Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Adventures in Cloth Diapering

For the past two weeks we've taken the plunge. Peanut is now large enough to fit his one-size cloth diapers and we're giving this cloth diaper thing a whirl. We bought a variety of diapers before he was born and he's finally gained enough weight that he's not swimming in them.

What we've tried and learned so far:

The Wet factor:
We learned we have taken the super absorbency of disposables for granted. Peanut never cried to complain in his disposables when he was wet. He rarely complained if he was dirty. Not so with the cloth. In cloth, when he's wet he's unhappy and we all know it. Consequently, he gets changed much more frequently in cloth. Lately, he is now also fussier in a wet disposable diapers too. Still, we're thinking this might not be such a bad thing--especially later on for potty training. Besides, it is probably best if he's not sitting in that for longer than he has to.

Overnight leaks
After the first few nights, we decided that cloth was not for overnight for us. I'm sure we could super stuff his pocket diapers, but after a few leaks and restless nights, we're back to disposables. Also, the first week we tried, Peanut seemed so small and the cloth diapers seemed so bulky, I was convinced that more than 1 insert and doubler in there and he'd be miserable.
As an aside, I also didn't pre-wash my dipes, which may also have contributed to the leakage. We've had far fewer leaks since they've been through the laundry.

Snaps vs. velcro
Snaps can be a bit tedious, especially when he's squirming. We can get a much snugger fit with the velcro. However, even in just these first few weeks, the velcro is beginning to show a little wear and I'm curious how long it will last. The snaps will last forever, which is good since I hope to pass some of these down for the next little one.

Cost factor.
I confess--I'm a cheapskate, which is why cloth diapers are so appealing.
There are many cost analysis of cloth diapers out there which will give a much more accurate assessment. We bought our dipes sporadically and on sale, so I couldn't give an accurate start up cost. I'd guestimate that we were in the $200-$300 price range. My husband still isn't sold on the cloth--especially while he's home alone with the peanut. There is a little more organizing and work and he's not comfortable leaving the baby unattended while he tends to the diaper mess. This means we only cloth in the evenings and weekends while I'm home. We're eliminating at least 4-5 diapers daily, maybe 10 or more on the weekends. At this rate, I don't think we're saving a boat load. However, the way I see it, we've already made the investment, we might as well use them. I'm hoping to at least recover the start-up cost.

The stink factor
Yes, collected wet diapers begin to smell ripe after a few days. We do laundry every other day. Wet diapers are gathered in a zippered wet bag. As previously noted, I'm cheap. I made my own hanging wet bag from PUL bought at Jo Ann's. I'd bet it's no where near as nice as a Planetwise or other professionally produced bag, but it gets the job done for far less. I'm not sure it will hold up, but for the $7 invested, I'm not out much if we don't keep up with cloth diapering.
As long as the bag stays closed, the stink really hasn't become an issue yet. We really need a second bag for laundry time, but with a tight budget that is not yet in the cards.

The dirt on dirty dipes
Peanut is formula fed, resulting in one large sticky mess daily. Oh how I want a diaper sprayer for Christmas! I shake the diaper in the toilet, flush and repeat several times to remove the bulk of the solids. I then head down to the utility sink and power wash the remnants. I do a brief soak to help reduce stains and plop the wet mess in my wet bag. So far so good, but a bit more labor intensive than I'd imagined. (I wish I could have stuck to breast feeding). I can understand why my husband would not want to handle this while he's on his own with the baby.

Pockets v. Hybrids: We have several Bum-Genius 3.0, a fuzzi-bunz a knicker-nappies and several pou-ponds (a deal we found on e-bay). We also have 2 flip shells, 3 gro baby shells and 1 econobum shell. We have only flip microfiber inserts. For most occasions, we love our hybrids. They take up so much less space for travel, or even storing wet diapers. Without a diaper sprayer, they are so much easier to shake out the solid messes than messes in pocket diapers. They also dry pretty quick (even line drying). As a negative, however, my husband has more to "think about" with the hybrids. Before he changes the Peanut, he usually asks which way is "the right way." This might also be a factor in why he doesn't cloth diaper during the day. Although we've only had leaks when we first started, I sometimes question their absorbency and if they'll be able to keep up with him as he grows.

For longer periods of time, we trust our pocket diapers. They are easiest for my husband and family to figure out. I'm not crazy about the excess bulk, but think this may diminish as he grows and is no longer on the smallest setting. They also take up tons of space in the small travel wet bag we have. StumbleUpon

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It's Been

Long time, no posts.

Two month recap: We're back home. Johnny was born early--he's amazingly perfect. I recreated the nursery in a space I envisioned as perfect when I bought the house five years ago. Johnny keeps us up nightly. We love being back in the north for the fall and have had several fall adventures. The job is okay but requires a bit of adjustment. They're sending me on my first ever business trip.

