Thursday, March 31, 2011

Umbrella Stroller Accessory

Cannot stop thinking about our upcoming FL trip! I will be alone with little caterpillar most of the time, without the help of our big stroller! How am I supposed to carry all the stuffs and my heavy camera? Here are some accessories I found online, that might lighten my load a little bit. Actually move stuffs from my shoulder to the umbrella stroller, so I can have both hands free to take care of my girl and take pictures.

Stroller bag! This one was made by Brandy from Gluesticks. I love it's so simple, yet so practical. I probably will make another longer strap, so when I take it off the stroller, I can wear it as a shoulderbag. This can be fold so small, won't take up too much space or weight in our luggage! Hmm, now, what color should I choose? What is the no-time-to-sew version for this? I wonder if I can hang my backpack on the handles, without tipping backward. Have to try this first tonight! Yeah, I am very impatient!

Cup holder? Actually this one is an organizer, for drinks and more. Hmm, I might be able to make a couple of drawing string bags for our bottles and sippy cup, so I can just hang them on the handles.

Sun shade? We all know that tiny shade on the umbrella stroller is no match for the sunny FL. This will be so helpful, if little caterpillar will allow me! She is way too curious to sit in there quietly. She probably will break it in 5 minutes! Still, it's not a bad idea, I can use it when she fell asleep in the stroller after running around for hours. And best part is it's made of some sort of mesh material, so I am confident the ventilation is pretty good, my baby won't be too hot in it.

Stroller bag/carrier? At first I thought it's just a bag for carrying stroller around, then I realized it's for checking-in or gate-check! Well, I don't need that! What I might need is something simple so I can carry the umbrella stroller on my shoulder, and have both hands free to carry my girl! Say, boarding a bus? I need something very small, and simpler than a drawstring bag! Oh I know! I can use the strap from my yoga mat! Genius! Need to remember to check whether it fits, and leave it next to the stroller, so I won't forget about it when running to the airport.

Oh, look what I found! The perfect solution for almost all my needs, except the sun shade thing of course. This is the Magic Stroller Bag from Europe! It even has the built-in stroller carrier! But for €37 up to €120!? It costs way more than our little stroller! I might have to sew up my own version, won't be as stylish, but will fit all my needs! Anyone have extra hours that I can borrow?

Oh, silly me. Walmart sells this Stroller Starter Kit, including weather shield, mesh bag, netting, and a dozen linkables. But still, this one can only solve half of my problems. OK, keep looking.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

New Portable Fabric Highchair

I finally made mine last night (95% done). It took a little bit longer than I expected, because of all those ties. Turning them right side out is very time-consuming. Thank goodness I made them quite wide (about 2"), otherwise I probably will just give up and sew them on wrong side out. Remember this post? I followed this tutorial, but modified it a little bit to make it little caterpillar-proof. She is too strong and very determined, so I worried the bias tape ties won't last. Also, she tried to stand up in her real highchair before, so I had to add two more ties to tie her down to the seat, not just the back of the chair. See, not bad at all. Actually I planned to make it later, so we will have it for our China trip this year. But last Sat, there was too many people at the foodcourt at Burlington Mall, we couldn't find a highchair for her. She ended up sitting on a regular chair like a big kid. She could have sit in her stroller, but she made huge mess in there before, we don't want to repeat that. Anyway. We had to constantly hold onto her, since she moved around too much. She almost fell off the chair a couple of times. It's at that moment, I remembered this from my to-do list! Darnit! I wish I have made it beforehand and test it out and perfect it before I leave all my nice fabric behind. Well, it's not like I cannot get cute fabric in China, and my mom has two sewing machines, but who wants to slave over a sewing machine while on vacation? So, I made this one immediately, and will test it during our upcoming short trip to FL. Oh the best part, it folds up so small, will fit in any of my bags easily. I will make a little matching drawstring bag for it, so the ties won't all tangled up in my bag. There are also two more ties needed on the top. I will show you better pictures of the finished product later.

Cranes For Kids

Guess I don't need to explain it more, it's pretty clear! Everyone wants to help Tsunami victims in Japan, one way or another. I will tell all my friends to make origami cranes to help out, kids will love this idea. If you are reading this post, please do the same, spread the words.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What To Pack For Toddler?

