Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Goldilocks Finger Puppet

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine asked if I could knit her a Goldilocks finger puppet. She had a bunch of knit animal puppets that included bears, but wanted a Goldilocks to go with them. We found this free pattern for a farmer, and I thought that it wouldn't be too hard to turn Old MacDonald into Goldilocks.

I didn't have to make very many changes. First instead of 15 stitches, I cast on 30 stitches and used a very girly pink yarn (Lamb's Pride Worsted Strawberry Smoothie.) Then for the second row, I knit 2 together across the entire row. I was trying to make a little bit of a ruffle to look like a skirt. Then I forgot to switch to stockinette and continued with garter stitch for the next 2 rows. Uh oh. But, it ended up making a nice edge for the skirt. After that, I switched to stockinette and followed the pattern for the increases and decreases. I didn't have to switch yarn color to make overalls, so that ended up being easier. I followed the pattern for the arms and face, but gave her yellow braids instead of farmer hair. I think she came out pretty darn cute!

ETA: So, my sweet husband told me that she reminded him of the Joker. What?! It was bugging me that her hair was too far back on her head anyway, so I went ahead and added some more hair to her head. I think (hopefully) that she looks less like the Joker and more like Goldilocks now. I posted a new photo with her new hairdo.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Christmas is coming!

Here's a sneak peek at one of the Christmas projects I'm working on right now. It's my first time making a doll and I can't wait to see it finished. Bet you can't guess who it's for. ;) This month will be a busy month of Christmas crafting. We are trying to do mostly handmade gifts this year so I really need to get to work!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

...from three jack-o'-lanterns...

...Robin Hood, a black kitty and a ninja!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Introducing Maximus...

This sweet boy joined our family last Saturday. He's a 1 1/2 year old Rottweiler. Our two Rotties that we loved so much and raised from puppyhood passed away about 4 years ago. My husband and kids have been yearning to get another dog. I mean I was getting major pressure from all of them! The circumstances just weren't right yet. After Brad started his new job, the discussions started again. We weren't sure what we were going to do. We knew we wanted another Rott, but thought that we would go with a pup from a reputable breeder. After emailing the local Rottie AKC club, we found out that there probably wouldn't be any pups in the area for some time. In the midst of emailing back and forth, the idea of going through a Rottie rescue organization came up. After the first attempt at a rescue adoption fell through, I thought that we weren't going to pursue the issue for awhile. I didn't know that my hubby was searching all of the shelters in not only New Mexico but Colorado as well.

He found this boy up in a shelter in Colorado. He asked his aunt to go take a look at him and let him know what she thought. She called us last Friday from the shelter and told us she thought he would be a great dog for our family. I still wasn't on board. It seemed crazy to me to drive 4 hours each way to adopt a dog. But then she said that he reminded her of Zeb, one of our previous Rotts that I loved so much. Totally unfair, right? So on Saturday we all hopped in the car and drove up to meet him. When we got there, he was getting a bath, because the staff knew we were coming up. They let Brad go in the back and see how well he tolerated being washed up. The rest of us waited in anticipation to meet him. We all fell instantly in love with him. He went to each of the kids and nuzzled and kissed them. Then he came over and tried to climb in my lap. He was coming home with us.

We decided to keep his name and not change it. We're mostly calling him "Max." He needs to gain about 20 lbs, but other than that seems pretty healthy. He has such a calm and loving personality. Well, except around the cat. We're having to work on that. He loves to have his belly rubbed and gives us the cutest puppy grins when we get home from being out and about. The best part is that he loves all the hugs and kisses from the kids. We love being his new pack and it feels really good to give him a second chance at a good life!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Fun Weekend!

