Thursday, August 29, 2013

Sewing, Sewing, Sewing

I have been doing quite a bit of sewing this summer, which is a lot  considering I usually never sew. Strangely enough, I have enjoyed it--something I thought was not possible. As I have said before, listening to an audio book while sewing is the trick. It makes the whole experience so enjoyable. Plus, I am not quite as horrible as I thought. It is true that everything needs to be explained to me in a toddler-like fashion but once I get it, I can do it! 

So without further ado, here are some of my creations:

A wee mouse in a tin house, complete with a pillow and bedding! I saw it here and tried to recreate it to the best of my abilities. Elanor loves it and that is what is important.
The owl costume, which I have already blogged about.
This cute little skirt, which now that I have made a skirt I will do it much better next time!
Finally, here is the quilt top that I have been working on all summer. It is my first quilt and not perfect by any means. I went with an all squares quilt and I stitched the squares together without a set pattern. I like the way it turned out and will look so pretty in Elanor's room.
My friend, Megan at Bauer Handcrafted, is going to be quilting it and I'm excited to see how it will turn out!

I made Elanor a simple little autumn dress as well, but I am not quite finished with it. I also need to get started on Elanor's Little Red Riding Hood costume soon--because that is what she is going to be for Halloween and it is going to be adorable!

All this sewing is a big step for me. I can now put thread on a bobbin (there is probably a technical name for that action), load the bobbin in the machine and get the thread up and out, I can put in a needle, problem solve and untangle thread in the machine, clean and oil a sewing machine, etc. You might laugh (which is fine, I am laughing at myself too), but these are serious accomplishments for me. 

Wish me luck on the Red Riding Hood Costume!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

I'm Just So Grateful.

 For this guy and of course for this little girl.
 I feel so incredibly blessed to have them both in my life. Tyler is the best husband and father. He balances work and family so well. He is so sweet, hard working, considerate and loving.
 And silly.
Elanor does not really know how blessed she is to have such a good daddy. She will one day. I am so grateful for him and all he does for us.

I am so grateful for good husbands and fathers. For Tyler, of course, for my own wonderful dad, and for my Heavenly Father. I know they all love me and I feel so grateful.

This little video is so beautiful and says it all.

Happy Sunday!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Picture Books

This post has been floating around in my head for a long while. I just have not really sat down to write it because I have been sewing during every nap. I have finished the quilt top for Elanor, made her a dress, and a cute little mouse toy. Friends, this is a big deal for me. I am not crafty or good at sewing, but I am improving!

Back to books.
We love to read at our house. Elanor and I go to the library every week and check out books. There are so many books at the library and it is hard to sift through all of them and find good ones. I am always surprised by how many horribly written and horribly illustrated children's books are at the library or bookstore. So, I thought I would come up with a list of things I do when picking out a book to buy or checkout at the library.

1. The illustrations. If the pictures are bad, annoying, etc. I don't even bother. I want good art. It does not have to be Louvre worthy and can certainly be cartoony like Dr. Seuss and P.D. Eastman. I am just not a fan of ugly art. People may say kids don't care, but if the illustrations are not interesting then why would a kid look at the book, especially if they cannot read yet?
"The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit" by Emma Thompson, illustrated by Eleanor Taylor
 2. Plot. Is the story any good? What happens? Will it hold my interest? My kid's interest? If it is not a story but a counting book, poem book, etc. How good are the poems? Does the book count things that my child is interested in, etc.?

3. The quality of the writing. So, maybe a toddler will not pick up on this, or so you think... However, if children are being introduced  to the best books that are well written then the child is learning something about quality and he/she will eventually be able to differentiate and will copy the style of writing that they have read.

"Flower Fairies of the Winter" written and illustrated by Cicely Mary Barker (there is a poem for each fairy)
 4. Look for books that interest your children. Maybe you think this should be first, but since children have not belonged to this world for long they need their parents guidance. Otherwise, we might only be checking out princess books or if it is a little boy, only dump truck books. I always let Elanor pick a book out and I also look for books that I know she would enjoy. However, instead of Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" I would opt for finding the fairytale rewritten and illustrated by Jan Brett for example.  Disney books tend to be pretty poorly written even if their movies are not. In terms of informative books, Dorling Kindersley makes Eye Witness books on pretty much anything a kid is interested in, all with real life pictures. Everything from trains, to rocks, to Shakespeare to big cats. They even have the same sort of books for babies and toddlers that are shorter and simpler.
"Jamberry" written and illustrated by Bruce Degan.
5. Try out different sorts of books. I always try to buy/checkout a variety of books. Fairytales, nonfiction, books about animals, Dr. Seuss, poem books for children, counting books, alphabet books, books with certain morals behind them (Berenstein Bears or Aesop's Fables for example--yes I just put those two together, but they are sort of similar), rhyming books (like nursery rhymes), etc.
"A Child's Garden of Verses" by Robert Louis Stevenson. This is a great collection of poems by the guy who wrote "Treasure Island". He really understands what being a kid is all about.

