Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Creative Handmade Gifts

This is a cross-post from my Panjo Kids blog. Thought you might enjoy reading it, too!

We are taking the Handmade Pledge again this year. This means that we are making many of our gifts by hand, and are shopping for handmade, preferably local, gifts for the rest of our gifts. You might be thinking, "Lame. There are only so many knit scarves and macrame plant holders a person can take." but I encourage you all to think outside the box! Etsy is an amazing place to shop for creative, unique gifts. Here's what shopping for the holidays looks like for me.

"Hmmm, what are we going to get for Dave? He's really into bicycling. Let me do a search on Etsy and see what I find." I do a general search throughout all of Etsy and it yields 2332 items. I add the word "mens" and it narrows it down to 305 items. I can handle that. I also try it with "bicycle unique" and "bicycle man" to see what that gives me. Then I sort by price. Here are some of the cool things I find that I could get for Dave that are handmade:

These pins are $1.50 by lolabot. They also have a lot of other bicycle related items.

Shirt by Vital, $24

Recycled Bicycle Gear Bottle Opener by Foundry Wear $25

Matted and Framed 8x10 print, "The Bike Mechanic" $75 by Mary Williams Photography

Custom Bicycle Headbadge for $120.

Two Bicycle Pint Glasses by Bread and Badger, $28. They have loads of other cool etched glass pieces, and they are located here in Portland.

So you see- cool stuff! You just have to look for it. In the next few days I'll be posting a few of my favorite unique items from Etsy. Check back in for ideas for kids, teenagers, baseball lovers, and crafters!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Play Kitchens and Play Food

Max loves pretending. Just today alone he was a spy, a circus clown, a robot, a pirate, and a dentist. We've been eying play kitchens for awhile, and I've recently been tempted by the retro one at Costco which is on sale for less than $100. Then I thought, why not look on Etsy? Turns out there are some great ones on Etsy! I should've known. Really, what CAN'T you buy on Etsy?!? These are heirlooms that would be nice passed down to grandchildren.

Palumba has a great assortment of handmade toys including this simple play kitchen hearth for $349.99 (that includes shipping). The craftsmanship is gorgous, it even has a cutting board that slides out!

This one is by Willowtoys for $225 (shipping included!)

This one by Imagine that Woodshop is only $143.50 plus shipping.

And now on to play food! There are many types that you can buy, I'm partial to felt or knit playfood myself. And it's so easy to make! Using felt you can hand stitch or use a machine. Here is a site with lots of patterns for inspiration and some patterns, too. I just knit up a little strawberry the other day and it's so cute! Here's a website that links to knitting patterns for everything from a banana to a cinnamon roll. Apparently you can even buy scented batting to stuff your playfood so the piece of cake really smells like cake. Yum.

Here are a few of my favorite items by Etsy sellers for inspiration:

These cupcakes by CrazyDaisy60are adorable! 3 for $24.95, or you can buy the pattern for $5.50

Clementines by Eternal Sunshine, $9

Pancakes by Harvest Moon... yum! $30

Bug Bites Play Food has so many cute items, it's hard to choose one! This Farmers Market produce Basket is $35.
For the discerning appetite- Felted Sushi by Mango Avocado. This is a custom order and not for sale, but she does take custom orders!

Camping set pattern by BuggaBugs $6

Go forth and play!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sweet Potato Fries

I love sweet potato fries. Here's a yummy recipe to make them at home. If you're rushed, Trader Joes has some really good ones in their frozen food section, and if you happen to live in Oregon then you already know it's sweet potato fry season at Burgerville. YUM.

4 sweet potatoes, cut into French fries
1 tablespoons canola oil or melted butter
1/4 teaspoon seasoning salt
dash of nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F
Spread the fries out in a single layer on two large baking sheets. Combine butter, salt, and nutmeg. Brush onto potatoes. Bake for 30 minutes, or until crispy and brown on one side. Turn the fries over using a spatula, and cook for another 30 minutes, or until they are all crispy on the outside and tender inside. Thinner fries may not take as long.

You can also put everything in a ziplock baggie and shake it up to coat the fries. YUM.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Teaching Through Love Instead of Fear

Taken from www.connectionparenting.com- a great parenting resource.

Teaching Through Love Instead of Fear by Pam Leo

"However we treat the child, the child will treat the world."- Pam Leo

Can you imagine threatening your partner or good friend by counting "One... two... three..." if he or she did not do what you wanted?

One of the big issues in schools today is "bullying." Parents and teachers struggle daily with how to stop this behavior. Without realizing it, adults teach bullying behavior to children by modeling it when they use the threat of their physical size or power to make children do things. When I hear a parent counting "One... two" at a young child, I always wonder what the child has been told will happen if the parent gets to three. Is it the threat of a spanking, being yelled at, time out, abandonment (I'm going without you) or the withdrawal of love and approval? Whatever the threat may be, I rarely hear "three." As intended, the threat of what will happen if the parent gets to three usually compels the child to do whatever it is the parent is telling the child to do. Parents use threats to get children to cooperate because that was what adults so often modeled when we were growing up. Most of us are familiar with the phrase "or else." We did what we were told out of fear even if we didn't know what the "or else" would be.