My sister came to visit from California for the weekend and we had so much fun! (Well, except for the saying goodbye part when she left Sunday evening.) Saturday was filled with carting kids to activities. Try as we might, we couldn't figure out a way to see both ballet class and Boog's flag football since they were at the exact same time. That was kind of a bummer. And I missed Boog's first catch during a game. But, he was very gracious about it. That afternoon, my sister and I went to the Balloon Glow at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. We got there early and walked around the vendors. We watched as the gas balloons prepared for takeoff for the gas balloon race. Then, we got the disappointing news that the balloon events would be canceled for the evening because of wind. So, instead we went out for dinner and catching up which wasn't probably as cool as glowing balloons but still a treat.

The next morning we all got up really early for Mass Ascension at the Balloon Fiesta - all except for my husband who is not nearly so excited about hot air balloons as I am. We weren't sure if the weather would be ok. It wasn't great, lots of dark clouds, but a good number of balloons still launched. Here the kids are still looking a bit sleepy.

These two kissing bees are two of my favorites. Unfortunately, they didn't actually lift off because of the weather, but they still inflated them for all of us there.

The dead cat balloon (one of my kids favorites) also didn't launch. Here it is just after it deflated.

In the kid's area, NASA had a tent full of all kinds of neat stuff. Before, we headed home, we took the kids there to see it. There were lots of fun posters that they got to take home, a small wind tunnel (that's what the kids are looking at here), a cockpit the kids could climb into and a station where they took the kids' pictures and superimposed them in space suits for them. They came in a "passport" with lots of fun activities.

Our only really big disappointment was that once again we missed the Darth Vader balloon. It's become almost comical. My kids are huge Star Wars fans and they have been wanting to see the Darth Vader balloon up close. The first year we went to Balloon Fiesta, the Darth Vader balloon had caught on fire earlier in the week and had to go home. Then last year, we missed it because the weekend we planned on going ended up being rained out. And this year....the Darth Vader balloon is stuck in China. According to the news today, I saw that it is supposed to be officially out of China, but still not here yet. So, I've promised the boys that if it gets here and is at the Balloon Fiesta, we will try to go again later in the week. So keep your fingers crossed for me. I don't think I could bear another year of complaining that they still haven't seen the Darth Vader balloon! ;)

Friday, September 18, 2009

I'm Dyeing

I wasn't going to post a pic since this yarn is supposed to be for a Christmas present. But, I just had to because I'm so thrilled with how it looks! This is the very first time I've tried dyeing my own yarn. I used Knitpicks Bare Merino Wool in fingering weight that I got as a gift from my mom. I dyed it with good old Kool-Aid. Here's the directions I followed. I used Black Cherry, Orange and Lemonade that I put into squirt bottles and just randomly applied to the yarn. I was actually hoping for a darker red, but am loving the pinkish coral color. I wish I could post a picture showing how it's knitting up, but that will give too much away. After Christmas...(Unless of course I absolutely can't part with it, which is a huge possibility right now. Then I'll post a pic when I'm done.) ;)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Major Accomplishments

We've been so incredibly busy over the last couple of weeks! I had every intention of starting our new term for homeschool at the beginning of September. Well, it looks like we're going to have to start next week. We've been doing some book work, but it's been mostly math and reading practice as well as finishing up a couple of books from last term. But, we've been busy doing some pretty cool things. I thought I'd post a couple of pictures that I hadn't had a chance to post yet.

First, I can't believe that I haven't posted about this huge event in our family! We no longer have anyone using training wheels! My daughter decided that it was time (at barely 4 1/2 years old) to get rid of those pesky training wheels. And when she decides to do something, nothing is going to stand in her way. She spent quite a bit of the day figuring out how to ride. It was a little rough in the beginning. I think she expected it to be a bit easier than it was. She didn't want any help. In fact, she told us to leave her alone so she could do it herself. But, by the end of the day, she was sailing done the hill into our cul-de-sac like a pro.

Yikes! Boog is waaayy up high! He's in the yellow t-shirt. He was so thrilled to get to join our Roots & Shoots group while they tackled the high ropes course at UNM. It's not the typical activity for our group. Normally, they stick to service projects, but this was a special opportunity for the kids to work on teamwork and to build confidence in themselves.

