May 27, 2010 § 1 Comment
I’ve had an etsy shop open under bilingualbaby but now that I’ve become tinymouse designs, I opened a new etsy store with the tinymouse designs name in the address- something I couldn’t just change, which is why the new store.
Please stop by and check out what I’ve got for sale. I’m going to be adding items as time goes on. Some things will be custom orders while others will be ready to ship.
Check it out and let me know what you think! I’m ready for the criticism.
May 22, 2010 § 4 Comments
I’ve shared pictures of the $5 blue trike we got at the elementary school’s sale, and then there’s the red one I talked about on facebook that we got at the bike sale in town. At the same time we got the red trike, we bought the bike you see pictured above. We did take off the training wheels, and a friend took off the pedals and chain.
Why in the world would we have someone do that, you ask?
Basically, a bunch of my friends have done the research and they’ve read that kids have a smoother transition to a regular bike by steering clear of training wheels. Kids need to learn how to balance and steer more than they need to learn how to pedal. Pedaling comes pretty easily once the balance part is down. Enter the balance bike. It has no pedals and no chain. The kid starts by standing and walking the bike, then easily transitions (without adult help) to sitting and pushing off with their feet, to really taking off by pushing off at a faster speed and holding up their feet.
This wikipedia page on balance bikes says:
With a balance bicycle, the rider learns balance first, pedal last. In contrast, with a normal bicycle fitted with training wheels, the rider learns pedal first, balance last. Although opinions differ regarding which learning sequence is easier for most riders, it is generally agreed that a bicycle with pedals is too difficult for most very young children and that training wheels may encourage the rider to learn some behaviors which later must be unlearned.
The balance bike appealed to me because it reminded me of using diapers. We train our kids to use the diaper as a toilet and then have to help them unlearn that behavior. A leap for you, perhaps? It’s as clear as day to me.
The thing I’m noticing with the converted balance bike bilingual baby is using is that she’s way more independent than a kid who is using training wheels or more so than a kid who is unlearning the training wheels. After dinner tonight, we took a ride into town. Baby brother was in the stroller, bilingual baby asked to bring the balance bike. It’s light and there are no pedals to scratch you when you have to carry it. Why not?
She started getting on and off of the bike, resting on the seat, walking it like a grownup scooter. By the time we got through town and to the state house lawn, she was really cruising. She’d push herself to a comfortable glide speed and pick up her feet as she balanced on the bike. She’d stop if she felt like she was going too fast.
I totally agree with this site, who sells balance bikes they call gliders (there are lots of names for this kind of pedal-free bike):
Pedals can make it very difficult for a child to learn how to balance because they can’t get their feet off the pedals and on the ground quickly enough and they fall over. It is difficult enough for a child to learn to balance when you also have pedaling and braking to learn at the same time.
I could see bilingual baby wanting to have her feet on the ground the whole time she was playing on her balance bike. It really made sense seeing it in action. I think even Josh was convinced that this was a good way to go- it took him a while. I mean, what dad would want to give up the days of holding the back of their kid’s bike as they learned how to ride it on a warm summer day? I can see why he was reluctant. Now that he’s seem bb cruising with more confidence all through town, he liked it.
Here are some videos of kids riding a popular model, called the Skuut. It’s all wood and made for kids starting at 2 years old. Another website that compares different brands of balance bikes, suggests parents look at it from their perspective, too:
While children thrive off their new found independence, parents enjoy the convenience of an ultra light bike that is easy to bring to the park or tote around, weighing less than half that of a tricycle and a third of a bike with training wheels.
Having carried, pushed, maneuvered, and hassled with a trike, and with a bike with training wheels (we had to get it home), I have to say I completely agree with the “it’s better for parents” angle. You will be carrying your kid’s bike. They will get tired, or want to jump off their favorite rock. I can’t be sure that either of our kids won’t get tired when they’re on a regular bike, but by then they’ll have more stamina, or better yet, we’ll all be riding and there will be nobody to walk the extra bike.
There are balance bikes for 2-5 year olds and there are even balance bikes for littler kids. We were just in Onion River Kids and they have two balance bikes out (and a tricycle) for kids to play on. They seemed tiny in comparison to our 12″ converted bike. The nice thing about kids… they always grow. Plus, our friend that took off the pedals and chain told us to bring the bike back to him when bb was ready to bike with pedals.
This isn’t a race. I’m not trying to get bb biking on her own before someone else’s kid. I did see sheer satisfaction as she coasted along the sidewalk, getting on and off, feeling like she owned the town. I can’t help but think that being able to just hop on the bike and go pumped her up, making her very confident. Before converting the bike to a balance bike, her interest in the bike was so hesitant. She’d get upset really easily – and I did hold her up so she could feel balanced while she tried to pedal. She never did pedal. There was too much going on.