More details on all of the following at some point when I find more time. StumbleUpon

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Homeward Bound

One week can turn everything you thought was going to happen on its head. When my parents came down for a visit about two weeks ago, I recieved a phone interview offer for a job in our hometown. Life was a bit frantic that week because if I got the job, I'd have a week to relocate and start ASAP. We placed tons of "what if's" in place on standby preperation, but really couldn't do much until we knew one way or another for sure.

The first interview was this Monday, which I knocked out of the park. As proof, they called back an hour later to offer a second interview via Skype for early the following morning. That one didn't feel like it went nearly as well. I forgot my headset, had wireless connection issues, lost video near the end, forgot to look into the camera instead of at the screen, talked too fast... I was pretty sure I'd botched it. Surprisingly, I was okay with this, since I approached this situation with an "if it's meant to be," attitude. If I landed the job, I'd be headed home. If not, there's nothing wrong with staying put; I'd already learned to accept that the baby would be born here.

Yesterday, my afternoon doctors appointment was switched to the morning because of the doctor's family emergency. While waiting, I got the offer. Today's my last day at work. We're moving home this weekend and I start my new job on Monday. We're so excited! It hadn't really sunk in last night, until about 3 am when I realized I was wide awake with my head spinning with all of the things I needed to get done.
So things happen the way they are meant to and when they are supposed to. I am very grateful and lucky and cant wait to be living back home again. I'm also really glad we'll have family around when Johnny arrives.

(In baby news, according to the ultrasound, Johnny is 5 lbs. 2 oz. He has the cutest looking cheeks as best as we could see. He's in the position he needs to be with head down--so all is well. I on the other hand need to work on my blood pressure, but hopefully that will straighten out once we're all settled in.) StumbleUpon

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

So much to do....

Oh so little time...

You may or may not recall, I had a four day holiday weekend at the beginning of this month. I was agitated for most of it because I didn't have many projects to work on. After a trip to Jo Ann's I was restocked with ideas and sewing supplies. Since then, however, I just haven't had the time.

I started to work on making quilted crib bumpers. They look super easy, but because I'm quilting them, they are taking forever. Coupled with the fact that I am dead tired when I get home in the evening again, I haven't felt like sewing except on the weekends--while I'm trying to catch up on the cleaning I've been neglecting because, oh that's right, I'm exhausted in the evenings.

The other problem keeping me from getting crafty projects done is my ability to keep thinking of more projects I want to do. I started a list. These are in no particular order, but my plan is to prioritize the list and knock off the things that will be most useful.

Finish crib bumpers: not the most useful, but I would rather complete it than leave the pieces scattered about the apartment.
Froggie crib quilt: So I bought this super cute froggie fabric at a local quilt shop intending to whip out a cute simple quilt I could lay on the floor. The baby already has two crib quilts I made, but neither go with the "theme." Non-essential, but if you saw the fabric, you'd want a froggie crib quilt too.
"heirloom" blanket: We have a piece of fabric from our childhood we'd love to see turned into a crib size blanket. The more detail I take with this the better it will turn out, but the more time I take, the less I have for other ideas.
Hanging Wet Bag/ travel wet bag: This is an essential for my plans to cloth diaper. Ever since I discovered that Jo Anns now carries PUL in store, I figure I could make one or two of these to keep my initial cloth diapering expenses to a minimum. Shouldn't take too much effort, just time and yes, another Jo Ann's trip.
Paci holder: definitely non essential, but it's one of those frills that parents with frills seem to have in their diaper bag repertoire. Super easy project that will probably be a good use for scraps, but when time is of the essence, this project is not.
Travel changing pad: A receiving blanket would work just fine, but as above, those with frills can't live without this. I probably have most of the supplies laying around, just lacking the energy.
More wall storage (pails/shelves/pocket hanging): Storage is definitely at a premium around our converted dining room turned nursery. I'm thinking of either adding a craft shelf with pegs or create a new wall hanging filled with plenty of storage pockets (similar to the crib caddy). I'm thinking of hanging decoupaged pails from the shelf pegs. While storage is necessary, I'm not sure I'm gaining enough space justify the effort.
Bibs: We don't have many and this will be useful... probably higher on the priority list than some other ideas.
Burp cloths: I have made some already, but not sure just how many I'll need. Not exactly the most glamorous project.
Bib strap: Essentially, two mitten clasps on opposite ends of a wide ribbon. Turn napkins, burp cloths and washcloths into instant bibs. I'm waiting for notions to go on sale for this one.
Shopping cart cover: This has been on the list for a long time because I received a pattern for one with a package of patterns I bought long before we even knew Johnny was on his way. They look cute, but I'm not sure I'm germaphobic enough to remember to haul this to the grocery store with me each time. Also, Johnny probably not going to be riding in the shopping cart for several months yet.
Car seat cover: Essentially a fitted sheet/blanket that fits over a car seat with slots for the harness straps to go through. In the event of baby projectiles and bodily fluids coming into contact with the seat, this cover could easily be changed and washed. I think the car seat cushions are technically washable, but I think this would clean and dry a lot quicker.

