Tuesday, July 28, 2015

DIY Fleece Peso the Penguin

I don't know about you, but in my house we have way more stuffed animals than we need. Earlier this year, Zane and I placed an embargo on stuffed animals as gifts. It's even hard for me to honor, because I find myself in a Disney gift shop, Cracker Barrel store, or browsing the internet thinking, "Oh that's so cute!"

My three year old has been completely obsessed with Octonauts. She often has Zane or me pretend to be Peso and help heal her other stuffed animals. This morning she was playing that game, and I thought, "She needs a Peso doll." I looked it up on the internet, found some Octonaut merchandise, and then remembered my stuffed animal embargo.

Then I realized I could easily make one, and somehow the hand-crafted aspect of a plush doll justified adding another one to our huge collection. Plus, I was hankering for a creative project.

It's really not too difficult to make, once you break down the steps. Hopefully this DIY tutorial will give you the confidence to make your kids' favorite character into a simple doll if you feel the inclination. With the right planning, you can easily make a simplified version of any character.

**Disclaimer: I did not make this with the intention of writing a DIY post, so I don't have pictures of each step, but I hope my written instructions make sense. Feel free to ask questions!

Materials Needed: 

Less than 1/8 yard each of black, white, blue, yellow fleece.
Hot glue gun
Fabric glue
Poly fill Stuffing or scraps to stuff with
Index card for Peso's medical bag

Part 1 - Cut Pattern and Fabric

1. Find an image of the character you want to create. Front-facing is best. I searched Peso the Penguin and found this image: 
via: http://wondersofdisney.yolasite.com/resources/disjunior/octonauts/peso.png

2. Save the image on your computer and paste it into a word document. I decreased my margins to .5'' and expanded the picture as big as it would go on a normal 8.5x11'' page. Then I printed it.

3. Use scrap paper to trace out the sections that need to be cut out separately. I traced a big head and added about .25'' around for an inseam. Then I moved my trace paper around to trace the black eyes, yellow beak, white face, black body (add .25'' for inseam here too), white belly, black wings, yellow feet, white hat, and blue collar.

3. After you trace your sections, cut them out of the scrap paper. Now you have patterns for each part of the doll.

4. Use the patterns to cut your fabric pieces. Remember to cut 2 identical fabric pieces for any part that you intend to stuff:

  • Black: eyes (2), head (2 pieces, add .25'' inseam), body (2 pieces, add .25'' inseam) 
  • Yellow: beak, feet (2) 
  • Blue: collar (make it a little longer to go around entire neck) 
  • White hat, belly, face **For Peso, I did not cut his white face out with the pattern. Keep a rectangle for his face, and go to the next step. 

Part 2 - Sew

1. FACE: I used the instructions from this Monster Hat tutorial, specifically how she sewed the eyes of the monster with a tissue paper pattern to sew Peso's face on his head. I've referred to that tutorial a lot for fleece appliques. If you don't want to click her link, then here's my instructions below: 

Trace Peso's face pattern with chalk on the white fleece rectangle. Pin the white over the black fleece, trying to center the "face" part on the black oval. I sew along the chalk line. After it is sewn on, cut just along the outside edge of the stitch. 

You can do the same for Peso's white belly or glue it on at the end, which is what I did. 

2. HEAD: White face facing inward, sew Peso's two head pieces, leaving an opening at the bottom where his neck will attach. Flip it inside out and stuff with poly fill stuffing. 

3. BODY: Place wings and feet pointing toward the middle of the black body piece as if he's folding up his legs and arms. Then sandwich the other body piece on and pin around the edges. Leave a little bit of arms and legs poking out to make sure that they get sewn in. Sew around the edge. Flip it inside out. The arms and feet should wave around on the outside. Stuff the body with poly fill stuffing. 

Hand sew the top of body (neck area) into the hole left at the bottom of the head. 

