Friday, November 15, 2013

legions of dragons

I recently got multiple custom order requests for the same thing (at about the same time) - dragon puppets in a variety of bright colors! Funny that I got the orders all around the same time, and they were all being used as party favors for kids' birthday parties. (Can't wait for my kids to get old enough to ask why I don't give out awesome themed party favors for their parties…:)

Anyway, in the process, I ended up making nearly 70 dragon puppets over the course of about two weeks! It was intense! And one night when my husband had to work late, I told him it was ok, I'd just be working on my legions of dragons.

To which he responded that I now have to write a children's fantasy novel with that title. So I will now be accepting potential plot lines or dragon names for my debut novel! (Confession: I have actually always dreamed of writing a novel. Maybe I will! Not sure if it will be about dragons though.)

I was really happy with the way these all turned out - I'd only ever done green dragons before, but I love the bright rainbow of colors!

You learn some interesting things when making large quantities of any item. For instance, the cute little details that I loved about these dragons when I designed them began to cause some serious hand cramping from cutting out all those tiny pieces. We're talking nearly 150 little dragon ears, friends! I really wish I'd taken a picture of the piles of little pieces I had all over the table - wings, tails, ears, etc. in bright little fuzzy mounds. Or at least a picture of all of them! But some were finished and shipped before the rest based on when the orders came in.

But I do have some pictures in various stages of done-ness.

Paint drying, waiting for snouts and fire.

Just about done, waiting for the last of the paint on the eyes to dry!

Stacks of finished dragons! (Sorry, not the greatest picture I know… I took it on my phone with weird light coming through the blinds. Oh well.)

I really did enjoy making all of these dragons, and find it so funny that I got all the orders so close together. I actually made some extras just in case I got any more requests!

Now I'm off to go finish up my zoos, nativities, and some Christmas projects for a Christmas boutique coming up in a few weeks. I'll post more info on it soon!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

I'll eventually get around to posting pictures of our Halloween costumes that I made, but for now, enjoy a little preview of this fun puppet set I made for a custom order from my shop.

I thought it was appropriate to share today! Although some people say "Nightmare Before Christmas" is a Christmas movie, not a Halloween movie, I think it's brilliant marketing to get people to watch it for the whole season! :)

I'll post some more pictures and close-ups of this fun set another day. But for now, off to start the wrestling match known as getting my kids into their Halloween costumes and not ruining them before we even leave to go trick-or-treating!

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

like a kid in a candy shop

That's how I feel going into fabric stores, especially when they're having big sales! I just couldn't help myself, and ended up buying lots of fabric yesterday.

But see, I could justify at least some of it because I need to make our Halloween costumes. And I got some orders from my shop, so I needed to get some more felt. And well, I'm sure I'll find lots of awesome things to do with all that adorable Christmas fabric! I'm planning to make stockings this year, and maybe a matching tree skirt, and hopefully an advent calendar that I've been planning to make for a couple years now. And I have a few ideas for Christmas items for the shop. Assuming I get them made in time... 

So this should keep me busy for a while! I'll be sure to share the finished products whenever I actually get them finished!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

reading chart and preschool fun

I started a little preschool group with a few other moms (and their kids, of course) in my neighborhood, and so far it's been really great! It's pretty laid back, and we're focused more on building social skills, learning to follow routines, hands-on play and activities, and that sort of thing than a rigid curriculum. We are following my "letter a day" outline (which I'll post soon!) but that's more about having fun themes to follow, and starting to build letter recognition. We do lots of fun games, read stories, hands-on activities, and just let the kids play.

Anyway, more on that another day! But on the days we don't have our preschool group, I've been trying to work on reading with Jack. He knows all his letters, and he loves when I read to him, so we're trying to read lots and start to work on word recognition. We're a long way away from him actually reading, but the more we read, the better, for so many reasons!

So I made this chart for him to set some reading goals and start keeping track of how much reading we're doing.

