Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Birthday Craft

As per usual I didn't end up making as much for Louise as I'd planned.  At the last minute I simply couldn't find that dang zipper for the sleeping bag and the roving never got purchased for the felted elephants...there's always Christmas though, right?

Still I got the most important things done and just in time.  First on the list was a backpack for Louise for playschool.  while not entirely necessary at this stage I think it makes her feel like a big kid to wear one to school and a bit secure knowing that a lovie, a drink and a snack are always close at hand.

I used the same pattern I used for Ainsley's backpack and loved making it just as much as hers.  I skipped all of the interfacing mainly because I've found that with two layers of thick fabric it's sturdy enough without it and much easier to sew.  For her bag I used another pair of Ian's old corduroys.  I love the texture and sturdiness they lend to the construction.  For the front and lining I used an old shirt of mine that's soft as can be.  I just sewed the button band right up adding a cute little chevron pattern with the machine for detail.  For the front pocket and back I cut up and old crazy pillowcase I found last winter at the economy shop.  I knew I'd find a good use for that cooky print some day!  I love how it turned out and Louise seems pretty please too.

Next up, clothes!  Being the second girl in our house Louise has precious few "new" duds all her own.  While I don't mind, in fact LOVE, that we need to buy very little for her, it's still fun to get something new, albeit mama made every once in a while.

I made her a new fall sweater with lucious superwash merino by Madeline Tosh and the tiny tea leaves cardigan by the same designer.  I LOVE this sweater, good thing too as I'm currently half done with one for Ainsley and even have yarn for myself for this very pattern waiting upstairs.  It knitted up so quick and cute with just enough detail to look a bit fancy when need be, yet sturdy enough for everyday wear and washing.  I can't wait for cooler weather so it can be worn and loved!

And then of course another pair of quick change trousers.  Most of my free time is spent finding fabric combinations for new pairs of these pants.  They're addicting to make and so cute to wear (even if a few of them that I've gifted have been misinterpreted as jammie pants...these pants were meant to be seen people!).

This pair is flannel lined with an old plaid shirt of Ian's and a remnant of a lusciously soft flannel I found at the economy shop last season.  The front is some leftover cotton from some curtains I have yet to hang for Ainsley's room and the yoke it one of my FAVORITE prints from a scrap pile I ordered from Alewives (my favorite economical way to acquire beautiful designer fabric for a steal).

I love these pants!!!

And last but not least, Ainsley's gift.

I sat down with Ainsley about a month back and we went through all of my sewing books, talking about what she would like to make for Louise.  She immediately honed in on Henny Penny for Handmade Beginnings and thus, this adorably soft mama hen and six tiny chicks were hatched.

Ainsley had a bast helping me pick out the fabric from our basement stash and even trace a cut a few pieces out.  She is desperate to sew all on her own, but for now is content enough to sit on my lap or next to me while I execute her plan.  Someday soon big girl!

The tiny chicks nestle neatly under their mamas wings on a hidden velcro strip.  Louise has been sleeping with Henny Penny ever since and every morning I've found all the chick next to her in bed.  What a sweet clever toy!

Ah, as much as I love making gifts I'm thankful for a bit of a break now.  That was one busy summer of sewing and crafting!  You're worth it Louise :o) and you too all you end of summer/early fall birthdays!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Louise is Two!

I have no idea how this happened, how my baby turned two.  I told her over and over, whispered in her ear countless times that she was not allowed to grow up, commanded her to stay small and baby as long as she could.  Ah, but they rarely listen, do they?

Really the growing is wonderful.  Our sweet Louise talks in full sentences, sings all the live long day, dances and jumps, runs and climbs, draws and draws with tidy little marks.  She is so independent and joyful and sweet.  Her sister and she disappear countless times in a day just to play on their own, make mischief and wonder and fun.  I'm not needed so much anymore, except of course for those morning " Mama, mama, I love you mama" snuggles and those "lay down mama, read books and sings songs" goodnights.  It's so wonderful to see my little lady emerging.

We got to celebrate our sweet Louise turning two over and over again, one of the perks to an end of summer birthday I suppose.  First in Minnesota with Aunties and Uncles and Grammy and Pop, Nana and Grandpa Dan too. Then here in our home with good friends and sun, and then again with just us 5 (yes Auntie Sonya too).  Each celebration was special and simple and good.  In the end it's all about this little one of ours and her growing up and reveling in the wonder of a whole new year.

For Louise's friend party I wanted to keep it simple and all about the things my girl loves most, so Eggs and Elephants it was!  I planned a few simple activities (felt elephant masks and flower arranging), lots of food and fun (egg cupcakes, fruit wands, popcorn trail mix, and a few rounds of toddler musical chairs), kept the decorations simple (punching balloons and fan flowers hung from our laundry line).  We had a blast!

I FINALLY made a birthday crown for Louise, something I've been wanting to do with both girls for quite some time now.  It really was so simple and quick and I love that I can just keep adding a star each year to mark her age and the elastic should work forever!

