Sunday, December 11, 2011

Upcycled Free Wreath Form Tutorial

My wonderful friend Laura requested a long time ago that I post a tutorial on how I make my wreath forms for free from stuff I find around the house! Well, here it is, and hopefully in time for anyone reading to make a wreath for Christmas. Or New Years, or Valentine's Day, or St. Paddy's, or...

Yeah.

First up, gather your supplies: I gathered a cardboard box, a large plate, a medium bowl, plastic wrap, grocery store plastic sacks (around 2 dozen, depending on size), scissors, and a pencil. I originally had a sharpie, but traded it for a pencil since I didn't want to get sharpie marks on my dishes!

Supplies: box, plate, bowl, plastic wrap, plastic bags, scissors, sharpie pencil

To start, put the plate face-down on the box and trace it. I like a nice, thick corrugated cardboard as it seems to hold up better. Remove the plate, then put your bowl face-down in the middle of the circle, get a little helper (as pictured), and trace the bowl. My cardboard wreath form is about 12" across (plate sized), and the hole in the middle is about 7.5" across (bowl sized).

My little helper tracing the bowl with me!

Then, cut the cardboard out. I found it easier when making several wreaths to do this assembly-line style, tracing several wreath forms first and then cutting them all out at once. After you have a big cardboard O, the next step is to wrap the plastic bags to the front of the wreath tightly with plastic wrap, forming the nice thick wreath shape. I started out cutting long pieces of plastic wrap, but eventually found it was easier to just take the whole roll out of the box and pass it through the center as I wrapped. It took a little adjusting to get the bags to be squished down and shaped just right, but I didn't worry too much about it as I knew I'd be wrapping the whole thing with yarn anyway once I finished.  I did overlap each bag a little, and I did secure each bag individually with plastic wrap.

Cardboard O with plastic bags being secured to the front with plastic wrap

When you're done, you will have a slightly lumpy but mostly uniform wreath shape. The plastic wrap should be "sticky" enough to cling to itself without having to use any extra tape. I don't put the plastic bags on the back of the wreath as I like it to have a flat back for my front door.

Finished wreath form (lumps are ok at this point)

Lastly, decorate your wreath! If you are using yarn to wrap it, I'll tell you a secret: If you use a thick and chunky yarn, it takes a LOT less time to wrap than if you use a normal thinner yarn! In the picture below, you can see how thick the brown yarn is that I wrapped my wreath with. The whole thing was completely wrapped in less than an hour while I watched a program on t.v. I also was able to even out any uneven spots from the plastic bags as I wrapped the wreath with yarn, wrapping tighter over the spots that poked out more.

Wrapping wreath form with yarn

I finished my wreath with a contrasting felt argyle pattern in autumn colors, and felt roses. Here it is on my front door!

My autumn wreath on my front door!

Happy wreath-making! I would love to see pictures of your finished products if you use my tutorial to make wreath forms!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Motherhood is Like a Harbor

My daughter has recently started taking several steps in a row. Seven or eight. But only when I have been holding her hands, hugging her, or otherwise balancing her, will she take that many in a row. If she is walking to me, she'll only take 3 or 4. As I was trying not to get my feelings hurt about that and wondering why, I realized that in my arms, she feels safe. I know her best and know how to help her balance best. So when I send her off, she feels confident to go explore her world. When someone else is helping her walk, she is less confident.

Wow, what an analogy for life. My role as a mom is as her harbor. I give her strength and confidence that no one else can. She can go farther and accomplish more from my arms than from anyone else's. But I have to watch her walk away so she can go explore the world, just as a ship leaves its safe port to go on new adventures. And sometimes watching her go hurts. But it is a clean pain, a proud pain, a pain that comes with it a great sense of love and peace that I am helping her accomplish what she was meant to do. I hope and pray I can remember this throughout her life, that only when I am helping her go out and do what she was meant to do, will I be accomplishing my role of parenting her the way God meant me to. Like wet sand held in my hand: not too tightly so that she would slip away and be no longer mine, but loosely, to fly where she will with my blessing, yet knowing I will always be her strength and confidence so she will always feel at home in my arms.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Name Game

To start off, I'd better say that I have a minor obsession with names. Well, words, really. I love etymology and meanings of words, and because of that, I love names even more so. When Daniel and I named our daughter Naomi, we (but especially I!) placed a lot of weight on meaning, sound, spell-ability, and where the name fell on the popularity charts. I still enjoy researching names, sometimes with an eye for future children, and sometimes in the genre of "what were her parents thinking?!"

For instance, a couple of years ago I was working at a coffee shop. A very pregnant lady came in and ordered a drink. As I was making it, I chatted with her about her baby due in a few weeks. I found out they already had a little girl, and were struggling to come up with a name for their new little girl. I asked the name of their daughter, and she told me it was Kennedy. "That's cute!" I said. "What does it mean?" She had no idea, so I had the brilliant suggestion to look it up, and pick a name with a similar meaning for her next daughter. She thought that might be a good idea, got her drink, and left. I never saw her again. A year later, I was expecting our daughter, and remembered this conversation. I didn't care for the sound of the name "Kennedy", but was curious what it meant, so I went to babynames.com to find out. I wonder if that pregnant lady never came back in the store because she was mad at me or embarrassed at her daughter's name? When I finally withdrew my foot out of my mouth, I told my husband the story, and the meaning of "Kennedy". It means "ugly head", literally from the ancient Celts who would wear helmets in battle, and their heads would become misshapen from this practice. Yikes! But I digress.

As Daniel and I were driving in the car the other day, I brought up some names I had been thinking of. I had noticed that some girls' names sound good with either an -a or an -ey/ie/i ending, but some names only work with one of them. Here are the names we came up with that work for either:

Laura/Laurie
Jenna/Jenny
Audra/Audrey
Cara/Carrie
Liza/Lizzy (different pronunciation for the "Liz" part, though)

The ones that DON'T work:

Shella (lol)
Britna
Ashla
Olivie
Sarie
Isabelly (lol)

Anyone have any names to add to either list? Anyone else play "name games" in your head too?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Flying with Babies

I recently saw a post on Yahoo answers where a momma of two, an 18 month old and a 3 month old, will soon be flying by herself with her 2 babies. She was asking for tips, and I wound up typing a lot, as I've flown so often with Naomi already! So I thought I'd share, and then ask my reader(s) as well: Have you flown with babies? What tips or tricks do you recommend?


Here are my best observations:

Wherever you have a layover, make sure it is at least 1 and 1/2 hours, but not longer than 3. 1 and 1/2 is ideal. Any less than that leaves no room for error if they change your gates or your first flight arrives late. And running through the airport with a baby in tow to try to catch your next flight is not fun!

Bring a collapsible stroller for the airport for any baby who won't want to or be able to walk long distances in short amounts of time.

If your baby is around 5 months or older, bring "new" toys that s/he has never seen or hasn't seen in a long time and doesn't remember. This will get you through the last leg of the flight when they're cranky and bored.

If your baby uses a pacifier, bring some, or ensure they're nursing, or drinking from a bottle or sippy cup during takeoff and landing. This will help relieve the pressure in their ears and help prevent screaming.