For what it’s worth, I really recommend this style of bike for your 2 year old (and up). I can’t recommend a brand, but just look for something through craigslist, garage sales (ha!) and the like. They’re a really hot item around here and they get picked up really quickly. A friend of ours convinced me to buy the regular bike and have it converted. That works, too, if your kid fits the bike already. If they’re 2 years or younger, definitely go in and try out the smaller balance bikes. I’ll be keeping an eye out for one for baby brother. He’d really love it.
May 21, 2010 § 1 Comment
Josh is watching the Chicago Blackhawks tonight as they play the San Jose Sharks. That’s hockey for those of you who have not a clue. I wouldn’t have a clue, but I live with a Hawks fan. I also dated a Sharks fan- though he’s also a Flyers fan, so what gives?
Anyway, my husband and my long time friend, are now friends on fb and twitter and they’re going back and forth online about all this playoff stuff. It’s kinda weird to have them talking about anything.
It’s my past talking with my present. Weirdest thing is that it feels so normal. My friend’s wife is also making my sister’s wedding cake- and I hear it’s an awesome design. But this crossing of old and new is new to me. I haven’t kept in touch with many old friends, and few know Josh and my family.
Part of that is because I’ve moved a lot, but part of that is because we just part ways. This parting of ways is happening less and less as my birthday cake gets fuller and fuller. Having kids is also to thank for my friendship length curiosity. So, no matter who wins, here’s to mixing the past and the present.
May 21, 2010 § 1 Comment
Okay, so maybe I should have gone to the workout last night. I felt myself pushed and I’m not entirely sure it was a sound idea. I did take it easy and was at the back of the walking pack. However, had I not gone, I would have been feeling slushy at home with no energy for anything. Somehow I feel like the workout, even as slow as I took it, helped me get over my food poisoning. Basically, I feel much better today. More energy, and that usually means I worked out.
Brit had us powerwalk to one spot where we did a timed plank. This was to see what our endurance was at the start of bootcamp. My time: 50 seconds. I felt so weakened by the food poisoning and did feel sorry for myself for stopping before the minute, but oh well. The highest time was 3 minutes. Way to go, ladies!
Then, we went to the high school track and again for setting a base for ourselves, we trotted around the track once. I can’t remember my time. I remember hearing 1:15 midway, but I’m not sure the full time. Maybe 3 minutes? I hope to best that in 6 weeks. I don’t think I’ll have a problem. Today, with less of a food poisoning hangover, I’m bound to do better already.
Then, we did some more strength training/cardio stuff. It was too much for me with my queasy tummy recovering but I still did the easiest version.
I’ve got the next class on Sunday morning. I hope to keep the blog updated with my progress.
May 20, 2010 § 1 Comment
I joined a mom bootcamp that started last weekend. I’m so pumped. I might have mentioned it when talking about my sewing slump. I got out of it thanks to bootcamp starting. For our first day of bootcamp, we had paperwork to fill out and some other things to get out of the way (like weighing and measuring, if you wanted to). We got a speed workout in and that gave me the energy boost I needed to get back on the sewing machine. This time, with more zest.
My next class is tonight. I don’t know how that will go since I’m getting over some food poisoning but I’m still going.
The house will stay a mess for a couple more days while I rest up. Who knew throwing up a days worth of food could kick you down so hard and so fast.
Off to bootcamp I go. (I need a theme song.)
May 20, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Bilingual baby has been gaining interest in everything Chinese. It all started with our friends and their two daughters going to China for 9 months. We’d talk about how they were coming back soon and that we’d skype with them and so forth. Josh was at the library shortly after our friends left, and found a dvd titled, Big Bird in China.
If anyone has been hoping to check it out, we’ve finally returned it. Josh found a copy for our kids because they love it. There’s a song in the movie where the little girl, Xiao Fu, where she teaches Big Bird a little Chinese. Now, you’ll find bilingual baby singing the song walking around the house, while playing outside, while riding her trike, and many more places. It’s really sweet. She’s been correcting my poor Chinese pronunciation for her 3 year old pronunciation. She’ll even tell you that she speaks English, Chinese, and Spanish. In essence, little Xiao Fu has become bilingual baby’s concept of what China is all about. Xiao Fu winks and now bilingual baby is trying to learn how to wink. The other day she asked a friendly stranger if she wanted to see something cool, and winked. The friendly stranger couldn’t figure out what was going on, so I told her she was winking. They both got a kick out of the whole thing.