In short, the next 8 weeks will go very quickly and the carpal tunnel will likely get worse before it gets any better. I'll post pictures if I ever get any of this done. StumbleUpon

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Book Reviews: Of Local Interest

Praying for Sheetrock by Melissa Fay Green
This nonfiction takes place in McIntosh County which is located roughly an hour south of Savannah. Prior to reading this book, my knowledge of the area consisted of a mostly empty outlet mall and a couple gas station off of I-95. We've stopped there twice maybe.
The story begins in the 1970's with a rather corrupt sheriff in a county where the good ole boys system was accepted as the norm. While the opening scene of a sheriff permitting the pillaging of a truck wreck at first seems justifiable given the poor economic environment, one soon learns of far more unjustifiable practices. Thurnell Alston becomes the "hero" to stand up to Sheriff Popell and his corruption, gradually bringing the long delayed civil rights movement to a coastal Georgia community. However, even heroes sometimes fall and the last fifty pages illustrate that Alston is merely mortal. Green does brings an Agee-like quality to her writing and does an excellent job of capturing her subjects through interviews with parties on all sides.

Grade: B

Ecology of a Cracker Childhood by Janisse Ray
If I were a writer, I would want to write a book like that offered by Janisse Ray. She artistically weaves her experience as a child and her insight as an environmentalist to convey a tale of the environments impact on humanity and humanity's impact on the environment. Set in Appling County, Ray creates a patchwork of local history, genealogy, and personal reminiscence tied to the driving theme of the work; the impact of capital gain on the unique ecology of the long leaf pine forests. Her story is especially moving, because she rarely openly preaches in "Save the Pine Gopher" picket sign fashion. Instead, she gently guides the reader, building a bond of trust and acceptance. She then utilizes this trust to persuade readers to see the same value she sees in an ecosystem that is quickly disappearing. Granted, I did not grow up in Georgia and could not tell the difference between long leaf or slash pine. Still, the story reminds me of the old growth "black swamp" ecosystem of home, a story that is likely familiar to others in many parts of the nation.

Grade: A

Waddie Welcome and the Beloved Community by Tom Kohler and Susan Earl

One the one hand, this book is short and easily read during a lunch break. On the down side, the story lacks the detail that would flush the story, leaving the reader wishing to know more about the central character, Waddie Welcome. Waddie grew up in Savannah and had CP. Through time, family members who had cared for him died or moved on, and Waddie was placed in a nursing home away from the community. Through the efforts of many active citizen volunteers, Waddie was able to live his final years among friends and family in Savannah. By pushing for more personalized care for Waddie, he was able to change the medicare system. It's an amazing story with excellent photo images. Yet, there is so much more the reader is left wondering about Waddie. Still, in just the few short pages of this book, the reader will be in tears by the end.

Grade: C+ StumbleUpon

Friday, July 9, 2010

Entering Week 30

As of the most recent check up, all is well and going according to plan. Yay. I need to get on the ball about finding a pediatrician. I was so grateful to get the "inside scoop" from the Nurse Practitioner. She was great: "this one's crazy, never heard of this one, this one's really earthy..." We really love her, she's so down to earth.

Yesterday, I was reminded that I work with the greatest bunch of people ever. We had a shower. Technically, it was for me and the baby... but I know we all love an excuse to have a get together with great food and conversation for once in awhile. We're a small staff, but we don't often see everyone during the day. I brought my world-famous fruit pizza, which was a hit (no leftovers to take home--easy peesy recipe below).
In addition to bibs and gift cards that will be put to good use we received some of the funniest and most charming gifts. A coworker got Johnny an AASU onsie--so he can be a pirate where ever fate takes us in the coming year. Imported from Canada, we received Rich approved hockey themed pee pee teepees. Everyone commented on how we're not sure they'll do the job, but we all had a good laugh. The flaming puck print makes them exceptionally adorable. The highlight gift was a "survival kit for new parents" featuring worry beads, a bottle of wine, pain reliever, no-doze and ear plugs. Also included was an emergency stash of chocolate (a 1 lb Hershey bar) inside a red box with a clear laminated window labeled "In case of emergency, break plastic.

Easy Peesy Fruit Pizza Recipe
(also decent recipe to get kids into the kitchen)
1 batch sugar cookie dough (for the quickest method, premade tube o'cookie dough from the refrigerated section is fine--I've used homemade in the past, but premade is the easiest for those "Stink, I forgot I was going to make something for tomorrow moments"). Cookie dough must be chilled for rolling out to work without being a sticky mess--hence I usually opt for the squishing into place method--opt for a little flour on your hands to decrease some of the stickyness. For pizza look, use a pizza pan--I usually just use a cookie sheet/jelly roll pan because it travels easier. Bake at 350 till slightly golden (somewhere in the 15-20 minute range). Let cool.

