Monday, March 28, 2011

For Posterity's Sake: Week in Review 114

Sunday, the family was loaded into the car, headed to spend an evening with friends. I was telling Jason a story from the passenger seat when a voice piped in from the back, "Mom, don't talk forever. I have something to say."

We laughed. I finished my story. Audrey took her turn. I was reminded of just how much four-year-olds do have to say. And how much they know, especially about themselves:

Monday, Audrey came inside from a successful bug hunt. She placed her captive on the kitchen floor to observe what he would do. Unaware of her plan, Gomer* came by and stepped on the bug, killing it in front of her. Audrey cried the rest of the evening, wailed over her plate of dinner unable to eat, and finally stopped at bedtime long enough to say a prayer for the bug.

The next day, her school received a "Silly Safari" visit. A man came with his bunny (Foo Foo), skunk, baby crocodile, turtle (who wore a diaper), bag of fleas, and bird (who pooped on the floor). The bugs (that Audrey said were fleas) the man pulled out of his lunchbox. They were in a ziplock bag that the man told the class had contained his sandwich for lunch. Audrey found the sandwich-eating bugs rather funny and told me they were her favorite. She then proceeded to tell me that the bird had pooped on the floor and that was her favorite part about the bird.

"Audrey, I think you could be a zookeeper," I said.
She thought this was a good idea and asked just how she'd go about becoming a zookeeper. "I want to be a zookeeper, a farmer, and a mother," she said. "Can I do all that?"
"Audrey, if you want to do all that, I think you will find a way," I said.

Audrey also had an opinion about the things the adults had to say last week. Saturday, Jason and I were talking about Butler's latest win. "I think you should stop talking about that," said Audrey, who is not allowed to use the word "butt". "It sounds like a bad word."

I'm what you'd call an indecisive adult. But, I don't think I was always this way. As a first grader, I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. (I don't remember who posed the question, but I believe it was my teacher, Mrs. Montgomery, who never scolded me for doodling in the margins of my worksheets, but wrote comments about how pretty the pictures were, instead). I replied without hesitation, "a writer and a mother." Time passed, and by fifth grade my answer to this question changed as I gained new interests and discovered my friends' interests and heard the suggestions of adults. I was going to be a figure skater, then a friend and I were going to open an optometry clinic, followed by my claim that I planned to become an architect. I entered college with every intention of following the path to become a counseling psychologist.

Within three years, I had all the credits I needed to graduate with a psychology degree. But I stayed in school one more year, racking up English courses and sneaking in a couple creative writing classes for good measure, leaving college with the academic mark of an indecisive woman - a double major in English and Psychology. I meant to attend a graduate clinical psych program, really I did. I had excellent grades and recommendation letters and horrible GRE scores. The handful of programs I applied to rejected me. Then, this boy I knew, asked me to marry him and I found myself, once again, answering a question without hesitation. We moved to a small town near a college campus where I took a job to take advantage of the employee benefit of free college courses, and snuck into as many graduate creative writing courses as I could (where the legitimate MFA students wondered who I was). Four years later, the day before packing our car to move to Virginia, I told Jason he was going to be a father.

Today, I am a mother. Every day, Audrey asks me to make up stories as we travel in the car or eat breakfast. Every once in a while, I check into this space to record pieces of our days. And, while I wouldn't call myself a writer, I will tell you that I've never met an indecisive four-year-old, or first grader. When one tells me she wants to be a mother and a farmer (I won't hold her to the zookeeper since I brought that one up), I'm not surprised that she seems to know herself so well. Those four-year-olds have a lot to say, if we only silence ourselves long enough to listen.

*Some names have been changed to protect the not-so innocent.

As for Nate, our man of precisely a few words, he seems to communicate just fine, pointing to the refrigerator when he wants some milk, shaking his head to let us know what he doesn't want, and jabbering like a talk show host rescued from a deserted island at his last doctor's appointment when he realized that talkative sister of his was nowhere to be found.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Feels Like Spring - at Least on the Inside

According to the latest weather report, spring is taking her sweet time. I can sympathize with her drip-like-molasses nature. But the children of this house are springing forward, with or without the weather's blessing.

