Thursday, July 31, 2014

My Favorite Parenting Books (Books. Lists. Love.)

My Favorite Parenting Books  
(Books. Lists. Love.)

** A post script that I'm writing pre script:  The best way to learn how to be a better parent is just to do it day to day and occasionally ask yourself, your spouse, and a good friend, "what's going well and what could I do better?"  All the advice in parenting books can't replace real-life experience.  And when you do decide to turn to a book for a new perspective, you should always read it with a filter - it's called common sense.

*   *   *   *   *   *

When I was pregnant with our first child, I read What To Expect When You're Expecting.  Then our baby was born and started to grow and achieve normal-baby-not-a-genius-child milestones, and I made sure he was on track by reading What to Expect the First Year... the Toddler Years... etc... A few years ago I threw those books out. They weren't at all instrumental in helping me become a better parent, and in fact, I think I may have even made a few mistakes by believing everything in them and following some of the "programs" laid out in those books.  Anyway, I read them all once and I never read them again.  Any questions that I have now - such as "are these bumps a normal baby rash or is it a rare flesh-eating disease?"  or "is it a sign of a high I.Q. if my three month points to horse when I said the word cow?" - any questions like that the creep up, I ignore and continue cooking, cleaning, teaching, or looking for lost shoes and sippy-cup valves, etc... And if it's something I can't ignore, I Google it.  Problem solved and bookshelf space saved.  

But there are some parenting books that I have referred to over and over again.  They are books that I turn to for wisdom instead of information.  They are books that I don't mind taking up my bookshelf space.  They are books that don't tell me when  my baby will get a tooth (it'll come when it'll come...) but instead have real advice and encouragement about how to be a better parent, and more importantly, how to SURVIVE PARENTHOOD bless my children with my best efforts, experience, knowledge, and... um... what's that other thing??  Oh, right - love!

But... just to throw you off a little bit, my very first recommendation is akin to a handbook.  It's the ONE BABY BOOK I THINK EVERYONE SHOULD HAVE.  It's that awesome and so I start my list with my favorite "parenting book" of all time:

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, Marc Weissbluth 

This is the best book in the universe for convincing you that sleep is SO important for babies, and that all babies need "good" sleep.  NEVER think your baby is "not a napper." ALL babies (and toddlers, and kids!) need good, healthy sleep.  This book will tell you how to do it - using three different methods - YOU get to pick!! 1) Extinction 2) Minimal Crying 3) No Crying.  

Russ and I aren't the best parents on the planet, but we've always been very confident in, and happy with, the decisions we've made regarding our kids' sleep.  All because of this book.  Our three boys were taking regular naps and sleeping through the night around 5 months old, and our girls were sleeping through the night with regular naps around 3 1/2 months old.  And I know you're wondering if we let them "cry it out" - if there is interest expressed in specifics, I'll offer them some other time, but instead of writing it all out here, the basic gist of it is this: we used the "extinction method" which involves crying but is generally the quickest and most effective way to teach healthy sleep.  The amazing thing is, though, that since we were so tuned in to our babies' sleep needs early on, we never had to endure too much night crying (even though we were willing to.)  Between all of our five kids combined, we have had only about ten nights of intense middle-of-the-night crying.  None of them ever cried when we laid them down for a nap or in the evening because we had followed Dr. W's method of "catching" babies' sleep signals and putting them down at the optimal time before they were over tired and could not fall asleep on their own  So, they were all comfortable falling asleep on their own from a very early age and didn't suffer greatly having to cry for hours at a time, ever.  (Let me know if you need more deets.  I'm happy to share because I love talking about this stuff!)

Postpartum fatigue can be debilitating.  I know.  I can only handle that level of fatigue for a few months, so it's perfect that it's around 3 months that babies are ready to start organizing their sleep.  I NEVER would have known this, or known how to help my babies fall and stay asleep, if I hadn't read this book.  The book is not just about babies, but discusses healthy sleep strategies for children of every age.  If having a well-rested family is a priority for you, and you need some guidance in that regard, Dr. Weissbluth can help you achieve your goal :)  (That sounded like a scripted infomercial, but it's true!  I reeeeeeeeally recommend this book!)