Charts really work for motivating him. I think it's the visual reminder along with the immediate reward of putting a sticker on the chart, which reminds him of his long-term reward/goal. Whatever it is, they work for us - for potty training, behavior goals, etc. Now we just have to decide what the reward will be when we reach the goal!

I remember my mom reading to me and my sisters when we were little, which is what started my love affair with reading. She read to us all the time, and encouraged us to read as well - we even set reading goals! My love of reading is what to led to my (albeit brief) career as an English teacher before deciding to take a break to stay home with my boys. Can you blame me for wanting to turn my kids into little bookworms too?

I just re-read this post. It's rather rambling and random, but I guess that's just indicative of my life right now. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

princesses, dragons, and knights, oh my!

It only took about nine months... but I finally got around to making more fairy tale finger puppets! And in more colors! I decided I need to start stocking up for the holidays, since that's always my busiest time for my shop. So I started with these little cuties.

So, somehow my three-year-old knows what a knight is, and informed me that this knight was going to ride a horse and go on a quest. He never ceases to crack me up!

Here are the different color options I have so so far.

I decided to just start with princesses in pink, blue, and purple, with coordinating knights and castles. But if they do well, or if I have time, I want to add some more colors or color combinations. What color(s) would you want?

My favorite part about designing any of my puppet sets is the little details. I think my favorites on this set are the little sparkly heart on the princess's crown, the little dragon ears, and the knight's shield.

And of course, the castle doubles as a pouch to hold your puppets when you're done playing!

I've got several new sets in various stages of design, and I'm excited to get them finished over the next few weeks. And some fun Christmas crafts, and of course Halloween costumes! It should be a busy fall!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Bridal Shower Fun!

The three people who actually ever read my blog may have noticed that I haven't posted anything in ages. What have I been up to lately, you ask? Well,  the lack of blogging is somewhat because I've been lazy (at least when it comes to writing/blogging) but also because I was busy helping plan my sister's wedding! She got married a couple weeks ago, but I spent the last two months helping plan the wedding and hosting bridal showers, and keeping my mother sane. :)

Here's a picture from one of the showers of the "welcome table." We had a sign that said "Please write your name and address on an envelope. Thanks!" which I thought was a great idea for helping the bride out. In the middle we had jars for our Mad Lib game with signs that said "adjective," "noun," "number," and "verb," with little strips of paper in front of them. Last we had a sign that said "Share some words of wisdom with the bride and groom" and a little advice book made in their wedding colors.

I wish I'd gotten a close-up of the advice book, because I'm pretty proud of the way it turned out! I just got scrapbook paper in the wedding colors, cut it down to about index-card size, and tied it with lace ribbon (lace was a theme throughout the wedding.) The cover had a contrasting stripe of color, a strip of lace, and the large stamped "H" for the soon-to-be couple's last name. *You can find monogram letter stamps at Michael's in the dollar bins!

I also wish I'd gotten some pictures of the food. It was pretty amazing, let me just say. Plan a good menu, and you won't need decorations or lame games!

But we did have a few pretty good games I wanted to share with you! In fact, several people told me these were the best shower games they'd ever played!

Here's our Marriage Advice Mad Lib game! (just click the image above for a full-size printable version) I've seen a bunch floating around online that are actual advice - like, you look at the page and fill in the blanks with real responses. That is not how Mad Libs work! So I made a much more entertaining and authentic version, where guests just wrote random words and stuck them in a jar, then I picked them out at random to fill it in. 

Let's just say it was pretty hilarious. One of my favorites was #4, which ended up saying "Be the first to say, 'I'm gorgeous.'" Or #1 which said "Never go to bed sexy." Great advice!

The other game was the "He Says/She Says" game, where you ask the bride and groom different questions, type up some of their responses, and have guests guess who said what. It's a fun way to get to know the bride and groom a little bit. And it was especially fun because this bride and groom have such a similar sense of humor, that it was really hard to guess!

There's a copy of our "He says, she says" game if you want to get some ideas!

Yay sisters! (Ignore the fact that it's blurry...) Happy bride in the middle, and "little" sister who helped me organize two showers and a bachelorette party! Love these girls!