We’ve been reading books that talk about China, like an ABC China book and these lovely new gifts from Josh’s mom.
On each page, you are shown what people do in a park in the morning. Playing cards, doing tai chi, etc. Then, the last page unfolds to show the entire park. I love it! Click on the book cover to take you to a website with more books and materials for kids who want to learn Chinese.
Then, there’s also this beautiful story, The girl who drew a phoenix, by Demi:
We’ve been talking about all the more difficult words in this book, like wisdom, clear sight, equality, generosity, and good judgment. I didn’t start talking about the big words until this week. There are so many layers on this book. You can just look at the beautiful pictures.
During a recent trip to Boston, we paid a visit to Chinatown, where bilingual baby was in bilingual heaven. We picked up a couple of items that we could use at home that would remind her of our trip and of China. She’s really enjoying drawing on the paper we bought that’s supposed to help you learn how to draw Chinese characters.
I can’t wait to see bilingual baby’s interactions with our friends when they return from China. They do arrive the day we leave for our Chicago/California trip, but I’m sure we’ll get to see lots of them when we get back.
Here’s bilingual baby writing Chinese characters:
May 15, 2010 § Leave a Comment
I have the seamstress version of writer’s block. I can’t sew. I can’t draft a pattern. I can’t thread my machine.
Ok. That’s going too far. I just finished a couple of orders. They’re so cute. I want to make more but I am finding I have no directions nor goals at the moment. Maybe that’s okay. I am the type that likes goals and lists and 5 year plans.
Tonight I spent a couple of hours looking around on etsy. There are some very talented people there. Sometimes soon, I’ll post some of my favorite items. I went in looking for something related to China and found some beautiful dresses with prints that alluded to China. Bilingual baby is very keen on everything Chinese, ever since two of her friends went with their family to China for a (near) year abroad. Their parents are professors and friends of ours, teaching at a university and having the awesome and trying experience of living in another culture.
Back to etsy.
There are some items of clothing that are poorly photographed, or just don’t have enough photos to really show what’s going on. Also, a word of advice: If you’re going to sell what you sew, please iron it before you take your photos to post on etsy. Ironing, like blocking your knitting, makes a huge difference and really bumps you up in credibility as a seamstress.
There are other items that are just so well made I’d buy it just to support the designer. Now, in my head, I’d like to pair the lesser designer who has my taste in fabric with the better designer who can sew and make clothing look professional. That’s what I kept thinking about.
I need some goals. Some direction. Maybe by this time next year I could have some craft shows to prep for… or a farmer’s market or two. I just never know what the needs of my kids will be and, like I’ve said before, they are at the top of the list. My budding business isn’t next, yet.
Any tips or encouragement welcome.
May 14, 2010 § 1 Comment
A couple of months ago, I botched the tailoring of a skirt. The second I realized what I had done, my stomach sunk to my toes and I was so upset I couldn’t even cry. I was ready to throw in the seamstress towel. End it all. It really felt like the end- and I had just begun a year plus ago. I was sad. Depressed, even.
I did get some kind comments from friends who encouraged me by saying that every professional makes mistakes, etc, etc. It was helpful but I still couldn’t shake the fear that I’d ruin someone else’s clothing. I didn’t take any work from anyone.
What I had to do next was a sewing exercise. I had to sew something. Something quick and uncomplicated. I made the kids a tent. It helped me feel like I did know how to sew and that the skirt was a bad mishap but also a big accident.
When I told the owner of the skirt that it was ruined, she was kind enough to say that she wasn’t attached and thanked me for my honesty.
The problem: I had another skirt of hers to tailor.
She even asked that I not charge her more than $25 for the tailoring on the second skirt. I told her I wouldn’t charge her a thing for the second skirt. How could I?
Earlier this week, I finished the second skirt and it came out quite nice. I installed the zipper by hand and did a lot of hand stitching. I was really proud of my work and only needed the owner to try it on to see that it fit. Well, she asked that I send it to work with Josh (she’s one of his co-workers). That didn’t sound good. I did delay quite a bit. I was so nervous I’d ruin her second skirt. But it was finally done. Besides, I’ve got two little kids. They come first. My fears, second. Her skirt, third, or fourth. It was on my mind a lot.
I got an email from her today thanking me for my work. She said she really liked the skirt and that the fit was perfect; that it would soon become a favorite, and wondered if I could hem 3 pairs of pants for her. She did give me a deadline this time. Smart.
Those of you who have given me your clothes to repair or alter, you know I work better with a deadline. Otherwise, it’s low on the list. And the list is long. The socks in the basket upstairs aren’t going to put themselves away.