The Temperament God Gave Your Kids, Art and Laraine Bennet

This book aids you in determining what type of temperament your children have and then helps you understand the ways to interact with, communicate with, influence, and love them, that will be the most effective.  

This book was instrumental is helping me appreciate strengths of my children in areas where I had previously imagined weaknesses or annoyances.  My temperament is so very different than my sons, and theirs is so very different from each other, there can be a lot of misunderstanding or unnecessary friction as a result. Knowing and understanding the differences in how we go about... well, everything, makes it less likely there will be disputes or frustrations.  I was so grateful to get a fresh perspective on our differences and have come to appreciate (if not totally understand) the quirky elements of their being that God gave them "on purpose"!  

Discipline that Last a Lifetime: the Best Gift You Can Give Your Kids, Dr. Ray Guarendi

Classic Dr. Ray.  Occasionally corny, often encouraging, always convicting.  Dr. Ray gives all kinds of great advice on how to effectively discipline children - he has 10, so he's got some experience :)  He really shines when he's giving parents tips on how to respond to kids' excuses and arguments  in the midst of disciplining.

Children: The Challenge : The Classic Work on Improving Parent-Child Relations--Intelligent, Humane & Eminently Practical, Rudolf Dreikurs and Viki Soltz

This book was laying around our house left over from my husband's days as a mental health counselor (often for children and families).  I picked it up during a particularly confusing time in our parenting journey and was glad I did.

I didn't agree with all of the methods/ideas in this book, but I appreciated enough of it to mention it here.  One of the best tips I took from it (and I should start doing this again!) is to avoid over-using "if you do this... then I will ...." statements with our children.  It's practically a challenge to a child to do the thing again.  It often ends badly.  For example:

At the dinner table, little Jimmy throws his food on the floor.  I say, "If you throw your food on the floor again, then you will leave the table."  Here's what can happen next:

a) Little Jimmy looks me in the face and throws more food on the floor.  I have to get up and take little Jimmy away from the table.  Little Jimmy learned that he can use his bad behavior to control my actions.  (this option isn't so bad because at least he suffered the consequence.)

or b) Some time goes by, little Jimmy throws his food on the floor again and I don't stick to my guns.  I may ignore it or warn him about the behavior again, saying something like, "Jimmy, what did I tell you about throwing food on the floor??" but do nothing.  I've lost.  I challenged him with an "if..then" statement and he came out the victor.  Little Jimmy learned I don't follow through and now knows that throwing food isn't really a punishable offense (and he probably thinks I'm a pushover...)

or c) (the most likely to happen in my experience...) Little Jimmy doesn't throw any more food on the floor, but a few minutes later starts blowing bubbles into his cup of water.  I haven't mentioned anything yet about the consequences for blowing bubbles, so I say, "If you blow bubbles in your water again, you will leave the table."  But little Jimmy doesn't blow bubbles again, instead he bangs his fork on his plate... and so on.  Using specific "If... then" statements never covers all the other possible questionable behaviors and consequences that might come up and forces the parent to address every. little. thing. that arises.  

The solution? Dreikurs' alternative to the "if...then" statement is to give consequences for behaviors when they happen, with more all-encompassing verbiage, not as a predetermined "threat."  So the dinner table situation would have played out like this:

Little Jimmy, who already well knows the rules of eating at the table, throws his food on the floor.  I say, "Throwing food is not table behavior, so you may not stay at the table.  In our family, you only stay at the table if you have the proper table behavior."  Jimmy is removed from the table, and is allowed to return to the table in a little while to try again with the understanding that he is only permitted to stay at the table if he has table behavior.  It's that simple.  It makes sense.  It covers all matter of poor behavior that Jimmy may choose to exhibit and makes clear what he needs to do to stay at the table.   It can be used for soooo many circumstances - I know from experience.  (I need to get back in the habit of this because it's worked very well for me in the past.)

