Monday, May 30, 2011

Window Stars

The window of our playroom is decorated with these stars now and I love it, the picture does not come even close to how it looks with the sunshine coming through. They are bright and shiny and Kitten says "Good morning" to them each day and wants to touch every one after that. And, considering that they've been up there for a couple of months already, I think it is telling something.
They are made out of German kite paper. May be later I will make a tutorial but for now I just wanted a taste of making them. Here they are up close:

Friday, May 27, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment :: inspired by soule mama}
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Rainbow Ball

I have made wet felted wool balls before multiple times but this time I decided to try and needle felt it. I loved it! Even though it is much more time consuming the result is more sturdy and you can make any design on it (I have needle felted designs on wet felted balls before but unless you needle felt the whole ball the area with the design will be noticeably denser). I tried one with a bell and another without. The bell, obviously, made poking needles in it more difficult, so next time I try it I will wet felt the core with the bell inside and then needle felt the colored rowing on top. I suspect if you use magic wool instead of rowing you get a more uniform appearance (with rowing you see that all fibers go in one direction) but it is much more expensive, so I am saving mine for wool pictures. If you know where to get magic wool cheaper than $3.5 per oz, let me know, I would appreciate it!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Travel Games for Toddlers

We recently made a weekend car trip 6 hours away from home and I revised my entertainment for Kitten. I thought my ideas may be helpful to those traveling with younger kids. There are tons of things you can do with a 4 year old child and older but it can be tricky to decide what to do with a toddler, an activity that would not be messy or bulky and would entertain them while sitting and not running around. I try to fit each activity in a ziplock bag, that way you don't have to fish around your bag for separate pieces while you toddler whines impatiently.
This is how I set things up in a car, this tray (from Michael's) is very convenient because it fits under the arms of the car seat and doesn't move around. The downside is that it ends up tilted, so small things slide down. Oh well, I guess you can't have it all!

OK, now to the things I carry with us. Most of them can be mixed and matched for more activities, I like things that can be multi purposed.
1. This String a Farm set. Also can play with individual pieces and make up stories and such.
2. Random combination of rubbery frogs and springs. Amazingly these 1 dollar frogs were the best investment in our travel toy collection, I remember when we traveled to Italy 6 months ago Kitten amazed me by playing literally for hours with them on the plane. She arranged and rearranged them, pulled their legs, made them jump and go places and on and on. She also likes to make them hide inside the springs. You can invent all sorts of games with them with the help of paper and pencil (make a road, draw a pond for them to live in, lily pad hopping, etc.)
3. Small magnetic book with animals. There is a matching activity on the back as well. I got it in Joann's in 1-dollar section.
4. This game fit perfectly in a small container.
5. Homemade playdough. A third of a recipe fit perfectly in the old feta cheese container and Kitten played with it the longest in a car. It isn't as messy as modeling clay, thankfully. I also included lids for stamping and to serve as plates (Kitten likes to pinch pieces off playdough and arrange them on plates), a little jar to fill, letter stamps, toothpicks (these are so versatile, you can make kabobs, hedgehogs (ours even eats toothpicks!), draw on a flat piece of playdough, etc. etc.) and tongue depressors for cutting playdough.
 This is how everything fit into a ziplock bag.
6. Different containers to practice opening/closing. These also proved very useful for filling with playdough.
7. Ornaments from 1-dollar section in Joann's. You can also get sheets of this paper and cut it in pieces for traveling.
8. Small (I think it is 5x7 inches) blackboard with chalk and sponge. Very popular with Kitten.
9. Animal matching game. Animals are from 1-dollar section in Walmart and the pictures are found in Internet. I still need to laminate them but they survived this trip. Kitten also loves to play with animals on their own.
10. Puzzle cards from Michael's. I obviously don't pay attention to letters but they are great 3 piece puzzles for toddlers. Kitten already mastered 2 piece puzzles but is still somewhat struggling with these. For your $3 you get 54 puzzles. One side is in color, the other is white and blue for more challenge. The pictures are nice and neutral, no cartoon characters.

I also carry a small crayon pack and a blank notebook. And books are a must. I usually get a selection of stories and rhymes as well as magnetic books, which I just recently discovered, thanks to Kitten's grandparents. They gave us the farm and I got several others because they are great for traveling: On the FarmWild AnimalsAnimals (this one is a bit different and I don't like it that much) and Underwater Sea. There are many magnetic pieces, that are stored in a convenient pocket. You can follow the text and place pieces accordingly or you can make up your own stories.
Do you have any advice on how to make traveling with toddlers easier? I would love to hear it as we are planning a long trip overseas this summer!

I linked here.

