Monday, April 30, 2012

21 Days to Change

Baby Gap Jammies ... On Sale ... Fabulous!
12 month "Big Boy" jammies <3
Ecological Babies is sponsoring a 21 Days to Change Challenge for the month of May ... in participating, you get the benefit of community to correspond with and support your voyage toward change ... as well as the opportunity to participate in some fun give anyways - and who doesn't love a give away?

So our change challenge commitment is to fully embrace cloth wipes and diapers!  It was challenging in itself to choose something about our lifestyle, or my lifestyle, that I wanted to embrace fully, and daily, in an effort to break an old habit ... but once I realized our stash of disposable diapers had run dry - one pack lasts us about 3-5 weeks - I decided the choice was obvious ... Cloth Diapers!!

I had recently bought some GroVia all-in-ones to use at bedtime ... mostly because they are easier, slimmer, and a general curiosity of mine ... and I've noticed that lately ... Thomas isn't such a heavy wetter ... In the last month we've had such a battle with antibiotics, diarrhea and ear infections that it's been "easier" to wear disposables - we can use traditional barrier creams, throw away the blech of a blow out, and quickly, easily, toss him into a new diaper as needed ... but it's the blow out diapers we've been having first thing in the morning since our struggle ... every morning he's got a leaky diaper ... gross ... and it takes away from our cozy-snuggly-just-woke-up-nursing-time in our bed ... so what better to contain the blow out? Cloth diapers. They are amazingly great for containing that mess ... so why not embrace cloth at night?

Bath time - "If only I could reach Mom's shampoo..."
After Thomas' bath tonight I strapped him in to his last disposable diaper.  There are no more in the house.  I can't wait to embrace our final transition step to cloth diapering .. huzzah!

Chew Chew Chew

 With teeth comes random chewing. Thomas' short list of random things to chew -

1. Toes and feet - you could be standing, sitting, laying down, on the couch, on the floor ... and he will attempt to chew your toes and feet ... be warned!

2.  Keyboard Trays - he will stand atop something if given the chance .. and chew the keyboard tray ..

3.  The Crib Rail ..!!!

Mmmm crib rail .. numm!
Other things are less random - his silicone spoons, the nook, a wash cloth, your cell phone ... toys? No way - he doesn't chew toys.  He hardly plays with them! .. unless you or I are playing with them .. hehe =)

The crib rail chewing was becoming a problem. I would love to be able to keep using his crib ... until he's ready for a big boy bed, until baby #2 comes along, until it falls apart, you know - which ever comes first.  Combined with that fact are the health issues with gnawing on varnish, as an old high school friend of mine pointed out being an issue for her little guy!!

... I had 2 options ... head off to Babies 'R Us to pick up the plastic crib rail cover ... or hit the sewing machine and use what scraps I had from Thomas' Lily & Will Bunny Hill Design quilt and crib skirt ... guess which I chose?? ;-)

I ransacked my sewing bins and pulled out all of my extra fabric ... and sure enough, I had the perfect amount of 2 fabrics to create my crib rail cover ... combined with my recent investment in the snap-gun-thing from Babyville Boutique for cloth diaper cover creation (and swim diapers!) ... I was all set to go forward with a project with out a single trip to the fabric store. Score!

Ryan's had a big week here - preparing for his first post doc interview up in Michigan - so I had to dig into my project with Whirl-Wind-Thomas playing in the bedroom.  That, and it was pretty close to bedtime ... so being upstairs in a new-ish play space definitely kept him entertained.  Lately he's truly enjoyed holding on to things that are "just his size" - a great example of this is the joy he had in knowing that he could carry around a small case of cuff links in his tiny fist while "Dad" shopped for interview clothes on Sunday!  What better to keep him entertained than a spool of thread or two?

I s'pose next I'll be hemming the crib skirt ;-)
He also enjoyed playing with my cell phone ... once he got a hold of it ... we were listening to some Pandora Radio (Florence + the Machine, anyone?) ... so grabbing that little piece of technology was like empowering him with his own boombox.  After awhile, he figured out if he stuffed it in his dad's sock drawer, it was muted ... but if he pulled it out ... it was a normal volume again ... needless to say he got some good practice in opening and closing drawers ;-)

Our entire bedroom is baby proofed ... so I don't mind letting him tear through it for a bit while I work.  I do, however, keep a close eye on him ... because you never know what you may find!

Here is how I put together the crib rail cover -

I measured the top rail - it was approximately 52" across ... so I knew I should cut my fabric to be at least 52" across.  If it was a bit short, no big deal, because Thomas isn't chewing on the very edges ... just the middle section.  I then measured the circumference of the rail - approximately 5" - and figured I should cut my fabric at about 6" give or take.  After monkeying with my fabric, I would have preferred to CUT at 6" ... but to be safe ... I went with 7" ... and I am so glad that I did because I had the perfect amount of space to place my snaps!!

End dimensions - 2 rectangles of fabric pieced together to equal 52" x 7" and 1 piece of bamboo blended batting (naturally somewhat antibiotic - also found in my stash of fabric) a bit smaller just by nature of how it was shaped (hand cut v. rotary cut) and how it was pieced together (I zigzag stitched to avoid having to turn a seam).

I placed my 2 prints right side together with the batting on top (easier to manage than having it snag on the feed dogs from time to time) .. and sewed a 1/4" seam allowance .. up a long side, along a short side, down a long side .. before flipping it right side out.  It is beneficial to have your batting stitched in a bit because it'll help hold it down in the long run (through washings, etc. because you know baby can't wait to get his mouth on something new in texture - hahah).  If you are so inclined, it may also be beneficial to quilt along the strip ... but ... I didn't want to mess with my very directional fabric ... =)

Once you've got both right sides out, press your rectangle flat, and press your raw edge under at least a 1/4" ... I made the mistake of going just under 1/4" and had to hand stitch my pressed edge together. Oops! I was in a hurry =) hahah

Stitch (a decorative stitch, if you desire) along the edge of your rectangle to help hold things flat.  Adhere snaps where you see fit.  I found it helpful to enlist the help of my husband to help hold the cover along the crib rail and mark where I wanted my snaps since the number of openings did not allow for an even distribution of snaps like my mathematical mind would have liked.  Not only did he help hold it steady, but I was able to talk through my snap markings (while Thomas then played in his bedrooms - books, wipes - oh yea, he likes to empty the wipes container - what's more fun than pulling out a wipe, only for one more to appear?).

Voila ..!! You've created a crib rail cover ..!!

Yes, I will make these to order ... and Yes ... I will make a crib skirt to order (and match ..!) as well! Let me know if you have questions ... or if you are curious about a crib skirt or rail cover for your little one!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Sew Fun!

Well .. I finally finished the quilt I blogged about back in err .. January! .. and by finished .. I mean I finished the top and have yet to quilt the thing, let alone BIND it! =)  Enjoy!

I was thinking .. and talking with Margaret .. if I were to quilt it "In the Ditch," as they say .. but only go up-down-up-down-up-down diagonally along err .. every other row .. on the back .. it would look like a chevron pattern .. which is very trendy right now.  Might be fun?  I will probably back it in muslin to save some cash. =)

In other sewing-related news, I am thrilled to share that I made my first swim diaper today!  It was exceptionally easy, thanks to a fabulous tutorial on a blog called SewMamaSew!  Here is the link - Aquarius Swimmer ~ Swim Diaper Tutorial.  It was my first time working with fold over elastic (FOE) .. and as you can see in my pictures - the leg holes are a bit uneven ... in part because of how unequally I stretched the FOE.  I am excited to dig into my next swim diaper to experiment with the FOE a bit.  I'll have to snap a photo of Thomas modelling the diaper in the morning, as he is fast asleep at the moment. =)

I think with attempt number two I will do a bit more pinning along the elastic to match it up (in length) to the sections of diaper that are elasticized ... =) It was fun, and it is very cute!!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I cannot stop tickling this child ...

... so stinkin cute =)  He has been in such a mood lately - a little grumpy, a little discontent, but always up for a tickle and laugh .. I think we played about 10 rounds of this game, so we all had a little fun. ;-)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Few New Tricks ...

I've been hoarding videos of Thomas on my computer for about a month now ... I finally plugged in the Flip camera and discovered 2 videos of him showing off some of his new tricks!

The first is from March 26 .. when he first discovered the stairs .. and easily began to climb them .. within a week or so he was climbing all the way up the steps by himself (with one of us behind him every step of the way...) - mostly to get to Otto - his 4-legged bff ;-)

... don't mind my language in the video, either ... hahah

Our 2nd video is just a week old.  Thomas came down with a snotty cold .. so I started to teach him to blow his nose .. It's pretty stinkin cute to see him huff and puff with his nose scrunched =)

I can't believe my tiny baby is 10 months old.  Watching him grow up has been absolutely spectacular and awe-inspiring ... he is fabulous, terrific, beautiful, affectionate, intelligent, social, precious ... /end ;-)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Make This Soup ..!

Lemon brightens it all up <3
Last week I recommitted myself to my diet .. and started the Couch to 5k running program with my husband.  I dug out some of my favorite recipes and went grocery shopping, eagerly packing my cart full of produce ... Yumm!  Tis the season, too, as there is so much 'coming in' to the Farmers' Market - we had our first batch of asparagus in season! Woot! 

One of the more curious recipes I dug into was a spinach and broccoli soup with avocado and broccoli sprout toasts.  Hello, delicious!! The soup is verrrry creamy, thanks to the addition of tahini instead of cream or milk, and it is relatively low-calorie ... and very delicious with the cute little avocado toasts dipped into the warm soup!

Swirl in a bit of parmesan cheese + tahini
The recipe hales from Whole Living ... Here's a link - Broccoli-Spinach Soup with Avocado Toasts

After taking a peak at their picture, I knew it was also time to break out the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day recipe (this link goes to one of my favorite blogs - - and does a fabulous job of photographing the art and ease of artisan bread) ... an oldie, but a goodie ... always yielding delicious bread that is all-too-easy to devour in a day or 2's time ... even Thomas loved it dipped in soup!

Peeta Melark -
bask in the glory
of my beautiful
I had a handful of gorgeous pictures to share with you ... but alas Blogger's formatting is miserably complicated and won't let me put them in line with my text ... I find this irritating and not worth the trouble =P
This broccoli + parmesan + toast is pretty good!
Thomas has enjoyed a house full of produce, as well, since he's off his medicine for his ear infection and back to enjoying foods of the non-carbohydrate variety ... His newest favorite - Strawberries! Yumm!

In other news, Ryan's applied to his 2nd batch of post-docs ... and has heard back from 2 of them - they actually have openings, and they actually have money!  Huzzah!  So we'll see what life brings us.  Ryan is thrilled at the prospect of working for some fabulous universities and eager to take a glimpse at the post-doc life, since it will be his "one and only" opportunity to do so.  It's a thrilling world of unknowns for us, these days ... waiting for e-mails, sending e-mails ... and envisioning our life after South Bend.  I think the most exciting and most challenging part has been embracing the fact that Ryan's best opportunities may take us farther from home ... but we are here to support one another, and that is just what I'll do.  I think what Ryan said sums it up, best -

"When your near future is plagued with "what ifs" you have to have fun with it as much as you can."

We both agree - we are so happy with our lives together ... so very happy.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Embracing Uncertainty and Planting a Garden

When Ryan and I decided to move to South Bend we had an entire year or more to figure out the details - where would we live with our giant dog? how often would we travel home? how would the wedding work out? where will I work? etc. all those little details ...

It's been 4 years and 10 months since we moved to South Bend ... and we could be leaving as early as June. 2 months or more.  I was about ready to scream I was so overwhelmed at the prospect of not knowing where we'd be living, let alone what state we'd be moving to, how we'd coordinate the logistics of a move, and packing ..?! Seriously. We have so much stuff in this house it's unbelievable.

Ryan's been so busy working on his dissertation that I felt a little guilty pestering him on a semi-regular basis - Have you applied to any post docs yet? 

Finally he said, "O.k. if you are stressed about it, I am going to feel twice as stressed .. so just relax."

Finally I said, "Would you please just get your applications out so I don't pull out my hair?"

And he did.

He's heard back from 2 of his three applicants, both of which have praised his background and both of which have said not right now or sorry, I don't have the $$.  And we're o.k. with that.

Yesterday afternoon I embraced uncertainty and admitted to myself that it's O.k. if we can't plan out where we'll be living in 2 months, when we'll be moving, how we'll pack up this big ol' (town)house of stuff, when we'll be ready for baby #2, what state we'll be living in ... the answers will come in time, and we'll be ready for 'em!


Our first SFG - Spring 2009
So with one post doc application saying, "not right now ... maybe later ... I'll get back to you in 2 weeks ..." we decided and settled on the fact that we might stay in South Bend through the summer.  The best news regarding that choice?  I get to plant my garden!

I had sort of let our little raised bed go all "a shambles" this spring with the gut feeling that I wouldn't really plant anything until mid April or early May .. but with the warm weather coming on early and this new embrace-ment of uncertainty .. I decided to plant away!

I ran through Home Depot last night out of mere convenience rather than make the mini-trek off course to our local green house (that I love to pieces, by the way - McKinley Terrace Garden Center for those of you 'locals' ;-) hahah) and I picked up a handful of pansies (so cute and so springtime), 2 packs of lettuces, and a long-term summer commitment - a tomato plant!

Typically we plan our square foot garden, rehashing the previous years layouts and carefully planning rotations, tall plants by the fence, fruit-bearing in the sunniest spots, lettuces are usually o.k. in the shady spots ... but this year, out of haphazard last-minuteness I pulled out all of our square foot markers and disregarded almost all of our "rules" .. planting seeds and pansies sporadically throughout our raised bed, tossing pansies in where they'd be cute rather than practical, and loving the feel of our rich black soil caked on my hands ... 

On the list this year - 
Hot peppers
Lettuces x2
Chives (from last year)
Strawberries (2 volunteers popped up from 2 years ago!)
Mammoth Sunflowers,
Pole beans
Hen & Chicks (from Mom's garden about 3years ago)

Thomas watched from inside the house almost the entire time ... I can't wait to share gardening with him. <3

Tada! All planted!
No better way to garden than barefoot. ;-)
Our apartment manager reassured me that we wouldn't have to dig it all up and remove the garden "as long as it was nice" when we moved out ... and that occasionally the maintenance workers will dig up and take out what they want ... and I'm o.k. with that =)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

10 Thoughts on Whole Living

Each time we visit my parents' house, I can't help but dig into the pile of magazines carefully arranged on the coffee table while siting in the family room ... Mom gets such a varied collection - quilting, artful sewing, Minnesota Monthly, catalogues, you name it ... there's probably one in the stack.  Well, a few years ago, my Mom subscribed me to a magazine that she knew I loved .. because I raved about it every time we visited their house!  One day she whispered, "It's ... a Martha Stewart magazine ..." the name practically shameful after what she went through with her shenanigans inside of her "corporate life" ... but the magazine really is to die for ... and the only magazines I subscribe to and drool over each month!

It's called Whole Living ... and it's fabulous.  It meshes well with our lifestyle, our goals for our family ... it's thoughtful, interesting, filled with recipes, gardening, cooking, living tips ... and I found myself pondering their monthly one-pager that goes by the name of 10 Thoughts on Whole Living ... I'd like to share it with you!

1.  When you need to find your way, check your roots.
2. Your body knows how to heal itself; just give it the right tools.
3. Beauty is a mosaic, not a mind-set.
4. Wouldn't it be boring if the journey threw no curves?
5. Make eating more sensory: Think about experiencing texture and aroma as well as taste.
6. Flaws build character, not shortcomings.
7. Collect and curate simplicities that lift your spirits.
8. Challenge your brain the way you do your body.
9. If you can't stay, smile as you walk by.
10. Amuse and enrich your palate with varied, colorful foods.

I could easily reflect upon each of these in my day-to-day or week-by-week life ... as I think about my body image after having a baby (and how different I wish it were 10 months later ...), healthful eating and cooking, being friendly to the people who enter your life, even if you don't have time for a long chat - simply looking up, smiling, greeting someone with a 'hello' or 'good morning' - I've learned it's impossible to ignore people when you've got a ridiculously cute baby staring someone down that you may not want to talk to ;-)

So read, reflect.  These 10 thoughts come from the March 2012 issue of Whole Living.