Check your bags. I know it costs an extra $25 each way, but it's worth it to only have to worry about the baby, stroller and diaper bag for the flights and through the airport! And weigh your bag on your bathroom scale before you leave to make sure it's less than 50 lbs. This will save lots of shuffling around items during check-in, and prevent carrying too many heavy things in a diaper bag.

If you fly with baby food or liquids, have them easily accessible when going through security.

If flying with a baby and a toddler, I would likely use the carseat with the toddler so that s/he won't be constantly trying to get off your lap and run around the plane cabin. If possible, carry on both carseats so that in case there is an extra seat available on your row, you can strap both kids in. Most airlines allow this if you ask for it.

If you need to check a carseat, then remove all extra padding, buckle the buckles and pull the straps completely tight. This will prevent wear and tear on the straps. (Also, if an airline loses your carseat, they DO have "loaners" they will give you until yours comes in. And they will bring you yours to your address. Unfortunately, I know this from personal experience.)

Try to time your flights around their naptimes. If you can arrive at your final destination near your baby's afternoon naptime, it might be worth it to leave at 6 am.

Pack a snack for you in the diaper bag as well. Those little pretzels sometimes just won't cut it, and you'll be wishing for dark chocolate peanut M&Ms.

Most of all, remember that the flights have to come to an end at some point!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Contest Central

If I blog about awesome contests, would you enter them? It's free to enter, so why not? There are two in particular that I am super crazy about. The first is a contest for a Hazelaid brand Amber teething necklace. Just read this mommy's post about how awesome they are, if you don't believe me. And by commenting on  her post, you are entered to win a gift certificate to buy your own teething necklace!

http://themommyhoodmemos.com/2011/09/amber-teething-necklaces-i%E2%80%99m-a-believer-review-giveaway/#comment-5047

The second giveaway I'm suuuper stoked about is by cotton babies cloth diapers. They are coming out with 3 new colors, 2 new prints, and 2 new styles of diaper! I know my favorite colors are "Mirror" and the print "Albert", but I'm having a hard time deciding which I love more, the new Flip training pants, or the Freetime All-in-one diaper! Anyhow, if you want to enter that contest, just comment on their blog! Here's the link: http://clothdiapers.blogspot.com/2011/09/new-product-giveaway.html?showComment=1316192781517#c3401432938350447135

One other site that does constant and amazing giveaways: Teething Bling on facebook. They have super awesome teething necklaces that mommy wears and baby can chew on. If you like them on facebook, they are constantly giving away stuff, whether it's their necklaces or other wonderful baby products, or even gift cards to Staples or Walmart. My "jade" pendant is absolutely mine and my daughter's favorite necklace for me to wear!

As mommies, it's hard to be able to afford cool stuff for our kids all the time, so I hope that someone I know can benefit from this info! Love to you all!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sweet Sneak Peek

Recently, one of my friends from our Bradley Birth Class was telling me how she is already planning for her son's first birthday party. *Gasp*, he's even a month younger than my daughter! I didn't laugh at her for planning something 1/3 of a year away, but that might have been because she inspired me...I realized that the earlier I start planning and preparing, the cheaper and nicer it will be, since I can have plenty of time to make things for my daughter's birthday instead of rushing around last minute and buying everything.

So. That being said, I started looking for a theme. I may as well say, I also despise licensed characters. Inasmuch as I have anything to do with it, my daughter won't ever have an "Elmo" or "Barbie" or "Hannah Montana" party, etc...of course, once she can speak her own mind, who knows? She'll probably ask for a licensed character party every year. But for now, the planning is up to me. *evil cackling*

I started my research by looking for a cake. I figured I could build a party theme around a cake, and I did! Naomi's first birthday party theme is officially: Owls. I did a lot of online research, but quickly realized that if I want her sweet treats to be as adorable as this one, and not wind up looking unfortunate, then I needed to practice! I saw some cute owl cake pops and thought I would try my hand at them. I think they turned out to be adorable!

Owl Cake Pop

And here's the whole mess of them. I used a ballpoint pen to poke holes in a cereal box to prop them up while they were drying. They were really a lot easier to make than I'd thought they would be!

Colorful Owl Cake Pops

Now, I'm glad I didn't make an entire cake's worth of cake pops. That would have been entirely too many! But from one box of cake mix, I made 12 regular cupcakes, 12 mini cupcakes, and 1 loaf pan's worth of the rest of the batter, which, when mixed with frosting, became 20 cake balls. Want to know how I made the owls? 

I lightened the photo to more easily show off owl-ey features.

What I did with the mini cupcakes was practice various icing techniques with my metal icing tips. The regular-sized cupcakes, I practiced making ball of yarn cupcakes which will hopefully be for my birthday party/Christmas party later this year. Here's a sneak peek:


I used Pocky with chocolate chips to make the knitting needles. 

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think!




Thursday, August 11, 2011

And We're Out the Door!

Be forewarned! This post is about nursing in public as part of the Breastfeeding Blog Hop, so if you don't want to know, stop reading now. :-)

First airplane ride!

I remember when I first had my daughter, how nursing wasn't even a discussion for me. I fought hard to be able to nurse her, even switching medications so I could. And I fought even harder when I struggled with latch issues, resulting in excruciatingly painful, bleeding nipples. But she and I won the battle! I remember looking at her nursing one day, thinking "So this is what my breasts were meant to do!" It's convenient to never have to remember bottles because I always have her milk with me. I can and do feed her whenever and wherever she needs to eat.

But not everyone feels that way. People are entitled to their own opinions, but I get frustrated when their opinions cross the line. I've read so many articles in the last few months about how some woman was out  nursing her baby in public, and some manager of whatever business asked her to stop. ABC's series, What Would You Do even had a scenario about it! It makes me appreciate even more the places that are more family-friendly, with changing stations in restrooms men use, with chairs in discrete places for mommies to nurse their babies, etc.

Family-friendly restroom!


Nursing in public is...interesting. There have been many times when I've grabbed my child and run out the door to an appointment, needed to feed her while we were out and about, and realized I forgot my nursing cover at home in the wash. And it's summer, so there are no baby blankets in the diaper bag. I try to be discrete, but that's more for my peace of mind that I won't have any weird stalkers ogling me as I feed my daughter. When I do remember the cover, I feel like I draw WAY more attention to myself, trying to keep my flailing octopus from ripping the cover away and giving a show to the whole store, church congregation, or whatever other audience might be around.

One time, my husband Daniel and I were on a date at a bookstore. There was a lady who weighed at least 400 lbs. carrying around a small baby. She was walking around the store with her breast completely exposed and she wasn't even trying to cover up or be discrete in any way. The baby was only sometimes latched on as she ambled around for a good 20 minutes. We kind of looked at each other with eyes wide open (ok, the baby was smaller than her giant boob!) and laughed about it later, but we weren't upset about it. It was funny to us. But that isn't how I nurse my daughter. Even when I forget the cover, I'm not about to whip out my boob and walk around an entire bookstore like I'm daring someone to confront me. Yes, I believe that I have the right to do that, but no, I'm not going to do it. There are perverts who won't see me feeding my baby, they'll just see "boob". I don't want my baby associated with that. Not to mention, at 8.5 months old, my daughter would be waaaaay too distracted to nurse if I marched her around a store while attempting to feed her! So I will continue to sit in my corner quietly, cover her with my shirt or burp cloth or whatever I have handy, and focus on feeding her. After all, that's the whole point...

