Paper Dolls for Boys

Raising 2 crafty boys and thrifting every chance I get.

Walk, Smalk – Day 2 April 29, 2008

Filed under: Family & Friends,Town Week Photos — twlowenstein @ 10:39 am

Taken from my car this morning. Rain rain go away! Actually I love rain. I love it when I’m curled up in bed with a good book and all the time in the world to fall in and out of sleep. But those days are a thing of the past (and hopefully my future) but definitely not any part of my present.

Green makes me feel better.

Maybe instead of moping, because I can feel a good wallow coming on, I’ll try and find the joy in moments like this:

Maybe I’ll grab a pile of books and climb in there with him. Goodbye computer, I’m going in.

Check out Melissa at WhatKnot, she’s playing along (and winning)!


Walk – Day 1 April 28, 2008

Filed under: Family & Friends,Town Week Photos — twlowenstein @ 6:36 pm

On one the first days of school in one of my first grade classrooms, we had a discussion about how we could be a community that respects each other and respects learning. One little boy suggested that people raise their hand in meeting when they have something to say instead of calling out. (revolutionary teaching concept, I know). This same boy proceeded to chime in with ideas throughout the morning meeting. Another little boy shot his hand up and, like the Greek chorus of the class, said “You made up that rule and you can’t even FOLLOW it.”

I tell this story because here we are on day 1 and I’m not even following my own “rules”. I had great intentions of a week of walks but I didn’t consult the weather reports. I was inspired by this day and Green Jello’s Toy Week, to do a week of walks and photos from my town/your town, our neighborhoods, haunts and new discoveries. If you would like to join leave a comment and I’ll link to you site. A couple of folks expressed an interest, let me know if you’re still in! Obviously, the “rules” are loose. Share some old photos, take something new or create your own spin but please share, I’d love to see it!

Today was monsoon like so I have some photos of a magical walk we took around our town reservoir last week.

It was one of those times – I happened to have the camera, it was actually charged, the weather was beautiful, the play was rich and I feel like I got it on ‘film’. I do have 2 kids but my youngest was relegated to the stroller after one too many close calls with the bridge and he and my husband walked ahead around the path. My eldest and I got to hang back and explore. In my experience dawdle=good times.

This is my favorite photograph of my big guy evah! It captures his imagination, focus and dramatic flare perfectly.


Rainy Day at the Farm April 27, 2008

Filed under: Family & Friends — twlowenstein @ 1:25 pm

We met my friend and her son at a farm a couple of towns over this morning. It was raining a bit but fun was had by all.

These are the killer geese. I wish I had captured a shot of my friend doing her full geese defensive maneuvers.

The two younger boys fleeing the barn due to the racket the hungry cows were making.

This was the most fancy pants chicken I’ve ever seen. I named her Martha Stewart. We all had a good laugh at her running form.

Here is the big guy doing his best scarecrow impression. You can’t see the overalls under the coat (thanks L!) but he went right for them this morning so he’d be in his “farmer uniform”.

I’m actually more of a city girl than a country one. I don’t usually use words like adorable when describing furry things but sweet goodness, these piglets were soooooo cute!

Can you see the little baby goats (I’m sure they have a special name, goatees maybe)? They were having fun walking along the stone ledge and getting the hang of their little legs on the climb down. This is the last shot before my battery crapped out. Do I learn from my past mistakes?


Thrift Store Book Score April 25, 2008

Filed under: Thrift Scores & Pat and Charlie — twlowenstein @ 5:02 pm
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I’m not always good at taking time away from the kids and doing something just by myself. My sweet one pushed me out of the door the other morning and I spent 5 glorious hours farting around. It was lovely.

The first place I hit was the Goodwill, as any sane person would. It was pretty much a no go for kids clothes but the book bins were overflowing with vintage goodness. When I took my stash to the counter, the previously frowning tattooed chick who rung me up totally admired my taste in books and I quote, “These went out before I could take them myself!” I’m not too ashamed to admit it put a little lift in my step.

I’m still swooning over this ebay find, a vintage toy wash bucket that I’m storing my new finds in.

This is my new favorite old book. Check out the illustrations! I think the first and last book are in Swedish. Anyone know? Katie?

And I hope I don’t get in trouble with the Magicians for sharing the following with you!

I’m not that familiar with the Pippi stories but you’ve got to admire her spunk and style.

Can you see the red hair stuck in the pages of the Pippi book? Hair from a little redheaded fan, a Pippi doll or maybe from Pippi herself?!

(I took these photos in the closet dressed in a Darth Vader costume with my eyes closed. Well kinda.)