Part 3 - Glue

1. BELLY: Glue the white belly in the middle of the black body. If you sewed it on, skip this step. 

2. COLLAR: Optional: hand-sew chevrons on either side of his collar. Use hot glue to glue it to his neck. I extended the fabric past my pattern to wrap around his whole neck and glued it in the back, further securing my hand stitches at the base of his head. 

3. FACE: I cut tiny white pieces and used my fabric glue applied with a tooth pick to glue them to Peso's black eyes. Then I used hot glue to glue the eyes and beak to his face. 

4. HAT: The hat was the most tedious part of this endeavor, because I had to freehand cut an Octonauts symbol, which looks ridiculous. Then I hand-sewed it onto the hat. I'd say forget the Octonauts symbol unless you're really detailed. Just take small rectangle of white fleece, fold up the bottom by a 1/4'', and sew/glue it in the back. Then round off the top with your scissors and glue it on his head. 

**All of the glue parts, I used a toothpick to apply fabric glue to the edges and corners to prevent peeling up or fraying when my daughter plays with him. Hot glue is nice for big pieces, but fabric glue is better to get small pieces and spaces. Fabric glue holds better with fleece too. 

5. MEDICAL BAG: I folded an index card in half, cut out the corners to leave a "handle" in the middle, and drew a blue bandaid on with a blue marker. Then I taped up the sides with packing tape and filled the "bag" with strips of white fleece for Peso's bandages. 

My daughter LOVES him. My creative bucket is filled, by knowing that he's now a favorite toy makes it all the more worth it! 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Marta's Legacy by Francine Rivers

I haven't posted a book review in a long time, although I have been reading several books lately. I just finished a 2-book series by Francine Rivers called Marta's Legacy, which was split into the following two books: Her Mother's Hope and Her Daughter's Dream. (Follow the links to the Goodreads pages for other reviews, but don't read too much and spoil the story for yourself!).

I wanted to buy a different book online and was trying to buy enough for free shipping, so I browsed Goodreads and found that Francine Rivers had a new (okay, a few years old now) series about mothers and daughters, so I bought them, not expecting to read them so quickly.

I couldn't put them down. I should have known.

They're a saga for sure, starting in the early 1900's and going through to present day. It follows four generations of women in one family, focusing on the mother-daughter relationships.

Oh my goodness. Aside from the extremely interesting history of the 20th century, my eyes were opened in a new way to understanding not only my mother and grandmother, but people in general and how we interpret our experiences and let those experiences shape us.

The books are just brilliant.

I felt the need to seek reconciliation with family members and pray more fervently for my daughters' futures, which as much as I try to shape, is ultimately in the Lord's hands. It also helped me to better accept people as they are instead of frustratingly wishing they would change or trying to make them change and only causing conflict. Even in a family of generations of believers, there are things that cause hurt and misunderstandings. My experiences are different than the characters' in the books, but the same concepts apply.

It put me in a very reflective mood, which is one of my happy places.

I was going to share a beautiful quote from the end of the book, but I decided not to, because it may be too much of a spoiler, and I want everyone to experience these women's stories like I did.

I strongly recommend these books!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Daisy's Third Birthday

Daisy turned three at the end of June, but you know how life is, so here's my late blog post about her never-ending celebrations. 

We met my parents and sister's family in Davenport for a week-long getaway. I was a single parent for part of it, which was a little rough, because Amy had a cold and didn't sleep well in the condo. Daisy also had some potty regression while there, possibly because of the unfamiliar area or lack of routine. Not fun for momma, but I still got plenty of time to relax in the pool and hang out with family, so it was definitely fun. The pool had a water slide, zero-grade entry, and lazy river. We went to it every morning!

Leading up to Daisy's birthday, we went to the Fort Wilderness Chip and Dale sing-a-long. It was blazing hot, but we still had a great time roasting s'mores and singing silly campfire songs. We left before the free movie, because that would have been too late for the kids. 