Friday, August 5, 2011

Why We Chose Cloth Diapers

3 weeks: newborn cloth diaper

Before our daughter was born, we had TONS of decisions to make. One of those included what kind of diapers to use. I have worked in childcare many years, and my only diapering experience was with disposables. You put the clean diaper on the baby, take the soiled one off, wipe the baby and throw away the diaper. Bam, done. I never thought about using cloth diapers. My preconceived ideas about them were that they were too complicated, that I would have to touch a lot more ick than I would like, and that they'd be too much work with diaper pins, plastic pants, all that washing and clotheslines. Besides, Daniel would never go for it.

Boy was I wrong.

I visited my friend Carolyn, who was using cloth diapers on both of her little girls. They looked like a MUCH cuter version of disposables! Just as easy to put on and take off, the only difference being that you washed them instead of throwing them away. I thought, "I can do that!" So I did what I always do before making a really big decision: research! Turns out there are lots of kinds of cloth diapers, including the old-fashioned ones you have to fold. But there have been many technological advances in cloth diapers in the last 5 years!

5 weeks: Flip diaper & cover

I looked at many different factors as to why or why not to use cloth diapers:

Convenience: For both disposables and cloth, you velcro the diaper on the baby, take it off, and throw it in a pail. For cloth, you wash them. For disposables, you throw them away. I felt like I do so much laundry anyway, what are a few extra loads a week? Plus, it is illegal to toss human waste into landfills. If you read the box of disposable diapers, the instructions say to shake waste off into the toilet before disposing of the diaper. If I'm going to do that anyway, it may as well be from my cloth diapers. We received a diaper sprayer from our baby registry. It's basically the same thing that's attached to your kitchen sink, but attached to the toilet and with a variable pressure to spray out poopy diapers once our daughter started solids. Much more convenient! We have even traveled with cloth diapers. We decided, however, that for car trips, we will use cloth, but for plane trips, we will use disposables. It's just too difficult to find convenient and affordable washers/dryers in hotels.

Bulkiness: Cloth diapers are more bulky, so the baby often wears one clothing size larger than s/he would have in disposables, since today's baby clothing is made to fit over disposables.

Baby's health: Most disposable diapers contain chemicals, including the bleaching chemical, dioxin, which is known to cause cancer. Even if you buy the natural cotton unbleached disposable diapers, they still have the gelling chemical to contain liquid matter. Cloth diapers are much more natural, cause less diaper rash and feel better on baby's skin. Also, cloth-diapered babies are often potty-trained sooner because they have the ability to feel the wetness.

Environment: Though cloth diapers do cost more in energy and water to wash than disposables do, disposables have way more of an impact both in manufacturing and in disposal for our planet. A disposable diaper can remain in a landfill for 500-600 years. (visit the link on dioxin to see more statistics). So all those disposable diapers my mom used on me in the 80's are still around somewhere. Yikes. A cotton diaper takes around 6 months to biodegrade. This is the one that got me on board.

Cost: This is the one that really got Daniel on board. For about 4 month's worth of the cost of disposables for one baby, we could buy enough cloth diapers to last from birth to potty-trained. And then reuse the same diapers for ALL of our children! And then sell them when the last child is potty-trained to recoup some of the cost. On average, disposables cost about $66/month per child, which is $792/year and $1584/lifetime, assuming your child wears diapers for only 24 months. Per child. The cloth diapers we bought cost us around $250. For our baby and any siblings she may have. We got a middle-of-the-road option; there are much more affordable diapers out there, and many more expensive ones as well.

2.5 months: bumGenius diaper


Our Stash: I thought the best blend of cost and convenience was a "pocket" diaper, like bumGenius. I then discovered how much I love the convenience of the 2-piece Flip diaper system. So our "stash" consists of 13 velcro bumGenius, 5 Flip diaper covers, 1 Econobum diaper cover (that I got for free for spending $50 at cottonbabies.com), 5 Flip stay-dry inserts and 24 regular-size unbleached cotton prefolds. The only ones I got new were the prefolds and half of the bumGenius. I do have a few random borrowed diapers that I rotate in our stash occasionally from my sister-in-law and my friend. We also spent about $40 for cloth newborn-size diapers so our daughter could wear cloth diapers from birth (the one-size ones SAY they fit from 8lbs, but they really fit from about 6 weeks old, or whenever your baby gets some leg fat). I was glad to have this more comfortable, natural option for our daughter when she was so tiny.

7 months: Econobum cover over prefold


For all my disposable-using friends who are actually reading this blog with interest, thank you! I hope this has been informative. I understand that not everyone wants to or can use cloth diapers. If you are willing to think about it though, there is a great movement out there on facebook called Change 3 Things that challenges non-cloth diaper users to try using just 3 cloth diapers a day. The impact on your wallet and our planet will truly be significant. And if you have any questions at all, this is something that I'm very passionate about and would love to talk with you about!

7.5 months: bumGenius diaper

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sleep Wars...Episode IV: A New Hope

After sleeping til 9a.m. yesterday morning, Naomi skipped her typical morning nap. After church, she fell asleep in the car for her first afternoon nap at 1:30p.m. I successfully transferred her to her crib without waking her up, and she slept til 2:30p.m. She then was happily awake until about 4:45, when she went down for her evening nap. She slept 2 hours, and woke at 7:45, fussy as all get out. So her daytime sleep was 3 hours, better than the 1.5 hours of the day before.

When she woke up, she alternated between crying and fussing. I finally put on an episode of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution to quiet her down. . . it worked briefly. I needed to work on supper, so I put her in her high chair while I cooked my alfredo sauce. I gave her some green beans, which she fed herself. It was the first time she seemed happy since waking up cranky.

I knew she was tired and needed an earlier bedtime, so at 8p.m., we started our bedtime routine: brush teeth (well, gums at this point, but it's a good habit!), PJs and night-night diaper, read a story, and nurse. She went down with no complaints around 8:20p.m.

At 9:30p.m., she woke up crying. Great, I thought. Now I have to start some kind of technique again. But I was so sick of the techniques, feeling like a crappy mom because my daughter was crying alone in her room, and ensuing nightmares. So I decided to try something different. I soothed her, but didn't pick her up. I rubbed her tummy or back, depending on which side she'd flipped onto at the moment, and I kept trying to give her back her plug. (We call a pacifier a "plug".) After about 20 minutes of crying while I soothed her the whole time, she fell asleep!

At 11:30p.m., I braced myself. She had awoken this time of night for the last several nights, if not the last several weeks. Nothing. She kept on sleeping, and I went to bed myself.

At 1a.m., she cried twice. That's it. Just enough to wake me up, but not enough to get me up.

At 2:30a.m., she cried for 30 seconds. Enough for me to realize she was crying, and sit up in bed, ready to go soothe her again. But before I could stand up, she stopped.

At 4:40a.m., Naomi woke up for real. I happily went upstairs where she gratefully nursed. It was very efficient, and she fell asleep at the end. I put her back in her crib with no fussing!

