Thursday, January 28, 2010

Baby's First Steps



Video number two! This happened back on January 11. She is starting to take more and more steps on her own. She can get from one piece of furniture to another without holding anything, and can walk all over the house if she holds someone's hand. Walking is such an exciting development for us, but a little bit scary too. She can get into more trouble, it seems, and has a higher likelihood of bad bonks on the head. Wish us luck!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Rocking Snail Video



This is my first time sharing a video. If it is successful, you can look forward to more videos in the coming weeks, including a video of baby's first steps!

I bought this rocking snail the other day at a re-sale shop, and Sweet Pea loves it. It is so much fun to watch her go. She also enjoys standing next to it and rocking it with her arms.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Is My Baby a Picky Eater?

Or is she just being a baby?

She has been interested in food for months and months. We started giving her food, some whole chunks, some purees and mushes, when she was about 6 months old. Now, Sweet Pea is eleven months old (tomorrow!) and it is still REALLY hit or miss whether she will eat food at any given meal. I haven't done a post on baby food since October, because I really didn't know what to say. One week I'd think we were "over the hump" and that now she would be eating quite a bit, and then three days would pass with her eating next to nothing! Luckily my milk supply is holding up!

Right now we offer her food about three times a day, and I never can predict whether she will eat it or not. Sometimes she will eat quite a bit (which for her is like a half a piece of bread, or 3-4 tablespoons). Sometimes she will eat nothing. Some days she loves sweet potatoes, other days she spits it out as soon as it touches her mouth, and other days she won't even open up to allow it in! It is like this with every single thing she has eaten so far. One day she loves it, the next she won't even take a bite. Maybe it's a control issue, maybe she is a picky eater, and maybe she is just being a baby and this is a normal course of development for her. Today, for example, she only ate about 3 Cheerios (organic, no high fructose corn syrup) at breakfast, even though that is one of the things she has eaten the most consistently. She spit out the blueberries I tried to feed her. At lunch, she LOVED the plain yogurt with jam that I fed her, and was fine taking it from a spoon (she often grabs the spoon from our hands and won't let us feed her with it). Yet, she totally rejected the crackers and bread that I offered her alongside the yogurt.

I am trying to just go with the flow with this, because I know I don't want to turn food into a battle between us, but it becomes so frustrating when I prepare three different things for a meal for her three times a day, and she might eat one or two of the things, at one or two of the meals, in a totally unpredictable pattern. Sometimes she throws her food as soon as we set it in front of her, sometimes throwing food is a sign that she is done. Should I just buy some processed baby food so that it doesn't make me feel like I wasted my time when she refuses or throws the food that I prepared? Advice?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dresser Painting Project Finished! Sort Of...

For the last few weeks, I have been debating what to do with my dresser project. This project has been "on the table" for way too long; I don't even want to think about how long ago I started this. I painted oh, about eight coats on with my sprayer, and the furniture polish was still coming through a little bit when I last updated you. It took quite a while to figure out that this was what was happening. My mom had bought the dresser used for me, and put some dark furniture polish on it before she brought it to me. Apparently that stuff is STRONG because after those eight coats of paint, including two initial coats of primer, there is still some pink tinge coming through. I was so frustrated because I painted several other things while working on the dresser, usually to use up the last of the paint in the sprayer while I waited for a coat of paint on the dresser to dry. (I was very careful about keeping my sprayer clean, not letting any paint dry inside it.) Everything else that I painted took three coats of paint or less to look completely white and smooth. So, it has to be the furniture polish, right? Live and learn, I guess. This weekend, I finally got fed up with having half of my garage taken up with this dresser and the plastic sheeting hanging around it and decided, "it's good enough." Maybe this summer I will take it up again and do some more sanding and painting when I don't have to use vast amounts of electricity to heat the garage warm enough to paint, and when I don't care so much about using the garage for parking my car. So, here is the dresser in Sweet Pea's room.


Now that I have it inside, I actually feel pretty good about how it looks. I like the metal drawer pulls I chose, and the pink isn't really all that odd-looking, I think. Also, I am just happy that this piece of furniture makes the room complete. Eleven months after her birth my baby finally has a finished bedroom without any odd piles of stuff in the corner. The baskets on the shelves had been what we were using to store her clothes, but they were becoming too small. Now, they hold her toys! Yes, that is a trash can on top of the dresser. Sweet Pea loves to empty things, and she also puts everything in her mouth. And we also have a puppy. So, we have items in odd places so we can keep them out of reach of those two.

And just for fun, one of the other things I painted while I had everything set up. This quilt stand has a cut-out that matches the pattern of our wedding quilt (the one in front). It was raw wood with some marks from stickers, and I really like how it looks white.


