Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fabric-Wrapped Flashcards

Like all babies at some point, my child developed a love for paper. Well, as much as he needs fiber in his diet I'm sure, I don't think he needs to get it by eating paper. This upsets him--especially on those days when mom and dad are playing with cards. I decided he needed some cards, too.

I made some quick and easy, nearly waterproof, durable cards just for him.

First I found some animal pictures by searching under Creative Commons on Flickr. Second, I put them in a Word file and made them identical in size. Third, I went to FedEx to have them printed on cardstock, laminated, and cut out with a margin of laminate around the edges. It was quite inexpensive--if I remember correctly it cost under five dollars.

I suggest leaving a large enough edge of laminate around your picture so that you will be sewing only through the laminate and not the laminate and paper. This will probably keep your pictures from soaking up any moisture and rippling. (I didn't do this, so I can't vouch for it.) If you try it and it works, let me know!

Now I wanted to be sure my son's little gums wouldn't be cut up by the sharp laminated edges of his cards, so the next steps involve sewing fabric onto them. This is the slightly more complicated part, and if you look closely you will notice I decided not to be a perfectionist about this. After all, my baby just wanted to eat them, so who cares if my stitches are perfect? He sure doesn't and he's who matters in this case.

You'll have to excuse my lack of sewing expertise.

Fourth, cut rectangles of fabric that are significantly larger than your card. You need to be able to fold the fabric over and under itself to make a clean edge over and against the card. Fifth, sew the fabric around your card. You're basically sewing a hem on your card. This will prevent your fabric from fraying and will cover the sharp edges and corners of the cardstock to protect your baby's gums.

I sewed two parallel sides of the card first and then sewed the perpendicular sides. By doing this I was able to sew the corners after I had folded them in like I would when wrapping a present. I wasn't very particular about my sewing or the cutting of my fabric, so my stitching lines aren't always the straightest. I was also hesitant to press my edges which would have made this step super easy! But I was worried about the hot iron melting the laminate.

My son loves these cards. The laminate makes them basically waterproof, but the sewing punches little holes in the laminate and paper so that moisture can get in. Some of my cards are slightly rippled because my son chews and sucks on his cards (which is what I made them for). They do serve their purpose, though, and the laminate and sewing have kept them together.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Book Review: Pegasus

Star Rating: 3/5


By Robin McKinley

As the fourth child of the king, Sylvi was overlooked and able to enjoy herself without the stress of becoming the future monarch. She spent her days practicing in the weapons yard, riding her pony, and studying the history of the kingdom. Her life was ordinary—for a princess at any rate—until her twelfth birthday. It didn’t start any differently from any of her other family members’ twelfth birthdays. Like the rest of her family and certain others of royal descent since the creation of the Alliance, Sylvi would be bound to a pegasus that day. But unlike all who had been bound before her, she and her pegasus share a unique connection.

Since the Alliance was created between their peoples, pegasi and humans of royal birth had been bound together. Unfortunately, the bondmates had never been able to fully communicate except with the help of a magician, though even this communication was far from flawless. Sylvi’s ability to speak to Ebon, her bondmate, breaks all known precedents, providing the bedrock for a friendship that will change the relationship between both their peoples.

Robin McKinley’s Pegasus throws the reader into Sylvi’s history lessons. Immediately, the reader is swamped with names, events, and creatures, some with little or no explanation of what they are or why they are important to know. This exposition sets the scene for Sylvi and Ebon’s binding but is somewhat exhaustive. Fortunately, Sylvi and Ebon’s relationship becomes the highlight of the tale and the history lessons are mostly set aside. Their conversation and experiences draw the reader in, involving her in the questioning and learning. Ebon is particularly exciting as he is uncharacteristically blunt, witty, and laid-back for a pegasus. Ebon acts in order to alter misconceptions and remove arbitrary barriers. Contrarily, Sylvi tends to ruminate and wait passively—and frustratingly for this reader—for her hopes to just occur. For the most part, the plot meanders along with rare and fairly minor conflicts. That is until the end, when the reader is left hanging, waiting for the second book.

While I enjoyed the book, falling prey to the intriguing unraveling of pegasi culture and the development of Ebon and Sylvi’s relationship, I was frustrated by the story’s slow pace, lack of conflict, and Sylvi’s inactivity. Worst of all though was the lack of conclusion for the book. My advice to you: wait until the second book comes out and then enjoy reading the two together.