Yesterday, we grabbed spring by her indecisive bootstraps and pulled her inside. We began our little planting project outdoors (mama thinking this would be the cleaner option), but the wind felt like puffing his chest and warning everyone about the coming storm. Dirt was in the air and our eyes. So after filling our little toilet paper tubes with seed-starting soil, we took our project indoors where Audrey added a couple broccoli seeds to each tube (and accidentally showered the rest of the miniature peppercorn-looking seeds across the brown rug).

A sprinkle of water and one labeled tongue depressor later, and our makeshift seed-starting cells were set - for whatever spring has in store (or at least for the laundry room counter).

*I found the directions for the toilet paper roll seed-starting cells in Gayla Trail's Grow Great Grub.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

While We Could

We ignored the list of indoor projects (and mama's need for a shower) and set out on a little adventure today, while the sun was shining enough to warm our faces. Audrey stopped along our bike route to collect a handful of sticks. When I told her I thought she would have to leave them behind, she insisted otherwise. These sticks were for a project (what that project is she didn't say). While I had my doubts, I've learned to never underestimate the willpower (or abilities) of a four-year-old. And, never take a sunny day for granted (did I mention it's now hailing outside).

*The sticks, the bicycle, and the four-year-old all made it back to the car safely, where the sticks still sit, piled on the floorboards of the backseat.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

For Posterity's Sake: Week in Review 113

Last week was a week of goodness. The week began with goodness - the sigh of relief kind - when word was received that friends, who I'd lost track of after their move home, were safe and doing okay in Japan. Much time was spent sending and receiving emails from other concerned friends as we tried to find out if this family might still be in need of some support, because one imagines that "safe" and "okay" be rather relative terms when watching your direct neighbors experience absolute devastation. Goodness continued - the planned kind - as I made preparations for a breakfast pitch-in I had volunteered to host for my mom's group on Friday. This was followed by goodness of the impromptu kind, when I received a message that my best friend could come up to spend the day Friday and ten minutes later got a text from Jason that his best friend and son would be coming up to spend the weekend. And so, frenzied cleaning (of everything down to the basement - where I've stashed all of my former craft room supplies as it becomes Nate's room - once a guy's game night got scheduled for Saturday) ensued. The weekend was spent with friends and food and nonstop activities from which I'm still catching my breath and hoping to (someday) catch up on sleep. But for today, I will simply catch up on the events of last week - our rather tardy Week in Review, and let those of you wondering just where we've been that we are all safe and okay, in the very best possible way.

Our moments from last week:

Okay, this first one is actually from the Thursday prior (I know, I know) but somehow it got lost until now. Audrey had just injured herself for the third time in an hour (I can no longer remember the injuries, but all were your run-of-the-mill preschooler specialties).

"Audrey, what's the matter? You keep getting hurt," I said.

"I don't know. I think I'm falling apart."

Monday morning, Audrey found Jason's lost house key. Upon retrieving it from the back of the coat closet she said, "It's a pleasure! I'm going to find more pleasures (treasures) and then you'll be excited when I give them to you."

During lunch, she asked me to tell her about Tarzan. I told her he could climb trees really well.

"I remember he could swing from branches. I can't do that," she said.

"Me, either."

"How cool is that?"

"It's pretty cool," I said.

Apparently, I wasn't enthusiastic enough. "No, how cool is that, seriously?"

That evening at dinner, Audrey was discussing the size of dinosaurs with Jason. She was telling him about one in particular.

"Was that the one whose head was as big as a surfboard?" he asked. "Is your head as big as a surfboard?"

"Hm, we'd have to measure that," she said.

Monday, before bedtime, Jason and Audrey invented a new game - an investigation game. He would pose a question such as "where are elephant and giraffe?" Audrey would then ask questions to different witnesses (in this case other jungle animals) and collect clues until she could guess what had happened to elephant and giraffe. Upon questioning a worm, she might find out that he had been scooting through the jungle toward the river until he fell into a big hole shaped like a foot. A monkey might tell her that he was showered with water while playing in a tree near the river even though it wasn't raining, etc.

Tuesday, she suddenly asked, "Mom, what happened to the broken bridge?"

"It broke."

"No, we're playing the game like Daddy last night. You have to ask questions."

I asked questions. I discovered that one animal found a white and black spot; that according to the monkey, it was snowing; that according to another animal (I think it was a sheep) it was actually sunny and the monkey, who likes to joke, was an unreliable witness; that one animal smelled something purple and another smelled salad. So, who broke the bridge?