Parade April 23, 2008

Filed under: Town Week Photos — twlowenstein @ 10:29 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Sometimes you look at a photo or a group of photos and it’s a little startling. Like hearing your voice on an answering machine. Looking at these photos from my town’s Patriot Day Parade was like that for me. I felt like I was looking at stills from a parade in Mayberry. Do I really live in such a bucolic little town?

I moved to Massachusetts for graduate school and lived smack dab in the middle of the city. Each successive move has taken me further out and away. I remember walking back from the T after one such move and thinking I’d moved to the boonies because I saw a Big Wheel in a front yard on my street. I’m 2 moves past that and wish I had the gritty street cred that comes with having only ONE plastic toy planted in my yard!

Before I got married I made a demand deal with my now husband. No ice hockey and no reenacting. I was always bothered as a kid on class field trips to Colonial villages with the whole, “What is this metal flying bird of which you speak?” It was a perfect combination of annoying and embarrassing. But when, at 3, your kid mentions at dinner, “I’m really interested in weaponry!” you just thank your lucky stars that it’s motivated from an historic perspective and not video games. So hoop skirt, I see your billowy unbleached innocence in my future and mock you further I shan’t! But I’m holding firm on the hockey.

My future peeps looking beat.

If these had been invented before I got married I’m sure I would have added these to the forbidden list.

I’m guessing there would have been no argument.

Flying the flags.

I missed the best shot on this one – there was a guy walking behind these folks pulling a red wagon full of horse dukes.

This is the guy who stood in front of us the whole parade with his tag still on his pants. I’ve got the humor of a boy in middle school.

Jazz bands were big this year and rightly so. Rock on. I hope I’m half as cool at that age.

I just don’t feel right saying something meanish about Bert.

This is my Elmo siting. Elmo is the man and he knows it. He’s in demand and can’t please everyone. So my little guy got more of a Big Foot experience that a snuggle from the red one but hey, I still love you ELMO.

These kids looked good and sounded tight! It’s not easy to rock hard in a yellow beret.

It wouldn’t be a post without my referring to consumerism and the struggle of STUFF but it’s a cultural plague. If you lined up each cart of crap it would’ve been longer than the actual parade. True story.

The parade photos have got me thinking about my town and got me wondering about yours. I was inspired by Green Jello’s Toy Week and I was thinking we could do a week of photos of our towns/cities. Just sites, big or small, that you see on a walk around your neighborhood or on your daily outings. If anyone wants to join me next week, I’ll post a link to your site and we can have some fun!

edit: The WordPress support team did a bang up job helping me get rid of my NCP haunting! Thanks WP!!!


tag April 22, 2008

Filed under: Random Bits — twlowenstein @ 9:13 am
Tags: ,
Lacey at Rusted Buttons tagged me with my first meme! I was more excited than I should admit.

Taken on a college road trip, good times.

1. Why did you start your blog?

I’ve been reading craft/mommy blogs for a long time and itching to play. I only recently got the computer power to allow me to join in. Initially I was hoping to keep it up for a year and then get it printed as a book. The kind of journal I’ve failed to maintain offline. That’s changed a little for me since I started (a whopping 24 posts ago). I freaked out about having identifiable photos of my boys, heard one too many “creepy” stories so I made many of the posts private and am trying to be more careful of the photos I post of the kids. It’s evolved to be more of an ode to thrift and a way for me to try and take better photographs. It’s also a fun way to express some creative energy when I’m too tired at the end of the day to craft. An unexpected outcome of starting this blog is the connections I’ve made with other bloggers, the friends/family I already have, and folks in my neighborhood (Charlie from the Ultimate Thrift Garage, gave me a huge hug last time I went in and said, “This is the girl that put me on the computer!” He would also like you to know they are open 4 days and not 3 like I previously reported).

2. How did you come up with your blog name?
I was googling paper dolls for boys looking for something fun for my son who at the time was really into his Knight paper dolls. After I typed it, it just seemed right.
3. Do your friends & family know about your blog & what do they think?
I used to be big into Get Crafty and I used the name Selah instead of my own. I wanted it to be my own little secret world and I enjoyed it for a long time. But when I started Paper Dolls for Boys I figured if I had the guts to send random crap out into the internet I should have the guts to use my own name. But I remember nervously pushing the SEND button which announced it to family and friends. I haven’t heard from a lot of them (oh hai, losers lurkers) but my mom thinks I’m pretty darn SUPER!
4. How do you write posts?
I was thinking of going Agent Dale Cooper style and getting a little talk recorder but even that is a bit too technologically advanced for me. So I’m going to stick with a pencil and the backs of envelops while I’m sitting in the car waiting for school to let out.
5. Have you ever had a troll or had to delete unkind comments?
No, my mom pretty much keeps it in check. She saves her zings for the phone (just kidding mom, you save your best zings for the tennis court!).
6. Do you check your stats or care how many people read your blog. If you care how do you increase traffic.
Hell yeah, I check it obsessively. I’m the kind of person who gets a cough and then googles cough to torture myself with the worst case scenarios. If there is information out there, I’m going to use it to drive myself crazy.
Part of the deal is I now pass this along. I’m tagging Thrift Store Adventures because a) I think he might find it annoying and b) we haven’t heard enough from him lately.
Megin over at Interstices because she’s a smarty and she’s bringing her lovely family over for dinner/game night!
Pondering Ponteuf because she makes the funkiest boys board shorts around. Check out her Etsy shop!