Frosting: Mix 1 box cream cheese (fat free, full fat, whatever suits you), 1/3 cup sugar and a splash of vanilla. Spread over cooled cookie crust. (I think some recipes call for cool whip too, but I don't find it a necessity. If it seems to thick, a splash of milk will thin it out just fine.)

Top: (This is the fun part). Top with an assortment of clean/sliced fruit and berries... (strawberries, halved grapes, cherries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, kiwi, Mandarin oranges,....whatever's in season/ whatever you like). You could get artsy at this point and make some sort of design, but it all tastes the same. (Some people make a simple glaze at this point to make the desert more "tart-like" but I think it's A) more work and B) more sugar than you actually need.) Refrigerate until ready to serve. StumbleUpon

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Savannah Weather Report: When it Rains it Pours

Savannah has some of the strangest weather I've ever seen. It can cloud up quickly, the sky can turn black. You'll here thunder and see lightening. Yet, miraculously you won't get a drop of rain in your part of town. However, no more than 10 minutes away, it will have poured and taken out power lines. Several times Rich or I have experience storms at our work, while the other hasn't, or it's rained at the apartment, but not at work. It makes travel planning semi-complicated.

Anyway, that's the way things had been going for us lately. We seemed to be dodging tons of bad weather. However, it finally struck all at once yesterday. The day began in the early hours of the morning, when I woke with the worst headache ever. We were out of Tylenol, so I tried to tough it out. By 8:00 am I had hardly slept and could take no more. I ran to the nearest store and on the way home, decided to have some "morning sickness" while driving. Thank goodness for the grocery bag I'd just received with purchase. The car was unscathed but I could not say the same for my clothes.

The next adventure centered on Rich and involved a trip to the urgent care and emergency room. He'll survive and will make a full recovery, but this knocked out a about five hours of our afternoon/evening. Nothing super serious, but definitely something worth looking into, especially since my mind raced with multiple worse case scenarios that could have been bad for baby.

To complete our perfectly lovely day, my car battery died while we were at the urgent care. Upon escaping the Emergency Room, we had just enough sun light for Rich to jump the battery. It got us home, but it was a scary drive. Doug did not like getting up to speed on the express way and stuttered several times--I kept praying just to make it home. This morning, despite a jump, Doug was completely non-revivable. For Rich's day off he's handling this one, as I'm too jittery and sleep deprived to be much help.

Between Rich and I, we have doctor's appointments for the next two days. Hopefully the car will be fixed soon and the sun will come back out. That's the nice thing about storms in Savannah, they never last that long.

In other weather related news, weather during the holiday weekend was really pleasant for a change. The average high temperature was well below its customary 98 degrees. There was actually a breeze, resulting in low humidity. Roz and I walked to the neighborhood park/fishing pier twice. I even turned off the AC, opened the windows and aired out the apartment. It was so nice to be able to spend time outside. StumbleUpon

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Book Reviews: Lincoln and The Postmistress

Review 1) Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

You know there are hours of your life spent reading that you will never get back when a glance at the acknowledgment reveals an author's sources to be Wikipedia and Google. As a reader, I was more shocked by the authors blatant revelation of his lack of research than the fact that it was so painfully obvious that academic research was lacking. Essentially, it's the life story of Abraham Lincoln, explaining the death of his mother and those whom he loved and lost in his life as victims of vampires. After his mother's death, young Abe commits to killing every vampire in America. Trained by a "good vampire" Abe learns to track and kill his enemies. Eventually his efforts results in the Civil War, since southerners were in a conspiracy to keep slaves to feed vampires.
Yes, I am a naive history geek who expected more from this title. Sure, I knew it was fiction. No, I didn't expect a completely authentic biography. But seriously, I did expect more. With all of the semi-credible civil-war historical fiction out there, I expected Grahame-Smith to display a more scholarly approach to his work. Instead, the reader is filled with the same high school history stereotypes of North and South that completely ignore the complexity of the situation. He fills the pages with pseudo-history in a made for Hollywood fashion. While explanation of what happened at Roanoke is imaginative, the poorly photoshoped photos do little to add to the story's credibility as conceivably possible. In short, this work joins Meyer's Saga in the long line of vampire writing that is an insult to the term "literature." Thank heavens that at least Lincoln's vampires don't sparkle.
Grade: D-

Review 2: The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

Compared to the first read, this one could only prove better. Luckily this historical fiction shows indications of author invested research, adding credibility to both the story and strengthening the reader's bonds to the characters.
The story focuses on seemingly unrelated people and places shortly before the US enters WWII. A doctor from a small town in Massachusetts travels to a London under Nazi attack. There he meets and American radio correspondent shortly before his own death. The radio correspondent travels Europe, looking for a way to voice the situation of Jewish refugees, the doctor's wife awaits the return of her husband. This story is filled with heartbreaking scenes and the reader becomes involved in small town life.