A shark.

Nate and I clocked several late hours together last week as he cut another tooth. Tuesday night, as I tried to snuggle him to sleep and recover from the day, I turned on the television to find an episode of "What Not to Wear." I thought Nate would lose interest and close his eyes. I didn't think about the show's end-of-the-episode big reveals. Nate heard the friends and family members of the newly-made-over woman screaming and clapping and began to clap and cheer with them.

Wednesday, Audrey began a serious conversation. "We're going to be serious after the baby is born. You, me, Nate, and the baby will all be serious, and we can move the world!"

Nate laughed. "You'll know what it means when you grow up, Nate," she said.

While in the car, I play age-appropriate CDs for the kids. A couple weeks ago, Audrey asked Jason and I what the word "mossy" meant. We told her. When we asked where she had heard "mossy," she said it was in one of the songs. We couldn't think of a song on the CD where mossy would make sense.

Wednesday, while driving to the gym, Audrey yelled from the backseat. "Mom, did you hear them say "mossy?'"

"Honey, they said, 'beautiful one my soul must see,' but yes, it does sound like 'mossy.'" I found myself trying to explain the concept of enunciation to my four-year-old, while thinking of another song, one sung by Leann Rimes in which she means to ask, "How do I live without you?" But, what she really asks is, "How do I live without chew?" (Which I imagine would involve nicotine patches or some sort of 12-step program).

Later, Audrey asked me to play a rhyming game with her in the car. I gave her the words "truck" and "can" and asked her to find rhyming words. She gave me "Harriet" and "mailbox." Ahem. (In case you're wondering, I came up with "chariot" and "cell blocks," and was more than slightly thankful when she didn't ask me what a cell block was).

Last week, Jason introduced the children to some of his favorite Weird Al songs, including one in which a family loads up into their decal-covered car and heads off on an adventure to see the "Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota." Wednesday evening, Audrey asked me where I would like to go if I could go "anywhere in the whole wide world." I told her that I would like to take her dad to Italy or Switzerland since he's never been there before, or I might like to go to Australia and see some of the places her Aunt Ashley has visited. "Where would you like to go if you could go anywhere in the whole wide world?" I asked.

"The biggest ball of twine in Minnesota."

Thursday afternoon, I thought I had Nate down for a nap. He was snuggled against me at the kitchen table, his eyes closed as I perused some library books. Just as I thought about standing up to take him to his crib, he opened his eyes, sat up and started clapping. Then he put his head back down and closed his eyes. He was still a moment. Then he opened his eyes and gave me a wave. He put his head back down and closed his eyes. Once again he bolted up, this time performing the ultimate sign of Nathan affection - vigorously rubbing his forehead against mine. I gave up.

We don't watch much television at our house. I think boredom is creativity's greatest gift (and, while I haven't read any biographies and have absolutely no proof to back this up, in my mind I envision Einstein the child at home bored out of his mind, sketching inventions and such, while his neighborhood chums played with their version of that day's iPad). In order to watch television, Audrey has to do chores (acts of service as we call them) to rack up enough stickers (5) on a chart to get a family movie night. She averages about a movie a week. Having said that, I've been wanting her to watch Leap Frog's Letter Factory DVD because Audrey learns easily through songs and I was hoping it would help her with her letter sounds. Thursday, she asked "Mom, can I watch a movie today?"

(There were three stickers on her chart). "Actually, today you can. I've been wanting you to watch the Letter Factory movie to help you with sounds, so you can watch it."

"I can? Why am I getting a movie! Why am I getting a movie!"

I may have just ruined the sticker chart.

The weekend is over and we're slowly shifting back to our normal routines, thankful for being blessed with an abundance of goodness and thankful, too, for the quiet that follows. A quiet during which I must go hunt down the microwave user manual. It seems one can't have too much goodness without her microwave going bust. After all, it's all about balance, isn't it?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

For Posterity's Sake: Week in Review 112

For me, things happen one small fragment at a time. The laundry gets done in partial, interrupted cycles, my train of thought lulled away by requests for sippy cups or a make-it-up-as-Audrey-goes game involving "abc" flashcards at the kitchen table as the dryer buzzes (resulting in extremely wrinkled clothes and Jason's dress pants crumpled in a corner to be washed again). From the passenger seat, a design on the latest craft project comes to be, a stitch at a time, the car arriving in a parking lot or driveway before I can get the current row finished. Books are read a paragraph at a time (several with a notebook and pen close by with the hope that I if I take a few notes, I might just remember what I've read). And, ironically, for every task I complete, the to-do list seems to grow by two.