Compass: a Handbook on Parent Leadership
Lifeline: the Religious Upbringing of Your Children
Anchor: God's Promise of Hope to Parents
by James Stenson

These books are wonderful resources for parents longing to instill lifelong virtues and  faith in their children.  Stenson's work is based on interviews that he conducted with parents who have raised children into adulthood and whose adult children are now living successful lives grounded in Christian teaching.  I really find these books very helpful, encouraging, and practical.  I should read them again :)  

And by way of a little lighter fare...

by, Paul Reiser

When you need a little bit of a break from taking it all too seriously, read these.  You will do the embarrassing laugh-out-loud-even-though-no-one-else-is-around thing.  Or you'll keep reading bits of it out loud to your spouse even though you can hardly breath for laughing so hard.  I was literally in tears a couple times reading Reiser's books. (Couplehood is good, too!)

And finally, Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting, by Pamela Druckerman, was an entertaining and insightful read.  It was just plain fun to read of Druckerman's insecurities and uncertainties about her American-style parenting (hovering, frantic, and paranoid) amidst the calm, cool, and collected chic Parisian mothers among whom she lived.  I indentified partly with Druckerman and partly with the French-style of parenting, so it was enjoyable to get a bit of all it in one book!  

Now I'd love to hear from you!  What are some of the must-read parenting books on your list??

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Happiness. Lately. (Vol. 2)

Happiness.  Lately.  July.  My monthly collection of "Happiness" - appreciating God's goodness in the little things and seeing his grandeur in the simplicity of my life and "Lately" - what I've been into and up to (books, music, food, great finds, etc...)

(And hey, it's a link-up now!  Head to the bottom to link up your own Happiness. Lately. for July.  Hope you'll join me!)

Happiness is...

Some of our Australia family here for a summertime visit!!

The gift of "Flat Bear," made from Australian sheep's wool - the coziest, cutest teddy bear I have ever cuddled with.  (I mean, James.  It's the coziest thing James has ever cuddled with.  It's not like I bring it to bed with me or anything...)

Clare hair at the playground...

The best next door neighbor ever, who comes over to trim his/our bushes and doesn't mind when the kids swarm around him to chat and "help".  

Cut mint blooms at the kitchen sink... (trying not to be too upset that I lost the mint plant when it flowered) 

Aaron's Lowest A1C ever!!  (I was almost doing cartwheels in the endocrinologist's office.  Almost.) 

Refreshing summertime cucumber lemon water...

Lately, I've been...

Making a Christmas gift list of crochet and sewing projects so I don't lose track this year. (Tiffany inspired me.)

Exercising.  Need I mention that I *hate* exercising.  But I've been trying to stick with it.  And I'm doing pretty well because I can keep my mind off of what I'm actually doing on the elliptical by reading or watching "Veronica Mars" on Amazon Prime.  It's even better when I get to walk with a friend.  In addition to plain old aerobic exercise and eating well, I've started the Tupler Technique therapy program to repair my diastasis recti (care of being mostly out of shape for five pregnancies.)  So far, it feels great, however I'm very intimidated by the fact that the program is 18 weeks long.  Can I make it to the end???  I registered with a local Tupler licensed teacher to increase my odds.  I'll keep you posted!


In addition to the reading I mentioned last month...

Perelandra, second book in the C.S. Lewis space trilogy

Eleanor and Park, Rainbow Rowell  - a young adult novel highly recommended by Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy.  She loved it so much, and she's so classy, I'm going to try to get through to the end, but YA fiction is not my thing and so far this book seems to confirm that.  

Reading with the kids:

Extra Yarn, Mac Barnett.  We LOVE this book :)  (if only Annabelle was a crocheter instead of a knitter ;) )

Beauty and the Beast, Mary Pope Osborne - we read this then watched the Disney movie on a rainy day =)


(speaking of extra yarn) Pink ombre mittens for Ruth... 

... as well as many other things which I will not mention here because they're either birthday gifts for someone who may be reading, or I'm hoping to give you a show and tell post in the near future!