It was a busy summer, and now I'm going to be busy with helping with another sister's wedding (yay!) and also with starting a preschool group. Lots more preschool posts coming soon!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

some recent projects

I've been kind of slacking in the blog-posting field as of late. Some of that is because I've been spending more time posting on my food blog. And some of it is that we've been spending lots of time out in our yard and at the park because the weather's been so nice!! Oh, I love spring! And there's a new park with a splash pad really close to us, so we've been there almost every day since it opened. Loving it.

But I have managed to squeeze in a few other projects and orders from my etsy shop.

One of these projects was making some new sheets and a pillow case for my little boy! Now that he's been in a toddler bed for a while, and is actually using a pillow sometimes (although about half the time we find it either on top of him, or on the floor), I figured I should make him some new sheets with a matching pillow case.

And of course I used the same fabric as his beloved "train blankie!" This kid is obsessed with trains, and I'm pretty sure his train blanket is his very most prized possession. So I'm hoping he'll love having his whole bed and pillow covered in the same fabric! Maybe it'll even encourage him to stay in his bed more. (Wishful thinking, I'm sure.)

I've also been working on some new puppet sets that hopefully will be finished and up in the shop soon! But first I've got to deal with a birthday and party for my soon-to-be three-year-old. Can't believe he's getting so big!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

starting seeds in egg cartons

It's that time of year again! Time to play in the dirt! I'm not quite sure what it is, but there's something that I absolutely love about gardening - squishing the soil between my fingers (no, I don't wear gloves), watching for the tiny little seedlings to emerge, the leaves and flowers grow, then the tiny fruits and vegetables start to form... Plus, then you get delicious fresh fruits and vegetables from your own yard! Maybe it's just the magic of watching life change and grow. Whatever it is, I have been so excited this week about getting things ready for my garden!

This year, most of my gardening will have to be container gardening. So we bought a few planters, and I'm planning to steal borrow a few from my mom that she doesn't use.

Since it's still too cold to plant anything outside yet (stupid snow predicted next week), we started some seeds inside. Last year, I wrote a post about starting seeds in strawberry containers. Well this year, we decided to use egg cartons.

They've already sprouted! I'm so excited! And so is Jack. We read Eric Carle's The Tiny Seed in preschool, and then planted our seeds. He loooooved filling the cartons with the soil once he realized it was okay that he was getting all dirty! He also helps me water them every day and gets so excited when he sees a new one coming up. And he keeps insisting that they're going to grow giant flowers which he will give to his grandmas. Too cute.

So why egg cartons instead of strawberry containers? A few reasons:
1. We had egg cartons and didn't have strawberry containers
2. The strawberry containers work well as little greenhouses for seeds that need to stay warm, but we weren't worried about that this year with the seeds we were planting
3. The egg cartons are biodegradable so we could theoretically just cut them apart and plant them. Although if we do that, I'll be sure to score them first so the roots can get out more easily.

What you'll need:
Cardboard egg cartons
Seed starting soil (I used Black Gold seedling mix)
Marker and/or pen

1. Use the scissors to cut the lids off the egg cartons and to poke holes in the bottom of each well. (We actually used a pen to poke the holes so Jack could do it himself.)

2. Use the marker or pen to write on the outside of each what type of seed you'll be planting (unless it's just one kind). I just wrote the first letter - Z for zucchini, L for lettuce, etc.

3. Fill each well with the soil.

4. Follow the directions on the seed packets for planting depth, and plant your seeds! Water, place in a sunny location, and wait for the magic! And of course, continue watering as the soil dries out.

5. When the weather is warm enough (or your garden is ready) transplant the little seedlings to your garden! You'll want to make sure they've spent some time outdoors before transplanting so they've started acclimating. Then either gently squeeze the dirt and plant up and out of the carton; or cut the carton apart, slice some stripes vertically to allow the roots to grow more easily, and plant in the garden!