At 6:45 a.m., She woke up happy. She talked to herself for about 10-15 minutes, until I could wake up enough and get upstairs to get her. She gave me all kinds of smiles when I came in her room. I now know for sure that a rested child is a happy child!

She did have some trouble going down for her morning nap today. I need to troubleshoot it and figure out if I put her down too late, since she got up so early, if there were just too many distractions in her room, or what. I tried to stay with her, but since she was fussing and not crying, I finally walked out of her room, and by the time I got downstairs, she was quietly sleeping. I think maybe I was a distraction to her somehow! Hmmm.

I give last night 7 stars out of 10. I'm very encouraged! Even though she woke 4 times, I only had to soothe her back to sleep once! She soothed herself twice and needed to eat the 4th time. If she'd soothed herself all 3 times I'd have given her 9 out of 10, and if she'd slept through (except for the feeding) I'd have given her a perfect score!


Conclusion: I like a lot of the science behind Dr. Weissbluth's methods, but I disagree with "extinction" and have problems personally with "graduated extinction". I think a lot of what I learned from him was about how many and how long Naomi's naps should be, and how early I should be putting her to bed. I had been putting her to bed around 10p.m., since that was when she'd seemed tired to me. But now, putting her down 8:15-8:45p.m. seems to work a lot better for her. I also see that she can be a lot happier when she's more well-rested. Another thing I appreciate about his book is that he says bedtimes should be flexible, not rigid. You should be willing to put your child to bed much earlier if she's short on naps that day, or if her nap schedule has been changing. Well, I learned a lot, but I think I learned as much about myself as I did about the science of sleep as demonstrated in children!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sleep Wars...Episode III: Revenge of the Vacation

Well, Dr. Weissbluth said that anything that happens to throw your schedule off will throw your sleep off, and he was right!

Daniel's family had a reunion about 2 hours away in Arkansas yesterday, which was wonderful. We got to see about 50 family members, and celebrate his uncle's 90th birthday, and that same uncle and his aunt's 50th wedding anniversary.

But for Naomi's sleep schedule, this meant problems. She took her 3 naps as usual, but each of them only lasted 1/2 an hour. I could go into more detail, but it was mostly because of schedule changes, car travel, and new environment that they only lasted that length.

So we put her in the car around 8:40 to head back home, and she was out within 5 minutes. We did stop to get gas, and that brought us home to Tulsa by 11p.m.

We changed her, put her in PJs, I nursed her and she went down in her crib with nary a fuss.

5:00a.m., she woke up. I let her cry 5 minutes (while I went to the bathroom), then went upstairs to feed her.

Dr. Weissbluth says that breastfed babies can continue to wake up once or twice a night to feed until 9 months old, around 11p.m. and around 5a.m. I'm ok with this, I just want to nix the 2a.m. waking (which she slept right through, thankfully!) and the early morning waking. I also want her to go down easily, with no crying/arching her back, etc.

She went right back to sleep around 5:20a.m. with NO problems! I began to think we were out of the woods. But, 6a.m. rolls around, and awake she came! I knew she wasn't hungry, but thought she might need a burp, so after 5 minutes of crying, I went upstairs and burped her. I put her down and she wailed some more, so I thought I'd have to wait 10 minutes, but she was asleep after 8 minutes.

Fifteen minutes later, she was crying again. After five minutes of it, I told Daniel it was his turn, and that she might need a fresh diaper. He changed her, then put her down to wail for 10 more minutes. At this point, it was close to 7a.m. (her new chosen wake-up time) and I told him to just bring her to bed with us. She slept peacefully in our bed (and so did we) until 9:15a.m. when she woke to nurse.

All in all, I think we're making progress. It's excruciatingly frustrating and exhausting sometimes, but hey, as a mommy you do what you have to to achieve the balance between your sanity and your baby's happiness. (Thanks, Jennifer, for this reminder!)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Sleep Wars...Episode II: Attack of the Monitor

I read (and skimmed) about half of Dr. Weissbluth's book yesterday (Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child) and became convinced that Naomi has been overtired. Typically, Naomi would get a short morning nap, one or two afternoon naps, (one lasting at least an hour and 1/2) and would go to bed around 9:30 or 10. She'd then wake up at 11, 1, 3, 5, and 6:45, all before her final wake-up time of 8. Yuck.

Most likely, she started waking up due to a growth spurt, then became accustomed to waking up multiple times a night. So I decided to try Dr. Weissbluth's Graduated Extinction method, which basically is when the baby wakes up, you let her cry 5 minutes, go comfort her, let her cry 10 minutes, go comfort her, let her cry 15 minutes, etc. That way the baby knows that when she cries, you will be there for her, but you are giving her the opportunity to learn how to settle herself down.

We also decided that she will only have her pacifier for naps and bedtime (sleeping). We may change this rule for long car rides, but we'll see. Yesterday turned out very different than usual!

In the morning, she woke up at 8 (after moving to my bed at 6:45 a.m.), nursed, ate some baby rice cereal (homemade from organic brown rice) then after some cleanup and about 2 minutes of cuddling, I put her down for her morning nap at 9:30. She went right to sleep with no complaints or fussing at all! Her morning nap lasted an hour and 1/2. She woke up perfectly content, without crying.

I tried to put her down for her afternoon nap at 12, but she wouldn't go. Daddy finally got her to sleep around 1:40, but she only slept 1/2 an hour, waking up hungry at 2:15.

She started her LONG afternoon nap at 4 p.m., waking at 5 to nurse and going immediately back to sleep until 7:30. She slept 3.5 hours!! She had to have been overtired. I'm thinking about trying to consolidate her afternoon naps into one long earlier nap.

I decided to try to put her down for the night at 9 p.m., 1/2 an hour earlier than usual (idea from the book) to see if she'd go to sleep so easily after waking so late. She did! I was so impressed. She went down without a fuss or fight.

I told myself that since she'd been so overtired, she probably would sleep through the night now, like she used to do. About 10:30, I told Daniel I was tired and going to bed to do some reading before I went to sleep. At 11:30, Naomi woke up. Grr. Time to start the "Graduated Extinction Method". As she fussed, Daniel, who had the baby monitor, said, "What do I do?" I told him to wait a couple minutes, then give her her pacifier. He did, then said, "Your turn". I let her fuss and talk to herself for 10 minutes (which seemed like an eternity), then went in to console her. I picked her up and cuddled her about 8 minutes, then put her back down. She started screaming. I walked downstairs and listened to her cries on the baby monitor for the next 10 minutes. I thought she might have been hungry, so before the 15 minutes was up, I went into her room and nursed her. She fell asleep while nursing, but when I set her down in her crib, she started screaming again. I came downstairs, and was crying myself as I waited out the next 15 minutes. Daniel heard me crying, came in the room and turned off the baby monitor. I distracted myself from watching the clock by reading more in Dr. Weissbluth's book. After 15 minutes, I turned on the monitor to the sound of...silence. I double-checked, turning up the monitor so loud I could hear every breath of Naomi's. Yup, she had finally fallen asleep.

