Thursday, March 28, 2013

munny bunny

This little bunny is a big hit with the babes.  I wasn't even able to finish sewing the tail on before screams of MUNNY!  MUNNY! forced me to hand it over to the tyrant/ two-year-old.

I used this Betz White tutorial, and it was a quick and easy project, made easier by the fact that I had been hoarding a very shrunken cashmere sweater for the perfect project.  This was it-- in fact, I don't think any of my crafts have ever been met with this level of enthusiasm. 

 Happy Easter!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

farm definitions

1.  Play group

2. All-terrain stroller

3.  Field trip

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Cayo's new welcome center

The welcome center/ town square is finally finished in downtown Cayo, and it is SO nice.  I love walking through on Saturdays on my way to the market.  Before, it used to be a dash across the bus parking lot and a quick scuttle past some dodgy characters who inhabited the equally dodgy small park.  Now it is a leisurely stroll down curving paths, past water fountains and tidy landscaping.  And even better, now there are outdoor cafes where you can sit in the shade and take a break.  This development has really elevated the tone of downtown Cayo.  Not only is it beautiful, but it also has wheelchair ramps, cross walks, and PUBLIC BATHROOMS.  I think this town center will set the standard for new building projects in Belize.

I played tourist today so I can give you a virtual tour :)

The approach from the market starts with nice sidewalks and a roomy avenue.  This is where buses pick up and drop off now.

On the right is the welcome center.  It isn't open quite yet, but I was lucky enough to get a tour from the manager.... and I forgot to take pictures :(  But let me tell you, it is niiiiice.  Slate and river stone floors, mahogany, and a really cool ceiling design that looks like jungle vines.  They have an exhibit up of pictures of Cayo from a hundred or so years ago.  I think this building will be where tourists can come and get free info about area attractions.  The statue is a giant toucan.

Continuing on the right are two large buildings, connected by a nice porch.  One is a new restaurant, Fuego, which should be opening soon.  The next will probably be a restaurant too.

Looking to the left, you can see the public bathrooms (!!!).  Those of you who have not been to Belize will not understand how big of a deal this is.  Let's just say that if I was in Cayo and really needed a bathroom, my previous choices were to either go to a restaurant and buy something so I could use the bathroom or go home.  I haven't been inside yet, but they look really nice from the outside.

The front side of the bathrooms is a stage, and in front of the stage is a plaza with really cool fountains and seating covered with trellis.

Unfortunately the fountains were not turned on today because they were having a craft fair.  But they are the kind that shoot up straight from the ground and drain back through the pavement (you can see the grates in the picture)-- ie perfect hot-weather kiddo playground.  I checked with the manager, and the water is filtered town water, so safe to play in :)

 Behind the stage/plaza area are several small cafes.  Right now there are only 2 open, a pizza place and a Mexican restaurant.  They are always packed, people really enjoy spending time here.

And as a bonus, here is Burns Ave, the main street in Cayo.  After it was repaved (and they found that burial ground) it was decided to keep the street pedestrian only.  The restaurants now seat people outside, and in the evenings tourists and locals love to stroll up and down.

That is the best part of this renovation, in my opinion.  The area has become a draw for families, and now families play in the park during the day, and take walks down town in the evenings.  It has become a true town center. I hope other towns (Benque, please?) can follow San Ignacio's example and create such beautiful areas.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

book review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

This book was just DELIGHTFUL.  Rather then a long review, here are a few reasons why I loved it.

-- The setting is a place I had never heard of (Guernsey) and now I really, really want to visit. I asked Daniel if he had heard of Guernsey, and he said of course because that is where Guernsey cows come from.  Touche.

--The whole book is written as a series of letters.  I think this approach has the potential to be very hokey and confusing, but the authors did such a wonderful job.  The letters allow the different voices of the characters to really shine.

-- Speaking of the characters, I want to be real-life best friends with them.  Basically, I want to move to this book.

--Finally, be sure to read the author's note and learn why there are two authors.  It's a touching story.

Go read!

Friday, March 1, 2013

how we fit a toddler into our tiny house life

Our house is just under 500 square feet.  But due to an uninsulated roof (and no desire to spend money insulating it, as this house was never intended to be permanent and we want to save our money to build another house) the upstairs gets way too hot to use during the day.  So during the day the babes and I spend our time in a 10X20 room.  This is challenging, to say the least.  The biggest struggle is at nap time, when I can’t make any noise because the babes sleeps in a portable crib right in the middle of the room.   Other than that, I have been surprised at how few “accessories” our little guy needs.  I’ve also come up with a few really helpful space-saving solutions, which I thought I’d share.

1.     Pack and play crib-- This is his playpen, nap spot, and time out spot.  It’s a playroom/nursery that we can fold up and move when we need the space.  He does have a regular crib, but that is upstairs so he only uses it at night.

2.     Chair-top highchair—This is awesome.  It attaches right to a regular chair, which can be pushed under the table when not being used.  It also converts to a booster seat when he’s big enough.  And it’s super portable; we bring it with us to family dinners.

3.     Changing pad set up—we got a changing pad from Ikea, and set up an area around our washer as a changing station.  When I need to change him, I set the pad on the washer, which happens to be the perfect height.  Then it goes back on the wall when we’re done so I have access to the washer.  The big downside here is that there is no way to strap the babes in for safety—I make sure I’m always standing right in front of him and I never leave him laying alone.  It’s worked for him, but I don’t know how well it would work for a younger baby.

4.     Carrier instead of a stroller--  He loves it, and Daniel has lost like 15 pounds since he started toteing the babes around during chores every evening.  So it’s actually a baby carrier and exercise machine in one.  Total space saver.

all his clothes fit in the red bins

5.     Clothes/ toys-- honestly, the babes spends most of his days in a diaper and a shirt.  It’s hot here.  He has maybe 7 outfits total?  That is more than enough for him, although I do have to keep on top of laundry.  As for toys, he has a few but they really don’t keep his attention for long.  He prefers to be outside playing with dirt, rocks, and sticks.  So we put up a gate around our back patio and now that is his domain.

6.     Baby-proofing-- This is something that realistically we just could not do.  There is no way to put up obstacles and nowhere to move all of our bookshelves/ pantry items/ etc; our kitchen cabinets don’t even have doors to secure.   We have a baby gate on the stairs and covers over the outlets.  For the rest, we use the method from the book Love and Logic Magic for Early Parenting, by Jim Fay. A friend recommended it and it works super well for us.  Basically, we started very early training the babes to recognize a cue (we use “uh-oh”) that signals stop/don’t touch/don’t continue with your activity.  If the babes doesn’t stop, we immediately pick him up and move him to a time out spot.   This method seems too simple to work, but I was shocked at how quickly he started to understand.  It did require a LOT of attention and dedication for the first week or so, but it was worth it. At this point, he doesn’t even bother to get into our cabinets, pantry, or bookshelves.  Best of all, we can use the cues wherever we are, which is a life saver when he is at granny’s house and makes a bee-line for the crystal vase. 

Any more suggestions?  I'd love to hear them!

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