Boog said this was the most difficult part of the course. The two kids had to balance by leaning against each other and working together to move across the ropes. There were a few shrieks and some yells from mom to keep breathing, but they made it. I was so proud of all of the kids (and the moms) who did the course. It was a real accomplishment. I loved seeing the smiles as they came off the course. It didn't matter if they did every challenge or not. They all pushed themselves farther than they thought they would be able to go. It was really inspiring.

And here's what my other two kids did while they were waiting for their big brother. They were just a little too young to go on the course, so they occupied themselves by playing in the rocks with the other too-young siblings.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Take me out to the ballgame...

We had so much fun this past weekend when we got to go to a local triple A baseball game. In the three years we've lived here, we have never made it to a game. I can't believe that! We love baseball, although we are big Rockies fans.

Only in New Mexico, would you find a road runner, running around outside the stadium. I'm a little obsessed with road runners. I can admit it. I hear they are good luck...

We had wonderful seats thanks to some great friends. They had a bunch of tickets and were incredibly generous to share with their friends. It made it even more special that we got to hang out with people we like during the game!

Batter up! I was feeling a bit nostalgic for the Dodgers while watching the game. The Isotopes are now a feeder team for the Dodgers, and I used to be a big Dodgers fan before my husband converted me to a Colorado fan.

This totally cracked me up. Only in New Mexico would two chile peppers race a taco and a bottle of salsa. And the red chile pepper makes it to the finish line first!

To top it all off, there was a great fireworks show after the game. And a big congrats to the Isotopes. They clinched their division with a win that night. Fun!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Our New Friend and a Rainbow

How's that for a blog post title? So here's our little friend that lives on our patio. She comes down to hangout by the grass and flowers every evening around the same time. I don't know much about spiders but think this is an orb weaver. As long as she's catching those pesky flies and keeping to herself, she's welcome to share our space. The kids have forgotten about the web a couple of times and accidentally ran through it. They felt so bad. But, she repaired it, and they are trying to remember now. Spider web all over your body is not really a pleasant feeling either!

And here's an especially vibrant rainbow we saw tonight. The kids saw it when they went out to play in our backyard and yelled for me to come and take a picture. There's something so beautiful and hopeful about a rainbow!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

We're FINALLY ready for the Tooth Fairy...

Ok, so I'm only about 2 or 3 years late. My oldest has now lost 8 teeth and has been using plastic ziploc baggies to put his tooth under his pillow. Pathetic, I know. So, when I saw this cute Tooth Fairy bag on the Purl Bee, I thought that maybe I had a chance to redeem myself. Maybe.

The instructions call for wool felt and I would have loved to use wool felt. But, the closest fabric store only carries real wool felt in the ugliest of colors. I even asked the manager if she had any plans for carrying more wool felt, and she said that she doesn't sell very much so probably not. Of course, me with my big mouth replied that maybe if they didn't carry ugly colors, it might sell better. Oops, that probably wasn't very nice. I went ahead and got the plastic felt so that my kids could pick out their favorite colors.

I loved that this project was so simple. It took me so little time to finish them, although I did learn that I need to work a little on my hand stitching. Three Tooth Fairy bags completed! My younger two haven't lost any teeth yet, so at least I'm ready for them.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Homeschool Planning 2009/2010

I'm finally starting to figure out our plan for this coming school year. As I mentioned before, we've been going along fine with AmblesideOnline, but I felt like I needed to make some adjustments for our family. One of the things that I feel isn't really working very well for us is the history component of Ambleside. It really bothered Boog that we started kind of in the middle of history. It didn't help that I haven't been very good about making sure that we are doing timeline work to make that more understandable. So, I've decided that we are going to put more emphasis on history this year. Since we already own A Child's History of the World by Hillyer, we are going to start at the beginning and work our way through the book together as a family. I'm going to add in supplemental readings from the Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of World History book as well as from books that I check out from the library. I also found this site that had great suggestions for activities and supplemental reading. For now, I'm going to put the history that AmblesideOnline has scheduled on hold. I want to give my ideas a try and see if it works any better for us. I'm also excited to start with prehistory because my 1st grader loves dinosaurs. I think this will be a great way to draw him into school this year.