Happy gardening!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Preschool activity - learning shapes and making monsters

Sorry I've been seriously slacking on posting anything lately - we've been busy and sick and enjoying the brief moments of spring sunshine we've had around here! In fact, we even took a week of "Spring Break" from preschool a couple weeks ago when we had a whole week of nice weather! We spent every day at the park or in our backyard soaking up as much sunshine as we could, knowing that winter wasn't really over for us just yet.

I've also been seriously slacking in the crafting department. I just haven't been motivated to actually dig out all my sewing stuff and make anything lately! Some day, I'm sure. I've still got lots of ideas bubbling around in my brain, just haven't found the time/energy to actually make any of them.

So instead I've been focusing more of my energy on preschool time! We finished the whole alphabet (doing a letter a day) and now we're just kind of winging it for now. I think we'll start on numbers soon.

The other day we did a Monster theme day, working on learning (practicing) shapes. And it was a lot of fun!

I helped him with the writing, but he chose the names. Silly kid!

First we read a story about monsters. There are so many to choose from! Here's a few of my favorites:
  • The Monster at the End of this Book (Sesame Street Golden Book
  • Where the Wild Things Are
  • That's Not My Monster (touchy-feely book)
  • Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems
  • A Very Hairy Little Monster (it's a free iBook!)
We read A Very Hairy Little Monster 1) because we actually had it and 2) because the illustrations are very geometric and kind of silhouette style, so we could talk about the shapes.

Then we cut out a bunch of different shapes in different colors from construction paper.

I did most of the cutting since he's not very good with scissors yet, and his shapes would have pretty much all been blobs... but he picked which colors for which shapes and such!

Then I told him to make a monster with his shapes! He just glued the shapes onto a piece of paper. I guided him along by saying things like "Which shape do you want to use for his tummy?" or "He needs arms! What shape should his arms be?" or "Where should we put this square?" And then basically just let him go. We would name the color and shape of each piece as he glued it on. He ended up making two monsters and a monster pet with the shapes we'd cut out.

Then, since he said his monsters were holding hands, and they were friends, we decided to write "Monster Friends" on the page. He's getting really good at identifying letters, but still can't really write any of them. So I held his hand as we wrote on his paper, and he would tell me each letter after we wrote it.

And yes, their names are Brownie, Kevin, and Snail. The one named Snail is, according to him, a monster dog. Not a snail. That's just his name. I don't know where he comes up with these things. 

Some things I really liked about this activity:
- It was a theme he enjoys
- It was a very hands-on, self-guided activity
- It allowed him to be creative
- It reinforced a several of the concepts we've been working on lately, showing how they work together, and allowing him to show his understanding of them
- And most of all: he had a lot of fun learning!

We both really enjoyed this, and I think I want to do it again. I picked monsters because I felt like no matter how he put the shapes together it would work. What other themes could you do with this activity instead of monsters?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

preschool activities - learning letters

I've been seriously slacking in the creating department lately... I haven't made or listed anything new in my etsy shop since Christmas! Part of that was moving (my sewing machine's been in the garage since we moved...), part of it was being burnt out from Christmas orders, but I think the biggest part is that my creative energy has mostly turned elsewhere - to preschool! I've been having lots of fun planning activities, themes, games, crafts, etc. I think it's the teacher in me resurfacing. Maybe it makes me a huge nerd, but I love designing curriculum!

Some day I'll get organized and actually post more details on all of our activities, but for now how's a little sampling of some of the fun we've been having.

We're learning a letter a day! So I've been coming up with a theme based on each letter, and we read stories that go with that theme, and then do some type of craft or activity to go along with it. My goal with this is primarily letter recognition - we're still a ways away from reading I think. But it seems to really be helping with knowing what each letter looks like.

We try to do projects/crafts with things we already have around the house - so we did apple stamping for the letter A (which didn't turn out very well... but you just cut the apple in half horizontally so you can see the star in the middle, then use it as a stamp); cotton ball clouds for the letter C; a paper hat for the letter H; an egg carton caterpillar for the letter I, for insects; pipe cleaner, googley eye, and pom-pom monsters for the letter M; and a toilet paper roll owl for the letter O.