While counting may appear to be a magic form of discipline, there is no magic in threats. Children know that adults are bigger and more powerful than they are. They comply in self-defense. If the only way we can get children to do what we ask is by intimidating them with our greater physical size and power, how will we get them to do as we ask when we are no longer bigger and stronger? " Ask the parents of any teenager if counting still works. Not only do threats no longer work, they've learned to use the same means to make others do what they want.

Many parents see a child's uncooperative behavior as a challenge to their authority. Once we understand that uncooperative behavior is usually caused by a child's unmet need or an adult's unrealistic expectation, we don't have to take the behavior so personally. Parents and children often have different needs. Sometimes our needs or schedules conflict with our children's needs. Children who are deeply absorbed in play will not want to interrupt their play to go with us to the bank or the store before it closes. When a parent needs to do one thing and a child needs to do something else there is a conflict of needs. This conflict of needs turns into a power struggle when parents use the power of fear instead of the power of love. The bond or connection parents have with their children is their most powerful parenting "tool." A strong bond is created over time when parents lovingly and consistently meet a child's early needs. Threats communicate, "What you think, feel, want or need is not important." Threats undermine the parent-child bond. When we learn to resolve our "conflicts of needs" in ways that show children that their needs and feelings matter, we strengthen the bond and avoid many power struggles.

The most common reason for conflict of needs between parents and children is lack of resources. If parents had more resources we wouldn't have to bring the child to the bank or the store because there would be someone else to stay with the child. As long as there is lack of resources there will be conflicts of needs. Until we figure out how to bring more resources into our lives we have to find other ways to resolve our conflicts if we are to stop teaching children to be bullies. If we want to teach children to love instead of hate, we must learn to use conflict resolution skills in our daily interactions with children. Just as children learn bullying from what adults model, they can learn conflict resolution and problem solving skills from what we model. When children learn the skills from how we treat them at home they will bring those skills to their relationships at school.

Very young children can learn conflict resolution if we model it. An older sibling can be taught to find another toy to exchange with their younger sibling instead of just snatching their toy back. When two children want the same toy at the same time we can help them "problem solve" a solution. When there is a conflict of needs because the parent wants to do an errand and the child just wants to stay home and play we can say "let's problem solve to see if we can find a way for us both to get what we need." Maybe the child could take the toy in the car or perhaps the errand could wait until tomorrow. When the parent is ready to leave the playground and the child wants to stay longer we can suggest a compromise of five more minutes and doing something fun when we get home. Often it's not that the child doesn't want to leave as much as it is that she doesn't want the fun to end. When we teach children that everyone's needs are important by honoring their needs they learn to honor the needs of others.

There will be times that we won't have the time or the resources to meet a child's need. There will be times that even after honoring the child's need, the child is still unable to cooperate. At those times it is important to communicate that parents have needs too and even though it makes the child unhappy we do have to go now and then allow the child to have his feeling about having to leave. It is never OK to tell a young child that you will leave without them. Threatening a child with abandonment terrifies a child. When a child has a tantrum about leaving it may not be about leaving the playground at all. Leaving may just be the last straw that unleashes the day's accumulation of little frustrations. The child may just need to cry to empty out the stresses of the day. A child will be able to move forward much more readily when we can say "I know you're sad and it's OK to cry" than if we say "Stop that crying or I'll give you something to cry about!" When the crying is done the child will usually feel better and be more able to cooperate.

When children's needs are met and nothing is hurting them they are usually delightful to be with. Whenever a child responds negatively to a reasonable request we need to look for the conflicting need. Once we know how our needs are in conflict we can try to problem solve. I have learned to say, "When you behave that way I know something is wrong, because we love each other and people who love each other don't treat each other this way. Can you tell me what you need or what's hurting you?" If I can remember to stop and ask that one simple question it changes the whole context of the conflict. That question communicates, " I love you and what you feel and need matters to me."

Sometimes there isn't a way for both people to get what they need. But not getting what we need is much easier to bear if we are treated in a way that allows us to keep our dignity. Counting at a child communicates, "I am bigger and more powerful than you and you'd better do as I say or I'm going to (in some way) hurt you." When a big kid says to a smaller one, "Do what I say or I'm going to hurt you," we call it bullying. When an adult communicates the same thing to a child by counting, we call it discipline. When we treat children in ways that take away their dignity we teach them how to take away other's dignity. If we want kids to stop bullying, we have to stop bullying kids. The power of fear is easy and quick but short-lived. The power of love requires more work and takes longer but children never outgrow its influence.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Max's Camera

Max loves to take pictures. He uses our digital camera (which is a bit too heavy for him) and is pretty good at framing what he wants to photograph- usually his mommy or daddy. Here's the view from Max's camera (and an honest look at our messy house...)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

View from our kitchen window

I love fall. The colors changing in Oregon are just spectacular! The tree outside our kitchen window has been a bright red- almost neon- for the past few weeks. I love looking out and seeing the little birds perched on the bird feeder.

