8 Jan 2012, 10:14pm
design on creation

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Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dyeing

20120108-220804.jpgI realize plenty of nursing mothers get by just fine without ever buying a single piece of “nursing” clothing. Others, I know, find the look of nursing shirts awkward and embarrassing.

My god though, it’s SO much easier. Ok, so these days, nursing is pretty easy. Ender and I both more or less have the routine down, and if I wanted to, wearing “normal” clothing would absolutely be doable. But in the early days weeks months of nursing, it was just one more thing to deal with, and I fell in love with the easy openings of nursing tops. I got in the habit. Plus, if I need to nurse Ender while I’m out and about, it’s way easier with a nursing top to not flash every passerby a glimpse of my crepe paper belly, never mind my boobs.

20120108-221036.jpgUnfortunately, (affordable) nursing tops are pretty slim pickings. I have exactly four long sleeved tops I’m comfortable wearing. And as of this morning, one of them looked terrible on me.

I like brown, and some browns like me, but this pilgrim turkey brown was not one of them (I meant to take a photo of myself wearing it, but didn’t remember until it was too late). So I thought I didn’t have anything to lose by trying my first experiment with RIT dye. Well, first since a tie-dye activity in the 2nd grade.

I didn’t bother trying to get the original color out, mainly because I didn’t realize it was possible until recently. Plus adding one more step to a project just makes it a little less likely that I’ll get it finished. I thought a bright red would combine nicely with the original brown, and even if it stayed more brown than red, it would be warmer color, and hopefully look nicer with my skin.

20120108-221245.jpgStirring, for over an HOUR was a pain, and it looked like evil Jello. It turned out beautifully though. The color was even nicer than I’d hoped for, I can’t think of the name of the red, but it’s a color that makes me feel nostalgic, it’s the color I imagine Little Red’s riding hood should be.

To be totally honest, my craft whims don’t usually turn out this well, so I’m pretty psyched to not just have one more shirt I can wear without feeling ugly, but to have completed a project in less than a day. I have plans to buy and dye two more shirts, and next time, I think I may play with masking using some wax resist. I can’t wait to see how they turn out.

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  • 5 Jan 2012, 10:33pm
    animals & children design


    No Thank You Gymboree

    Ender started in the Gymboree Play and Learn stage 2 at the beginning of December, when he turned 6 months old. He had just been starting to make crawling like attempts, and I thought maybe getting him at a place like Gymboree would help get him going.

    His favorite place to experiment with movement is our bed. He has been wriggling and moving himself there for well over a month now, but when he gets on floors, carpet or hardwood, he tends to be a lot more cautious, which is probably pretty smart now that I think about it. Since Gymboree is just padded everywhere, I thought it might let him be more adventurous, without me having to drag him back from a bed edge every few minutes.

    It didn’t work out quite as expected. First of all, Ender had almost no interest in trying anything at all at Gymboree. Maybe if I’d stuck around longer he would have gotten used to the newness and started to play more, but the bright colors seemed to bewilder him and something about the way the room was built made sounds echo unnervingly- it gave me a headache, and I suspect it is part of what kept Ender static. He DID love the colored wiffle balls, but you know, balls are easy to come by, and I’m not sure he loved them because of any particular quality of their own, or just because it was the only thing in the play area that was small enough for him to handle and shove in his mouth. By the end of the month, he was also pretty interested in the bubbles, which prompted me to buy some for him, since he’s never taken the slightest notice before.

    It’s possible that Ender was just too young for something like Gymboree. Aside from thinking it might get him crawling a little sooner, I didn’t want or expect some miracle exercise routine. I don’t think it’s necessary or advisable to push that kind of thing on babies. Mainly, I think the purpose of baby activities such as Gymboree is to keep people like me sane, giving them something to do and a reason to get dressed and leave the house. I was disappointed all around though: Ender pretty much just sat there and watched everything until he got overwhelmed enough to cry (admittedly not often). And though he was the youngest baby in the class, the other babies didn’t seem much more engaged in the equipment or activities than he was. Left to their own devices, the babies played with the whiffle balls, and maybe occasionally grabbed the mini trampoline. Everything else was parent led, urging the babies to go down parallel slides together and watch each other to promote socialization (not kidding) or ride in the boat (the babies seemed pretty bored with it after the first 20 seconds) or roll a ball down the slope (they preferred to hang on to the balls actually, thank you very much). Not only is this overly parent-directed style pretty contrary to my ideas about parenting, it also made socialization a bit strained, because we were too busy trying to entertain babies who would have been content to chew on wiffle balls.