My mom, sister, and I took Daisy to a little tea house in Davenport. It was very hometown, but Daisy loved it. She got bored and didn't really eat the food (she had some stomach issues during our trip, probably due to my poor attention to what she was eating), but she enjoyed the whole "tea" experience. 

We had a little family birthday party for Daisy at the condo, which she was really excited about. She loves parties. She helped decorate and pick out her cake from Publix. Helping to prepare for the party enhanced the experience for her. 

She loved it. She definitely gets birthdays. She wants the cake, the candles, the song, and the presents! She enjoys all the parts of a party. 

On her actual birthday, we went to Downtown Disney (soon to be Disney Springs) and ate at the Rainforest Cafe. She was afraid of it at first, but Zane was able to walk her around and get her comfortable with the ambiance. She voiced her concern about how the elephants were separated from each other and probably wanted to be together. She still talks about the pretend rainstorm. 

Before and after lunch we walked around Disney Springs. There's so much free fun to be had there: legos, splash pad, shopping. Zane took her on the carousel too (not free). 

After our Orlando trip, we celebrated the Fourth of July with Zane's family and combined it with another little party for Daisy. We ran to Old Navy that morning to pick up some patriotic attire, because we didn't have anything for the girls. Plus, we're proud to be Americans, so we have to dress the part! 

Daisy loved her last party and being sung to once again. It was a very relaxing afternoon with the kids playing while the adults chatted. We indulged her by letting her have two cupcakes. We've come a long way in three years. 

Now we officially have a three year old! 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Mom of Two: Nine Months In

Amy has been amazing us with her development this month. She started saying "baba" "gaga" "mama" sounds. I don't know if she has associated any meaning to them yet. She responds to "no" with obedience. We say that a lot when she's going for Rufio's food or treats. 

She stands completely unassisted and walks easily along surfaces. She can also walk across the room with a walking toy. She has a serious case of FOMO (fear of missing out) and will fuss and crawl into the room with all the action if necessary. 

She LOVES watermelon. Hands down, watermelon is her favorite food. Unlike her sister, she doesn't like beans very much. She's not really a fan of vegetables, but will eat anything we put in her mouth. That means that if she won't feed herself peas and carrots, I can put them on a spoon and she'll eat them just fine from me feeding her. 

She loves her Daddy. Everyday when Zane gets home, she drops down to the floor and speed crawls to the door. She fusses until he picks her up, then looks around at us like, "Yep, that's my dad."

Unfortunately, she has been very off with her sleep lately. Last month I reported that she was dropping to four feedings and sleeping through the night. HAH! She must have known I wrote that, because she went back to five feedings (but now we're working on four again), and has been waking anywhere between 4-6am, no matter what time she goes to sleep the night before. 

Daisy slept so much better when she was a baby, but she was a thumb-sucker. Amy loses her paci a lot, even after we bought the Wubbanubs. It's just a phase, though, right? 

I love that photo sequence. Daisy was trying to help Amy by giving her Rapunzel, but it looks like she's pushing her out of the way to be center stage. Daisy is a very sweet older sister and only has occasional lapses. 

Months one through nine

As for me and my "mom of two" adjustment, this month was more difficult than usual. Right now, they are playing happily together with trains, but it's not always like that. Zane is on the very tail-end of his nursing program, and this is day 7 in a row of being alone with the girls while he is in clinicals or working on school work. My brain is turning to mush. I just don't know how single moms do it.

Oh, and I got a cold this week. I'm tired. 

Deep breaths. I can do this. There have been a lot of "Oh, God, help me through this day" prayers this week. Just real life, you know. 

Sometimes I look at them and think, "I'm way to young to be a mom. There's no way I'm your mom." I still feel like I'm 23 (until I hang out with a 23 year-old), but I'm not. I'm almost 30, and I have two dependents, and boy are they dependent! 

My days are made up of fussiness, sweet little moments, and times of complete silence if I get both girls to nap simultaneously. We've had a lot of fun on playdates with various friends, and I know that I would much rather do this than go to work for the man.