Holding his egg carton caterpillar - so easy to make! Just cut an egg carton in half, poke a pipe cleaner through for antennae, and let them color it with markers. We also glued on googley eyes, but he has since pulled them off of course. He also named his caterpillar Plau. No idea where he came up with that one. (The owl's name is Bert. They're friends now.)
We did hat sorting and counting for the letter H. I got out about 10 hats belonging to different family members, and we sorted them by size - smallest to biggest. He's wearing baby brother's hat in this picture. It's his favorite because it has a dinosaur.

Now lest you think I live in some perfect world where my two-year-old magically goes along with all of the preschool activities, I had to bribe him to take the hat picture. He threw a huge tantrum when I tried to put the paper hat on his head. The playdoh was 1) supposed to be 4 distinct colors and 2) not be in his train car (which he now calls his playdoh car). And there are many days where he informs me he doesn't want to do preschool (once we get started he's usually happier about it). But one day we were running a bit later than usual, and it was past the time we normally start, and he looks up at me and says, "Mommy, I want to do preschool!" Makes it all worth it. Plus, he actually knows most of the alphabet now!

A few other ideas for learning letters - check out the website It's got lots of great games and activities! We've been doing the ABC activities each day for the letter we worked on that day. 

We also found this iphone app called Endless Alphabet, and it's great! (and free!) Jack calls it monster letters because they have these cute monster animations, and when you touch the letters they get little monster faces and make the sound of their letter. So it teaches what the letters look like and sound like, and new words and how to spell them.

Well, if I ever get organized enough I'll do a series of posts with some of the ideas/activities for each letter. In the meantime, I'd love to hear any great ideas or activities you've come up with!

Friday, February 15, 2013

chocolate covered strawberry cream pie

Happy Valentine's Day! I hope it was filled with lots of love (and chocolate!)

Here's what I made for our Valentine's treat:

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cream Pie

I love making pies. I make lots of pies for Thanksgiving (have since I was in junior high) and I have a little dream to one day open up a little pie shop. So I often invent pie recipes in my head. I rarely actually make them... but I'm working on ways to make that happen more often (without consuming mass quantities of pie.)

Therefore I give you: Valentine's Pie!

For this pie I actually broke one of my cardinal rules of pie making - I used a store-bought crust! But I knew I didn't have time to experiment with making my own chocolate crust, and I needed a disposable pie tin (I took one of the pies to a neighbor) so I caved. It wasn't terrible... but I definitely want to come up with my own crust for this pie next time.

This recipe makes two pies - perfect for sharing the love!

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cream Pie Recipe

2 chocolate cookie pie crusts (like Oreo or Keebler)

Chocolate custard:
5 Tbsp cornstarch
1 cup sugar
pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups milk (I used 2%)
3/4 cup half-and-half
3 egg yolks
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (milk or semi-sweet would work too)

Strawberry cream:
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
3/4 cup strawberry puree 
1/2 can sweetened condensed milk

Mix cornstarch, sugar and salt in a saucepan. Add milk and half-and-half. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until smooth and thick. (This takes a long time - be patient!)

With the egg yolks in a small bowl, slowly stir in at least 1/2 cup of the cream mixture (this keeps the eggs from scrambling in the hot custard). Slowly pour the egg mixture into the saucepan with the rest of the cream, stirring well. Cook 2-3 minutes more, stirring. 

While this finishes cooking, melt the chocolate chips in the microwave, about 30 seconds. (They don't have to be completely melted) 

Remove pan from heat and add butter, vanilla, and melted chocolate chips. Stir well to make sure chocolate is completely melted and mixed.

Pour half of the custard into each pie shell and put them in the refrigerator. 

While the chocolate custard is setting, make the strawberry cream.
Puree the strawberries in a blender or food processor until smooth. (It takes about 1 1/2 cups of berries to make 3/4 cup puree). 
Whip the whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Slowly fold in the strawberry puree and sweetened condensed milk. You can add a little more of the sweetened condensed milk if the strawberries are really tart - but don't add too much or it will overpower the strawberry flavor and make the cream runnier.