    What it comes down to I think, is that I’m spoiled. When Ender was about 3 months old I discovered story time at the local library. Then I realized that there are seven different Cuyahoga County libraries within 20 minutes of my house, and they ALL have story time. I can go to story time every weekday- a story time geared towards 0-18 month olds. It’s short, about 15 minutes, which is about as long as the babies can go without getting restless, and it’s followed by an open play time with library baby toys. We do rhymes, songs, and usually one or two short picture books. And it’s FREE. During the free play after I can chat with other moms (and the occasional dad) while Ender gnaws on the library toy nearest him, and then when he decides he’s had enough, we can leave. If he’s cranky, or ready for a nap, or if something else comes up on any particular day, I can skip story time without feeling guilty, because 1) it’s (once again now) FREE and 2) I know I can try again the next day. Ender loves watching the other kids, (far more of which are crawling around at story time then Gymboree) and the only suggested “activity” is, you know, reading stories. I decided to give Gymboree a try in December, because the story time series took a break over December. It started back up today.

    So Gymboree didn’t do much for us. I have to realize though that this is only because I already had something better.

    *Gymboree image from flickr user sully213

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  • 16 Dec 2011, 9:49pm
    design on creation



    For Ender this year the plan is to make him a set of three “discovery” bottles. I originally thought it would be cool to make him one of those wave machine bottles — you know: oil, water, a bit of food coloring. It’s simple and fascinating enough that it should amuse him for at least a few years, and while he’s learning to crawl, it will double as a rolling toy.

    It’s easy enough to make one with an empty soda bottle. I think think this is a pretty typical kindergarten through 3rd grade craft project slash science experiment. I wanted something a little nicer and more permanent than that, and most importantly, bigger, so I could do a couple other things on the inside.

    You’d think it would be fairly easy to find a large empty plastic container, but everything shaped the way I wanted either has a lid too large, or is made of glass. Finally I decided a big plastic food container would work since I couldn’t find anything more sturdy, but I couldn’t find any with a mouth large enough. So far I am still without a container, but I think we’ll go to Costco this weekend and I think I’ll be able to find something there.

    Inside the bottle, aside from the blue water and clear “air” (oil) I wanted to have a layer of pebbles on the bottom, easy enough, and a boat floating on the water. The boat is where I’m running into trouble.

    I KNOW there are things that float on water and sink in oil. I remember it at least vaguely from 10th grade chemistry. What I don’t remember is what those objects are. I must admit that while I generally did well in science, density bottles were not my strong suit. In my density bottle, I added a layer of soap so even my oil and water mixed together.

    My first thought was to make the boat out of a walnut shell, because everyone knows walnut shells float, right?

    Walnut boats do float on the surface of water, but they float the same way a metal boat floats… based on shape. And like a metal boat, they will not rise to the surface once sunk. This is important obviously, since I can’t guarantee the boat in my wave bottle will stay upright on the surface, and once it’s sealed up, I won’t have anyway to rescue the wreckage.

    That pretty much used up my imagination. I expected this to be pretty easy to find out online, but it’s remained surprisingly mysterious. I found a yahoo answers post that gave the relative densities of water and oil, which makes it completely easy because it’s so easy to find out the density of any particular object. Not that I really trust yahoo answers anyway. I also found sites suggesting that “some” plastics would float in water and sink in oil or “some” woods. So nothing simple and obvious.

    I found a post somewhere that said wax would work, which seemed plausible. I didn’t think wax would make a very convincing boat though, and I was sort of stuck on the walnut shell, so I came up with the idea of filling the walnut shell with wax.

    Then I came up with a brilliant alternative: crayon catamarans.

    I bought two packs of crayons (so both sides of the catamaran would be the same color) jewelry wire and a whole bunch of other bits that I thought might work together with the boats, but when I sat down with oil and water and a broken black crayon… it sunk to the bottom of the water glass.

    Terribly disappointing. No catamarans. Unless it was just that I used a black crayon… maybe a lighter color wouldn’t weigh as much (yes I’m joking. No need to correct my science please).

    I did another google search and someone mentioned a rubber band. Obviously a rubber band won’t make a great boat but it DID give me the idea to try a bouncy ball.

    And finally… a possibility.

    So I have something that I know floats at the right level, now I just need to play with it some to see how I can make it look like a cute boat.

    The current plan is to find a few bright colored bouncy balls, cut them in half, drill a hole through the middle and attach a sail using jewelry wire. I thought I’d use a glass bead to weigh down the bottom and make sure the sail stays pointing upwards, but I may be over-thinking this thing. For the sail I’m using a bit of fabric, and I’ll polyurethane the whole thing to keep it somewhat water safe.

    I’ll post an update as soon as I figure it out.

    Meanwhile, enjoy my rubber Saturn.

    *First image from Flickr user Sean Rogers1. All following from me.

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