I turned down the monitor just past where I could hear every breath and went to sleep. At this point, it was 1a.m. I dreamed that Daniel was slowly crushing bugs under his heel and I was crying at the inhumanity. I woke at 6 a.m. and stared at the baby monitor. Nothing. Not a peep. Sweet, I thought. It must be working. 7a.m., I woke up to the faintest sounds of a baby screaming. Not crying, screaming. Drat, when I'd turned the monitor down to not hear her breathing, I'd turned it down too far. I may have accidentally exposed my child to the "Extinction" method, otherwise known as "Cry It Out". I am NOT a fan of Cry It Out! I hope and pray this causes no serious harm to my child. But after nursing and eating breakfast, she went down at 8:40 for her morning nap with no serious crying. A whimper or two which was easily pacified by me rubbing her back.

We'll see how well she does tomorrow. In the meantime, the galaxy of dreams awaits...

Friday, June 10, 2011

Sleep Wars...Episode I: The Sleeping Menace

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I used to get enough sleep. Here lately, though, Naomi has had trouble! In the last week or so, she has woken up 5 times a night on average. I wanted to give her some leeway, because I know babies go through a growth spurt around 6 months of age (she's 6-1/2 months old). But it's been a week, and it's not seeming to get any better. Last night, she only woke up 4 times. I nursed her 2 of those times, so I know that she's hungry some, but just fussy the other times. And it's so frustrating when I'm trying to put her down for the night, and she's sleepy in my arms, but as soon as I lay her down she writhes and cries, no matter whether I give her a pacifier or not.

I was telling my mom the other day that if I just knew what the trouble was, I would fix it. She could be having a growth spurt, or teething, or waking up when her pacifier falls out of her mouth, or waking up because she just now has gotten really comfortable flipping over front/back, back/front (and if she's sleeping while doing this it could be waking her up) or it could be ANY combination of these! Or even something else entirely.

I typically wind up bringing her in bed with me to finish the morning's sleep, after Daniel has left for work, since I'm so exhausted from the wakeful night that all I want to do is sleep in. I don't disagree with co-sleeping, but I haven't really enjoyed it since Naomi turned into a wriggling octopus at about 3 months of age. I sleep MUCH better when she's not in the bed with me. Unless I'm ridiculously exhausted, like I have been lately.

Some parents will say, just let them "cry it out". I don't believe in cry it out for our family, (not that it doesn't have its place for some families) but here's my personal reason: When I was about a year and 1/2 old, my mom put me down for the night in my crib. I'm sure I'd been 90% asleep before that. But I woke up, stood at the end of my crib, crying for just one more hug, and I watched her walk away. It broke my heart, and I felt abandoned. And I remember it to this day. It's one of my earliest memories. Now, don't get me wrong, my mom is a wonderful person, falling only below my husband and daughter in my Most Important People In My Life. But even wonderful people can create tragic memories. I don't believe that babies are too young to remember things. If it's traumatic enough, it can and will affect them and they will remember it. I am bound and determined that Naomi's first memory will be a happy one, so therefore, I don't believe in "cry it out".

Naomi (age 2 mo) demonstrates "sleeping like a baby"

So. Now that she's gone from being a wonderful sleeper to a spastic one, it's time to take some action. First up on my agenda is to pull out the sleep books I have and read through them. I'll be starting with Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, M.D. I can only hope it will provide some kind of pure gold magic so that soon Naomi will be *ahem*, sleeping like a baby!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

T-Shirt Baby Carrier

Today I created a YouTube account, recorded and uploaded my first ever YouTube video!

Not only am I proud of myself for doing all that, I'm also purty darn proud of the baby carrier I made in the video. :-)

I recorded this especially for my non-sewing friend Michelle, who's having a baby in July, but I thought many more moms might be able to benefit from it, so I'm now sharing it with you!


Enjoy!


Friday, May 6, 2011

Felt Flowers

I saw some cute felt flowers for sale at Joann's and thought, "I could make those!" So I bought some felt, and using scissors, needle and thread, and some beads I had on-hand, I made these:

Felt Garden

The two on the right haven't been sewn or glued yet. Of the 9 finished ones, I have pansies (bottom row), edelweiss (top left and center left), a daisy (center), a rosette (center right), a dogwood blossom (top right) and a random large white flower that was my first attempt. The edelweiss is probably my favorite.

Close-up of Edelweiss

I actually turned the smaller edelweiss into a non-slip hair bow for Naomi, by hot-gluing on the "teeth" part from a zip-top baggie. It works really well--stays in MUCH better than her velcro ones and her "real" clip ones, since she just has baby hair now.

Close-up of the zip-top baggie "barrette"

I'll try to post a pic of her wearing it in her hair so you can see how it looks. Ciao for now!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I HATE SPIT-UP (but I love my daughter!)

I HATE SPIT-UP
(but I love my daughter!)

by Shelley Clem

I played games with you
I held you in the air
It was a mistake:
Spit-up’s in my hair

Then I try to look
For just any dry spot
To wipe up the wet
With this cloth—but there’s not

So I put you down
In your fun Jumperoo;
When I turned around,
You spit-up there, too

(And you can’t conceive
How hard it must be
To scrub out it’s every
Darn nook and cranny)

I searched for a rag
They’re all in the wash
I guess I’ll use one
Of your diapers, by gosh

I’m at my wit’s end,
Will this ever stop?
What’s that crusted mess
On my foot? Spit-up glop.

Your Daddy comes home
For his break from work
He holds you and watches
Spit-up go berserk

We want to go out,
I’m dressed really cute
And then you spit up
All over my boot

I tell you I’m done
With this mess; I am through!
But give me one smile,
Oh my girl, I love you!

No matter the spit-up
If it rains and pours,
When cleaning your mess
Has me down on all fours,

When Daddy's work shirts
Are all dirtied by you
And none of my clothing
Is left without goo

When I change five times
Just to head out the door
When I have to give up
On mopping the floor

When you have nothing
That's not in the wash,
Burpcloths, bibs, or socks
or that outfit so posh

All it takes to know
You’re worth doing this for
Is hugs, kisses, smiles
Just for me. Nothing more.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Cloth Diaper Review: Bella Bottoms and Wonder Wrap

I decided that since I am such an avid cloth diaper user, I want to post reviews of the cloth diapers we try, whether we begged, borrowed, or bought them. I will rate them on A. Comfort, B. Convenience, C. Quality, D. Size/Bulkiness, and E. Ability to retain...well, you know...just Ability to Retain. Oh yeah, and F. Price.

First up, Bella Bottoms! This is a fitted diaper (i.e. no pins, but still needs a waterproof cover).

I borrowed 3 of these from my sister-in-law (along with a whole bunch of other kinds) and was first of all struck by how pretty they are. There were 2 tie-dyed ones and a cute printed one, and they just look appealing somehow. Here's Naomi holding the purple tie-dyed one (sorry my wiggle-worm is blurry!):

N holding a Bella Bottoms

You can see it has a row of snaps to snap down the front and make the rise shorter, and also to snap the side tabs across the front to hold the diaper on.

N wearing Bella Bottoms

You can see that the tabs have the option to cross over each other, which to me, is rare in a snapping diaper. I really like that, because it cinches the waist a bit smaller on my tyke, who, despite her thighs being chunky-monkey, still has a slim-ish waist.