Planning / ordering for the new school year.  As always, I love the promise and the "newness" of a new year, but I'm a little bogged down right now wading through a sea of spelling programs...  Once I get that sorted, I think we're set.  Exciting!

Winning the war against fruit flies with this apple cider vinegar trick... 
(it really works!)

Finally, I was asked to participate in a blog hop to promote the release of a new book by crafter Mariska Vos-Bolman.  The book is called Sew Cute to Cuddle: 12 Easy Soft Toys and Stuffed Animal Sewing Patterns.  I'll be publishing my contribution next Friday.  I hope you'll get to check it out!

So there you have it.  My happiness.  Me lately.

What have you been up to this past month? 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Embrace the Ordinary (Vol 2)

What am I embracing this week?

This kid.

And this kid.  

And the ability of both of them to drive my absolutely nuts - you know that burning question that every parent has - how can someone I love so crazy much make me so crazy mad?!?!?  These kids.  Lots of struggles lately.  Lots of love.  This evening I'm owning the nuttiness of it all and I'm planning to hug them extra tight in the morning.  

Parenting is tough.   Here's me offering up a prayer that the the daily bumps and bruises refine me and form them in holiness.  

“…there is something holy, something divine hidden 
in the most ordinary situations, and it is up to each 
one of you to discover it.”  
St. Josemaria Escriva, Passionately Loving the World

Linking up with the lovely Gina at Someday (Hopefully) They'll Be Saints!  

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Slow Cooker Chicken Sweet Potato Tacos (say it with me now... Mmm, Mmm, Mmm!)

I'm not kidding... my kids chant Mmm, Mmm, Mmm! when they find out we're having chicken sweet potato tacos for dinner.  Or lunch.  Or breakfast...  

For this recipe you will need a slow cooker and people.  And some other ingredients.  But the most important thing is the people because you need someone other than yourself to eat these amazing tacos and then love you for making them.

I thought I made up this recipe all on my own.  I mean, I did because one day I had the idea to just throw some sweet potatoes and beans into our regular chicken taco thing...  I thought I was a slow cooker taco genius!  But it turns out there are lots of people out there eating chicken sweet potato tacos.  If "my" recipe is similar to yours, it is coincidental, and isn't it awesome that we discovered the same delicious thing independently of each other in our various parts of the world?!?!

Anyway, here it is...


2 large chicken breasts
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 can diced tomatoes (I use the "no salt added" variety)
1 can Rotel (diced tomatoes with chilies)
2 packets taco seasoning (I use Ortega 40% less sodium.  I also know there are several recipes for making your own.)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

Put all ingredients except the beans into a slow cooker on High for 3-4 hours.  Check to see if chicken is cooked.  Once it's cooked, shred the chicken breasts, stir all ingredients well, and continue cooking for another 1 hour or so.  Add black beans, turn slow cooker to Warm until ready to serve.  

Serve in taco shells or flour tortillas.  Add taco "fixins" - cheese, lettuce, cilantro, sour cream, guacamole, salsa...)

Makes approximately 16 servings a 1/2 cup each. 

Eating with diabetes??  Here's your carb info: Each 1/2 cup has 13 carbohydrates.  Served on an 8 inch flour tortilla (25 grams of carbs) a chicken sweet potato taco would be 38 carbohydrates.  (As always, it's safest to do your own carbohydrate calculations, but this should give you a good idea.)    

Enjoy.  (I'm sure you will!)  

p.s.  let me know if you make 'em and love 'em :)

Friday, July 25, 2014

Organizing My Yarn Stash

I organized my yarn stash this past week.  James helped.

Organizing your yarn stash is sort of like going yarn shopping, but better (!) because you find all this yarn that you really love and realize, "it's already mine!"   

I'm not a serious crocheter ("serious" meaning "I shop at real yarn stores.")  If you know a little about "good" yarn, you probably know that to acquire a sizable stash of "good" yarn you must work seven full time jobs.  With overtime.  

I am content to shop at ("serious" knitters and crocheters, please skip this part...) JoAnn's.  Well, I'm at least resigned to shopping there.  I mean, could you really be content with this...

if you could afford this...