Wish I found this "Ride On Carry On" attachment earlier. Well, just have to buy it for our next trip.

Anyway. Getting closer to our trips, I am, as usual, very eager to start packing. It's pretty easy to pack for Stubborn and I, since we have travelled many places many times. But this is our first trip far away from home with little caterpillar, there so many stuffs I want to pack, but airlines only allow that much! Last year, we drove to our resort, so we packed our car floor to ceiling, with almost all her stuffs, playpen, bathtub, portable highchair, etc. But now she is much bigger, her needs has changed. So after some intensive googling (is that even a word?), here is the list I came up with. Please leave a comment if you see something important is missing.

- diapers, wipes, more than we need for the flight, in case our luggages got delayed or lost. If more is needed, they can be purchased locally
- changing pad
- diaper rash cream, and powder
- waterproof sheet or blanket, so I don't need to applogize to the flight attendant or hotel manager. Little caterpillar is still wearing diaper, and she never wet her bed before. Just in case she spills her milk or water on chair or in bed
- umbrella stroller
- clothes. Several sets, each in their own individual ziplock bags, so I can use those bags for dirty clothes later. A couple of sets in carry-on, just in case she makes a mess on the flight. Another tip I got, roll the clothes, so they take up less space.
- comfortable shoes. But wear the heaviest pair on the plane, again the weight limit thing.
- tooth brush, tooth paste, shampoo, lotion, all in waterproof bag
- some washcloth
- bathtowel, I don't trust hotel towels on my baby's soft skin, no offense
- bottles, nipples, caps, sippy cups
- bibs
- some books and quiet toys
- first aid kit
- emergency contact information on the inside of her clothes

Oh, for our future trip to China, I also need a signed and notarized letter from Stubborn, authorizing me to cross international border with little caterpillar. Apparently one parent travelling with children raises red flag, because there have been cases of divorced parent kidnaps own children and take them overseas. Since I will be travelling along with my girl, and we have different last name, I better prepare all the documentations they might ask for. Maybe I also need to make a copy of her birth certificate.

So, anything missing? Or I am worrying too much? Any tips on flying with a toddler alone on a super long flight? I am excited about the trips, but terrified at the mean time.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

How Many Dresses Is Too Many?

Not for me, for my little caterpillar! Can you tell me how many is too many? Because I cannot seem to stop myself from making more, and more, and more! At the speed of one dress every other night, her closet will explode before summer. Well, frankly, I don't really care. These are the precious years that I can dress her up with whatever mommy likes, as cute as possible. Isn't that the benefit of having a girly girl? Pretty soon, she will have her own opinion about fashion and style, hopefully not too into expensive brand names, she probably won't wear any homemade clothes any more. Anyway, I will just enjoy the moment now. Here are a couple of dresses I made last week.

This first one was quite a simple fix. I bought this cute little tshirt for little caterpillar last year, for 3T. She has quite a belly, as she calls it "DaDu", so it actually fits her now, but quite long. And she has lots of tshirt already, so I just grabbed some knit fabric I thrifted 10 years ago, and added some ruffles to the neckline and the bottom edge. My original plan was adding 3 layers of ruffles, but it was way too long, almost reached ground! Oops, my bad! So, I just cut off the lower two tiers, and now it's perfect. Oh, I didn't threw away those ruffles. I will add it back on later, so she can wear it for one more season.