I rate the Bella Bottoms thus:
A. Comfort: ***** This diaper is the only fitted I've tried so far that hasn't left red marks on her. I also left one on her without a cover around the house to let her little bottom have some "breathing" time. I could feel when it was time for a change because the outside was damp, but she didn't leave a puddle behind, so that was a plus!
B. Convenience: ***** For a fitted, you can't get any easier. Snap on, snap off, dump in pail.
C. Quality: ***** I found this to be a very high-quality item, not cheap-looking or feeling at all.
D. Size/Bulkiness: *** This diaper, though the size fit well, was still a bit bulky, especially when we put a cover over it! I believe it's also supposed to be a one-size diaper, but there is NO way it would fit a baby smaller than about 13 lbs! N weighs about 15 3/4 lbs, and the waist at the second to smallest setting fits her now.
E. Ability to Retain: **** It seems to do well with wet, but with it wicking through the Wonder Wrap cover, I'm not so sure it would hold poop too well.
F. Price: **** This diaper runs about $12, so not ridiculous, but not cheap either, esp for a fitted which still requires a cover.

Now, this diaper by itself isn't waterproof, so we tried a new cover with it (also a loan from Sarah). It is a Wonder Wrap, and snaps or un-snaps to 4 different sizes. I found it quite large (possibly due to the Bella Bottoms underneath), and not entirely waterproof.

N wearing a Wonder Wrap over Bella Bottoms

So, the Wonder Wrap cover is supposedly versatile, fitting 9-35 lbs with 4 different size adjustments (as opposed to Flip's 3). But with Naomi wearing it on the size M (out of S, M, L and XL), the cover was just too bulky. It barely fit under her pants, and then her pants were very tight. This could be because there was a fitted diaper under it instead of a prefold, but I really doubt it would have made a difference.

I rate the Wonder Wrap as follows:
A. Comfort: **** It seemed ok, but not ideal.
B. Convenience: *** I wrestled with it a bit to get it on her as the size was so huge.
C. Quality: **** I felt like it was a decent quality, especially as I am trying this one used.
D. Size/Bulkiness: ** WAY too bulky to be useful in the smaller sizes.
E. Ability to Retain: ** The wetness wicked through to where the outside of the wrap felt a bit damp, but her clothes weren't wet.
F. Price: **** This cover costs about $15 new. For a one-size cover, the price is reasonable.


In Summary, I rate them as follows: 

Bella Bottoms: 4 stars
Wonder Wrap: 3 stars

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Why Naomi Exists, or How I Met My Husband, part II

When Katrina hit, Daniel Clem was living in Tulsa, Oklahoma and working as a manager at a Papa John's pizza (the one at 91st and Yale, for those who are interested). He had come to Tulsa to attend Oral Roberts University, and then just stayed in town, working. His brother John and sister-in-law Rachel also had attended ORU, where they met. Daniel was in the process of buying a house, and had gotten the last t's crossed and i's dotted when Katrina hit. Since Rachel was from the coast of Mississippi, she and John decided to take a long weekend and drive the 12 or so hours down to help out her family. Daniel felt his heart go out to those affected by the storm, and really felt like God was leading him to go down and work some magic with a chainsaw. So he asked for a long weekend off from work, which just doesn't happen for a pizza shop manager last minute like that. At least, without God's help it doesn't, because Daniel was able to take the time off. For Daniel, this trip was a mission trip.

The three of them loaded up in John and Rachel's car after some last-minute vehicle maintenance that delayed them, and headed towards Hot Springs, AR, where John and Daniel's parents lived. They arrived very late, or rather, very early in the morning, and crashed on their couches to sleep for a bit. The next day, they got a rather late start, as they had slept in all morning after driving all night. 

They arrived in Jackson, MS at about 8 o'clock that night, after the sun had set, and they needed a place to stay because of the curfew, so they looked up my parents. My Dad was actually out of town, so at the house were my Mom, my Grandma, my roommate Michelle and myself. I had never met Daniel before. Although he'd been in John and Rachel's wedding, I was out of the country when it took place. My mom had taken pictures for me in lieu of my attendance. My first impression of him was a tall, handsome guy on the thin side, with red hair and ears that stuck out slightly, wearing an awesome tshirt of a band I liked. We caught up on the news, and heard that Rachel hadn't been able to make much contact with her family since many phone lines and cell towers were down. Even in Jackson, texts were taking an hour or more to go through. I had heard, though, that if you tried to send a text to someone on the coast, that it would go through whenever there was an open moment. After I told the Clems this, John and Rachel both pulled out their phones and started texting people on the coast. I looked at Daniel, who was just sitting there, and asked him if he felt left out. He poked out his lower lip and nodded. "Okay", I said. "I'll send you a text. What's your number?" I swear I wasn't hitting on him. I honestly thought that since he lived in Oklahoma, (where I'd only visited for 30 minutes once when I was 12) I'd never see him again. I believe my text said, "Have a safe trip, Beaker." Beaker was because of the red hair. He had mentioned that he was sometimes called Beaker. The text didn't go through for another hour, and I was already in bed when I got his response. We texted back and forth for about 30 minutes before he said he needed to get plenty of sleep for the drive the next day. I woke up early the next morning to be able to cook them a solid meal (bacon, eggs and toast) since it might be their last for a while. I asked them to keep me posted on the storm damage.

When they got to the coast, they discovered that Rachel's grandmother's house was completely gone. All that was left of it was the foundation and a little bit of debris throughout the yard that needed to be combed through in case any treasures could be scavenged. At Rachel's parents' house, though many trees were down, none had hit the main house. The chainsaws roared. A tree had caved in the roof of Mr. Wilcox's studio, an outbuilding where he worked.

The news coverage was awful. Though Katrina had hit the coast of Mississippi at a category 5 strength, the national news only covered New Orleans where it hit at about a 2.5 to 3 strength, because of the politics. Katrina only damaged the retaining walls in New Orleans, and the consequent flood was covered by the news, especially with their mayor claiming that white people had done poor work on the walls because the walls were near black neighborhoods. Katrina completely wiped off the map a mile inland of my hometown. It wasn't just some damage to flood walls. It was GONE. When I visited several months later, I cried at all of the tile floors, foundations, and concrete pads that were all that was left of some of my favorite locales. The Taco Bell we went to every Wed. night and Sun night after youth group had managed to keep one of the tables that was bolted to the floor, and a chair that was attached to it. Everything else, walls, windows, kitchen, trash cans, doors, parking curbs, etc. were gone. My home church lost 3 of its 4 walls. It had been a solid brick building.

On their way back to Tulsa, John, Rachel and Daniel only stopped briefly through Jackson, long enough to see Rachel's sister Ruth, and then headed back to Tulsa. But Daniel kept texting me. My heart began skipping beats whenever I would receive a text from him, and our text conversations sometimes went on for several hours. One night, he called me. And then the next night, and the night after that. He often called me late at night, sometimes 1 or 2 in the morning after he got off work. I would often talk to him until the sun came up. 

September 15th, 2005: Daniel had called, had a normal conversation with me, and hung up. But then he called me right back, and we had "the talk". He said "I don't know how you feel about me, but I know how I feel about you..." he went on to say we either needed to start dating, or stop spending so much time talking to each other. He didn't want an answer right away, but wanted me to think and pray about it. It didn't take me much praying, because I got an answer right away. I knew that this was what God wanted for me! 