But until a mysterious long lost great, great aunt leaves me her fortune (or her vintage yarn stash), I will have to make do with JoAnn's.  In JoAnn's defense, I've gotten some lovely yarn there, and have made some very lovely things with that  yarn.  And they take unlimited coupons.  I repeat, unlimited coupons.  So thanks to JoAnn's, numerous coupons, and my severely disproportionate creative ambition vs. time to actually create, I've managed to build myself a nice little yarn stash.   I've seen some pretty mammoth size yarn stashes, and thanks to photos of aforementioned towering stashes on Pinterest, I have gratefully put my own mini-stash in perspective.

My yarn stash is organized in a very efficient, very non-classy way.  I've used two sets of Sterilite plastic drawers (not classy, but still a huge improvement over the cardboard boxes and crumpled old shopping bags I had previously been using)  One set of drawers is just unimpressive acrylic yarns in varying weights.  The other, which I show you here, has my cotton, cotton blends, and wool blends, as well as my patterns and supplies.  I used fancy paper and scotch tape to label the drawers.  

While sorting through my stash, I realized it might be helpful to also label various yarns with the projects I had intended them for.   Smart, right?   I thought so.  

The top drawer holds my binder of patterns and ideas, hooks, and other various supplies (scissors, stitch markers, needles, etc...).  

On top of the drawers I'm keeping a few of my favorite baskets (read more about how much I love them  here.  Oh, and they're from JoAnn's!).  They're for storing (and transporting around the house) my current small projects/works in progress.  

There are still bits and pieces of my creative self scattered around the house.  It will take me a while to get it all under control, but at least the yarn has a place and it's not on the floor :)

Do you have a yarn stash that you love?  Every crafter knows there is no such thing as too much yarn, so there's no need to fret over that.  But if you're wondering how you measure up to other yarn lovers, you can take this quiz from

Let me know how you fair!  (I scored an 11)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

One of My Favorite Books is Being Made Into a Movie (and Why I Don't Go to the Movies)

I read the book Unbroken (Laura Hillenbrand) about two years ago.  It is an astounding story.  It was exceptionally written.  It easily earned a spot on my top five non-fiction favorite list.  Unbroken is the phenomenal and disturbing true story of Louis Zamperini - delinquent Italian youth, Olympic runner, Second World War air force bombardier.  The book recounts one unbelievable turn of events after another, covering the time he spent drifting on the Pacific ocean in a life raft after his plane was shot down and then his rescue... by the Japanese, and then consequently, the time he spent as a Japanese prisoner of war.  It is hard to read.  But it is worth it. Because it is truly triumphant.

And they're making it into a movie.  From the trailer, it looks like they have done a fine job...


And I'm actually considering going to see it when it comes out in December.  Except...

I don' t go to the movies.  I just don't.  It hardly has anything to do with the fact that I have five unruly children that I'm hesitant to spring on an unsuspecting babysitter.  

(We interrupt this regularly scheduled broadcast to announce that just a few weeks ago, I got up the nerve to ask a high school student from our parish Vacation Bible School if she'd be interested in babysitting.  I was so nervous, I felt like I was asking someone on a first date to the eighth grade dance...  Anyway, she said yes!  Not only did she say yes, but she said she loves my kids, would love to babysit, and in fact is taking a child care refresher course this summer and is being re-certified in child CPR.   I've never taken a child care class or kept my CPR credentials up to date.......   So she's in!)

Back to my movie theater dilemma.  It's not because we can't land a babysitter or because I can't bear to have my precious angels out of my sight.  That's not it at all.  

Here are the reasons why I don't got to the movie theater and opt for DVD's at home:

1. Headaches.  The last movie I saw in the theater was King Kong.  Lame is the only word I can find for it, though I'm sure there are much more severe adjectives that will come to mind after I publish this.  Not only was it a bad movie, it was a LOUD movie and I got one of the worst headaches of my life watching that thing.  Movie headaches are wretched, but I'd almost be able to overlook it if they movie had been amazing - had been worth getting a headache for.  But no.  King Kong was not that kind of movie.  After that debacle, I vowed to never go to the movies again.