I smiled, I cried, I ached for each of these incredibly believable characters. Again, not 100% historically accurate, though the author openly acknowledges and explains the logic behind her shortcomings. Although the story is more about the characters than the moment in history they share, they interact in a firmly researched realistic environment.

Grade: B+ StumbleUpon

This is Why the World Needs Libraries

Yesterday provided one of those "adventures in closing a library" moments. A patron and member of the military was required to have several online forms completed and printed to be turned in tomorrow. I honestly can't say why he waited until almost 9 pm to do this. Though he is a father and had the little one in tote, so I can't judge that he had nothing better to do prior to that time. Of course we ran into snags with the website, resulting in my staying a half-hour after closing to make sure the patron got what he needed.
What I can say, is that I'm proud of our library. We're an academic library on a public university campus, which means we welcome community patrons to use our facilities. I respect that we make computers and the internet accessible to all. With our hours even in summer, we remain open later than most public libraries in the area. We truly were this guys last chance to get the forms he needed. We also provide the ability to search/retrieve forms and troubleshoot computer gliches that you wouldn't get if you were attempting to do the job at your own computer.
Sure, not everyone in America needs these services, but there are enough out there who do. And while I'm not the biggest fan of turning libraries into huge computer labs and viewing librarians as constant technical support crews, this is becoming a big part of what libraries do. For people like my patron last night, this is why libraries matter. StumbleUpon

Monday, June 28, 2010

Saturday Adventure: Punch and Judy

I am a firm believer in supporting local business when possible, though admittedly lack the economic resources to do so as often as I would like. Savannah is a city filled with dozens of small boutique businesses, including those that carry the oober nice/ slightly pricey/ quality baby merchandise. Punch and Judy's is once such boutique.

I had read about them at least a year before and had been meaning to seek them out. An ad in the Savannah Morning News gave me the confidence to tackle this adventure last Saturday. When we parked outside it's Habersham Avenue location, Rich had to offer an obligatory reality check before we exited the truck. One look at the merchandise in the window and we knew we were out of our league. I noted that we were just there to look, and that they don't charge for browsing. Besides, some of my best ideas come from trying to imitate something really cute that only a boutique like this would carry.

In case you have any doubts, Punch and Judy's carries very nice baby things that you won't find anywhere else. I'd always known I wanted a wooden high chair (not those flimsy plastic/aluminum jobs everyone carries that I know the dog could knock out with her tail). Had we not received an antique one from my father, I would have been begging and drooling. They carried several to choose from, which is impressive, since other than Amish Oak shops near home, I'd never seen anyone carry them. And, all things considered, they weren't priced that out of line.

For the most part, their prices in general weren't out of line for what you were getting. Everything was high quality and very well made. Sure it was more than we could spend, but I wouldn't think twice about it if I could. The furniture in particular would realistically last through several babies, and most would transition through childhood. Bedding displays were cute, colorful and imaginative. They were unique and unlike the generic commercialized themes that everyone else (ie babies r us) carries. They were also, relatively classic/traditional, which I personally loved.

Rich fell in love with an overstuffed upholstered glider. It rocked, swiveled, reclined, had a footrest and side pocket. He was convinced we could afford this chair. Visions of day long hockey marathons danced in his head. As the voice of reason, I pointed out how much more practical a gorgeous armoire would be for our storage needs. With adjustable/ removable shelving, a bar to hang clothes and several dovetailed drawers it could easily accommodate Johnny's wardrobe, blankets, toys, and still have room. Since neither piece would fit well in our small apartment, we were forced to decline.

They also carried Bummis prefolds. Since this is the first time I'd actually had the chance to feel the difference in person, it was nice. I gave Rich a pop quiz on which type of cloth diaper I was holding--he passed. He could finally understand the difference between a quality prefold and the birdseye gerber prefolds at Babies R Us.
Among the list of things I'd probably never purchase, but found charming just the same, there was selection of heirloom quality linen bibs and bonnets. They had french lace trims and beautifully detailed embroidery. Outfits featured smocking and high quality fabric. While Rich is right, I'd be heartbroken when Johnny puked all over a $40 sleeper they were still very cute.
I think the most amusing part about our adventure was overhearing another couple shopping for a car seat. The wife had clearly done her homework and knew she wanted an infant carrier, transitioning to a booster later. The husband, however, thought he wanted the convertible seat so he would only have to buy one car seat. The wife patiently prodded the sales lady to reveal the advantages of her plan, to which the husband gradually agreed. This really wasn't fair to the husband, but rather amusing to the observer.
So we loved the huge stuffed animals, the unique wall art, the hooked rugs, the elephant piggy banks, this stuffed chenille sheep that opened to lay flat and just about everything else we saw there. We'll definately be back to browse.
You can browse online too at: http://www.punchandjudysavannah.com/ StumbleUpon

Friday, June 25, 2010

Waiting for My Real Life to Begin

Any minute now, my ship is coming in
I'll keep checking the horizon
I'll stand on the bow, feel the waves come crashing
Come crashing down down down, on me

And you say, be still my love
Open up your heart
Let the light shine in
But don't you understand
I already have a plan
I'm waiting for my real life to begin

--Colin Hay

I’m working on being patient. I’m working on trusting that everything will work itself out. I’m not perfect at doing either of these things, but I am trying to be better.