This one was very easy as well. I found this children knit pants (don't know the size) while thrifting, and fell in love with the fabric! What not to love? The dark teal blue background, or the bright orange and white flowers, or the very modern design? I love them all. I had a choice to make it into a pair of smaller pants for little caterpillar, but I could swear I heard it screaming to me "fun dress"! It's waist line happened to match little caterpillar's chest measurement, so I saved lots of time by keeping it. Oh, the above picture is not the real before, I already cut off the small ruffled hem from the bottom, and forgot to put it next to the pants for photoshooting. I didn't take enough pictures because I thought it was too easy. I will try to explain it as clear as I can. Anyway. I just simply cut open along the inner seam, and almost all the way up to the waistline. I am not familiar with sewing terms, so cannot tell you what it supposed to be called, just check out this picture. Then I turned it inside out, folded it so the newly cut edges are aligned on the outside. Now what you have is basically a front piece and back piece connected at waist line. Stratch the elastic a little bit and draw a straight line from just below the waist line to your desired length on both side. Sew along the line and cut off extra fabric. Cut off the extra length from bottom at the length you want your ruffle to be. Cut the extra pieces to small stripes. You can sew the small stripes together to make one long piece, but you don't have to. I just zigzagged along one side, and overlapped next piece a little bit and continued. This created some movement to the edge. Then, turn my sewing machine to the longest stitch and highest number of tension, ruffle along the other side. There are tons of tutorials out there about that, just google it. Then I just pinned the ruffle to the bottom of the dress, and sew it on. Now that basic of the dress is done, it's time to add some embellishments. I hand sewed the two original ruffle pieces I cut off the pants to the center of the top (the original elastic waist line), so I can tie a knot behind my girl's neck. And then I made a flower pin using the leftover fabric and a big pearl bead. Simply pin it right in the front, at the base of the two ruffled strips. And it's finally done! The best part, little caterpillar loves it! Oh, I am a happy mom! Oh, since I made it quite long, later I can re-sew the two straps to the side as shoulder straps, lower the chest line, so my girl can wear it again next summer. And then I can cut off the elastic waist line and just hem it or shir it, it will become a cute top for one more year! Oh, if this goes as I planned, I basically created a piece that my girl can wear for 3 summers, for less than $1! Love it!

Friday, March 18, 2011

My Fashionable Baby

Someone found mommy's scarf! Without us even noticing, she wrapped it nicely around her little head! The other night, she asked me to hang my earrings on her ears (not pierced), and she has been playing with my necklaces! Guess we got a girly girl in our hands. Perfect!

Oh, look who's acting like a super star already?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Boston Flower & Garden Show 2011

AK got us some tickets to Blooms show. How nice is he! Anyway, three of us went there this morning, and it was much bigger than the one I visited two years ago. The place was surprisingly crowded, for a rainy weekday. The orchid stand is the first thing you see upon entering, just so beautiful, and amazingly fragrant! Sorry about the picture quality though, they shine spot lights on the flowers from ceiling up high, really highlighted the plants, but very bad for photography. Or, we are just really bad at this. Anyway, I will be process pictures (more than 150 pictures) the rest of this week, and post them on my flickr. Hopefully, those of you couldn't make it to the show can enjoy it through our pictures.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Preparing For First Plane Trip With Toddler

We are taking little caterpillar to Orlando soon. So, naturally, I am a little freaked out. I started doing lots of research online, for both professional and other moms' suggestions and experiences. Got lots of great ideas. Frankly, some of them made me panicked even more, but some are simply amazing and encouraging.

(Source: Pillow Sew Cute's Etsy shop)
Like this post from Modern Parents Messy Kids, offered lots of tips and lessons. I will definitely pack one of my own "ouch pouch" with all the first aid stuffs I can think of. It's good little caterpillar's next apointment is coming up, I can ask her doctor for correct dosage for those medicine, maybe some tips even.

(Source: Sew Liberated)
I also read this post about 'bag of tricks for airplane travel' on Sew Liberated. We thought about buying a nice backpack for little caterpillar to keep her favorites closeby. Stubborn wanted to buy those princess ones, which I totally don't like. I am not anti-princess, I want to treat my girl as a princess, but I don't want to expose her to all these concepts too early and get hooked on these very commercial stuffs. No, I want something more stylish, and she probably can use for many years without being embarrassed. This post gave me the courage to design and make one myself. She used the Made By Rae's toddler backpack pattern, and there are lots of amazing versions other people made in her flickr group. It looks pretty simple, I might be able to make it without the pattern. And I can make it a little bit smaller too. Oh, got side tracked. I also loved all the goodies she put in that backpack for her son. Well, little caterpillar is a little girl, so I might switch some items out. I will show you the pictures if I can actually make one before the trip, not much time left.

Oh, there are also lots of tips here at Good Little Traveler. Look like I have lots of reading to do tonight.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Bean Town Play Zone

We normally take little caterpillar to the play area at Burlington Mall Food Court, but last time our friends suggested Bean Town at Natick Mall. Oh, what a nice place that is! Little caterpillar jumped right in, tried all the equipment, since almost everything is new to her.

But the one she loved most are those giant 'rubber' duckies, a mommy and 3 babies.

