computer it was a soft sage green and a deep red and I thought it was rather pretty.  Now it's looking very fluorescent lime and quite ugly.  Is that what y'all have been seeing this whole time?  Eek.

Can you give me some sort of description for what you can see?  Is this new computer just off or what?  Help a sister out, y'all.  I know I've been thinking I'd like to freshen things up a bit anyway but that requires a good chunk of time which as of late is a rare commodity.  But I could at least protect your eyes from this new lime grossness that is offending mine.

That is all.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Our Newest Housemates

(Alternatively titled 'Eight Weeks Til Dinner' by the husband.  He's heartless.)

Yep.  We're doing it again.  But let's not think about that part right now and let's just focus on their cuteness, shall we?  And total coincidence that they arrived during Easter week but pretty cool, eh?

Love how they sleep!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My Sensory Stimuli Montessori Crunchy Granola Ultra Adorable Wool Eggs

You guys. 
I just sorta feel like the craftiest craftastic mom in the world.  Wanna see?

So, when Ginny here posted this link to knitted eggs, I got all in my MUST DO THAT NOW zone.  Knitted Easter eggs??  So crunchy-crafty-wooly-awesome.  And so the last few days before Easter found me finding little pockets of time to knit these sweet little things up.  I changed the original pattern using some extra increase rows and more center rows so that they would be more the size I wanted.  Instructions are below.  My first thought was that they'd make sweet little Easter decorations.  And then I thought how nice it would be to put them into the Luke-baby's basket seeing as we had oh, nothing, to put into it.  Wait, no, they'd make such cute little toys for him to play with!  

And then?  

THEN I realized after I stuffed the first one and was working on the next that I could totally put something INSIDE them!  Woah.  Craftastic mind blown, right?  So, I filled some of them with different noise-making things (I'm trying to type that in a way that sounds fancier...auditory aids?  Sensory stimuli?)  Anyway, in one I put a mini plastic egg filled with a few beans.  In another I did another mini egg but filled it with rice.  And in another?  BELLS.  Yes, bells.  I just happen to have little bells sitting around at my place (actually, my husband got all in on it and searched through the loft to find them in the All Saints' Day have one of those, right?...and there they were) and so in they went.  (Note from the future:  Make sure you tape the plastic eggs closed with strong packing tape or else they are easily broken open when they get smooshed by the kiddos and then there's nothing you can do about it since they're all knitted up.)  I wanted to do one with a 'crinkly' sound but everything I tried just wouldn't work.  Different papers, wrappers, order to get it eggy looking it needed to be stuffed tightly and once anything I tried was stuffed in enough the sound just wasn't cool enough.  So three have super sound making abilities and the other three just look cute.  I could totally be a Montessori school teacher! (No, I couldn't.  My current view of Purgatory consists of teaching a classroom of preschoolers whilst in a mall with my hair wet.  Don't ask.)  

So, there's my super proud homemade moment of the season.  I know.  You are in shock with how these amazingly homemade crunchy sensory stimuli toys will engage my little one's brain so that he will achieve his greatest potential and earn the college scholarship he will most definitely need if he ever wants to go.  Or he will just suck on them.  Which is also cute.

Pattern for Knitted Easter Eggs

Size 2 DPNs (go up or down a big deal)
Medium Weight Yarn
Darning Needle
Stuffing (I used a bamboo fill from Joann's)
Beans, rice, bells, etc., mini plastic eggs, packing tape (if desired)

K= knit
kfb = knit into front and back of one stitch creating an increase of one stitch
k2tog = join two stitches together with one knit stitch

Cast on 8 stitches and divide among three needles (be careful not to twist!).

Row 1:  Join in the round and K1, kfb around (12)
(This is tricky at first but as you get more stitches on it gets easier!)
Row 2:  K2, kfb repeat around (16)
Row 3:  K3, kfb repeat around (20)
Row 4:  K4, kfb repeat around
Row 5:  K5, kfb repeat around
Row 6:  K6, kfb repeat around
Row 7:  K7, kfb repeat around
Row 8-17:  Knit
(You can add or subtract the amount of these rows as you knit if you decide you'd like it smaller or larger. Depending on the yarn weight and needle size, you may want to go up or down.)

If you are putting in a plastic egg, fill that with your beans or rice or whatever and tape closed.  Place some stuffing in the bottom of the egg and place the plastic egg in.  Fill around with stuffing.

Row 18:  K4, k2tog (repeat around)
Row 19:  Knit
Row 20:  K3, k2tog (repeat around)
Row 21:  Knit
For the eggs without a noisemaker, this is when I fill with stuffing.
Row 22:  K2, k2tog (repeat around)
Row 23:  Knit
Row 24:  K1, k2tog (repeat around)
Row 25:  Knit
Row 26:  K2tog

Cut yarn and thread it through the remaining stitches.  Take this chance to fill with a bit more stuffing.  Pull tight and weave in ends.

 Don't you sort of want to eat him?

And now?  Now I'm working on a sweet little newborn hat for a baby who will be making his appearance in the next few weeks!  I'm using Ginny's pattern because I just love it.  I promise I'm not stalking her.  I just let her inspire me with all the sweet patterns she finds and creates...really.  She's much better at it than I am.  The hat is being knit with Inca-Eco organic cotton.

John Paul and I are reading The King of the Golden City by Mother Mary Loyola.  It's a children's allegory and we're using it to further prepare for this little guy's First Holy Communion which is fast approaching.  Which also means I need to get busy planning and prepping the details for that...yikes.

Hope you're having a wonderful day and get a chance to click on over to Ginny's place for the rest of Yarn Along!  Happy Easter!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Trip to the Gardens

I got all stir crazy this morning and took a trip with the four boys BY MYSELF to the Botanical Gardens.  And it was pretty cool.  Not one person cried or had a tantrum (self included...EVEN when visiting the bastion of grossness that is a public restroom with children) and we actually really enjoyed ourselves.  They had some children's programs going on so we participated in those and then strolled through the gardens, which are not actually as boring as you might think and are actually kind of cool.

I definitely enjoy the hydrangeas.

Watch out, Michael!  It's a...

T. Rex Topiary! 

 Finding fish

 Touching (yes, touching) the fish

Hiding behind the stegosaurus

Sensitive plant (see?  It says right there)  
So cool.  When you touch it all the leaves fold up into a straight line.

Can't really tell, though, huh?  Sorry.  But it was cool, I promise.  And so was the fact that I had four boys enjoying the Botanical Gardens.  I think we may actually head back again some day.  

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