My children are different. For them, things happen in bounds. Something clicks - a letter finally pairing with a sound - and suddenly words come alive to Audrey as if she has swallowed a magic pill sending her down the vocabulary rabbit hole, leaving her brain ten inches taller. A father-son game of "catch" inspires Nate to stretch his muscles and I find myself with a new pastime of pulling him down from the couch and the stool his big sister uses to help me cook. The children move about their days, laughing and running, masquerading their lessons as play, until I find myself caught off-guard by the words sounded out, written with magnets on a cookie sheet, and the ball that lands by my feet, kicked by this little man who seems less baby and more toddler at every glance. They like to pack a punch, double-teaming me with these milestones, growing by twos.

Luckily, laundry (and most any mundane task) goes down better with a little shock and awe (not to mention laughter) to keep you company. Here are the moments of childhood wonder that kept us company this week:

Audrey began Tuesday morning by telling me she wished to call her father to tell him something (he had already left for work before she woke up). I knew he had a morning conference call scheduled, but told her she could send him a text message. She agreed, and promptly dictated the following:

I hope you'll be here for my tea party. I hope you won't have to go to work. I love you, too. And listen to your boss. Listen to all your bosses and do what they tell you to do and just do it if you care. You really have to listen to your bosses. And eat all your food. And I love you.

Tuesday afternoon we were in the car when she informed me, "I already named the baby."

"Our baby?"


"What did you name him?"


Tuesday night, while eating, she saw Jason put his piece of garlic bread back on a plate sitting in the middle of the table rather than in his bowl. She asked him why he did it. "I don't have room on my bowl, so I put it back on the plate," he said.

"That doesn't make sense," she said.

"Honey, sometimes, little girls don't get everything," he answered.

"No, I get it. You don't have room in your bowl and you don't have another plate, so you put it back on that plate."

"If you get it, then why did you say it doesn't make sense?" he asked.

"That's just something I said."

Jason has been packing Girl Scout cookies in his lunch this week. Tuesday night, Audrey drew him a picture of cookies and left it on the counter to remind him not to forget to take them. The next morning she asked me if he had remembered. "I'm sure he did," I said.

"He's only allowed to take two," she said.

Wednesday morning, I read Audrey the story of Zaccheus out of her illustrated children's Bible. Later, while running an errand, I asked her what she had learned from the story.

"If you climb a tree and there was a mama bird and a baby bird in a nest, you might scare them," she said. (Oh the power of illustrations).

Thursday, Audrey began her morning in song. And dance. She crafted lyrics, swaying her hands in the air, occasionally turning in circles. Her brother watched, a couple feet away. Audrey paused, "Your turn, Nate," she said. He bounced up and down and suddenly began singing in nonsense syllables, matching her volume. Then he stopped and she picked up the tune, again pausing to tell him it was his turn, to which he began to bounce and sing.

Friday, I was trying to get everyone ready to attend a meeting of my mom's club. I had five minutes to get the breakfast dishes cleared, Audrey's teeth brushed, both kids into shoes and coats and car seats, and the car loaded to make it on time. Odds weren't good. Audrey watched me as I helped her brush her teeth. "Mom, are you mad?"


"You look like you have a mad face," she said.

"Honey, I'm not mad. I'm just focused. I'm trying to get us there on time."

We finished brushing her teeth. As she fumbled with her coat and shoes, I finished getting her brother ready and into the car. Then I went to strap her into her car seat. "How long are you going to have a mad face?" she asked.

Each of us gets twenty-four hours a day. What we do with them is up to us. I spend mine growing a to-do list - one that will probably never be completely crossed off. It's not that I want to procrastinate on everything, or that I don't wish the house were a little cleaner or a few more rooms were painted. But the simple truth is this: I have better things to do. I have wonders to witness and impromptu concerts to attend. (Not to mention, a new face to grow.) And, at the rate these two are growing, if I spend too many moments hidden in the laundry room, they just might pass me by - by next week.