It sure feels good to have that space in my garage back! What do you think I should do with the dresser: strip it and re-paint it, strip it and stain it, or leave it how it is?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Nifty Nappy Woolies and Diaper - WAHM Series

I ordered two wool longies from Nifty Nappy over the holiday. My order got lost in the holiday rush, and when owner/sewing master Vilate Thacker eventually found it, she offered to throw in a fitted diaper as well to make up for the delay. A fair deal, I thought. I was thrilled when the package arrived. One of the benefits of online shopping is that you get the rush of buying several times - first when you do the payment online, next when you see that it has shipped, and again and again every time you see the mail truck, until finally when it actually arrives and you get to open the package. Fluffy mail!

The wool longies, or "Nifty Knickers" as she calls them, are custom made to fit your little one based on measurements you send in, and at $16 each they are a steal for custom wool baby attire. We got one in red and one in purple, and Sweet Pea has already worn each several times. I really like putting her to bed in them because they are so warm and cozy. The seams are very strong; each one is sewed and then serged. Sweet Pea is super active right now so I had a hard time taking a photo of the longies on her, but here she is in the purple ones:

 Yes, we are really close to walking!

I am also impressed with the fitted she sent. This is a great diaper, it fits well and isn't too bulky, especially for a fitted. I usually add a microfiber insert wrapped up in the lay-in insert (organic hemp fleece and bamboo velour) that comes with it for longer wear.

It looks like Nifty Nappy has a great offer right now of a combo purchase of the fitted with a woolie cover for only $38, with a money-back guarantee!

In sum, I would recommend this mom-of-six's diaper business to any cloth diapering parents looking to venture into fitteds and/or wool. A great price for a great product!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I Serged and Serged and Then Serged Some More

Since I got my serger, I have successfully made six sets of napkins, two sets of flannel baby wipes, and the longies I wrote about in my previous post. I have three sets of flannel wipes to go before I take my machine in to the sewing machine repair shop for a tune-up and some new needles. The only reason it's not going in earlier is that I need to finish the wipes before Saturday (for my cloth diaper party). I really love the finished product that sergers create, but using one can be oh so frustrating, especially when you have no manual.

This was going to be a much longer post, but Sweet Pea unplugged the computer without me noticing, and then my old laptop died because the battery has no life left in it, and the two additional paragraphs that I had written disappeared. I thought that wasn't supposed to happen with the automatic saving feature of blogger. Sad. I'll try again tomorrow. That's life with a baby, right? "I guess I'll try again tomorrow...." for a better bedtime routine, for better meals, for a cleaner house, for more items crossed off the to-do list, for returning more phone calls, replying to more emails, and sending more thank-you cards. But for now, it's time to get that baby ready for bed.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Baby Blue Recycled Wool Longies

The first time I made recycled wool diaper covers, I made "shorties" that fit like little shorts, or a more typical diaper cover. For that project, I bought several wool sweaters at Goodwill and followed a pattern I found online that basically consists of cutting a triangle out of the sweater, cutting off the sleeve cuffs and neck, and sewing it all together, using the sleeves for the leg holes and the neck for the waist. I can give more specific instructions if you'd like, just ask in comments, but unfortunately was unable to find the site that I originally got the pattern from. To size the sides of the triangle, measure your little one's waist and add a half inch. Katrina's Sew Quick blog has some great patterns for a variety of types of wool diaper covers.

Here is one of the first ones I made, clearly it is a little bit big at this point.

You can see another photo of my handiwork in the bottom photo of my "Diapering My Active Nine-Month-Old" post.

Sweet Pea has grown and the weather has gotten colder. So, this weekend I got my sewing supplies back out and made a pair of "longies" for Sweet Pea out of an old sweater of mine that shrank in the wash. It is high quality cashmere so this was the perfect way to re-purpose the fabric. It is free, soft, and I love the color! The only drawback is that it will probably get dirty because my little crawler likes to get into everything. They have an elastic waist, and I made them longer than needed for now, then whip-stitched the hem up to be the right length. As she grows I can let them out. I made the bottom hem of the sweater serve as the bottom hem of the longies, and cut them so that the pocket of the sweater is a left back pocket for her. I also added ribbons at the knees as just a fun detail.

Here is the uncut sweater. I know it's weird - a short sleeved cashmere shirt? But I used to wear this to work all the time.


And the completed longies! (before I stitched up the bottom hem)


 

I recently bought several more fitted diapers, which are the best companion (better than prefolds) for wool covers because they are so absorbent and they usually snap together. Wool is such a wonderful fabric because it is natural, breathable, and I think it is pretty! I am really excited to use my new fitteds with my new wool longies, keeping my little one warm and dry this winter. My mom is also knitting a pair for us, and I can't wait to see them! Wool covers can sometimes be quite expensive to buy new (as much as $75 for a hand-knitted pair, typically more like $30-$40), but they can last through multiple children, serve as pants so you don't need to worry about buying those, and only need to be washed once a month, unless they get poo on them. It is a naturally anti-microbial fiber and so breathable that it is the only thing that works for some babies who are extra sensitive to diaper rash. A more in-depth explanation of wool's great properties can be found at Llamajamas.

