7 months

Ben turned seven months old on Valentine’s Day. I have seen so many montages of weekly or monthly baby photos in fun chairs and thought, I’m going to do that with this one! That way, you can really see the growth when comparing to the size of the chair. And I have a favorite chair that I thought would be awesome for the projects. Such plans are not conducive to over a month away in California, however, or to a house that is often messy, or to a mother that usually remembers to take the photos after the sun has set. But I’m sure my sweet Ben will not mind. Here is a more eclectic montage of the last 7 months:

2 Weeks

3 Weeks

1 Month

2 Months

3 Months

4 Months

5 Months

6 Months

7 Months

“Playing Bedtime”: Jax loves to take care of his little brother.

Benjamin Lee is here!

Allons enfants de la patrie… a new révolutionnaire has arrived! Benjamin Lee was born on Bastille Day, July 14, weighing in at 8 pounds even. He is named after my grandfather, Lealon, who married my grandmother on Bastille Day in 1950.

Welcome to the World, Leif!

I’m an aunt! Leif Charles was born April 5 at 4:36pm.

8 pounds 5 ounces (3.78 kilos), 20.5 inches (52 cm)

Look at his hair – so blond! I love his little ‘do.

How about a little flashback to what Leif’s sweet parents looked like as babies?

Baby Jeff

Baby Monica just days old, which looks like Leif in this picture:

Leif Charles is named after my dad, Charles. The musician of the family, my dad is teaching Monica all about the recorder.

We are all so excited to meet Leif at the end of the month, when we’ll travel to Minnesota to visit.

Scrappy Flower Tag Toy

Here’s a new take on the tag toys I’ve been churning out: a sensory experience in the form of a patchwork flower.

I guarantee you have enough stuff laying around to make one of these: The petals are made out of scraps from other projects and old clothes. Even if you don’t have many scraps on hand, you could use a felted wool sweater, an outmoded pair of corduroy pants, a torn camisole, a stained tea towel, a pillowcase who’s lost his match… you get the idea.

You just cut out the petals free-form and sew as you would a pillow, with right sides together (I didn’t even pin anything). Turn inside out, sew once on the outside to close the hole, and attach to two circular pieces (made in the same way as the petals) with a big round of stitches on top. I made the circular pieces in the same way as a tag toy, attaching the ribbon pieces so that they come out of the seam in the circle.

The coolest innovation for this project was the idea of using not only different textures of fabric, but filling them with different materials as well. Two of the petals are filled with those clear window plastic things you get on envelopes from your telephone/cable/electric bills. Just cut out the middle of the “window” and stuff inside a petal or two. It gives the petal that crunchy sound many baby toys have. I also made a couple of them extra thick with fleece.

I made sure each side had a variety of colors, too. This is side one, with a red houndstooth fleece center, and that pink petal is satin.

Side two has a center cut from a pair of jeans I don’t wear anymore. I used a sewing machine to keep it all together, and didn’t mind the scrappy look of sewing on top. If you want to have a more neat finished product, embroider all the parts together with pretty thread and a more steady hand.

It’s a floppy toy, just like the tag blankets, but I could see doing a stuffed version as well, maybe with a stuffed center or a few stuffed petals, too. It was fun just experimenting with it all and not worrying too much about matching things perfectly or lining it all up symmetrically.

Yesterday I sent this off to my sister Monica, who is due with my nephew tomorrow. Hope he’ll come out soon to start exploring the many colors and textures of the world outside the womb!

New Month, New ‘Do

Two weeks ago we ditched our pleasant-smelling, all natural Burt’s Bees baby shampoo for what was supposed to be some hard-core de-tangling baby shampoo “for curly hair.” But that stuff didn’t stand a chance against Jax’s bedhead. We were better off with our previous routine of Burt’s Bees shampoo followed by grown-up conditioner followed by conditioning styling oil meant for the silky smooth hairstyle of an adult woman. Oh yes, and several long minutes of combing and squirming and applying more product. All this for a 17-month-old boy? We decided to let Jax get into a complicated hair routine on his own time and for now, give him a new, much shorter hair do. {Not to mention he had his bangs permanently in his face.}

Now I understand why my sister and I had borderline mullets until we could do our own hair. We have the crazy hair gene.

Here’s the before:

I know, he is so cute with his robot PJ’s and emo hair! I’m starting to feel nostalgic, but have to remember he’s making that face not because he’s trying to translate emotional angst into a guitar riff, but because he is trying to get the bangs out of his eyes so he can see the blocks he’s stepping on.

Here’s the after, dreadlock-free in the back:

Some shots in action, just before bedtime tonight:

I think we’re all happy with the new haircut, even if it will take us some getting used to!

DIY Baby “Taggie” Blanket

I’ve been having fun using up scraps of material and ribbon pieces I’ve collected to make Taggie-like baby toys for friends’ babies. If you haven’t seen one before, check out the professional version here. If you have a sewing machine and can stitch a straight line with it, try making one yourself. I’ve made a couple of small versions as well as receiving-blanket-sized ones for twins born in November.

The tutorial is here.

My creations:

This donkey-covered mini blanket was for friends Meg and Steve’s baby. The fabric is from our old neighborhood haunt, Purl Soho. They’ll let you buy as little as 1/4 yard, which is enough to make three sides of a mini tag blanket {so go ahead and splurge on the fancy designer prints}. Check out the donkey one here.

I like to use at least one side of fleece to create an interesting textural experience, as well as give the blanket some Lose Weight Exercise. The back:

I made an almost identical one for Amanda and Jonathan’s baby, only I used a squirrel fabric for the front. I don’t think I have a picture, but here’s the fabric swatch:

Check it out here.

The baby blankets I made for the twins had fleece on both sides:

My biggest tip is to use a variety of widths, lengths, and textures for the ribbon “tags.” So many versions I’ve seen are matchy-matchy and use a lot of pastel colors. In my experience with babies and toddlers, the more contrast the better. Once you start saving ribbons from various places (handles from fancy shopping bags, packaging for household goods, gifts, trim from old clothes) you’ll be sure to have an interesting mix of colors and textures that will hold a baby’s interest. I use satin, velvet, lace, ridged, and sheer ribbons ?? whatever I have on hand!

Give it a try and let me know if you have one to show off!

Dots and Doilies Baby Shower

We hosted a baby shower yesterday for friends Amanda and Jonathan. It was a blast, from the planning with a cool friend of the mom-to-be to enjoying the company. And the parents-to-be took away some nice loot and heartfelt well-wishes that I hope helps them feel prepared ?? and maybe even more excited! ?? for the arrival of their baby girl.

Doilies don’t seem like the most modern of party decorations (and I was trying to avoid anything over-the-top girly, since that’s not really Amanda and Jonathan’s style), but I thought they contributed an interesting visual element to the dots and circles in the ribbon and other decorations, inspired by this modern baby shower.

I made the mobile-esque hanging decoration out of an embroidery loop and some paper circles glued to ribbon.

Cucumber Boats from this Vegetarian Times recipe.

Honey Baked Brie: Just bake a honey-drizzled round of brie on parchment paper at 350 for about 20 minutes. It sounds weird and looks weirder, but trust me on its tastiness! I meant to add thyme as well but forgot.

I used this sugar cookie recipe and cookie cutters from here.

Vanilla pudding with berries (a cheater’s version here).

Pots of chocolate mousse with grated chocolate topping (the cheating version here).

The parents-to-be!

Guests included 2 other little ones around Jax’s age.

Present opening begins!

Favors: sugar cookies wrapped in parchment paper with a doily wedge accent, all tied together with ribbon.

The aftermath of a successful grazing station.