For some reason, it’s easier to motivate myself to make crafts like this rather than paint or write. Is this the same for you other artists? There is something freeing or permissible about making something useful.
I had planned on making the wooden teething toys, but found it almost impossible to source wooden rings. I checked local craft stores, home stores, etc. and finally ordered some from the States. My dear husband walked across the border today to fetch them for me, and also drilled holes through the rest of my wooden balls.
At two months old, our baby’s favourite toy is “jingle bird” which he likes because of the light bells. I suppose these bells are not baby safe, but at this point he is not putting things in his mouth.
For the teethers, I followed another person’s idea from pinterest and sewed 2.5″ wide strips of cloth together. I made mine about 12 inches long.
The toy in the middle is sure to be a hit in about a month – the baby should enjoy moving the ring along the beads. I oiled all the wood with a food safe oil we use on our bamboo cutting board. The beads are strung together on a leather cord.
The yarn toy is also on leather cord, and is more to look at on his toy bar or to feel the yarn. I remember reading in the Dr. Sears baby book that little yarn puffs are interesting for babies to play with.
Hopefully my next post will relate to some non-baby art.
My husband found time to put together the frame for the baby gym, just in time to catch our baby being interested in playing at 6 weeks old. I wanted a simple wooden frame high enough for the toy straps that we could put in our living room, and that could be folded up when not needed.
A few toys I made.
Somehow I found time to make a few toys after the toy straps I last posted about. The soft blocks took the most time. My older kids each helped make those, as well as the yarn things. My baby likes “jingle bird” a lot, and he loves looking at the felt triangles.
We got rid of all our baby stuff a few years ago. We had essentially decided we were done with having kids, and I realized it wouldn’t be that hard to get new baby stuff. In fact we found most of what we needed again frugally. But now that Asher is six weeks old, he’s starting to wake up to the world, look around, and will soon want to play. I thought I’d make a simple baby gym. I didn’t want to buy one, or have a plastic or flimsy one. After taking a quick spin around pinterest, I had a page full of sketches of what I wanted to make. While I wait for Curtis to make the frame, I got started on the toys.
Fabric tubes in progress
Actually, these stretchy toy holders that I saw here. At first glance, I thought, “Nah, that doesn’t look very fun or worth my time.” Then I decided to make them anyway. In conclusion, it took me two days to make them (of course between baby care and grocery shopping and playing dominoes and reading with the older kids).
Fact: reversing a narrow strip of cloth that you’ve sewn inside out is really hard.
Fact: getting a safety pin off a piece of elastic that is 5 inches from the end of a cloth tube is really hard.
Fact: Figuring out snaps is one of those things that for some reason confuses me.
But in the end, “Ta-da!” – plus, I got to teach my 7-year-old daughter how to use the sewing machine, which she is thrilled about.
I absolutely love hiking. I’ve been making the most of living in the Fraser Valley in British Columbia over the past few years. I especially love hiking during spring and fall, when every day I can see changes in my surroundings: the moss is getting greener, buds are coming out, plants transforming, fungus appearing, the creeks swelling and waning.
I love packing my babies in an ergo and getting into the forest. The baby loves it, and sleeps the entire time. Fresh air is the cure for a fussy baby. My older kids love it too – always charging ahead and discovering places to jump from, streams to poke at, collecting stones or sticks or other treasures.
One of my favourite things about nature is how evident it is to me that God created everything. I know this is not a given for everyone, but for me personally, I cannot accept that the natural world could have just appeared, in all its complexities and miracles and wonders. When I am in the forest, I feel close to God.
I love the Wendell Berry poem, “I go among trees and am still…” It is a place I crave and revel in.
As an artist, I find my creative stores renewed and inspired. The other day, I was alone with my three kids (and a neighbour girl) and decided to take them all on this hike. It was quite steep but so beautiful. I stood in a cave with water flowing down like a veil in front of me! So much better than being cooped up in the house. I’m very thankful for this beautiful region where we live.
My son is six weeks old now, and while my sleep is still coming in only 2-3 hour stretches around the clock, I am still trying to squeeze in the things I find life-giving: hiking and making things. I’m surprised how many people make comments on me doing these things so soon after the birth.
For me, this is a chance to do the things I love when I’d normally be spending about 10 hours either at work or commuting. I’m trying to make the most of the year of maternity leave that I’m blessed to have. It’s really helped that my older two kids are in school and that Asher is an “easy” baby. That being said, I still am very tired and getting the typical feedings every 2-3 hours at night. So if I can squeeze in a hike (nothing the baby likes more than napping in the ergo), or sewing for an hour here and there, or cooking (we have to eat!), then I’m going to do it with a little creativity.
For our first family hike, we ventured back to the same week where we took a pregnancy picture about 10 days before Asher was born.