*The bottom two photos were taken by Jason on Saturday at a Lowe's Build & Grow workshop where Audrey completed her first woodworking project. She spent the rest of the afternoon telling me about all the projects she intended to hammer.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Today the world is awash with the scenes of moody watercolors, grays and browns swirling together in puddly masterpiece. But yesterday, the world was cast in a different palette, that muted-before-the-storm hush of barely-there blues.

As the temperature crept up into the mid-fifties, we crept out to join it, one with pitchfork, one with plastic shovel, and one empty-handed, to get ahead of the work of spring. I thought I might begin to turn the garden soil, pull out the rocks or wayward toys left behind from winter's play. I thought Audrey might want to help - in her own way. I assumed Nate would roam the yard playing with the half dozen balls strewn about, uninterested in our muddy ventures. Ahem.

Apparently, he likes mud as much as his sister. I wonder what his stance will be on worms...

Monday, March 7, 2011

For Posterity's Sake: Week in Review 111

The morning is blurry at best. It involves crying. A lot of crying. I've been up, off-and-on, since what I believe was 3:15 a.m. Nate began crying around that time, Jason and I taking turns going to check on him, finding him asleep in his crib, his cheeks wet with tears. His tears would subside when we placed a hand on his head, so we finally resorted to moving him to our room and rousing him enough to give him a dose of Tylenol. By 3:45, he was awake, crawling on top of my head, over my stomach, making wiggly use of every last inch of himself. The two of us retreated to the kitchen until five o' clock, when I finally managed to shift him back to his crib, sound asleep. I hoped to join the rest of my sleeping crew, but the mind is an awful, funny contraption. As my head met pillow, a running to-do list reel began to play of all the things left to accomplish in the coming months, until it rested squarely on the quandary of finding a baby name. I began thinking of the children we had just spent the evening with, of their names: Cole, Wyatt, Audrey, Caedmon, and Thaddeus.

Suddenly, I was in middle school Home Ec class, sitting next to my friend, Sarah, the two of us having just received matching baby boys, of the hard-boiled egg variety. We discovered we both wanted to name them Zachary. Instead, (because, really, the confusion and horror of having two egg babies named alike, just think of it!) I named mine Thaddeus. I carried Thaddeus with me everywhere, for the period of the assignment - one week. I was an involved parent, even taking my egg child out of his crib (or basket, as it's more commonly referred to), which is where I made my mistake. Unlike the smarter students, who left their eggs resting on shelves, I took little Thaddeus out, and a day before turning him in for my grade, cracked his little bum. A hairline fracture. Minuscule. I went for some scrap fabric and a glue gun. I fashioned a cloth diaper around his tokus and bought the kid a pair of plastic shoes from the cake decorating aisle of Wal-Mart, because that's what crafty, pragmatic girls do when faced with a cracked hard-boiled egg - that, or make egg salad, but it wasn't really that kind of assignment. My teacher was none the wiser.

Our class used eggs again that year for a science project. This time they were uncooked, and this time, we were dropping them from the extended ladder of a fire truck, raised above a blacktop parking lot rather than toting them around in baskets from our lockers to social studies class. We were given a few materials: straws, tape, an individual-sized milk carton, and string. The objective was simple. Build a contraption for your egg to protect if from the fall. My friend, Jill (who went on to become an engineer), and I had just finished building a bridge in Tech Ed out of toothpicks. The boys in our class used boxes of toothpicks, gluing them on top of each other until they had amassed the Monster Garage versions of toothpick bridges. Jill and I used 54 toothpicks, strategically placing trusses. (What can I say, I was the runt of my middle school class, the size of one's toothpick contraption never impressed me much.) Our bridge didn't hold much weight, but at the end of the day, it withstood more in relation to its size than the rest. So when it came time to protect my second egg, I created straw trusses and built my contraption like a bridge. We worked on our projects for several days, testing their durability by hefting them off the top of the bleachers lining the football field. My contraption was sturdy, shaped like a trapezoid with the milk carton (my egg's cocoon) secured in the center. It was also heavy. The day they dropped it from the firetruck, it made an audible "thud," echoed by the "oohs" of my classmates. But when I retrieved my contraption and opened the cocoon, there was my egg, nestled inside, still in one piece.