The past week or so has been a test of my patience. No, nothing exciting happened, which I suppose was precisely the problem. We’re waiting for Johnny. At the same time, I’ve been waiting for a better job. I’ve been waiting since well before graduating six months ago. I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to move home for almost three years. Heading into the third trimester, the ability to travel for interviews is concerning. Not to mention, the odds of being hired at this point in the pregnancy probably are slim.

I worry about leaving Johnny with strangers. I worry about finding trustworthy caretakers on our second shift schedules. I worry about affording child care. In a perfect world, we’d be back home and I’d have family I could trust him to.

Yet, maybe this is where I’m meant to be for now. If I stay put, I at least have some sick/vacation time built up for maternity leave. I’m not trying to play Pollyanna and put a positive spin on an otherwise stressful situation. Instead, I’m trying to find the patience to accept the blessings I do have. I’m trying to focus on the joy in my life. I’m trying to quit waiting for my real life to begin and instead enjoy the life I am leaving.

It's gonna happen soon, soon, soon
It's just that times are lean

And you say, be still my love
Open up your heart, let the light shine in
Don't you understand
I already have a plan
I'm waiting for my real life to begin

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Nursery: Nearly Done

Oh how I love tacky glue

And now for the latest installment of pictures of crafty goodness used to enhance the former dining room of a one behttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifdroom apartment in our efforts to create an economically chic nursery. This week's topic: Wall Art.
Since we aren't supposed to pain the walls, and I'm not too keen on having to paint them back on the off chance the opportunity to move on presents itself, we've found less permanent ways to decorate.

Exhibit A: trendy fabric modern art display.
I used scraps of material used in other parts of the nursery, stretched over a a series of various sized embroidery hoops. Add thumbtacks on the wall, and voila. If I was ubber crafty, I probably could have covered the hoops with paint or ribbon, but I think they are fine as is. The hoops cost an average of fifty cents to $1.49 and are available at most craft stores (except the Jo-Ann's in town). The do make more colorful plastic ones, but I prefer the wooden ones anyway--not that I embroider or know the difference.

Exhibit B: Johnny's Fishing pond.

Rich's fear when I first explained the "grand plan" for the themed nursery was there would be too much green and not enough blue for a little boy's room. My compromise solution was to create fish for the wall behind the crib. Though I feel we certainly have enough blue, I do like the fish accents.
There are essentially 3 species of fish on these walls. Fish type A were made from cotton fabric. Two fish outlines were cut, sewn right sides together, flipped, stuffed and mounted with thumbtacks for eyes. Since I used scraps, I winged the outlines "on the fly" to best use the amount of scrap I had.
Fish type B were similarly created from felt. Since felt won't fray, I was able to sew right sides out, and provide more detail in the tails/fins. I also used some decorative stitching to create gills. The fabric for these fish was also scrap from another project, so my selection in color/size was limited.
Fish type C make up the majority of the school. They are only fabric on the outside. I started with fish "patterns" from online coloring sheets. I traced the outlines onto card stock (mostly display packaging material from the many shower gifts). I then cut a piece of fabric roughly a bit bigger than the cardboard fish. It needs to be big enough to cover the cardboard fish, but not too much bigger, since bulky fabric makes it difficult to tuck around details like fins. I then glued the fabric to the back of the cardboard, trimming excess as I went. These fish were stuffed with tiny fabric scraps and tissue paper before sealing the final section. The slight stuffing gives the fish a little more dimensionality than they would otherwise have. Rather than using thumbtack eyes, they are mounted to the wall with packaging tape. In the future, I may add ribbon details or button eyes, but for now, they are fish silhouettes that rise off of the wall.

Exhibit C: memo boards.

For these memo boards, I purchased 4 frameless cork boards. Originally, I was going to buy a pack of 4 cork tiles. However, I got a great deal on these frameless boards at Michael's (1.49 each I think) and they are thicker and more sturdy than the tiles appeared to be. I used leftover batting from the glider "reupholstery" project cut just slightly larger than the boards. I covered the batting and board with cute fabric. I would have rather had a staple gun or hot glue gun, but settle for craft glue to hold the fabric in place since it was what I had on hand. I used thumb tacks to hold the fabric snug until the glue dried. I added ribbons to the front, as well as more upholstery tacks at the intersection. Ribbons were secured with tacks and or glue at the back.
The memo boards currently feature cut outs of classic picture book characters. I found the images with google images and used a color printer. In the future, the boards will also feature pictures of Johnny, his family, and important reminders like feeding schedules.