Happy Passover April 19, 2008

Filed under: Random Bits — twlowenstein @ 9:02 am
Tags: , , ,

You wish you had wooden matzah!

I got a bag of Judaica at an estate sale a long time ago, before I became Jewish even. This Maxwell House Haggadah was one of the treasures in the bag.

I had no idea there WAS an “original Passover coffee”! Always learnin’.

This paper was also folded in the bag of ephemera. I imagine the family taking this out to use as a reference for the seder year after year.

When I touch these things I feel more connected to the people who owned them originally (whether they were family or not), to the past and somehow to myself. Is that what makes a collector collect? (I’ll add this to my stuff dissertation).

I did not know there was such a thing as a Passover gift! Great Matzah, hope I get a camera (or a piano).

The only way I’m drinking Maxwell this Passover is if it has a little Bailey’s in it. Is that Kosher?

This is an old Haggadah found in my husband’s Gram’s house. My plan is to work on a family Haggadah using some of these vintage finds and some of the boys and cousins artwork. Maybe next year in Jerusalem. Ba dum bum.

I picked up this old (1949) record in an antique mall in NC. I had it on the wall of the nursery when my big guy was a wee one. Love the graphics.

Wishing you all a joyous weekend!

edit: Ok, the haunt of Nancy C.P. continues. I respect her but I just can’t have her hanging out in my Haggadah. I’m going to consult a higher power. SOLVED 4/24

(WordPress people, WordPress)


Toys: Through a 5 Year Old’s Eyes April 18, 2008

Filed under: Family & Friends,Random Bits — twlowenstein @ 6:53 pm

So for the final day of Green Jello’s toy week (which was a lot of fun, Thanks Anne) I decided to give the camera to my eldest son and let him photograph his toys.

I was proud of myself for being hands off and not jumping in to direct him. (I’ll take my victories where I can find them).

It was a blast to watch him deliberately document his “favorite toys in the playroom”.

I’ll turn it over now to my little photographer:

(inside a construction cone, FYI)


Stuff Part 2 April 17, 2008

Filed under: Family & Friends,Random Bits,Thrift Scores & Pat and Charlie — twlowenstein @ 11:16 am
Tags: , ,

I’ve been going through the playroom and trying to weed out what I don’t think of as “essential” toys. It’s got me thinking about consumerism and what message I am passing on to my boys, the message that has the greatest impact on them which are my actions not what I say. My kids don’t watch tv with commercials but they’re still inundated with messages of consumption. (I’m editing this to add that I myself am totally and completely addicted to television. I’m owning up to it because I can hear Ted thinking it) I’ve been talking with my oldest about commercials and how it’s somebody’s job to make you think you need something and that commercials/advertisements often try and take away people’s power to choose what they want/need, particularly in terms of gender. I feel like we’ve done a good job of acknowledging when the kids want something at the store, “That toy DOES look like fun. We’re not getting any toys today. Maybe you could add that to your wish list.” or something like that. It really has worked for us and they don’t EXPECT stuff every time we enter a store. I feel really good about this aspect of our parenting.


AND YET, there is this back door that is wide open and leaking STUFF into our home big time. Thrift stores, yard sales and rummage sales, you know the drill. One of my first times away from our son after he was born was a trip around town checking out the yard sales. I remember the feeling of freedom and excitement mixed in with the worry of being away from my newborn. My Saturday mornings have really become my time for myself, my time to feel like I’m “providing” for my family, and a way to feel victorious. I love bringing home toys and checking how much they cost new on the internet. The playmobil firetruck for $5, the 2 full sets of color blocks I found at two different sales in the same day for $4 total, and the handmade felt Waldorf finger puppets I got for a few bucks to name (brag) a few. I guess I’ve realized for a while now that it’s the same impact on our house in terms of STUFF and on the boys in terms of CONSUMING toys but I’m also starting to see the impact on my oldest. Wanting more, expecting more. I’m sure some of it is developmental but I have to take some responsibility. Ultimately the kids don’t know the difference between a bargain and an expensive toy right off the shelf. Stuff begets stuff.