Friday, November 07, 2008


For halloween Max wanted to be a "Really realy scary blue monster with horns" so I got started making his costume a few weeks before the big day. Of course come time to try it on he hated the furry blue top and refused to even try it. I kept it on hand just in case. A few days before Halloween we went to a costume party and once again he didn't want to wear the blue costume, but said that he'd like to be a superhero. It's a good thing I have a trove of capes hanging around here! I quickly made a matching shirt for him and off we went to the party. He had a great time. It was at a local kids hair salon and they had different color hair spray, food, toys, and trick or treating in the shopping center. I was surprised at the amout of other kids dressed up as superheroes- at least 10 other preschoolers dressed up as mostly spiderman and batman. Max's was the only homemade costume out of all the kids. Come the real Halloween he didn't want to wear the superhero costume, either. Fortunately we still had the chicken costume from last year. He was happy clucking around in that for the night, and loved trick or treating. I didn't get very many pictures, but here are the ones I did remember to take.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Kids and food

I'll admit it. These days, Max's diet consists of about 5 granola bars a day, peanut butter sandwiches, fish sticks or chicken strips, and fruit. ANY and all fruit. OK, throw in a Burgerville cheeseburger and sweet potato fries on occation and he's good to go. While he's started showing an interest in a wider variety of foods lately, it's usually just to sample. We do what we can to make even these selections healthier (have you tried Mrs. May's Trio Bars? We got them at Costco and it's a nice alternative to regular granola bars...) I still feel guilty about what he eats- not to mention the frequency! He is often too busy to eat. We can offer him food all day, and he'll show little interest. Then get in the car and he's starving. I always have a pretty big snack in my bag because I know that when he's strapped in the car seat with nothing else to do, he realizes he's hungry.

The point to all this (other than to get it off my chest) is to point you to a great article written by one of my favorite Bloggers, Savannah Mayfield. She wrote the other day about Mindfully Mothering about learning to trust our kids' bodies. It's a good reminder not to put too much emphasis on food- harping on it all the time can lead to food issues that none of us want for our kids. Go check it out.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Max jumps for Obama.

And just because it's fun- here's his robot dance. He loves those musical greeting cards.

Monday, November 03, 2008


NaBloPoMo stands for National Blog Posting Month. If you take the challenge you are supposed to blog every day for a month. I'm going to try. Some days it might just be a link to something I like on the web, or a few catch up photos. If I don't post here, check out my other blog over at Panjo.blogspot.com and see if I posted something there. Is that allowed? I'll just say it is.

So it's been a long time since I've posted about Max! I'll throw in a few summer pictures just to get caught up. It seems the last few months have been full of so much change! Max is a little chatterbox. He says the funniest things! Yesterday he wanted Ron to stop going upstairs and he says, "Stop, daddy! Stop! I COMMAND you! Stop!" then later he was helping Ron with a project and taking things to the garbage for him and Max stops and says, "Isn't this wonderful?" *sigh*.

He's very affectionate and full of hugs and cuddles. He LOVES to dance, and has some mad dance moves that might even rival his cousin Arlo. I think a dance-off might be in order next time they are together. He's been playing more creatively lately, pretending to be a chef and cook us various items from the kitchen. He also loves to pretend to be a firefighter, a puppy, a baby, or a robot. He really wanted to be a "really really really scary furry blue monster with horns" for halloween, but after I made his costume he didn't want to wear it. So, he wore his chicken costume from last year.

He likes to play on the computer, and surprised us with how well he can use the mouse. There are some great websites with preschool type games that he can totally play all on his own. Lego.com, pbskids.org, and nickjr.com are a few of our favorites.

And (drumroll please) he decided to potty train. Really, there was no training about it, he did it all on his own. Literally one day I was saying to a friend that he was nowhere near being ready to potty train since he had absolutely no interest, then a few days later Max was completely out of diapers. Like, even on outings and nap times. Wow. A few days of naked time, a few potties around the house, and he just started telling us that he had to pee. I think it might also have been because he spends 2 days a week with his friend Josie who has been out of diapers for a long time and he's seen her use the potty a lot more lately. Sooo, without working on it at all we have a fully potty "learned" little boy. Wow, that was easy! We're lucky.

Here are a few pictures from summer:

Digging a hole for the placenta tree. Yep, you read correctly.

Oregon State Fair- Max's first rides! He and his friend Indigo had a great time riding every single one.

Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma, Washington. A beautiful zoo!!!

Riding the lawn mower with dad at grandma and grandpas house.

Jamming at the Experience Music Project in Seattle.