She also loved those car/bus shopping carts. We let them sitting in it and took lots of pictures, while other people staring at us, wondering what was our problem playing with these at the renting spot, instead of pushing kids around in them. Well, since we were there for playdate, not shopping, I am not paying $5 (maybe $4, I don't remember) to let her ride for just 100 yards. 5 minutes sitting in it is enough. She prefers walking around and playing chasing game with mommy, or getting a ride on daddy's shoulders anyway.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Short Jacket Got New Life

Lots of little caterpillar's clothes were hand-me-downs from my sister and friends. But some of them, even the new ones (baby shower gifts), are very short and wide. It was way to loose last year, now they are perfect on the shoulder and chest area, but surprisingly short, maybe 2" shorter. Little caterpillar's big belly always hanging out! That's just weird. Does that mean all babies in China are short and chubby? Or, maybe because my girl is way too tall. Anyway, I had to do something to make them wearable again. I got my inspirations from some of the blogs I read regularly, like Ruffles And Stuff. Why not add some colorful ruffles? That will make her clothes more girly, and most importantly, bigger. Here is my first attempt. Both little caterpillar and Stubborn love the result. If only I can get little caterpillar to stop running around and modelling this for mommy. Stay tuned, there are two more, coming up soon.

Monday, March 7, 2011

I Am In A Treasury!

I know I am breaking "one post per day" rule here, but hey, this is super exciting! Check out other goodies in the treasury here. Thanks, Good Natured Gardens, for including my little pin cushion.

Time For Big Girl Bed

Goodbye, our lovely crib! Actually we have been thinking about switching little caterpillar to a big girl bed for a while. OK, maybe it's just me. Stubborn doesn't see the point. I kept telling him that our little girl is too tall, when she standing on her toy or pillow, her belly is right at the railing level, her entire upper body is out! And I caught her several times try to climb out. I heard stories from coworkers and friends, about how their kids fell out the crib when they were her age. That gave me the chills! I refused to think my baby girl will too fall out her crib one day, and in the worst scenario break her little neck. Knock on wood! Again! And Again! I WILL NEVER LET THAT HAPPEN.

Then my best friend gave me their toddler bed when they moved away. Perfect timing. I immediately started assembling and cleaning it. It's in almost perfect condition, not even a scratch. But big ZZ (my best friend's little boy, little caterpillar's first "boyfriend" =) ) loved stickers, so there are some on this nice white bed too. Some already gone, left some sticky residue to attract dirt and lint. I used the trick I use to remove the labels from containers, Windex. It worked perfectly. Now we have a brand new bed! The next problem will be actually making her sleep in it.

When we were disassembling it at Big ZZ's home, she was very curious about it. She also tried to help mommy 'rebuild' it. Right after I assembled it and put the mattress back on, she climbed in and pretend to sleep again. OK, looked like she accepted this new bed. So, I moved her crib to the side, and put this new bed at where her crib was. She still looked ok. OK, I went on disassemble her crib, right there in her nursery. I tried, but couldn't get it out. It's just too tall and wide for the doorway. Just when I thought everything went smoothly, this happened after I removed one railing. Then she just stood there, quietly, sucking on her thumb (meaning she's sleepy) and holding on to her blanket, while giving me this sad look!Well, there is no turning back at that point. After several minutes negociating, I managed to lure her off the crib with some toys.

Long story short, the switching process was as smooth as it possibly can. The first two nights, little caterpillar was too excited about this new found freedom, she climbed in and out, running around the room, pulled all her books out of the shelf, played with her stuffed animals. All these happened with the light's off. We could barely see a thing! She finally went to bed after 11PM! I slept with her in her room, on the twin bed next to her, just to keep an eye on her. Surely she fell out of the bed, so quietly, I didn't even hear it. I just happened to opened my eyes to check on her, and there was no baby in the bed?! Lucky I was prepared, put several pillow on the floor. She landed on the pillow, didn't even make a sound. I could grab the camera to record that, she was so cute on the floor, but that would be too mean. No, I didn't do that. I genetally picked her up and put her back to bed. Then started thinking how to block that section to prevent this from happening again. That's how much sleep I got that night. But slowly, little caterpillar got used to her new bed. Her bedtime moved towards her normal time, and she managed to stay in there for a couple of nights. This is a child who would roll around in her crib all night, sleep with her back firmly against the railings. Now just a little bit of turning? It's amazing! My baby girl is growing up! Good! Because I already put the crib up to the attic, I am not dragging it down again. Now I can think about decor and maybe new layout for the nursery. Or should we call it the 'big girl room' from now on? Finally, one item crossed off my to-do list, only a million more to go! Growing up with her is harder than I thought.