So we started dating long-distance. I graduated that December, and the spring semester I had to perform my senior piano recital. Memorial Day weekend, 2006, I moved into a house in Tulsa with 2 other girls who needed a roommate. 

March 15th, 2007: We had been dating 1-1/2 years to the day now, and Daniel planned a nice, formal dinner. He set up a table by the river, and brought catered food. The table had wineglasses and candlesticks. There were geese swimming in the water nearby. I gave him a cd I'd made him of songs that were special to us, and he gave me a wood carving he'd made of the two of us. That night, he dropped me off at my house, and left. But less than a minute later, he was back at the door, and my heart was pounding. He said, "I don't know how you feel about me, but I know how I feel about you..." and then recited a poem he'd written for me, dropped to one knee right there at the door, and proposed. I was so excited. I said "yes" right away, then he came inside while we called our families with our exciting news.

September 15th, 2007: Six months to the day after his proposal and 2 years to the day after we started dating, Daniel and I got married in Ridgeland, Mississippi in a beautiful outdoor ceremony in a park by a lake. It was absolutely perfect. That was only the first step of many in our life's journey together.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

How it All Started - Part One

Hello, blog readers. Today I will share with you the story of how Daniel and I met...and it's pretty awesome, if I say so myself!

Late August, 2005: I am in my last semester at Belhaven University (then College). It's been a long college journey of 4-1/2 years for me because I double-majored. Belhaven is in Jackson, MS, a 3-hour drive inland from the coast. We hear there's a hurricane coming, and it's going to be a big one, but no one is sure exactly where it's going to hit. Now, having grown up on the coast of MS, I've lived through my share of hurricanes. Heck, at my house in Long Beach, my family even had plywood boards cut to fit each window of the house, and brackets that would hold them in place! I wasn't too worried.

August 28th, 2005: Katrina hits. Three hours inland, we are stuck in our dorms as the storm rages around us. The school forbids anyone to leave their buildings. There are people in the stairwells playing guitars and singing. A day into it, a few of my friends and I are restless, and decide we're going to leave the building anyway, so we do, and head out for a walk. The tall pine trees are beautiful, and as we look at all the downed branches in the rain, I'm reminded of their shallow root systems to be able to tolerate Mississippi weather, and how this makes them fall over much easier. Later on, I found out a lady in the neighborhood died when a tree fell on her through her house. As we walk, we come upon what looks like a naked, curled up rat lying in a puddle in the rain. At first we think it is dead, then we realize it isn't! It's a baby squirrel. My friends laugh at my change, from the initial "eww, gross!" to picking up this baby and carrying it back to the dorms with us. During the course of the storm, I hear that some close family friends, the Wilcoxes, who live on the coast have gone to a coliseum for shelter, later I hear that the shelter collapsed and killed many people. I pray my friends are safe. My suite-mate who was also one of my best friends from high school still lives on the coast. She knows her parents came up to Jackson for the storm, but she's still worried about her home down there. I put a lot of hope for our survival in this baby squirrel. We name him Luther.

August 29th, 2005: Of course by now, we are without power. We will remain so for a week. The storm is pretty much over, and Jackson is picking up the pieces. Luther made it through the night. We had made a warm nest for him in a poptarts box, and after scouring the dorm, came up with an eyedropper to give him water every hour or two through the night. We find a friend who's dad has raised flying squirrels, and they give us a recipe for replacement milk, using evaporated milk and egg whites. We decide to head to the store. Driving there is like making our way through a labyrinth, because every street we would normally go down would eventually have a fallen tree and we'd have to turn on a different one. But eventually we make it. The store has no power, and is ridiculously busy. They can only take cash transactions because their credit card machines are down. Thankfully, they haven't run out of ice yet. But they are out of eggs. We buy the evaporated milk anyway, figuring it's better than nothing. Belhaven cancels all classes until power returns. All students are encouraged to go home if they can, and go to someone else's home if they can't. Most people leave, as there is no power, and no air conditioning in Mississippi in August is nothing short of miserable. We hear of a lady in the neighborhood who raises baby squirrels, and decide that we will see if she will take Luther, as we know we are ill-equipped to care for him much longer. We walk him down there, and she takes him!

August 30th, 2005: We are tired of staying around with no a/c, but my family in Madison is without power as well, and worse, without plumbing, as their sewage lift system is electric. My roommate's family is too far away in North Carolina, but we hear that her boyfriend's family, about an hour north, has just gotten power, and hence, a/c back! So my roommate, her boyfriend, my suitemate and I all head up to Kosciusko, Mississippi.

A few days later: I find out that the Wilcoxes, who had been planning to take shelter in the coliseum that collapsed actually wound up staying with my parents during the storm, and were safe. They headed back down to assess their damages as soon as the storm stopped raging. My suitemate got news from her neighbors on the coast that her entire bedroom was ripped off their house. She also had promised to take care of someone's fish on our hall, so she wants to head back to Jackson and be with her family. I don't want to leave the cold a/c, but I tell her that if my parents had gotten power back, I'd go with her. I called my parents, and they'd had power for about 2 hours, so I pack my bags and we head back to Jackson.

That night, the Wilcoxes' oldest daughter Rachel shows up with her husband John and John's brother Daniel on their way down to the coast to help her family with the cleanup and to bring gasoline and fresh water. There is a curfew instated that no one can go down to the coast after dark because it's too dangerous in the dark. The three of them had driven in from Tulsa, and needed a place to stay in Jackson, so Rachel said, "Hey, I know a place! My parents actually stayed with them during Katrina." So they pull up in the driveway, and after a bit of shuffling around, we all find a place to sleep.

To Be Continued...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Alliterative Allegations Against Adiposity

Oh blog, my blog, how I've neglected you, humble blog!

So I had a victory this week: fitting back into a pair of pre-pregnancy pants. The largest ones I own. They were tight, and I muffin-topped all over the place, requiring my pregnancy belly band to hold my fat down and not look as ridiculous. My next goal: to fit into my nice jeans by the time we have our birth class reunion, which is just over a month away. So now comes the task of shedding those pesky post-pregnancy pounds. I'd throw in a few more "p" adjectives if I wouldn't annoy the heck out of everyone. Oh, what the hey, here they are: petrifying, putrefying, paralytic, presumptuous, (but never perfect!) pounds!!

:-)

To shed some light (or pounds?) on the subject, I've decided to start the "Couch to 5k" program I've been hearing so much about. Now, I'm not exactly starting from "couch", so I started my workout at week 3 instead of week 1. Not gonna lie, the workout kicked my butt. Not like "pass out on the floor" or "go puke" kicked my butt, but still. I'm sweaty and tired, yet somehow, energized.

I still have 10 pounds to go to reach my pre-pregnancy weight, and another 15 after that to my likely optimal weight. But we're taking one step at a time.

I also just want to throw this out: There's nothing like watching "The Biggest Loser" to inspire one to lose a large baby's worth of weight. Those people lose as much in ONE WEEK as I have left to my pre-pregnancy weight! However, I typically find myself watching it while eating junk food! Heh. I feel a tiny bit guilty for those 2 Reese's mini peanut butter cups I ate earlier today. Sigh. I'm not perfect. And I won't be, this side of heaven anyway. In the meantime, Lord help me!