Some places to buy wool longies:
Cloth Diaper Superstore
Goodmamas
Llamajamas
Diaper Covers - Soakers for Night, Large  (Amazon)

Or how to make your own:
That's Kinda Cool
Bright Hub
Born to Love
the diaper hyena - this one has lots of link to patterns

And, instructions for caring for your woolies:
at Understanding Laura
at All About Cloth Diapers
at Green Mountain Diapers

If you have a site you'd like me to add, let me know in comments!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Emptying Everything

Sweet Pea's current favorite activity: emptying everything. She takes the books off the shelves, the garbage out of the basket, the napkins off the table, the containers out of the kitchen drawers, and on and on in every situation you can imagine.

Here is our typical experience sitting at the desk, notice the half-empty drawer and the pens on the floor:



I've heard that the next step will be putting things away, but not necessarily where you'd like them to be put. Check out New Urban Habitat's post about her toddler to see what I mean.

Monday, January 11, 2010

My Ideal Diaper Bag - WAHM Series

This is the first in a series of posts about products I've gotten from work-at-home-moms (WAHMs). 

Two days ago I was thrilled to receive my new diaper bag in the mail. It is the exact colors I wanted, the exact size, has the exact right number and size of pockets, and included a matching changing pad and wipes case. Similar bags that I have looked at cost around $150, but my bag cost me much less and was made precisely to my specifications. How is this possible? Well, the bag was made by WAHM who I connected with through diaperswappers. (You can check out her facebook page, Drea Designs, here.) I bought the fabric and sent it to her, and she sewed it together based on a pattern she had created when making a bag for herself. It has lots of great features, like a clip for my keys, and pocket toward the top on the inside for my cell phone. I am constantly misplacing (or losing, depending on your point of view) these items, so this is a biggie for me!

I got a couple of great diaper bags at my baby shower that have served me well over the last nine months, but the most-used one was getting pretty worn out, and they were all too small for the amount of stuff that I need to cart around sometimes. My ideal was to be able to pack everything I would need for a full day out with Sweet Pea into one bag, and this one can do it. A full diaper bag for me includes:
  • three to four cloth diapers
  • one wet bag
  • one complete outfit change for Sweet Pea: shirt, pants, socks, shoes
  • wipes
  • changing pad
  • bottle of water
  • jacket or light blanket for Sweet Pea
  • baby carrier (ERGO)
  • cell phone
  • keys
  • wallet and checkbooks
  • snack
General review: I love it! Love the size, pockets, strap, and design. The only thing I wish I would have done differently is maybe alternated the fabrics so the flap was the same as the inside fabric, just to break up the pattern a little. Or maybe a border edge around it - different colored stitches, or ribbon - or something. Totally my issue since I picked the fabric and Drea Designs suggested the fabrics be switched for the flap. But again, that is just a very minor thing. She was very easy to communicate with, always got back to me quickly and was great about asking me specific questions to make sure the bag was going to be precisely what I wanted. Overall I am very pleased with the look, functionality, and craftsmanship of this bag, and I expect it to last me at least until we no longer need diapers. But then you need to carry other things, right?

Here it is, with the top open, empty:

And here, full of all my important belongings:


The key clip detail. This can hang on the outside or be tucked in.


Finally, with the flap down:


Lovely, isn't it?

    Sunday, January 10, 2010

    Planning My Cloth Diaper Party

    A while back, my cloth diaper mentor sent me a link to information about hosting a cloth diaper party. It looked interesting, but I didn't think too much about it. Suddenly, in the last week, I've had three friends writing to me asking for advice about cloth diapers, and recalled the diaper party idea again. So, I've decided to do it! In about a month (date yet to be determined) I will be unpacking a big box of a wide assortment of modern cloth diapers, and talking about them to my friends and anyone else who shows up. If anyone buys anything at the party, or through my affiliate link, I get a commission! If no one buys anything, oh well, I get to spend an afternoon playing with diapers with other mamas. I can just send the whole box back, and I'm only out shipping costs. Seems like a win-win. There will be at least one prize for a lucky attendee, and I'm thinking about making cloth wipes to give away, and possibly playing a game too.
    There are a couple of companies that do the cloth diaper party thing, but I like the diaper options best in the "booty in a box" from Cloth Diaper Superstore. I have never done anything like this before, so please share any advice or ideas you have for making this the most fun it can be. Thanks!