The strawberry cream will be about the consistency of yogurt (and feel free to eat it by the spoonful like yogurt! It's pretty tasty!)

Pour (or spoon) half of the strawberry cream on top of the chocolate layer in each pie. Put them back in the refrigerator to set up for at least 4 hours, or even overnight. The strawberry layer may be a bit runny - the longer it stays in the fridge the better!

Top with a chocolate covered strawberry and chocolate shavings, and serve!

Doesn't it look so scrumptious with that strawberry next to it? You can see though that the strawberry layer is starting to run a little bit... still delicious though!

So now here's my question: What should I do with the other half of a can of sweetened condensed milk?

Note: the chocolate custard layer is adapted from the Lion House Cream Pie recipe.

Update: I recently decided to start a separate blog for recipes and food/cooking tips. You can see this pie recipe and a whole lot more over at Modern Mommy's Kitchen!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

the dot preschool activities - learning colors

We started doing preschool at home a few weeks ago, and so far it's going really well! I get some protestation now and then (he is still a two-year-old!) but mostly he really likes it. Some days I have very planned activities, and other days I let him take the lead, choosing which books we read, and whether he wants to color or paint, etc. But we always follow our preschool schedule, which really helps curb some of the protesting and whining to do other things. He knows the routine now.

One of my favorite preschool days so far was one of the days that we worked on colors. (Now I have to admit, Jack already knows his colors pretty well, so some of these activities may have to be adapted or more guided for kids who don't know their colors at all yet. But it's good practice and reinforcement, plus great for counting/sorting by color.)

First we read The Dot by Peter Reynolds. If you haven't read it, you should! I love this book! It's a cute, fun story about how we all have the ability to create. I think the message was a little over his head, but he liked the idea of painting dots in lots of different colors!

So that's what we did next. And by painting dots, I mean he got paint on his paintbrush and rather aggressively jabbed his paper with it, which left more splats than dots. But every time, we would practice saying which color paint he was using, and he would yell "dot!" when he hit the paper.

Then I got out Twister! I had basket with a bunch of small toys and other objects that matched the colors on the game (toy cars, legos, cookie cutters, pipe cleaners, paint chips, etc), and told him to put all the green toys on the green circles, the yellow toys on the yellow circles, and so forth. He actually caught on faster than I thought he would, and loved this new "game!" And of course, being the somewhat OCD child that he is, he lined up all the hot wheels cars in a row, all the pipe cleaners in a row, etc. He cracks me up.

We played another more active game on the Twister board too - he would stand at one end, and I would tell him things like "jump on all the blue circles" or "run on the red circles." Not surprisingly, he loved this game even more! And very quickly insisted that "Mommy run too!" So we ran and jumped and raced on the different colors for a while. We would also count the circles as we stepped on each one (except when we were running of course!)

And to finish it off, for part of his snack he got m&m's - little colored dots! So we sorted and counted them by color as he ate them.

There are so many other activities you could do with this theme! Learning, sorting, and finding colors is so much fun for kids this age - just look around your house and see what you have. Anything from crayons to paint chips to fabric scraps will work. Be creative, and most of all, make it hands-on for the kids!

Monday, January 28, 2013

zoo animals finger puppets

I think I burned myself out with the craziness of this past Christmas. I've had absolutely no motivation to make anything the last few weeks, or even to catch up on blogging the things I'd already made! But in an effort to get out of this slump, I'm at least going to post one of the other Christmas presents I made. And honestly, I loved making this, and loved the way it turned out. So I'm excited to share it with you, I just had to make myself sit down and actually type out a blog post.

This was a present for my nieces, one of whom absolutely LOVES penguins, and both love animals in general. So I thought a set of zoo animals finger puppets would be perfect for them!

So here's their little zoo: a bear, crocodile (or alligator?), tiger, lion, penguin, elephant, monkey, giraffe, polar bear, and peacock finger puppets.

I'm pretty bummed that I didn't get any more or better pictures of this, but I guess that means I'll just have to make another set.

