Category Archives: Motherhood

She makes this face a lot

And she’s eight months old! (Can you believe it?)

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The Box Library

When we received a library kit, a large box and a collection of dilapidated picture books last week, inspiration struck. Remember our cardboard kitchen? I present to you our cardboard library:

The library kit included an old-school library stamp (which I seriously considered keeping for myself), along with some adhesive book cards. I taped those bad boys into the covers of our books, handed the stamp to my little head librarian, and opened the doors for business.

A few hours later, she’d learned words like “renew,” issued library cards to the baby and stained her fingers red with what turned out to be un-washable ink. From there, she turned her desk into a house, invited Sarah inside for lunch and shut me out.

Oh well. I had plenty of library books to peruse, so I was in no danger of feeling left out.

The assistant librarian covers for Lydia while she takes a nap break.

Here’s the How-To:

For Lydia’s desk, we took a big box, tucked in the top flaps and turned it on its side. She pulled up a chair from her little table, I topped it with a name plate (cut from a spare bit of cardboard) and voila! The little girl turned into a head librarian.

For her desktop organizer, I used an old dayplanner with pockets. Into those pockets we tucked her stamp pad, purple sparkly pen and library cards – one for each family member plus a few blank ones, should grandparents or friends happen to stop by.

The cards are just “Ex Libris” stickers (from the library kit, of course), backed with cardboard. If you don’t have an awesome library kit, you can decorate the cardboard itself, or use blank mailing labels in place of the name tags.

For the bookshelf/returns bin, I used an old milk crate (leftover from the early days of our marriage, when I worked at a gas station) topped with an office-style inbox. Simple enough, and the beauty of it is that everything but the big box will fit into the milk crate when we’re finished playing, so we can build the whole library again some day, should an opportunity (and box) present itself.

Lastly, the books themselves: the ones we were given are too well-loved to have much of a lifespan on our bookshelves (some of them went straight into my art stash, where they will eventually be “re-purposed”), but they’re perfect for stamping repeatedly with a library stamp.

You could hit up the free shelves at your (real) library, or stop by the free/discount boxes outside your favorite used bookstore. Don’t overlook your own shelves, though: I’d be lying if I said that a few of our books hadn’t been demoted to “box library” status – namely, the ones that I’ve never liked, and wouldn’t mind packing up into a milk crate for the majority of the year.

Restocking the shelves in an outfit that is decided NOT "Librarian Chic."

Another perk: all of the sudden, Lydia was presented with a dozen books that she had never seen before. That made for one content little librarian.

[This post is a part Works for Me Wednesday]

On shelves now

“Shelves” is an extremely general term in this case. If I were to be specific, I would say, “On my shelf now.” But I could be referring to your shelf as well, for reasons that will become clear in the next sentence or so.

Do you remember Little Red Riding Lu? Well, I put a picture book together for the girls through Blurb, and I thought I would give you the opportunity to order one as well. If you’re interested, comment below and I’ll get in touch with you, and give you further instructions.

Stitches

There are sounds that no mama wants to hear from the next room:

Giggles.

A loud thump.

Then, silence.

Fortunately, my dad, the ER nurse, was in the room with Lydia when she pitched off our bed and into the window sill head first, so by the time I began to get nervous about that silence, he stood in the doorway with Lydia in his arms.

The next few hours had their share of unpleasant moments – for example, the one where Lydia pulled her hand away from her face, revealing that it, her forehead and left cheek were covered in blood – but they weren’t without a handful of mercies.

Mitch, my dad and my step-mom were all here when she fell, which meant that there were plenty of arms to hold both girls, enough heads present for at least one of us to be thinking clearly at all times, and two nurses able to peek at Lydia’s cut, announce, “Stitches,” and hustle us out the door to the doctor’s office.

Another mercy? The doctor’s office was open late. We didn’t have to go to the ER, a fact for which I am tremendously grateful.

And when I prayed for Lydia in the waiting room, asking God to give her strength and a peaceful spirit, he heard me and answered tenfold: the sweet girl fell asleep on the exam table as the doctor placed the last two of her five stitches.

The next day, when I asked Lydia what she was thankful for, she answered with a blessing that I had overlooked: her sparkly Band-Aid.

I can see the sense in that. If you have to have to wear a Band-Aid on your face for a week, wouldn’t you want to wear a pretty one?

Blossom

This week has been a doozy. Between Lydia’s ear infection, Sarah’s newfound resistance to sleep and my rotating Lenten fast (which just now has me fasting from sweets, and folks, I don’t do well without chocolate), crankiness, fussiness and noise have reigned at our house.

Meltdowns. Tears. Drama. You get the picture.

But yesterday, when I hadn’t had a still moment in days and was starting to suspect that my teeth would never unclench again, I got home from work before my folks brought the girls back. Despite the temptation to bustle inside and pick up, wash dishes, fold laundry, etc., I sat down on the front step and closed my eyes. I listened. I felt the breeze on my face, and the air smelt of spring.

There is the rest that I want, and the rest that I need, and the Lord never lets me go long without the last one.

When I opened my eyes, I saw blossoms: cherry blossoms. While I was busy tending to a sick daughter, an awake daughter, and missing my chocolate (but not, I hope, the point of the fast), the cherry trees across the street had turned pink. And if I tilted my head and sniffed just so, I could smell them.

So, the world does go on without me. Praise the Lord for that.

Cardboard Kitchen

The flu. It’s been here. It’s come and gone, and while it was here, life wasn’t pretty.

But, on the morning that I woke up queasy and feverish, this project saved the day. So, how did a bunch of boxes save a sick mama’s sanity, you ask?

One week earlier, I’d come across this project in an issue of Family Fun magazine. Smitten, I began saving boxes right away, and by the time our fateful morning rolled around, I had accumulated a decent stash. So, with the help of box tape, crayons and a few odds and ends (including, yes, some sterile breastmilk storage bottles), we created our cardboard kitchen.

The original plan was this: after an initial investment of queasy, feverish work, I would set Lydia up with a brand new, deliciously elaborate toy to occupy her for the rest of the day while Sarah amused herself with a teething ring and I languished on the couch.

I say “original” because what really happened was this: I got so absorbed in our project that I kind of forgot to be sick. In fact, I made a few interesting discoveries about myself, namely that I can get just as carried away with a few cardboard boxes as a two-year-old can, and that “crayon on cardboard” is, apparently, my new favorite medium.

So, this delightful set up has been occupying a substantial fraction of our living room for over a week now, and we’re both still enthralled with it. In fact, we’ve added to it as the week goes on. And the best part, in my book, is the fact that we can tear this down when the thrill wears off and then build it anew some other day, when some novel occupation is called for.

(I wish I could do that with a lot of her other toys, honestly.)

When that next time rolls around, I have plans to add a refrigerator. For now, I content myself with turning cardboard scraps into play food (yes, Lydia is cooking up a bacon and cookie saute, liberally seasoned with olive oil and paprika. And who doesn’t crave a cardboard muffin every now and then?).