So I’m trying to find a balance. I still like to hunt and search but I don’t have to buy or keep everything. I’m thinking of opening an etsy shop with funky vintage finds. I think it would be a good balance between doing something I love and minimizing the impact on my family. Maybe that can be my catch, “Fill your house with my found crap so my kids can live simply!” I’ve clearly got a head for business AND advertising.

Here are the toys that I think are the best tools to help my kids with the work of play:

“The maple-wood blocks . . . are in my fingers to this day,” Frank Lloyd Wright (he said it better than I could)

This is my favorite Playmobil family. I think I love these little plastic people more than my boys, and they are obsessed. They’ve also opened up our house to war toys, and that’s a whole other post…

Playsilks and dressup in general. My oldest and I dyed these using koolaid and curry powder (on the yellow). These silks and all the others I could find for this photo have been used to help my oldest become everything from a pharoah to a doctor and have been used in endless games of peek-a-boo with my little one.

Dolls (paper or otherwise) aren’t just for girls. You can see feeding the babies is a favorite pastime while bathing them doesn’t rank as high, much like real life!. (you know I’m holding my tongue about that fabulous thrifted wagon)

(I’ve already posted this photo but I couldn’t find any other’s of the boys using these big foam blocks/mats.) When my little one was born I wanted to find something that enabled both boys to play together even when they were at such developmentally different stages. These have worked great and they keep finding different ways to play with them. In the beginning while my little one was laying on the mats drooling my older one built a structure close by and made the little one a “foreman”. Now there is a lot of jumping from one to the other with a little wrestling thrown in.

And this isn’t a toy but it has been a great solution for making the playroom work for both boys. We got an IKEA bunk bed and the upper bunk, or “loft” as my big guy calls it, is for my eldest and all his little tiny toys that are choking hazards for the little one (who is only now easing up with the putting stuff in his mouth). The bottom bunk is a cozy book reading, pirate ship sailing, guest bed sleeping zone and so far this has worked really well for us.

Sandbox, an oldie but a goodie. Something I remember from time to time is to use things that aren’t meant to be toys as toys. In the sandbox that might be tubes from the recycling bin and in the tub it’s usually a hand mixer and all the funnels from the kitchen!

And to wrap up my list: balls, and art supplies, and music and what’s your AND?

Check out Green Jello she’s doing a great toy week!

Full disclosure, I just came back from Charlie and Pat’s (love them) and I DID pick up a few things. What can I say, I’m a work in progress!


Edit: Here’s a new book and a link on the topic:

Wired Magazine talking about Reagan deregulating children’s television (I’m talking to you Tickle Me Elmo) and Star Wars toys. Which is crazy because Star Wars still holds such power, it’s the hot game on the playground in Pre-K and it’s the hotbutton topic among parents who are concerned with the amount of scripted play S.W. can create.


Fresh Air and Fabric! April 16, 2008

Filed under: Family & Friends,Random Bits — twlowenstein @ 1:28 pm

I walked out of my door this morning after being home sick for a few days and was greeted with a glorious warm sunny day! So I took a deep breath, dropped my big guy off at school, attended a quick library committee meeting, and then went to the fabric store!

I love my little local shops but sometimes you gotta hit the mothership.

Big plans, I’m going to dust off my sewing machine and make a little birthday present tonight (to be shared if I don’t totally mess it up).

And here is my lesson for today. It’s one many of you may intuit and not need spelling out. But for those in the back of the class, like myself, may I present to you DON’T GIVE YOUR KID A PEN IN THE CAR TO ENTERTAIN HIMSELF:

Me saying, “What did you do to your pants?!!!” and him saying, “This!”.

The photos don’t do the damage justice (both knees covered.) In theory it’s not okay to draw on any pants (I’m having sofa sharpie flashbacks) but these are OILILY! You bet your butt I didn’t pay an Oilily price for these, I found them at the thrift store. But I had big resale plans for these. I’ll let you know how the wash works!

I remember thinking, oh well, what harm could playing with a pen cause? I really think once we start sleeping through the night we’re going to turn into much more charming and intelligent people (at least comparatively speaking.) The little one is almost 2 and we’re having a heck of a time getting him to sleep through the night BY HIMSELF. Tips and tricks much appreciated!

This little guy has more pep in his little finger…

Hope it’s sunny where you are and that you are well rested!