So while I’ve been doing some of my favourite things, I haven’t been spending time writing about them, but often share them visually through instagram. Here’s a little round up from the past two months.
A few days before I had the baby, I started painting a landscape (north view from the Fraser River at Matsqui). I haven’t been able to paint again yet.
Both kids are doing well with the new addition. My daughter loves holding the baby whenever she can. My son (in Kindergarten) just decided to start reading this week.
Soon after the baby was born, my kids wanted me to make them these hobby horses. It took a few days, but we came up with these. I am so thankful for the mild spring weather we’ve had throughout February. Our kids love playing outside together and with some neighbour kids.
Blossoms came on in early February. One day I painted a few tiny watercolours on scraps of paper. It’s somehow easier to paint on scraps than blank canvases or full sheets of paper.
During my long early labour, I tried doing some collages…not sure where I was going with these.
Well I have the finishing touch here to the Woodland Nursery series: baby Asher joined our family on February 4. So far he has been just beautiful and fairly easy/quiet. He is 2.5 weeks old, so some of those days are naturally easier as he sleeps a lot. We don’t sleep so much though!
For those interested in birth stories, read on (for others, skip this paragraph!) This birth was not the easiest of my three, though all were natural/unmedicated, essentially. I think I was expecting this to be less painful; perhaps I forgot how much it hurts or it has just faded over the 5.5 years since I last had a baby. My 2nd was a smaller baby (7 lb 2 oz), so I actually think it was easier. I had about 3 days of early labour, during which I tried to get lots of rest, but timing contractions and expecting labour to happen still tired me out. On February 3rd, I had contractions from about 3 am on. My husband decided he better not go to work. Contractions continued all day but not intense enough to be “the real thing.” At 6 pm the midwives came by to check on me and did a sweep. I had mentally prepared myself to not go into labour that day. But shortly after eating dinner, I had some seriously painful contractions. I tried to read my kids their bedtime story and couldn’t keep going through the pain. By 9 pm I was in labour. By 10:30 or 11, contractions were about 4 minutes apart. We met the midwives at the hospital at 12, and I was 6 cm and in crazy pain. I laboured this way for a couple of hours, not progressing much until my waters were broken. I was rather grumpy and didn’t want to go through labour. I thought later, if I could have only held the baby before going through that, I would have been more motivated! I was trying to avoid finishing the job naturally but did not have anyone giving in and giving me drugs or c-sections.
I had two midwives, a nurse, a nursing student and my husband present. During the transition stage I used the gas, which is the first labour I’ve used anything for the pain. It did help me get through that part. Once my waters were gone, I quickly transitioned to pushing and within about 15 minutes I sent little Asher into the world, weighing in at 39 weeks as my heaviest baby at 9 lb. I liked the end the best – I felt like I could do something about speeding up the birth, and knew I would soon have the baby in my arms and the whole thing would be over with. Every day that has passed has made that pain more worth it, and in perspective it’s only one day of pain really, compared to a lifetime with a precious child.
Our kids love their baby brother, especially my daughter who loves to help, particularly to dress him. I’m finding baby care easier this time around, since both the older kids are in school. It was so much harder last time when I had a 20 month old daughter under foot! We feel very blessed and happy to have such a healthy baby.
I finally had the chance to make this “knitting bag” on the weekend. I’ve had these vintage wooden handles kicking around for years, and thought it would be good to sew up a little tote to keep my knitting away from the cat. It may seem that I am on a yellow kick, and I guess that’s because I am! I bought this fabric in the summer when we were in Oregon, but hadn’t had a chance to use it yet.
About 10 years ago I sewed my “bird purse” using another pair of wooden handles I had. That time, I made a cute little purse. I tell people I don’t like sewing – I’m honestly not very good at it – I could never sell the things that I make because there are tons of messy little spots where I’m figuring things out as I go. The process of making this bird purse put me off for years! I like designing prototypes, but don’t like to try to replicate items to sell or give away.
“Bird Purse” circa 2005
So that being said, I’m not even going to pretend to posture this post as a tutorial; in fact, I did not even take any progress photos. Basically I traced the rough shape of another cloth bag, measured it against my biggest pair of knitting needles in an effort to get them to fit, and then just experimented. The bag is lined and I made a bottom shape by tracing the beater attachment from our Kitchenaid.
One tip I’ll mention is that after I had the entire thing sewed up, I realized that I could barely squeeze a hand past the inflexible wooden handles! I forgot to allow for their structure in any way, so I had to remove the seam from the top sides of the bag where I have the grey material and refinish them by hand to allow the bag to flap open and access the inside better.
So that is the story of getting crafty on my first day of maternity leave on Saturday. Now to finish knitting the little photo prop I’ve been storing inside.