This was a lot of fun and a bit of challenge to make because half of these were new designs (ok I guess I kind of cheated - the polar bear's not a new design, just a new color!) Also, some animals are just easier to 2-dimensionalize than others. Giraffes are less easy, turns out. But after a bit of trial and error, I  was pretty proud of the way that little guy turned out. My two-year-old could identify all of the animals (except the peacock, which he just doesn't know what those are yet) which is pretty much my gauge for whether or not the design works. If he knows what animal it is, it must look at least mostly like that animal! :)

Maybe some day I'll actually drag my sewing machine back out and make another set, and then I'll get some better pictures and list it in the shop. But for today, I'm going to be lazy and not sew or cut a single piece of felt!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

missionary puppets

Before Christmas I had the wonderful opportunity of selling some of the items from my etsy shop at a local boutique. It was great to get to know some of the other local vendors, see their work, and share mine on a more local level.  So I decided to make some puppets that would have more local appeal: Missionaries!

LDS missionary finger puppets, complete with little name tags and all! (Ok, the name tags are just black rectangles - they're too small to actually put any writing on, but it completes the look.)

I have to give a huge thanks to my sister, who actually did most of the work on these puppets! I did the original design, but she did almost everything on these adorable little guys! I recruited her to help me build up my inventory for the boutique and Christmas sales, and she was a fabulous assistant. She's incredibly creative and artistic, and did a fabulous job, even if finger puppet making is new to her.

 Sister missionaries! With the new age requirements for LDS sister missionaries, there are so many more sisters going! So we had to make lots of sister missionary finger puppets, of course.

And the Elders, complete with little ties of course!

I actually have a few of these missionary sets left. I have to check which colors, and then I'll be listing them in my shop if you're interested.

Now I'm trying to convince my sister to help me design and make a Harry Potter set! We were going to work on it over her Christmas break, but you know how those things always go...

Monday, January 7, 2013

first day of preschool!

One of my New Year's Resolutions is to get a little more structure and routine in our lives. My two-year-old is a very high energy, strong-willed kid, and the chaos of the last several months has made life... difficult. With a new baby, then me busier than usual with work things, and then moving, well, routine and structure will be good for all of us.

So one of the biggest things I decided to do to implement this was to start having preschool time, with planned activities and things that we'll do each day. We already read lots of stories, and my little guy just absorbs knowledge from our everyday activities (he's constantly surprising me with the things he knows!), but I think having specific preschool time will be really beneficial.

Last week I spent lots of time digging through my Pinterest boards to find ideas for starting preschool. And I have to say a HUGE thank you and give a big shout out to my friend Katie from The Red Kitchen. Go check out the Preschool section on her blog. Seriously. It is awesome, and gave me hope that I can actually pull this off, and so many ideas on how to start this new adventure!

I started talking to Jack about preschool last week, hoping to get him excited about it. He helped me organize the drawers to keep all of his preschool stuff in - crayons, stickers, scissors, bubbles, playdough, etc. I made a "schedule" that I showed him and we talked about all the fun things we'd get to do during preschool.

 That's the schedule I made. It's likely to change a bit as we get into things and I get a feel for what works best for us. I might add music time, or I might just have that be part of our "activity" time. We'll see. It's a work in progress. But it was helpful to show it to Jack last week and prep him for it, and use it today to remind him that we had to do other things first before he could use his new scissors and paints (he was really excited about them!)

So today was our very first day of Preschool! It actually went much better than I had anticipated. We got through all of our planned activities without any tantrums, and a pretty high level of interest and cooperation from the little man.

Today's theme was "colors." He actually already knows all of his colors, but this worked out well to keep it with something he's already familiar with and enjoys - he loves telling us what color things are. 

We read a couple of stories about colors, then sorted and counted paint chips, then got out the water colors. And after he was done painting, he of course wanted to play with Thomas (he's OBSESSED with trains!) and drove Thomas all over his painting. I think it was a success!

I'm working on ideas for a whole bunch of different "themes" for preschool time, with stories and activities for each theme. Planning to post more about them soon!