I've decided to keep almost everything else as-is and go forward with the AmblesideOnline curriculum. So far, we've really loved the classic literature that is scheduled. My oldest said his very favorite book from last year was The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood and he even wants to dress up as Robin Hood for Halloween. That makes my geeky heart proud. heehee We're still going to use MEP for math and since we never got to Real Science 4 Kids Pre-Level Chemistry last year, we're going to do that in the coming weeks. After I get it down on paper and have a few weeks to settle into our new routine, I'll post how it's going.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Handmade Birthday Gift : Dishtowel Apron + Cookie Decorating Kit

One of my daughter's good friends, had a very special birthday last week - 5 years old! I really wanted to do something special for her. I knew her mom said she didn't have an apron, so that seemed like a good gift. But, I wanted to include something else with the apron. I thought about some cooking utensils or maybe a mix. Then I started thinking, what's every kids favorite part of making cookies? The decorating! So I decided to include some homemade sugar cookies and frosting along with pink and purple sprinkles!

Although the apron is very similar to the apron I made before, I did change a few things. Instead of using bias tape along the sides and for the straps, I turned over the seam and used a very long ribbon for the straps. I had to make the neck wider to accommodate the bigger seam. Instead of 6 inches, I made the neck 9 inches wide centered. I turned down a 1/4 inch seam, pressed it and then turned it about 1 inch to sew the casing. I threaded the ribbon through the casing and it was done!

My daughter was even able to help me with the apron this time. I added beads to the end of the ribbon to try to keep it from pulling out of the casing when putting it on. She painted these wooden beads especially for her friend. It was so much fun to work together on a project!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Homeschooling Update

working together to create a go-kart out of a cardboard box

It's that time of year again...when I look over what we accomplished last year and sigh. Somehow we never seem to make it through all my crazy lists - goals, books, projects. So looking over the past 12 months, we did accomplish a ton, just not what was on my list. I realized that we had so many extra things scheduled that we really struggled to get our "book work" done. Not that that was a bad thing, just that that's what happened. Also, the stress of Brad's layoff really did affect us as a family. I wasn't as focused on school as maybe I should have been and adjusting to having Daddy home all day every day maybe did affect us. After a couple of months, we did get into the groove and he was great working with the kids too. It's just that it interrupted our rhythm a bit.

found him reading in his bed today

But, for all that we missed, we gained so much. My oldest may not have read all the books I wanted him to read, but he did jump the hurdle to advanced reader. In fact, he's in the middle of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy now. I think that's a pretty amazing thing. My middle guy and I have made a lot of progress towards figuring out how best to work with each other. He's on his way to being a reader too. And my girl is chomping at the bit to start preschool this year. I think we are on track (whatever that means) and I'm not disappointed by our progress. Over the weekend, I plan on coming up with a plan for next year. I have some ideas for things I want to change to better meet our family's needs. I love AmblesideOnline and it will still play a huge role in our home learning, but I've had this nagging feeling over the last couple of months that I need to make some adjustments to make it a better fit for us. Hmm, I need to think about this some more. I'll post my plan soon!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Excitement in the Neighborhood

This charred bush caught on fire this evening. This area is behind our house next to the arroyo (or drainage ditch if you're not from New Mexico) and bike path. We saw it when it was really on fire, but I didn't get a picture. Thankfully, it wasn't spreading quickly to the other bushes and weeds around it.

The fire truck arrived via the bike path. For some reason this was especially funny for my kids.

