Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Christmas Presents 2009: Evi Dressable Dolls!

It is with great pleasure that I announce that my favorite dollhouse dolls in the entire world, Nova Natural's Evi dolls, are now available as dressable dolls!

For years my children have been playing with these dolls, made of wool and cotton by a fair-trade labor cooperative, which are available in various fairy-tale characters, including knights and princesses. But my girls kept trying to change the clothes on the dolls, which are sewn on the bodies. I asked Nova Natural if they would consider carrying dressable dolls, and this Christmas season, they have them at last!

Click here to see pictures of their dollhouse family which come with removeable modern clothing. I ordered the father and mother dolls, and I decided to surprise my middle daughter this Christmas by dressing up these dolls as Paul Fester and Rachel Durham from my Fairy Tale Novel The Midnight Dancers!

(A caveat: The Midnight Dancers is "PG" (parental guidance suggested), but my husband read it aloud to my ten-year old (with judicious edits).) My oldest daughter is in on the secret, and she helped sew some of the clothes. In the photo above, the doll Rachel leaves aside her apron for the glamorous dancing dress she's created, while juggler Paul Fester (played by the father doll) tries to reason with her.

And here we have Paul instructing Rachel's younger sisters Linette and Debbie (played by the Nova Natural boy and girl dollhouse doll) in the fine art of juggling.

Hopefully we'll finish more outfits before Christmas! Now that the Evi dolls are dressable, I see myriads of possibilities: I've started making dress patterns for princess dresses for them. If you buy an Evi Doll and want to have a look at my pattern, email me and let me know!

So if you are looking for a natural and modest alternative to a Barbie doll or Polly Pocket that respects the innocence of children, I highly recommend the new dressable Evi dolls. With a little bit of sewing, you can make them into princes, princesses, fairies, Our Lady of Guadalupe, the saints -- the options are limited only by your imagination. Check them out here!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Music for a Fall Evening

For excellent fiddling, I highly recommend this CD by our friends, The Woodhouse Band.  I've posted about them before: their music has enlivened quite a few of our house parties with the flawlessly executed yet homespun sounds of fiddle, banjo, and guitar.  During the chilly days of late fall, set this music spinning on your CD player, and soon your children will be Irish-jigging and twirling around the room!  A better cure for winter cabin fever you won't find.

The Woodhouse Band is Michael Randolph and his five children, each of whom are talented string musicians.  Michael has carefully crafted this CD over the years, and their first recording is an excellent display of their gifts.   Repeated playings hasn't dulled my enthusiasm for this little CD.  For a "homemade" Christmas gift from a Catholic home, consider The Woodhouse Band.  Available locally in Front Royal or downloadable from CDBaby.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Learning Land Forms

While I'm sharing about activities that reside on top of my refridgerator, I thought share about another favorite educational activity: clay land forms. Years ago I made a set with clay and disposable plastic containers. But this fall, I acquired this sweet little set from Michael Olaf Montessori: earth-toned waterproof clay and eight little pie pans are matched with cards so that little students can see that an island is land with water all around it, and a lake is land with water all around it.  I keep the materials in a storage bin with a washcloth and tiny water pitcher.

The child can mold islands, pennisulas, and isthmuses of any shape she chooses, and then pour a little bit of water into the wee pie pan to see the relationship between land and water.  The earth-toned plasticine clay is superior to salt dough in that it sheds water easily and never dries out.  And the matched black pie pans are sturdy beneath the pushing and poking of child fists.  After years of making do with my own homemade materials, I'm very pleased with this set, which has a modest price tag for its beauty: $22 for pans and clay.  The rather comprehensive card set is only $8 additional: it will last beyond the preschool years well into grade school.  It's a wonderful preschool introduction to Classical Conversation's geography program.

So if you're looking for an additional activity for your little one, consider this set. It's a simple, straightfoward way to demonstrate what a strait is!  (Forgive the triple pun.)