2. Volume Control.  (See above.)  I want to be able to turn the volume down on 30 minute car chases and turn it up when folks are quietly plotting their next heist or whispering sweet nothings to their lover.  At the theater, you are a prisoner of ear-drum destroying Dolby Digital Surround Sound.  

3. Bathroom breaks.  I want to be able to go to the bathroom when I want to go to the bathroom.  And I don't want to miss any of the movie while in the bathroom.  And I want to feel comfortable (and clean) sitting on the toilet in the bathroom and have a rug under my feet and not have to use foul-smelling public rest-room soap.  (Have you ever felt, as I have, that you're actually dirtier after washing your hands in a public restroom??)  

4. Snack breaks.  I want to eat reasonably priced snacks whenever I want to without missing any of the movie.  I want to be able to "pause" a movie and refill my drink six or seven times (and then go the bathroom six or seven times as the size of my drink warrants...)

5. Subtitles.  I never used subtitles until I met my husband.  He's not hard of hearing, but he does like to catch all the dialogue of a movie.  I used to despise the subtitles, but now I'm a fan.  Now I know what people are muttering in the background, and I even know when "Ominous Music" is playing.  The screen tells me.

6. Crochet.  It's too dark in a theater to work on crochet projects, and they generally frown on your wearing miners head gear in there so you can read your pattern.  At home, I can have all the yarn and hooks I want lying all over the living room floor and couch (as Russ reminds me daily...)  And if I miss a critical part of the movie because I was counting stitches, I can "rewind" or loudly ask Russ what I missed without disturbing the people in front of us (or behind us, or to the side of us).

7.  Romance.  If I'm not crocheting, I like to snuggle up next to Russ while watching a movie.  (For this purpose, we had the hard plastic arm rests removed from the middle of our couch.)

8.  Commentary.  You can't be a vocal critic in a theater...


9.  Expense.  We go out occasionally and spend money on a date night.  I like when we spend 30 dollars on Indian food (and date night conversation).  Once in a while, I may consent to spending a dollar on a Red Box movie.    

10.  Because homebodies *heart* home.  And we don't need an excuse to not go out.  We just need you to know, we love to stay home :)  

So, do you enjoy going to the movies?  What was the last great movie you saw?  And... do you think you'll be going to see Unbroken?  (read it first if you haven't!!)  

Monday, July 21, 2014

Embrace the Ordinary (Vol. 1)

I couldn't resist this new link-up from Gina at Someday (Hopefully) They'll be Saints! Embracing the Ordinary???  That's me, baby!

Today, the ordinary moment I loved was the kids slurping on homemade popsicles.  For my kids, having popsicles on a hot and sticky day IS what it means to enjoy summer.  They delight in popsicles like I delight in creamy iced coffee - so simple, yet so appreciated.  I hope I always remember and appreciate what a joy it is to have children who only need popsicles to make a summer's day a perfect summer's day.  

*   *   *   *   *   *
"...there is something holy, something divine hidden in the most ordinary situations, and it is up to each one of you to discover it."  St. Josemaria Escriva, Passionately Loving the World

Easy Handmade Teething Toys (a tutorial)

EDIT: There is some debate over the safety of using mineral oil on wooden toys for children.  You can read about the concern  here.  Pharmaceutical-grade mineral oil is generally accepted as an inexpensive and safe method for sealing wood.  If you are interested in sealing wooden toys with an alternative, here's a list of alternatives to consider.   Thanks to Ann-Marie for asking about the oil :)  Happy crafting!

EDIT #2 - I have since started using flax oil.  It works fine!

It's no secret that I love making things for my kiddos.  A lot of what I make for them is meant to be lovely to look at as well as useful.  And if it's a simple project, all the better!  That's what these teething toys are - cute, useful (just ask my little guy who's working on two front teeth!) and simple.  This was another one of those projects that I completed with materials I had on hand.  I don't know why I had wooden beads and rings, I just did.  Let's say my craft room is "well stocked" and leave it at that ;)

Honestly, these teething toys are so simple, they hardly need a tutorial.  Even if you have very basic sewing skills, you can probably look at the pictures and figure them out.  But if you want a little more guidance for crafting these toys it's my pleasure to assist you!  