The firefighters got the hose out and everything. My kids sat on our fence and watched the whole thing. They were so excited to see an actual fire and then watch the firefighters in action. They were thrilled when the firefighters honked and waved at them as they left. Thankfully, the whole thing wasn't serious. But, it did provide us with some excitement this evening.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Handmade Birthday Gift : Pencil and Paper Case

The flame version was my first attempt at a paper and pencil case. I made a few of these about a year ago for my boys and for a couple of gifts. I thought they came out pretty cute, but they had some major design flaws. First, the ribbon to tie it together was frustrating for my guys that couldn't tie bows at the time (not to mention the bow is just a little bit feminine looking.) Also, there was nothing to keep the pencils and pad of paper from falling out if the case was ever tipped over. And, at least with my kids, they had a difficult time keeping it in the upright position at all times. The last frustration was that the pad of paper had to be taken out of the case to draw. In the car, that meant juggling the pencils still in the case (but constantly falling out) with the pad of paper separately. In the end, these were tossed to the side because they just weren't very functional.

As I was searching for ideas for a birthday gift last week I stumbled on this paper and pencil holder at the Skip to My Lou website and blog. The blog is really wonderful! It's full of all kinds of ideas including a great list of handmade gift ideas. Since her design solved all of my design flaws, I decided to give it a try. I'm really happy with how it turned out. I used an old pair of jeans for the denim in the inside as well as a short section of the jean waistband for the closure. I used some scrap floral and lavender material for the cover and pencil pocket. Instead of a snap or button, I used iron-on velcro. I think the velcro will make it really easy to open and close. This one was obviously a gift for a girl, but I think it could very easily be made very boyish with different fabric. I'm really excited about that, because I sometimes struggle with handmade gift ideas for little boys. All three of my kids have already requested them too!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy Fireworks Day!!!

That's the greeting Brad and I woke up to this morning, "Happy Fireworks Day!" The kids were so excited. We had a fun night chatting with neighbors while watching all the little fireworks, the kids with sparklers and the big illegal ones being set off all around our neighborhood. We had quite the show!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Santa Fe Trip

Gosh, this summer is flying by! We have been so busy even with nothing special planned. We've been busy meeting friends at parks, the pool and for fun day trips. This past Saturday some of my friends and I took our kids up to Santa Fe for the day.

We decided to take the kids on the Railrunner, our commuter train. Here are a few of them watching out the window on our way up to Santa Fe. It was 4 moms with 9 children 8 years old and younger. I think everyone near us on the train thought we were a bit crazy. Haha, maybe we were. The train ride would have been wonderful except that I found out that I haven't outgrown the motion sickness I had as a kid. Man, I was feeling pretty blech. But, I made it. I think it will be awhile before I willingly take a train again.

Once there, we walked to a restaurant for lunch. We ate at the Cowgirl BBQ. It was delicious, the kids all liked it and the Mangorita (a mango margarita concoction) I had with lunch hit the spot. We even were complimented on how well-behaved our kids were. After lunch, we walked to the new New Mexico History Museum. My friend scored some free tickets and was so generous to share with us. I thought the museum was well done, but not very kid-friendly. There weren't any hands-on areas for the kids which was really too bad. I think it's somewhere we will have to go back to during the week when it isn't so crowded to explore some more. The thing my boys were most excited about was the R2D2 mailbox there on the plaza. They remembered it from when we went to the Art Museum a year or so ago. They had to have their picture taken with it. Such goofballs!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Two Book Recommendations

Here are two books that really need to be returned to the library. It's easy to tell which books that I especially enjoy, because I have such a hard time taking them back. So, even though I've already read them, I just keep renewing them. Then I feel bad because I want other people to have a chance to read them too, so I eventually, with much sadness, drop them in the book return. Thanks Amanda for recommending them to me!

The Creative Family by Amanda Blake Soule - The tag line on this book is "How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections." I loved it! I read the book cover to cover, which is not something I usually do for crafty type books. But, this book is more than just instructions for different crafts, it's more of an idea book on making your life one that encourages creativity in every area for all the members of the family. It was definitely inspirational. I think this is one that I'll want to purchase for our home library. I know that in August she'll have a new book out called Handmade Home. I can't wait. Her blog is pretty inspirational, too - SouleMama.

