em’s screen time comes mostly in the form of movies these days. my husband and i are pretty big movie fans in general, and it’s been kind of important to us that we actually can tolerate (or even like?) most of the shows that she’s watching. so far, we’ve been introducing mostly pre-1995 disney movies (and their soundtracks. have you heard a 3 year old sing “circle of life” from the lion king? hilarious!). however, my husband also wanted to check out the hayao miyazaki films, which we hadn’t seen, but had heard great things about. em took an immediate liking to ponyo and watched it twice back-to-back on a car trip, but her lasting favorite is my neighbor totoro.
the movie chronicles two sisters who move out to the country with their father to be close to their sick mother, who is in the hospital. younger sister, mei, comes across a forest spirit she calls “totoro,” who she loves.
the movie is mesmerizing, as is ponyo. they’re beautiful, with real emotion (not just fluff – they’re a little sad, a little scary, a little sweet, and a lot whimsical). when i sit down to watch them with her, i am totally riveted, as is she. they’re really great. em remembers every detail about totoro (you can quiz her about the name of totoro’s tree). i saw some totoro plushies at a shop in town that were something like $40 for a little tiny felt one, and got “i can make that”-itis. but i thought it’d be fun to make a giant, pillow-pet sized, supersoft totoro that she could snuggle like mei does in the scene above. i brainstormed for a while on how to put it together, then went for it.
it’s made of a crazy soft fabric that i found in the minky section, which shedded EVERYWHERE and made me sneeze. she picked it over my suggestion of a classic lower-nap minky because it was more “totoro-like,” and the key to successful sewing for toddlers is letting them make some choices, i think. so the crazy, difficult-to-sew fabric it was. the breast part and boomerang-shapes are appliqued microfleece. there is a felt nose in there somewhere, too. the minky shifts like nobody’s business, but the long “fur” hides some sewing ills.
needless to say, em is in love. she picked out an outfit to model her totoro – i asked her what color dress she wanted to wear, and she chose her red polka dot dress, and said “i need to wear my hat like mei!” i didn’t know that mei even wore a hat in the movie, but indeed, she does!
(she also has pigtails, not shown)
totoro now goes with her to daycare, she carries him around the house though he’s half her size, and she sleeps with him like a pillow at naps and nighttime. pretty funny to get such a strong reaction of from her, but that was definitely my goal! i wanted him to be as snuggly and lovable as humanely possible.
he’s also fun to just put around the house in random places, keeping watch. he may end up in the background of future blog posts…you never know! sometimes totoro appears in real life.