Exhibit D: The pond mirror.
This is by far my favorite nursery addition. I wanted a mirror for the nursery, because every baby I have know (okay, probably older than newborn) has loved making faces at him/herself in the mirror. I liked the idea of tying the mirror into the pond theme, but didn't know how well it would turn out. Rich picked up a very economical mirror from Target for under $5.00. After some debate, we planned on taping the book character cutouts around the frame, and calling it a day. That is, until I decided to experiment.
Armed with my trusty gingher scissors and some solid cotton fabric, I began to cut reeds and cattails. Initially, I planned to sew, flip and slightly stuff the reeds. This seemed to be too much work for the effect I was attempting to accomplish. However, having planned on sewing, I ended up with two of each cattail, which allowed me to create a nice framing effect. I had to careful position the reeds so they weren't too obviously the same.
Now a more thorough crafter probably would have opted for double stick tape. However, since this was such an economical mirror, I didn't feel too bad breaking out the tacky glue and sticking the fabric pieces directly to the mirror and frame. My stroke of true genius came in the form of two green "hills" (aka scraps from cutting the reeds), which cleverly disguise what otherwise would be a messy looking knot at the bottom of the "pond."

Exhibit E: Window treatment
Nothing fancy here--more scraps put to good use. I created a pennant shape from paper then transferred to a more sturdy cardstock. I traced the shape on fabric and cut. The top tab was folded over ribbon, ironed to make the fold more likely to stay, then adhered with tacky glue. Ideally, I would have loved to have cut the edges with pinking sheers--though this project showed exactly how dull my current pair is.

Exhibit F: Burp cloths
Not exactly nursery decor, but fairly practical. I created 1/2 dozen burp cloths as they seem like a practical invention. My creations will hopefully prove both sturdy and absorbent. Side A features a soft but durable cream terry cloth, purchased for 1/2 price from the remnant bin at JoAnns. Side B features and even softer piece of flannel--mostly from scraps from previous projects, like the receiving blankets. They vary in size--due in part to the scrap nature of the flannel, or the remnant shape of the terry cloth--allowing me to get the most from the materials on hand. Ideally, I shot for 16x10, but some are longer/shorter on one or both dimension.

Exhibit G: changing table
Not one of our personal crafts, but still a semi-essential part of the nursery. Sure we didn't "need" one, but I am awful grateful to have received one as a shower gift. Considering the dinning room has no current storage, I like having the changing table to store many of our baby necessities. It's packed to the gills. We could definitely use more storage, but the debate as to how best to meet that need is still open for discussion.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Weekends of Crafty Goodness

What does one do on a rainy holiday weekend? Craft projects for the nursery, of course. The dining room of our one bedroom apartment now comes close to resembling a nursery thanks to some crafty and creative additions.

For Christmas, I finished the "hockey quilt," for Rich. It's a standard Crib size with an Ohio Star pattern. I used flannel for both the front and back, and a cotton batting. A large portion of the quilt is machine quilted (in the ditch. Hopefully the machine quilting will help it hold up better through many washes. The white squares are hand quilted in a "net" diagonal checkerboard pattern and the star centers feature a hand quilted redwings logo outline. I made the pattern for the logo by tracing the shoulder patch from the Winter Classic jersey. The border features blue and red prairie points. This quilt doesn't really go with the nursery theme, but we think Johnny will like it just the same.

Several weeks ago, I created about 4 receiving blankets out of flannel. They are simply 2 1yard cuts sewn right sides together, then turned out and finished. For two of the blankets, I cut the 45" down to 36" so the resulting blanket is square and easier to use for swaddling. Very simple, but Jo Ann's has so many cute flannel patterns and they look very nice. The double layer of flannel should prove to be pretty warm too.

I also created a dust ruffle--yet another layer in my shabby chic decorating. The fabric for the dust ruffle was easy to obtain. We had an old blue and green striped fabric shower curtain we weren't using. The fabric was cut to fit the crib length. Remnant pieces were added at the headboard and foot board to complete the look at no cost to us.

This weekend I created a "crib caddy"-- a fabric creation with pockets designed to hang from a crib and keep necessities handy. We're actually tying it on to the changing table, as that's where we need more storage anyway. Besides, it's a small space, so everything is within arms reach of everything else. I used grosgrain ribbon instead of the prescribed bias tape, which seams fairly sturdy. I followed a simplicity pattern, which made it seem more complicated than it was. Having made it once, a second one should go together easier, but it's not on my priority list.