On her actual birthday we woke up us four and showered our dumpling with treasures.  Ainsley was desperate to be first.  She and I had worked hard on her gift and it was delightful to see her so excited to share her gift.

After a few gifts and pancakes we dolled up and loaded up heading off to Cantigny Gardens and a diner lunch out in Wheaton.  As we sang along merrily to Mr Rogers in the car the skies opened up and the rain did not let up, so we revamped and spent the morning perusing books at Barnes and Nobel, then dashed to the Cheesecake Factory in a full out downpour for birthday lunch.  We had such fun despite the rain.

Louise trying some of Ian's coke, those bubbles are so silly

After good naps and cheesecake snack we continued the celebration, opening the rest of the gifts and delighting in it all.

these poly dot markers were a big hit

Dinner was mac and cheese and hot dogs, OF COURSE, per Louise's request.  I made homemade, much to Ian's chagrin, but I just can't pass up the opportunity to make fancy mac and cheese.

cake time!

What a fun week of celebrating we've had.  Now we're enjoying our one day of calm until playschool starts for my little girl tomorrow.  I can hardly believe it!

The Calm

A post to come so soon on sweet Louise's second birthday (well really birthday(s), so much celebrating!) but first a note on this calm.

This calm that has come with the clouds and rain.  This calm that has snuck it's way in before the real hustle and bustle.  This calm that knows we need it, after so many tumultuous weeks behind us and so much change ahead.  We're drinking it in.

So in between the new parent meetings, teacher home visits, and first day jitters we're calm.  We're snuggling longer in the mornings while we still can, letting jammies stay on longer than they should, planning nothing other than time with each other.  I'm so thankful for this calm right now.  And hoping and praying that all the change to come is good and easy for us all.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

End of Summer

We got in yesterday afternoon after a solid 8 hour drive.  Ian insisted I call him, letting him know when we were close so he could greet us.  We dove into our boy's arms and relished in the togetherness that has been so fleeting this summer.  It's been hard, it conitnues to be hard, but boy does it make those moments shine.

This morning I awoke before them all.  So rested from sleeping in my own bed.  I made a cup of cinamon vanilla tea, too smitten to be annoyed that Ian forgot to replenish the coffee (ok, maybe a LITTLE annoyed :o).  Once the girls and Ian arose we went about our normal morning ritual, Ian left promplty at 7:45 and us girls stirred up the oatmeal.  We watched as the throngs of children paraded to school, sparkling backpacks and bulging school sacks in hand.  

It's fall, well almost.  Still, time to reflect on summer, this long hard wonderful summer.  I must admit, I'm nostalgic already.  This fall and coming year brings so many changes for our little family.  I'm taking a moment now just to relish in what has been.

The weather at the cabin was cooler this past trip, but marvelous all the same.  The girls didn't mind the chill in the water and the wild woods and crackling fires made up for any clouds.

::my sweet swimming Louise::

::to prove I wore a swimsuit too a bit!::

::the beautiful woods::


::keeping warm::

::knitting, a fire, and anne shirley, perfection::

::Ainsley always managed to creep over to Louise's bed, my heart melted every night::

::Grammy story time::

::having fun with Auntie Jooj::

::Itasca County Fair::

::mid day fire and knitting, can I spend every nap time this way?::

On this trip I tried the girls in the same room for the first time.  It was a wild success.  Ainsley was the perfect tiny mother singing Louise to sleep and egging her on in mischief.  I nearly always found them curled up next to each other in the same bed when I went in to kiss them goodnight.  Ah my big girls, such friends those two are turning out to be.

On this trip we made lots of fires.  Fires indoors and out, for s'more-ing and for warmth.  It got down to the 40s some night and it was beyond delightful to need those extra sweaters and socks I packed just in case.

On this trip I knit like a madwoman.  I'm determined to finish Louise's sweater for her birthday on Sunday...with a few other last minute project musts we'll see what gets done!

On this trip I forgot books. Not for the girls, oh no, but for me.  So I scrounged around the old cabin and found a few Reader's Digest Condensed books...oh man, I forgot how great those are and how WEIRD Stepford Wives is.  Amazing.

On this trip we ventured south to the Itasca County Fair.  After missing the state fair in MN for 4 straight years that corn dog couldn't have tasted better.  We took Louise on her first rides (she's a BIG fan) and Auntie Jooj took Ainsley on her first big girl ride (eh, not so much).  We saw tons of cute animals and enjoyed the general spirit of fun.

On this trip we took many walks, picked wildflowers and the few raspberries that we could find.  We splashed and drove boats, snuggled in the cool mornings and spent one dark rainy day watching all our old favorite shows (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Anne of Green Gables).

On this trip I was reminded so much of the trips we used to take as children.  It felt slower and easier than past trips.  Perhaps it's that my girls continue to grow so and don't need me every minute for every little thing.  I see years and years ahead for us, enjoying this place.  I just hope Ian can come next time, and I know he hopes too.

What a great way to end the summer.