So, I’m glad to say that there is a happy ending with my seamstress business. I’m always afraid of confrontation and I feel like my honest customer service and hard work (albeit slow) has worked this case from a potential bad-mouthing of my craft to a more positive word of mouth.
This is a small state.
May 9, 2010 § 1 Comment
Back to a parenting question. When our kids yell, bite, hit, push, scream, and cry, does it matter if we know why? Does it help you? Does it hurt you?
For instance, if I think I understand why baby brother is crying, I’m more likely to respond with compassion. If I don’t, I’m less likely. If bilingual baby screams about something I don’t think is worthy of my pity, am I doing her a disservice in her venting of strong emotions? Will I be less tolerant of her current means of communication?
So, if I stopped worrying about figuring out why my kids do the things they do and why they are the way they are, would I just approach situations with an air of mystery. Would I look at their crying, pushing, begging, etc, as “how” they are instead of trying to work through my head an explanation of “why” they’re doing what they’re doing? What would I gain from being right about their “why”?
This “why” factor seems very logical and in some ways cold. “Why” is what therapists deal with day in and day out. They work through your why and try to help you see someone else’s why. The more I think about it, figuring out “why” places blame. Blame because first I have to figure out why someone has done X to me. Why did they do that? Then, I have to rationalize their actions. What if I don’t agree with their why? What then? Rather than accepting them where they are, I’m caught in why world, telling myself that their reason for doing X is stupid or childish and so forth. In the end, I would never do X to anyone because… well, I’m better than that person. But basically, their why is just not my why. We are different people. We react different ways in similar situations. I may never understand their why, but perhaps I could just understand that they are how they are.
My sweet boy loves to push over things that are bigger than he is. He goes over to the kid chairs we got for them and pushes them both over. He goes to the kitchen and pushes over the stools that are there for them to stand on and help with cooking. It’s his thing right now. Why don’t I tell him to stop? There’s they ‘why’ again. Why not just reflect on the fact that this is what he’s doing right now. Even if I don’t agree, I can be at peace with the fact that this is how he is acting right now. There isn’t much I can do other than work myself up and tell him over and over again to stop- which doesn’t work. What does work is to meet him where he is and play along, taking away the adult judgement that “we don’t push chairs over”. If nobody is getting hurt, I’m not going to take issue. But will my mom friends feel different? Geez, what will they think of me? Will they stop coming around because they think my kid is going to be pushing chairs over his whole life? Or do they think he’s unruly?
When we ask ourselves why other parents or adults don’t do things the way we do them, there’s a value judgment- one that is easily transfered onto kids. Why don’t they clean up when I ask them to? Why don’t they listen to me? Why can’t they stop _____?
I think I’ll be asking why until I’m blue in the face. What I’ve realized is that when I don’t ask why, I worry that I’m encouraging “bad” and unwanted behavior. That’s what we were taught as kids. You get a frown from mom/dad when you do something they don’t like and a huge smile, kiss, “good job”, etc, when you do something they like. If you do the thing they don’t like again, you get another frown, maybe a talking to, and possibly a time-out. Still, the modeling is conditional love. They love you when you are “good” and don’t love you when you’re “bad”. My logic takes me to believe that when you grow up and have lived under that roof of conditional love, you probably won’t call on your parents when you’ve done something “bad”, even if you desperately need their help.
I honestly have no idea. All in all, we’re parents for the first time. We’re doing the best we can with what we’ve got, the kids we have, the spouse we married, the families that brought us up. So, if you want to throw this in your mind’s junk drawer, fine by me. I’m just trying. Just like you.
May 5, 2010 § 1 Comment
One of the things we’ll be making in my May sewing class is a cushion cover like the one pictured above. To the left you can see the old cover and to the right you can see the new one. This cover is the kind with button fastening in the back. So you make the front of one piece and the back out of two pieces with enough to overlap. You make the buttonholes, sew the front to the back, turn it right sides out, and all you’re left to do is sew on the buttons. I used some vintage buttons that Josh’s grandmother was kind enough to send my way. They are a perfect fit.
I love boats- not like I’ve got boats on everything I have, but I love ‘em. Also, I didn’t want to contrast with the colors of the awesome rug we have. I think I’ll be making a matching cushion cover to go with my boat cover.
Also in the class, we’ll be making a pillow case and a napkin. Should be fun!
As I was uploading the photo of the cushion cover, I felt a prick in my… um… behind. I looked and it was baby brother but I couldn’t figure out what he was poking me with. I felt it again. It hurt. Turns out he found a pin and was pushing it into me.