In addition to a sewing machine and basic notions, for the Beaded Teething Toy you will need:

3 1/2" x 20" strip of fabric (pre-washed and dried)
scotch tape 
3 natural wood beads (1"  diameter)
mineral oil (to seal the wood)
toy stuffing (I used poly-fil I had on hand)

Sorry for the yellowish photography... I don't know what happened. 
 1. Use a soft towel to rub a dab of mineral oil into the wooden beads.  Allow to dry.

2. Fold the strip of fabric in half lengthwise right sides together, and press.

3. Leaving a 1/2" seam, sew down the long side of the fabric, turning at the bottom and closing up one end of the strip.  (You now have a tube with one open end and one closed end.)

4. Turn the tube right side out.

5. Tie a knot at the bottom (the closed end)

6. At the open end, cut as shown.  Wind a 2 to 3 inch piece of tape around the tip to create a "needle" to thread through the beads.

7. Thread the first bead.

8. It's time to add a bit of stuffing.  If you can add it with the tape still on, that's great, but if not, then cut off the taped portion.  You will still have enough fabric to complete the teether.

8. Use a pencil eraser or other tool to push the stuffing down to the bead and create a puff.  (I think I used about a golf ball size amount of stuffing.

9. Repeat steps 6 - 8.  Add the final bead.  Tie a knot directly above the bead.  

10.  Cut off excess fabric, leaving about 1 1/2 inches.  Fold in the ends, press, and sew shut. 


On to the next one.  (see how easy this is!)

For the Wood and Terry Cloth Teething Toy you will need:

4" x 18 " strips of desired fabric, lightweight fusible interfacing, and terry cloth (I used an old bath towel.  It was old and un-needed, but it was thick and in good condition)
unfinished wooden ring (3 inch diameter) 
mineral oil
paper to create a simple pattern 

1. Use a soft cloth to rub a dab of mineral oil into the wooden ring.  Allow to dry.

2. Create a simple pattern on patter.  Should be about 15 inches long.  Make the 5 inches in the center narrower than the ends, about 2 inches wide.  I made two patterns, one with rounded ends, and one with squared ends. (both are pictured in this tutorial) I preferred the squared-off ends, but it's a matter of taste.  Experiment!  Cut out your paper patter.

rounded ends

squared ends
3. Iron fusible interfacing to the back of your fabric.

4. Using a pen or marker, trace the pattern onto the interfacing.  As you can see, neatness and accuracy are not important :)  It's just for a baby to chew on after all!  

5. Put the terry cloth and fabric right sides together.  Pin inside the drawn pattern line.  

6.  Sew along the pattern line leaving a three inch opening for turning.  

7. Cut the fabric and terry cloth a 1/2 inch out from the line you sewed, leaving more  like 3/4 inch at the opening.

8. Turn right side out and press.  Fold the opening in and press to match the shape of the "bunny ears."  Pin the opening closed.

9. Top stitch around the entire piece.  Be sure to sew the opening shut.

10. Place on top of the wooden ring like this:

11. Feed one "ear" in like this:

Do the same with the other side.  Pull and tug and pull until it looks the way you want it or like this in the front:

and this in the back:

You're done!  One of the nice things about this teether is that the fabric stays pretty well in place until it gets yucky and worn, and then you can take it off and toss it in the wash :)  Why, you could even make two of the fabric/terry cloth pieces to have a spare while one is in the wash!  Convenience and variety!  

Wouldn't these be a lovely addition to a baby shower gift?  My little James likes sinking his gums into these goodies, and I think your special little ones will too!  

If you try your hand at one or both (!) of these simple teethers I'd love to hear about it!  If you have any questions, please head to the com box!  I'll get back to you.

And as always, if you Pin it or blog about it, please link back to here!  Thanks!
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