Friday, May 20, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment :: inspired by soule mama}
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

More cleaning fun

I finally got Kitten her own broom. She kept asking to use mine but it was obviously too big for her to maneuver. A lot of natural toy stores sell them but I was not willing to pay 25 bucks for it. And finally I found one on Amazon for $11. It is well made, all corn fiber bristles. It is still a bit long for my tall 2 year old but she enjoys swiping with it nonetheless, especially when I sing a song about a broom.
And I finally figured out how to make swiping practice a little less messy! If you try to give a dustpan and brush to a toddler and ask to clean up spilled rice, flour, etc., you are going to end up with a huge mess all over the kitchen floor. But when Kitten threw a bunch of river rocks in the kitchen, I immediately knew that it would be perfect and it was! There are not too many of them, they are easily visible and less likely to fly across the room like lighter objects. Kitten still needs to figure out how to make the stone to move into the dustpan but we will get there.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mother Duck

Continuing my needle felting explorations. This duck is about 2.5 inches long. I really like needle felting because I can do it while playing with Kitten, it doesn't take too much concentration (other than trying not to poke my finger), not many materials and tools are involved and satisfaction is quick. Kitten loves touching wool and watching objects magically appear in my hands and playing with them right away.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Kitchen Play

Grandma gave Kitten a gorgeous wooden kitchen for her birthday and I supplemented with some pots and pans. I intentionally did not get her a lot of play food, as I wanted her to use her imagination in best Waldorf traditions. As a result, Kitten has been constantly playing a cook. I actually did not expect her to be so into it yet, she is only 2, but she loves it. Of course, she is not coming up with imaginary stories yet but she enjoys "washing" dishes (making an adorable "shhh" sound when she turns water on), using potholders, filling pots with dry pasta, stones and pinecones, transferring "food" to plates using a spoon, feeding us and dolls and so much more! The imitation period at its peak, this is perfect timing for her. I cook quite a lot, and she is so happy to be able to do same things, even though I let her help me whenever she asks to. All sorts of skills are developing while she plays: fine and gross motor, communication, observation, problem solving and, of course, most importantly, imagination.

Monday, May 16, 2011


Ever since I was given a complete color set of wool rowing for my birthday, I have been eager to try needle felting. I never could find good instructions anywhere, so I decided to make something simple and just figure it out along the way. Mushrooms, I thought, would be very useful. They can be used on Fall nature table, for gnome's house or in a play kitchen. And so these mushroom came to be. It was pretty simple and Kitten loved them, after I made one she grabbed it and said "More!" So I made more. I think they are quite realistic (even the size, they are about 1.5 - 2 inches tall) and they have been used extensively in our kitchen play.

A delicious meal of pasta, mushroom and meat

Friday, May 13, 2011

Kitten's Name day

Last Wednesday was Kitten's Angel's day and of course there were presents involved. The girl loves presents after her birthday, she totally enjoys the concept of unwrapping packages with pleasant surprises inside. So she got very excited when after breakfast I announced that it is time to open some presents. 
I love this look of anticipation...


 and joy!
She immediately announced that this is her, which was my idea as well when I bought the Ostheimer family of Mom, Dad and little girl.
Wonderful book In the Land of Elves by Daniela Drescher with beautiful illustrations.

 And Melissa & Doug Cutting Food Box, which was definitely the hit of the day!

Kitten immediately set to chopping and after a little practice was doing it like a pro, she even was throwing the already cut pieces off the board with her knife, like I do! The only downside is that for the rest of the day I was assigned to putting pieces back together, she kept saying "again, again" :) Thank you, Kitten's aunties for wonderful presents!

Monday, May 9, 2011

New Waldorf doll

As promised, I finished my first proper limbed Waldorf doll just in time to give her to Kitten as a birthday present. We named her Marfa (another traditional Russian name) and Kitten adores her, she can even say her name (it comes out as Masha). She has her own bunny (Kitten loves bunnies and her lovey is a bunny too) and a purse, where she stores her most precious possessions (a few sparkly stars). Her hair is stitched on in 3 layers, but I don't really like that it limits styling options, so next time I will try a different method.
I now have a much greater appreciation for people who sell their creations. I probably wouldn't sell Marfa for $150, which is a pretty standard price for a Waldorf doll that size (she is about 16 inches). It is such a labor of love, I felt like the doll is guiding my actions, like she was meant to be and I was only helping her to come to this world, like giving birth. There are so many small details that cannot be overlooked and, OMG, hair takes forever! However, I loved every minute of it.
I was honored to be asked to make a companion for Kitten's best friend, so stay tuned for another Waldorf doll!

Friday, May 6, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment :: inspired by soule mama}
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

May Day celebration

Since Kitten's birthday falls on May Day, I did not do anything extra in addition to our birthday celebration. However, I did make a couple of decorations, that I wanted to share with you. On our nature table the grotto was replaced with a maypole. To make it I took a dowel, finished it with my beeswax-oil finish, glued 6 rainbow colored ribbons on top, using a hot glue gun, and added several paper flowers from Hobby Lobby. They have long wire stems and I just wound them under the ribbons on the pole. It is positioned in a ceramic pot filled with stones and covered with moss.
I also made another hanging decoration instead of the cockerel, the dancers around the Maypole. The flowers on the wreaths are made with scrunched tissue paper.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Birthday girl

My baby girl turned 2 yesterday! We had a very busy couple of days preparing for celebration and the day was wonderful, she totally enjoyed being the queen of the day, presents, cake with candles and games with her friends. That look of happiness on her face is so worth any efforts!