Friday, March 4, 2011


to declutter, that is. This next picture is not my house, oh, I can only wish. It belongs to Benita from Chez Larsson. Look how clean and organized it is! Well, there is no surprise there, I have been following her blog for a while now, and her house always looks like this. But this is the first time I see pictures of all different angles of her house in one post. Well, you see, Benita is selling it! She did such a great job with the house, and looks like her realtor is pretty good at his/her job too. I am sure this house is going to be sold really fast. Good luck, Benita.

The reason for this post is not just showing you Benita's amazingly clean house and her style. After checking out all her pictures, I felt so ashamed that my house is so messy. Also, I still remember my best friend Jackie had to sell a lot of stuffs and threw the rest away, for moving. Or, it's almost spring cleaning time. Anyway, it got me thinking and planning. I have to go through our stuffs again, and get rid of all the unused and unwanted stuffs, clothes or furniture, and finish all those WIPs all over the basement. If I can pare down our belongings, not only my house will be less crowded, it also will be safer for little caterpillar. And the future moving plan will be much simpler too. Stubborn absolutely loved my plan. He is a very simple guy, anything not essential should be gone. No decoration or coziness for him. Well, I am not that simple. I still need some of my decorations, and all my crafting and sewing supplies. I just need to really organize them. In fact, I think about 90% of stuffs in the house are mine, and Stubborn calls lots of them junks. Me offering to clean things up must be like music to his ears. Hopefully this will be a begin of something wonderful in our household. I will show you the progress once a while.

So, any of you also got inspired by Benita's home? Want to join the early spring cleaning?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Portable Highchair

Stubborn just reminded me that we are going on a 3 day mini vacation soon. I totally forgot about that. He has a conference coming up, and he mentioned it to me months ago. All of a sudden, I got so excited, my mind couldn't stop spinning, thinking about what to pack, and what places I could take little caterpillar to. This is not her first vacation, but her first flight. So, I am doing lots of research about toddler travel safety, entertainments, food, and anything else I can think of. Then I thought about eating in hotel room or in restaurants. Last vacation was kind of local, so we packed everything, including her little portable plastic highchair seat. But this time, we are flying, cannot really pack that one in the luggage. So, I went on research for alternative. Then I found these amazing fabric ones, just tie them to regular dining chair. Oh, right up my alley.

Jill from Home Made By Jill posted this amazing idea. It's so simple, and stylish.

Then I thought, what if that dining chair has solid back, how am I suppose to make that work? And little caterpillar already figured out how to open those velcro tape closures. Then I found this one at Ragamuffin Designs and this tutorial. They are basically the same idea. The best part is it fits any kind of dining chair! And since it ties at the back of the chair, little caterpillar simply cannot undo it and get out. Looove!

I cannot wait to make one or two with some of the babyish fabric from my stash. Who knows when little caterpillar will make a huge mess and I have to wash it. This will be perfect for our next big trip back to China. My parents don't have highchair, and I don't remember seeing highchairs in restaurants either. But I haven't been to many of them in the past 10 years, maybe they changed. There will be some minor updates to make it more little caterpillar proof. =) She is way to active, can get out of almost all the restaurant highchairs. Will show you my version soon.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Rocking Horse, Riding Horse!

This picture was taken last June, at our Memorial Day Party. All the kids had a blast riding that temporarily fixed (see that small rectangle lighter color wood right in front?) gorgeous rocking horse and the cutest rocking Nemo. I finally started working on that horse, two years after scoring it from a local thrift store. Yeah, I am that behind on my to-do list. It will be quite different. I will try to keep it gender neutral, so little caterpillar's little friends (all boys) won't feel too weird about riding it again. I will show you the 'new' horse later.

Now I am going to point you to an amazing tutorial about how to make this outrageously cute riding horse. Little caterpillar is still too young to ride this, but I will definitely keep this in mind for next year. Oh, cannot wait. Let's forget about all those plastic and noisy modern toys, and have some oldfashion fun.