Losing weight is a victory to me! Still, since my 4 loyal followers probably are bored by now, I promise I'll have something more pleasant to blog about next time.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Baby Legs on a Budget (How-to)

I love those baby legwarmers that are so popular right now, especially since I have a winter baby! Diaper changes are much easier without having to always take off pants, undo onesies, remove socks, etc. But at 12+ dollars a pair, who can afford them??

So I decided to try my hand at making some. Another benefit to this is that they will actually fit my daughter now, at her current dimensions, instead of waiting for the perfect 5 minutes that bought ones will fit her.

Now, I do knit and crochet some, but what I can do is very limited, and I can't even come close to knitting or crocheting socks or legwarmers! I'm much more at home in front of my sewing machine, so here's what I did.

1. First, I bought a pair of christmas socks from walmart at their after-christmas clearance sale. They cost 75 cents.


2. Then, I tried one of the socks on my daughter while she was content on the changing pad after a diaper change. I pulled the sock as high as I wanted it on her thigh, then marked where I wanted the length and width of the legwarmer at her ankle. (Note: I marked it with my finger until I took it off her. Then I marked it with a pin.)


3. I then cut from about an inch below the top of the sock (leaving the top cuff intact) at an angle until I got to the pin, then cut straight across where the ankle was going to be. I left about 1/4" seam allowance. In retrospect, sock material is VERY stretchy and hard to sew, so I should have tried to leave a larger seam allowance, like 5/8". But I typically prefer a 1/4" seam allowance, so that's what I did for this project. Once I had one sock cut, I used it as a template to cut the other sock the same.


4. I sewed the ankle cuffs next. I used a LOT of pins and my iron to help me turn the seam twice, then I stitched it with my 1/4" seam allowance and a straight stitch on my sewing machine. I repeated this step on the other sock as well.

(How I pinned it)

5. Lastly, I turned the sock inside-out, then straight stitched the seam for the back of the legwarmer, maintaining my 1/4" seam allowance. I had to sew off the edge of the sock as I got near the thigh cuff, to make it look smoother. I repeated this step for sock 2.

(left one pinned, right one pinned and sewn. Yes, I sewed over my pins. Bad me.)

And here's the final result! Baby Legs! They only cost 75 cents, plus the thread that I had on hand. My machine was already threaded with purple, so that's what I used, since I was too lazy to change it.


Finished Baby Legs!

And if you want to see them on my beautiful model, here they are:

Naomi wearing mommy-made baby legs!

BONUS!

I was looking at the leftover sock bits thinking I could make something with them, so I did a bit of prowling, and used this tutorial to make Naomi a sock monkey! (I did modify it a bit, since I prefer the traditional embroidery-thread monkey face to button eyes, and I prefer the more traditional rounded ears, too.) She adores it (waaaaay more than the baby legs!), and now she can match her monkey, too!



Hope you enjoy my little how-to on making your own babylegs! I actually have 2 more pairs of knee-high argyle socks that I've worn holes through the feet on, so I think I'm going to make her some more. 



Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Autumn Oatmeal

Time to share a recipe again! It is just so utterly scrumptious I couldn't help it, despite the fact that it's a cold, blizzardy February day instead of Autumn, like the recipe's name suggests.

My parents invented this recipe as a sweet but not sugary vegan breakfast, extremely innovative (and extra yummy) in that they cook the oatmeal in apple juice instead of water or milk.

They haven't written it down, however, so now it's my turn to share this deliciousness with the rest of the world. And yes, I took this photo of our breakfast this morning!


Autumn Oatmeal

1-3/4 cups 100% Apple Juice (not from concentrate)
1 cup Oatmeal (quick-cooking OR regular)
1 apple, Gala or Macintosh
1/2 cup raisins
1 tsp cinnamon
a dash of nutmeg

In a medium pot, bring apple juice to a boil. Core and chop apple, then add it along with the rest of the ingredients to the pot. Cook for the recommended amount of time for your oatmeal type. (I used quick-cooking oats, so one minute). Serve immediately. Makes 2 generous servings. Recipe may be doubled (or tripled, or...)!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Twinkle in My Eye

I am borrowing the inspiration from my friend Sarah Hoffman to take the time to record the story surrounding the birth of my daughter, Naomi.

Daniel and I always said we wanted to be married for at least 2 years before we had kids, and when our second anniversary came and went, I started feeling "the itch". But it wasn't until a year ago Christmas that we sat down and had the talk. The talk that resulted in our saying that we were ready to be parents whenever God wanted us to be, but that we were just going to let things be. Not that we would be trying to start a family, we would just stop trying not to. Besides, if it took a long time to conceive, even years, possibly, then we wanted to be prepared for that. This was Christmas of 2009. In January 2010, we began our plan.

Two short months later: March of 2010, Daniel and I took our Concealed Carry gun safety class out in the boondocks in Oklahoma. I knew I was a few days past due for my period to start, and that whole day, it was all I could think about. In between the stories of the times it's good to have a gun concealed on your person, what to do if you get pulled over while you're carrying, how to load a derringer, what the law says about who can shoot whom, and when and where, all I was thinking was why hasn't my period started?


We both passed the class after each going through an entire box of ammo on the shooting range, and came home. The next day was a Sunday, and Daniel and I went to church as usual, came home, and laid down for a nap, also as usual. But I was just restless. The day before, I had told Daniel about my obsession about wondering if I was pregnant, and he had told me I should wait until I was a week late before taking a test. But I couldn't stop thinking about it. I told him, "I'm going to the store for a pregnancy test, just for peace of mind's sake. I'd like it if you'd come with me." He did. We went to Walmart, and picked up a few grocery items while we were at it. In line at the checkout, Daniel looked at our basket with pickles, peanut butter, chocolate, and a pregnancy test, and laughed that the cashier might look at our food and say we didn't need that test after all!

We got home, and I read the instructions three times, nervous as all get out. I didn't want to take any chances with the "mid-stream" option, so I chose the "swirl and dunk" cup method (using a disposable cup, of course). Daniel was right beside me, and distracted me the entire three minutes' exposure time. He timed it on his cell phone because, again, I didn't want to take any chances. Now, I had done the research and knew that, though false negatives were common (due to low amounts of the pregnancy hormone HCG), false positives were extremely rare. So when the second blue line showed up, I knew it was for real, at least, after triple-checking that two lines means "pregnant". We were both star struck. In awe. In between bouts of hysteria, of course. Life as we knew it was about to change drastically!

Now because of my health issues with Ulcerative Colitis, I was on medications that I knew needed me (and baby) to be monitored much more frequently than the typical pregnancy. I also knew something like 60% of miscarriages occur in the first trimester. So we waited until after the first trimester and after we'd had a couple of good doctor's appointments to tell anyone except my parents. They came to visit just a week and 1/2 after we'd found out, so we were able to tell them face to face, as well as get their help in praying for health and safety!


My parents and Grandma have long called me "Shelley Bean" and my super-skinny man "string bean", so the new one became our "bean sprout". I prayed for our baby constantly. The very first time I saw the heartbeat on that little screen, it took my breath away, despite the prodding of the condom-covered, KY-coated ultrasound wand. It was April 1st, and this little bean sprout was no joke!