Some weeks are like that, well-thought out, planned, and buttressed to perfection. And some, despite your best efforts, are filled with the spontaneous - sometimes rich, sometimes challenging, and sometimes leaving your bum a bit bruised. The week past was a bit of the latter. While we don't have any cracked tokuses to tend to, we're a little short on sleep and desperately hoping for a surge of energy (well, the adults anyway). Nate, poor kid, decided to excel in teething last week, skipping filling out his bottom front gumline and opting for breaking out a couple upper molars. (This weekend, he decided to start on that bottom gumline.)

Audrey, not teething and sleeping just fine, kept us all in check with her typical perspective:

Sunday evening, she began discussing dinosaurs before bedtime. "Why don't we have dinosaurs anymore?" she asked.

"I don't know, honey, something happened a long time ago that made it so they couldn't survive anymore."

"Maybe God decided it was better to have people and the meat-eaters would have eaten the people," she said. "But it would be nice if he would have just made plant-eaters."

Everyone has their drink of choice when they have a sore throat. For me, it's typically Gatorade. Lately, for Jason, it's been hot apple cider. Both were in use the past week. On Monday, Audrey asked, "Can I have Ciderade?"

Wednesday, she drew a map of the neighborhood, including the houses of her friends. When I asked about the houses, she pointed to one in particular, a house where she spent some time last year playing with a girl older than herself. Last year, Jason and I were a bit surprised that Audrey followed this girl's every direction, letting her lead games of school and being the one to make up the rules for games in the yard. Apparently, this year, Audrey has changed her perspective. When she pointed to this house, she informed me that she made the house ugly because she doesn't like the little girl telling her what to do, since only moms and dads should do that. Ahem.

Saturday evening, we asked Audrey to go wash her hands for dinner. She ran into the bathroom. Minutes passed. More minutes passed. When this much time lapses, it usually means some science experiment is underway involving soap and mass quantities of water. Jason went to investigate. He found her sitting on the toilet reading a book. He decided to give her some privacy. She finally came out, ten minutes later. "My leg hurts," she said. "I can't walk." We had to explain that she had sat reading so long on the toilet that her leg had fallen asleep.

Life is like that. Those things that bring you the most joy, occasionally make your legs fall asleep. Or, they bring you no sleep. All we can do is prepare as best we can, be optimistic, and hope that when all else fails, there's a glue gun nearby.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Right Now

:: The sidewalks are wet, but we are dry in spite of a drizzly walk.

:: A picture has been delivered to friends and a collection of leaves found along the path home.

:: One snuggles close, drowsy from sleep, while another creates a picture of a far away place as her father drives home.

:: Pumpkin bread crumbs peek out from under drawing paper and leaves litter the closet floor.

:: My hands smell of fresh pizza dough rising on the counter.

:: My lids are heavy from the events of the week; my head is focused on (and hopeful that rain won't hinder) weekend events to come; and my heart is filled with gratitude for this warm house, the ones who bring joy by crossing its threshold, and the calm of this moment as the day creeps to its edge.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

In Progress

Every toy and book Audrey owned used to fit into two small bins in our playroom. The space was efficient, with a large open space to run and play - just the thing a child needs most from a playroom. A funny thing happened as Audrey grew, in essence, needing more room in which to run and play - those toys grew. They seemed to multiply as we slept, soon spilling out of our two bins. We cleaned them out and trimmed down the contents, but with the addition of another child and more birthdays and Christmases, those toys never seemed to get under control and running in that room became a challenge.

Taming that room has been on my mind for some time, but I like to take my time with these projects, figuring out what I want from a space before I invest time and money. I've never been an impulse shopper, or much of an impulse anything, for that matter. (Part of me would also just rather give most of the toys away. I prefer a few quality items and lots of space for imagination over a packed playroom). But, for those things that the kids come back to again and again - especially those things with multiple uses that encourage creativity, some storage is definitely in order. When I ran across this pattern a few weeks ago, I knew I'd found what I was looking for. Spare moments over the last week have been spent working on three of these baskets, two still in progress. With the exception of some interfacing, which I had to buy, the other materials were fabrics left over from other projects. The inside is cotton quilting fabric, while the outsides are the scraps of a painter's drop cloth, used to make Audrey's indoor playhouse. They won't contain all the ruckus that has become the playroom, but it's a start. At less than $1.60 each, it's a very effective start.

*This pattern calls for a lot of hand sewing, with no visible machine-stitched lines on the outside of the baskets, which might just make it an ideal first project for someone, especially a child learning to sew.