6. You are always safe with the classics. They are classic for a reason. These are the books that have stood the test of time and will never go out of print. Children and parents alike love them and there id something special about sharing a book you loved as a kid with your own child. 

Some of our favorite classics include:

- Anything by Beatrix Potter--Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle  etc. (of course, she was pretty much the first original children's author/illustrator). She also wrote a few nursery rhyme books which are adorable.

-"Curious George" books by Margret and H.A. Rey. These books are tricky though because there are only seven books written by the original authors. The others are shorter, not as well written, and often the story can be annoying. It is also hard to find the real Curious George books because the new ones are tricky and still have the authors names on the book, They just say "based on the books by" "drawn in the style of". Kids like Curious George because he is a silly monkey they can relate to and the stories are always funny.

-Robert McCloskey. He wrote and illustrated, "Make Way for Ducklings", "Blueberries for Sal", "One Morning in Maine", etc.

-"Goodnight Moon"written by Margret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd. Doesn't everyone own this book? 

-"Madeline" books written and illustrated by Ludwig Bemelmans. Perhaps more to a girl's taste, but Pepito does play a large role in most of the books. These books have beautiful pictures and it is so fun to read with a French accent.

-Dr. Seuss of course. We really like "Green Eggs and Ham" at our house.

-P.D. Eastman. His books all have the "Cat in the Hat" on them but they are not by Dr. Seuss. Some of his books include, "Go, Dog Go" and "Are You My Mother?".

-Richard Scary. Busy Town, "Best Word Book Ever", etc. and there is always so much to look at in his books.

-Eric Carle. "The Very Hungry Catapillar", etc. All of his books are good and so pretty to look at.

-"Angelina Ballerina" books written by Katherine Holabird and illustrated by Helen Craig. I loved these when I was little and Elanor does now as well. Perhaps most boys would not be interested in these books about a little dancing mouse, but her cousin, Henry, does have a pretty large role in many of the books.

-Jan Brett. She has something for everyone! She has stories about girls, boys, trolls, gingerbread boys, fairy tales, jungle animals, desert animals, safari animals, turtles, etc. She writes a lot of Christmas books as well. She was pretty much my favorite author/illustrator as a kid (now too!). Her illustrations are very detailed and beautiful. She often tells Scandinavian stories, which I love since I am part Norwegian. 

I am also a big fan of Fairy Tales/Folk Tales. They have been around since before people wrote down stories, so they are obviously good. I love all the Grimm's Fairy Tales and also anything about King Arthur and his knights, American Tall Tales, etc. Elanor loves fairy tales and never tires of "Cinderella", "Little Red Riding Hood", "Goldilocks and the Three Bears", "Snow White" etc. I also love finding new versions of these stories! I don't mean hearing the story from the wolf's point of view--that is just silly, but new illustrations, retold in a clever way, etc. Jan Brett has done a few fairy tales and I love her versions.

 The most important thing you can do to get your child to love reading is simply to have a lot of books available. Of course, reading to your children, etc. is important as well. It is fun for me to read to Elanor and see her love of reading develop. 

I am by no means a perfect mom and could be much better in other areas, but in terms of books and cultivating her love of reading-- this is something I do well--probably because I love books so terribly much.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


My parents came to visit and it was so nice to have them here! I love it when family comes to visit. We had a lot of fun on this short visit and it makes me miss living close to home. We'll get back to Oregon one of these days! For now, we really enjoy the visits--so family keep coming!
On the carousel at Liberty Park.

Paddle boating with Nan and Grandpa.

We went on a beautiful hike through the Alta ski resort. It was stunning! Go up there if you ever get the chance.
Grandpa and Elanor

Lucky little girl got some new "Brave" toys from Nan and Grandpa.
All the Reed ladies (Susy--my cousin, my Aunt Terri, my mom, and I)

 I love this whole series of pictures I took of these three (I have a lot more)! 
I especially like this one:
Silly faces.

Thanks Mom and Dad for coming! We miss you already.

Monday, August 5, 2013