    Friday, January 8, 2010

    Mastitis


    At this point, breastfeeding is generally easy and enjoyable, and a nice time of one-on-one connection with Sweet Pea. It is good for her and my health and well-being, and has so many benefits. There are just a few drawbacks, compared to the many many positives. One thing I have always hoped to avoid in my breastfeeding experience is mastitis: the painful lump that leads to the fever, aches, chills, and fatigue is something to be avoided at all costs. I had my first experience with it this week, and it was every bit as bad as I imagined.

    Mastitis usually starts as a lump in the breast, a clogged milk duct, and can progress to an intense illness very quickly. The clogged duct could be related to engorgement or not emptying the breast of milk often enough, or it could have no apparent cause. I have heard that mastitis is more common during cold and flu season and that it is usually related to over-stress on a mama's body. Well, Sweet Pea, Average, many members of my family that we were around over the holidays, and I have had a cold over the last weeks. Sweet Pea's cold hindered my sleep, and guests and traveling added a mental and physical strain. On Monday, my body gave me a big sign that it was time to slow down, way down. At noon I started to feel some pain on the left side of my left breast, at 1:00 I nursed and then pumped for good measure, took some vitamins and applied heat. By 3:00 I was experiencing body-shaking chills, muscle aches, and intensified pain in the large, deep, lump. I knew it was likely the onset of mastitis, and knew that I needed to rest and get some remedies and possibly get started on antibiotics as soon as possible. If mastitis is untreated, or doesn't respond to treatment, it can progress into an abscess. Unfortunately for me, I'd been missing my cell phone since Saturday night and we no longer have a home phone. I felt stranded alone with Average at work, and no way to call him. In a way, the Internet rescued me from this bad situation. I was able to find out what I needed to do online (from diaperswappers breastfeeding forum and kellymom.com), then reached a friend through facebook chat, she called Average, and he got online to chat with me. Another friend gave me the names of the homeopathic and herbal remedies she had used successfully to combat mastitis, and I passed the information back to Average again. He came home from work early, picked up Sweet Pea, and headed to the local natural store to pick up supplies while I lay in bed doing nothing. You know that crazy feeling when you're really sick where you can just lay there and not read or watch t.v. or sleep, and yet you don't feel bored at all? I was there. Out. Of. It. I was doing everything I had heard of that might help. I took vitamin C, grapefruit seed extract, raw garlic, Red Root tincture, and phytolacca homeopathic remedy. I massaged the area, nursed as much as possible, took a hot shower, and other than that just laid in bed, occasionally picking up a magazine. By 11:00 my fever (which only ever got to 101, not bad compared to some I've heard, but still not pleasant) broke and I felt a little more normal. I was more aware of what was going on, and the skin on my entire body was no longer painfully sensitive to touch. What a relief. The lump still hurt, and was still there, so I knew I wasn't totally out of the woods yet. I spent most of the next day on the couch, besides the time I spent heating food, feeding Sweet Pea, changing diapers, or bathing. The next day was even better and I threw in a load of laundry and logged some internet time. Today (Friday), I feel pretty much back to normal and have no more lump but I still feel like I want to be careful to get myself plenty of rest. I feel extremely grateful that I was able to avoid needing antibiotics and an expensive trip to the doctor. Luckily I knew what I was dealing with and was able to get what I needed quickly. Mastitis can come on quite suddenly, so all of us breastfeeding moms should be prepared to deal with it. The main advice that I got over and over was to REST REST REST to recover the most quickly. Hopefully this experience will help a reader or two to take steps to avoid a plugged duct, or at least recognize the signs to react quickly. Please share any other tips you have in comments!

    Tuesday, January 5, 2010

    Counting Sheep/Sleeping on a Sheepskin


    Sweet Pea recently started sleeping in her own room. Her lovely crib went completely unused for the first nine months of her life, and was just a storage area for stuffed animals, clothes, and baby gear. When we decided to make the transition, I took her sheepskin out of her sidecar co-sleeper (we used the Arm's Reach Co-Sleeper Mini Bassinet Convertible) and put it into her crib on top of the sheet. She was probably four months old when we first got this sheepskin as a gift from a family friend, and I immediately noticed that it was easier to put her down once we started using it in her co-sleeper. I would definitely recommend using a sheepskin to anyone with an infant. I have a friend who uses one in her baby's crib and said she got the idea because she knew it had been used with an elderly relative to prevent bedsores and increase comfort. A few of the reasons I love my baby's sheepskin are that it is:
    • A natural sleeping surface (not synthetic)
    • Soft and cuddly while still maintaining the "firm surface" sleep recommendation for babies
    • Not cold to the touch like cotton can be
    • Durable
    • Warm in winter, cool in summer
    • Healthy, due to the natural anti-microbial properties of wool
    I'm not sure where ours was purchased, but found this online store that seems to have a good selection and some interesting products: SheepskinTown.com. Of course, Amazon also has some available such as the Bowron one: