Monday, August 27, 2012

K's Bedding

Hey there.  Remember when I used to make stuff?  Remember all the grand plans I had for my little workshop this summer?  Well, school started today, so I guess summer is unofficially over.  I have been busy here and there, though, a couple of sunsuits and dresses, some hair bows, and I've made a few skirts for me!  I've also been working on K's new bedding: a quilt and a bed skirt.

For months, I agonized over fabric choices.  The girls will share a room and I originally wanted their bedding to coordinate: pinks, greens, and brown.  Not having any luck, I was finally inspired to do something completely different.  I would honor their Uncle Andrew with K's bedding by doing a more feminine orange and blue.  Andrew has a huge Syracuse basketball fan and going to a game each year is a tradition that my husband and his family keep up every year.  While Syracuse's colors might not fit for a baby girl, I thought a tropical orange and turquoise combo, with some pink of course, would be perfect!

I also didn't want to do a traditional block quilt for K.  I found some inspiration through none other than Pinterest:

Source: via Kelly on Pinterest

Source: via Shane on Pinterest

So, I came up with this plan using trusty old Excel:

I would cut all strips the same width and then do two in a row for the doubles.  I also tried a new stipple quilting technique on the white strips, which is basically free motion quilting in squiggly lines.  It definitely takes some practice!  I used fleece for the backing and no batting.  I wanted something light enough that she could push away from her face but still provide warmth this winter.

So, all summer, I've been working on it a little here, a little there, and with a little tweaking...
it's finally done!

K took it out for a little spin.  I think she likes it!  And, her adorable little jammies match perfectly!  Have I mentioned that my now 5-month old child is just beginning to wear 3-6 month clothes?!  Peanut!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Unsolicited Advice

A friend of mine tweeted this blogpost the other day and I nearly fell over laughing.

Hello Stranger On the Street, Could You Please Tell Me How to Take Care of My Baby?

By Wendy Molyneux

It blatantly calls out every single person that has ever offered unsolicited advice to a poor, frazzled mom.  Clearly, we're all falling apart and need someone to hold our hands as we delve into parenthood.  Obviously, the less experience you have with kids, the better your advice too, right?  Yes, afterschool babysitter with no children of your own, please tell me how to sleep train, feed, and bathe my child!   Um, no thanks.  Ever notice how unsolicited advice is never wanted, or even good?  

So, I thought it would be fun to take up a collection of some of the worst advice/experiences we've had with those Nosy McNosersons.  Here's mine:  

When T was 9 months-ish, we had taken her to one of those "family" restaurants for lunch.  I'm not sure why they are called family restaurants since they clearly weren't ready for us.  They were setting our table as we sat down and the waitress put a complete set of silverware directly in front of T, including a steak knife!  Luckily, I got to it before T did, but that was the first audible gasp I heard from the nearby table.  With such grabby little hands, I quickly got to work clearing the three foot space in front of her and placed toddler approved items items within her reach.  When our hot soups arrived, the waitress ignored this clearly delineated "baby zone" and once again I dove to remove the hot bowl from T's reach, again followed by a "Gasp!".  Finally, before lunch really began, I took out one of those disposable plastic placemats to coverup the table in front of T.  I think we used these to protect T from germs as much as protecting the restaurants from her destruction!  The rest of our lunch was pretty uneventful. But, when B excused himself to the restroom before leaving, our darling, Grandma Gasper decided to make herself known.  She left her table to come up to me and said the following,   "Thank goodness you put that placemat down.  I was about to come up and ask you to do that when you finally did."  Really?  You really felt compelled to inform me of this?  Sigh.  People should really know better not to approach a sleep deprived momma-bear and poke her with a stick.

Ok, my fellow mommas, what's your story?  What piece of advice or comment drove you bat-crazy? 
Don't pick up the baby too much, you'll spoil her! 
Give your 3 month old teething baby frozen waffles! (I actually got that one today!)
Let's hear it!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Reassuring Kids' Books

You have to love kids books.  Written with life's lessons, boiled down to a few pages each.  Written to reassure kids that they are loved and safe.  I wonder if the authors realize how reassuring they are to parents as well.

I was going to write a post about the beginning of our week, looking for some "Been there, felt that, now I own the app", kind of responses.  T had been sick for a couple of days, we were cooped up in the house, and it felt like I alternated non-stop between crying children.  I would get one to stop, only to hear the other start.  When B got home Tuesday, it was me who was crying.  I needed a break, badly.  I needed to get away and have some alone time, real alone time.  It's been 20 weeks now since K was born and I've been out of the house without her a whopping total of three times.

And then the guilt creeped up and took hold of me.  Now I was crying because I felt like a horrible mother.  What kind of mother needs to get away from her kids??!!

I was feeling better today, although still a little guilty.  T picked out this night-night book and it made a lot of sense to me. It's called, "I love you so...", by Marianne Richmond.

Here is what it says inside.  It's kind of long, but it's worth the read:

I love you
How much?
So much
How much is so?
Way, way more than you know

I love you as brilliant as each sparkling star, and as way out as space, I love you that far.
I love you as gigantic as a great lion's roar, and as deep as the ocean, I love you much more.

That is a lot you say, but how did it start?  Where did love come from to be in your heart?

You put it there really, when you and I met, and I knew for certain, without you I'd fret.
From my head to my toes, I was feeling inside, a devotion for you, so deep and so wide.
And now its enormous and wonderfully real, and hard to describe how much I feel.

I love you as awesome as a thundery sky, and as soaring as mountains, I love you that high.
I love you as silly as a puppy dog's kiss, and as quiet as midnight, I love you like this.

Do you love me every day, you ask with doubting awe, or does love go up and down, like a teetering see-saw?

I love you as steady as the earth rounds the sun, though some days of life are the furthest from fun.

Like when you feel mad, you ask with distress, cause I've broken the rules, or made a big mess?
Or when I'm unkind and your feelings are blue?  Do you love me although I do what I do?

I love you being mad and when you're cranky too.  I love you without liking the naughty things you do. 
My love you doesn't change like the temper of the days.  Its a certain kind of thing, in many different ways.

You're my sweetie, my dear, my smile and laughter.
You're my playmate for always and my joy ever after.
Hanging out with you is where I want to be, eating ice cream sundaes or watching the TV.
Under your umbrella, behind you on a bike, by you and beside you is what I really like.

Do you love me just as much when I'm far away from home?  Is your loving still the same in the distant lands I roam?

I love you near or far, I love you high or low.  My love is there with you, where ever you may go.

Even when I'm sick and I can't get out of bed?  Do you love me better healthy than with fever in my head?

I love you sick or able, you're always you to me.  The one I love forevermore, undeniably.

(Here's where I always choke up)
I can't imagine life before you came along.
Me there singing senseless, no meaning to my song.
Call it meant to be, or simply blessed fate, you fill my heart with love and for that I celebrate.

I love you

How much?

So much

How much is so?

Way, way more than you know

So, I figure, not only do kids need this kind of reassurance in their books, but so do their parents.  If someone has taken the time to write this down, it's because they've lived it too.  They've had those trying moments with naughty or sick kids and felt the guilt later.  I didn't get frustrated for lack of love for my girls.  It was because I love my girls so, so much and that kind of love doesn't change with the days.  That kind of love is solid, stable, and always there, even if I do need a break, or a book, to remind me.

By the way, I wrote the above completely from memory, that's how much I love and have read this book to T and now K.  Wonderful book, Ms. Richmond, from one I'm sure knows a mother's love all too well!

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Letter to K

Hi Peanut,

You're 4 months and two weeks old today. I found out today that I got the job I interviewed for and I'm so happy.  I'm also a little sad that our time together is almost over.  You need to know that I've loved every single minute with you, all the laughs, songs, stories, diapers, drool, spit-ups, tears, blow-outs, tubbies, etc.  But Mumma needs to work.  It's something that I need to do, that I've worked really hard for, and that I want to build on.  See, I want to be an example to you and your sister.  I want you to know that you don't have to choose or settle for something less than your dreams.  If you want it badly enough and are willing to work, you can have a career and be a great mom and wife, if that's what you want.  I tip my hat to women who aspire to be stay-at-home moms.  They are especially equipped, talented, creative, and patient.  I've loved being that with you for these last 20 weeks.  I love and adore you and I will forever treasure this time that we've had together.  You're growing up too fast and I'm already sad about the firsts that I'm going to miss.  Everyday after work, I'm going to run to pick you and your sister up and give you the biggest hugs and kisses.  After all, I put the mother in smother.  This transition will be hard for all of us, but we'll be better and stronger in the end.  I love you so much, K.

With all my love and more,


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Mommy skirt

Ah, the post pregnancy wardrobe.  Not too flattering, is it?  All your maternity stuff is way too big (and let's face it, you can't stand to look at it anymore).  All your pre-pregnancy clothes are still too small.  If you're like me, you may have even gotten back to pre-pregnancy weight, but still nothing fits those hips. Grr.

I wanted to make something that would fit, was flattering and yet forgiving.  There's nothing like an A-line skirt, right? I didn't want to spend a lot of time on darts and zippers.  Have I mentioned how much zippers frighten me?  So, I present to you the elastic waist A-line Mommy skirt.

This skirt is great with any fabric with a nice drape, but if you choose a knit fabric, make your dimensions a bit smaller since that fabric will stretch.  Here, I've used a yellow gingham.  I actually lined this skirt too (my first!), since the fabric was a bit too transparent for my liking, but I'll get to that. 

Depending on how long you want your skirt to be, you should be able to complete this project with one yard of fabric, along with 3/4" elastic and coordinating thread.  I used my serger and regular sewing machine, but you don't need a serger.

Let's start with some measurements.  Okay deep breath. Measure your waist and the widest part of your hips.  Since this will be pulled up over your hips, we need the waist to be able to stretch to that size.  Then determine how long you want your skirt to be.  Finally, determine the widest part of your skirt.  I find 56" works well, but I vary that depending on how much material I have. 

Waist 28"
Hips 36"
Length 20"
Bottom 56"ish

So, based on the above measurements, I'm going to need to cut two rectangles of fabric at 28x22 (WxL).  Since this will be a lined skirt, I'm going to cut two more rectangles of lining with the same dimensions.

To make this skirt A-line and not so poufy at the waist (because that flatters no one), we will be cutting the rectangles at an angle.  To determine the angle, we make an adjustment based on the hip measurement and total width of the fabric.  Since the width is 56 and the hip is 36, we need to cut the fabric 5" on each side for each rectangle.  The easiest way to do it is to layer all pieces and fold in half the long way.  On a cutting mat, angle your straight edge 5" in at the top to the outside corner at the bottom.  The picture below explains it more clearly:

So now we have two trapezoidal pieces of gingham along with the lining.  Layer lining, gingham (wrong side down), gingham (wrong side up), lining.  Sew up both sides.  I used my serger for a cleaner, more finished look, but a simple straight stitch will do.  If you use a straight stitch, use a zig zag stitch near the edge to prevent fraying. 

To make the casing for the elastic waist, I serged along the top raw edge and then folded both gingham and liner down 1".  Sew the casing closed using a straight stitch, leaving a one inch opening to insert the elastic. I cut 3/4" elastic according to my waist measurement above and threaded it into the casing using a safety pin.  Over lap the elastic end by one inch and sew securely.  I like to do a boxed X. 

This is a good place to try on your skirt to see if you like how the waist fits and figure out how much to need to hem it.  If you're happy with the waist, sew the 1" opening closed.  I also like to stich the elastic in place along the sides just to keep it from twisting.  I wanted this skirt to come to my knees, so I'm going to do a 1" hem.  Serge around the bottom edge of the skirt just as you did for the top.  Fold over one inch and hem using a straight stitch.

That's it, your skirt is done!  I was able to do all of mine in one nap!  Good luck! 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


As I've gotten older, I've gotten more comfortable with who I am. I've accepted the things I can't change about myself. I've acknowledged where I just won't measure up with the abilities of others. I've also gotten more carefree thanks to my daughters. I'll never be asked to sing in a choir, but that doesn't stop me from singing to my girls, regardless of who can hear. I'm becoming more okay with my wispy hair, mostly because I see it as beautiful on T. And, well, I'm getting more okay with my nose because it is so adorable on K and T.

One area where I'm really glad to have this confidence is in being a mom. I will make mistakes, plenty. It may take me a while to realize that I need to correct something. No, I will never be a perfect, super mom. However, I know I can be a great mom to my kids. I know I will make good decisions for them. I know I can love and discipline them. I know that while my parenting style might not be right for everyone, it is right for us.  I don't know everything, not even close.  But I know I love my family and I trust my instincts.

It breaks my heart to hear other moms being hurt by judging eyes when all they need is confidence in themselves. Being a mom (or dad) is hard enough without trying to please everyone else. So, in the future, when we cross paths at play dates, church, or wherever and our styles don't mesh, know that I'm not judging you. If you're judging me, I ask you not to waste your time. I am confident in who I am as a mom.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Mumma's Girl

K and I have been enjoying quite the summer together.  It has been amazing to have all this time off with her.  She has been getting quite spoiled, especially as a second child.  I'm sure you've heard the saying, "Your first gets your attention, your second gets your experience."  Well, K has been getting both since T still goes to her awesome daycare M-F.  I'm no longer fearful that I won't love her as much as T, or that we won't be able to bond as well.  I'm now fearful that our bond is too strong.

Yep, too strong.  See, while my beautiful second daughter took to nursing so well and so easily right away, she shunned every other method of feeding and soothing.  She gags on binkies, spits out milk delivered in any way other than directly from me, and that little stinker won't sleep for more than 20 minutes unless nursed to sleep.  Yep, she's a mumma's girl. 

I have exhausted my contacts and resources trying to find ways to get this girl to take a bottle.  After all, I will be returning to work and I would like to have a date once in a while with her father.  When I tell people that she refuses a bottle, their reaction is usually "Psh, she just doesn't want it from you or when you're around."  Even the attending doctor at her pediatrician's office was impressed by her stubbornness when she demonstrated her milk delivery discernment, so much so that she advised that we might consider starting solids a little early. Seriously, though, here's the list of things we've tried:

- Alternate holding positions: lying down, sitting up facing us or facing away, sitting on a boppy pillow, in a high chair, or a car seat
- Alternate location: living room, bedroom, den, inside the house, outside the house
- Three different types of bottles: Medela, Dr. Brown's, and Nuk (Nuk was the only one that didn't make her gag so hard she threw up)
- Cold, warm, or room temp milk
- Hungry, starving, or not hungry at all
- Awake, sleepy, sleeping
- Morning, afternoon, evening
- Quiet locations, loud locations, distracted by toys

Well, on the recent advice of my favorite lactation consultant, I made her a breast milk slushy.  I have all this milk frozen away, I simply broke off a piece and mashed it with a spoon.  I sat that girl up in her Bumbo seat and spoon fed her chunks of frozen breast milk.  You know what?  We actually had some success!  More than we ever had with a bottle.  Why hadn't I ever heard of this before?  So, now daily, we will be spoon feeding breast milk to this girl.  Yes, it takes so much longer, but until she starts on a sippy cup (which will also be coming very soon), this is the only alternative to me.

 Yep, that's her ear print on my arm.  This girl settles in and gets comfy, I tell ya!
 Can't complain though!  Look at how well she's holding her head up!  Go K, go!
Once in a while, she gets her thumb in there, usually to soothe sore gums, never to satisfy her need to suck.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Great Joys

Ah motherhood.  People tried to warn me about it.  "Yeah, yeah," I said, "Most challenging, but the most rewarding, blah, blah, blah."  I had no idea...

My girls are one of the greatest sources of joy in my life.  They are also the most challenging.  Its amazing that two little, fairly new people can master such a balancing act.  Regardless, I'm loving every minute of it.

The other day, T proved her prowess in manipulation.  That girl has inherited my ability to stall like no other.  Bed time is the worst.  After PJs, teeth, books, prayers, songs and nursery rhymes, I finally get her into bed and the following dialog ensues:

T: Mummy
Me: Yes?
T: (blank stare)

T: Mummy
Me: What?
T: (blank stare)

T: Mummy
Me: What?
T: (blank stare)

T: Mummy

Me: What? (with more exasperation than I intend)
T: Guess what!
Me: *sigh* what?
T: I love you!

Who can resist that??

K has already wormed her way in and broken down all resistance I have.  She's so stinkin' cute!  I think she realized that T set the bar high and she's up for the challenge. 

Yesterday while waiting for my doctor in an exam room, K was approaching naptime and getting a little unsettled.  I laid back on the exam table with her sitting on on my belly. Those adorable little toes were just too irresistible, so I gave her a raspberry, which was received by "Heh, heh, heh".  Is that what I think it is?  A giggle?  So I did it again. "Heh, heh, heh".  And again and again, until we were both cracking up laughing and giggling.  I don't think my doctor has ever walked into an exam room like that before!  K's first belly laugh and it was at my OBs office.  Whatevs, I'll take it, just wish it would have been an appropriate place to video tape it!  Haha!

So, I'll take the temper tantrums, the accidents, the late nights and middle of the night feedings.  I'll take the fussy teething times and the sibling jealousy.  I'll even take the teen years when all girls hate their mothers as long as I get to experience a few of these great joys sprinkled in between, because I really had no idea going in just how rewarding motherhood could be.

Want more updates?  Can't get enough of T and K?  Think I'm so fascinating, unique, and truly a warrior poet?  Follow me on twitter and never miss an update! @melissawhayes