Having Faith: An Ecologist's Journey to Motherhood by Sandra Steingraber - This book was fascinating. It follows the author's own pregnancy month by month, her birth and her daughter's time breastfeeding. Interwoven into the story are discussions on the environmental toxins that can affect pregnancy and infant development. I can't decide if I would have wanted to read this book prior to having children. I think I would have, because knowledge is a good thing. I know that had I read this book first, I probably would have made some different decisions throughout my pregnancies. I think the hard part is that so many of the toxins that are affecting our children are things completely out of our individual control. The topics that she discusses are all things that I've thought about and wondered about, but never knew where to get real information. It's heavy on the science, but totally accessible for the science illiterate (me). And since the science is in the context of the story of her pregnancy, it kept my attention more than other non-fiction books.

Monday, June 15, 2009

My Little Monkey Girl

I know I've posted pics before of the kids climbing the tree in our backyard. But they usually would only climb the first couple of branches and stop to hang out. Not today. My sweet little girl decided that today she would climb to the top. Can you find her?

This was particularly appealing to her because her two older brothers had never attempted the climb to the top before. She would be the first. She loves to "one-up" them when she gets the chance.

So, while she scared me a little (ok maybe more than a little), I completely admire her determination. I started to say fearlessness, but I don't think that she's fearless. I think that she just doesn't let fear get in her way when she's decided that something is worth pursuing. While I'm proud of her accomplishment, I think I'll encourage her to stay closer to the ground at least for another couple of weeks. That's when the new health insurance kicks in. ;)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Awhile ago, I bought a fun melt and pour sampler kit from Brambleberry. I used most of it already, but still had some hemp soap and white soap left along with lots of fragrances to use. We were out of all of our homemade soap, so I thought today would be a good day to make some new fun soaps.

Melt and pour soaps are insanely easy. I don't even know why I put off using what I had left until now. Just melt the soap, add in the fragrance or essential oil you want, add color if you want and pour into a mold. My playgroup mama friends taught me how to do this a couple of years ago when we all got together to make Christmas gifts for our families. We made soap, lotion bars, bath salts, lip balms. It was so much fun!

I decided to use a lavender fragrance that I had in my sampler pack from Brambleberry. It seemed like a good choice for summer. Since the hemp soap already had a greenish tint, I decided not to add any color this time. I have a silicone mold made by Wilton that I love to use as a soap mold. The soaps come out so easily from the silicone. I've also found silicone ice cube trays that I've used for smaller fun shapes too. I couldn't find my spray bottle for rubbing alcohol to spray the soaps after pouring them into the molds. That helps to get rid of the bubbles. These ones aren't gifts, they're just for us. I didn't bother searching too hard.

Here they are out of the molds. I can't wait to try the hemp soap. I promised the kids we could use the white soap for some fun fish and summer shapes. I'm going to let them help with those and I'm sure it will involve some fun colors.

The next step is to try cold process soap. I've been nervous about trying it. But, the more I've read, the more I want to give it a go. Here's a great website for recipes and instructions for soaps and lotions -

Proof that Fairies are REAL!

The kids had a mission last night - to prove whether or not fairies are real. They figured out a way to set up a trap of sorts. Of course they didn't ask us grown ups. What do we know about fairies? I had an old bookshelf on the back patio that was destined for the trash. They put a ring of sandy dirt around some flower petals on the two shelves left. Their hope was that the fairies would have to walk through the sand to get to the flowers and leave footprints in the sand.

Lots of excitement this morning when all over the sand were tiny little footprints. They couldn't believe that they had in one night proved that fairies were indeed real! They made me come out and take pictures and asked me to post it on my blog. They decided that fairies must wear shoes based on the footprints. Also, somehow they came to the conclusion that fairies only come out at night and in the summer. I think maybe the fairies were trying to get out of the rain that we had early this morning.