Since the cost of a new glider was not in the budget, we've decided to recover our old glider. Structurally, there is nothing wrong with the old one, other than the fact that the cushions were old, a little worn and not very comfortable. I wrapped the old cushions in 2 layers of high loft batting and a layer of fleece. For this project, I used a full size pre-packaged batting, which was enough for the cushions, and ottoman, with enough left over for the memory boards. I very quickly tacked the batting/fleece in place with some loose hand stitching. Tacking things down was a good idea; I could tell it would have been a nightmare trying to stuff the cushions into the covers otherwise. I chose to cover the cushions in a blue and white gingham.With the cushions on the fabric, I cut out two pieces with roughly 1 inch extra all the way around. I stitched together three sides, leaving the "bottom" open to insert the cushion. Once the cushion was inside, I hand stitched the opening with some ribbon tabs to tie the cushions to the chair.

So we have this "pond" theme for our nursery, and above Johnny's crib is his own lily pond. We made lily pads from green fabric. I used coloring book images to create a rough pattern and enlarged the pattern to various sizes. Two pieces of fabric were stitched together, turned right side out and filled with a little bit of scrap fabric or fiber fill. To create "veins" I used a variety of machine stitching patterns. Some of the lily pads were sewn to the blue tulle "pond" canopy. The canopy is attached to the ceiling in a random draping fashion using thumbtacks. Rich did most of the ceiling work as I directed from the ground. Next, we added extra lily pads suspended from fishing line, as well as tissue paper "lilies." Sparkling blue butterflies from Hobby Lobby's summer decor finish off the ceiling masterpiece. We were careful to keep the canopy far enough from the ceiling fan, but close enough that when the fan is on, the hanging pieces have some movement.

On the wall behind the crib we painted pre-cut wooden letters. You can find these letters at just about any craft store--ours happen to come from Walmart, where they were marked down. Rich gave the letters two base coats of white. I added green and blue accents and voila, for much less than $16 a letter we have a cute wall decoration.
Under his name, we added a frog. It's actually a kid's summer placemat from Jo Ann's for $1. We may add accent fish to the sides yet.

On the to do list yet... Finish the memo boards, create a window treatment and more wall art. I might make a "pond" mirror--but that's not a priority. StumbleUpon

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Blueberry's close up

This is our little blueberry's first photo. The future hockey player is an impressive 3/4ths of an inch--or roughly the size of the gummy bear he/she resembles. Not even Buckeye sized yet! The black part is the amniotic fluid and the blueberry is the gingerbread man inside. We heard the heart beat too--the heart is the bright white button on the gingerbread man. We won't know whether it's Alexander Viacheslav McGowanstrom or Stevie Yzerman McGowanov for another twelve weeks.
This was a super exciting appointment, even if I again lost my breakfast at the office. We can't wait to meet him/her. StumbleUpon

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Our Crib

Living in a one bedroom apartment, I didn't think we'd actually bother getting a crib. It's just another piece of big furniture we'll only end up moving once, possibly twice before the blueberry actually gets here. (We've taken to calling the future baby a blueberry, since that's about how big it is now). We lucked out on a floor model that has never been used. No scratches and all parts are included. It's cherry and pretty simple, but it seems sturdy.

The crib makes me really happy and makes it even more real that this is happening. Its not that I wasn't excited before. I've just been a little disappointed with the reality that we may not be home by the time it arrives. I wanted to create a cozy little nursery, but that's silly when you live in an apartment. So even if we don't have the Martha Stewart nursery, at least the blueberry will have some space to his or herself.

Everyone says it's a girl, including an ancient chinese astrological chart--but the magic 8 ball and Rich disagreee, so we'll just have to wait to see. StumbleUpon

Sunday, January 17, 2010

What a difference a day makes

Last Sunday was an incredible day. Of course, it didn't start out that way. We are in a slight pickle with our housing situation. Our lease is up at the end of the month and we'd love to move home. Unfortunately, without jobs, it's not an option. We can't affordably get an extension on our current lease, but are hesitant to sign a new one, since we don't know where we'll be and for how long.
Long story short we spent most of the day tracking all over Savannah looking for adequate housing. Our best options were a house that's about an hour one way from work (not so great when you work the night shift). Or, we could move into the upstairs of a moderate sized house, with an "efficiency" kitchen. The stove, sink and fridge took up less space than my dorm fridge.
Needless to say, we weren't feeling the greatest driving back to our apartment. Half jokingly, we toyed with the idea of moving home and taking a pair of minimum wage jobs, which, if full time, we could probably get by on. Then the phone rang.
I spoke with a library board president from a small town relatively close to home. The director job was mine for the asking.
The catch was a less than thorough answer on the question of insurance benefits. Rich and I decided we needed to find out exactly how important benefits were. We found out that evening that we are expecting a future hockey player and insurance is indeed important. This was probably one of the best days ever--we were both so excited for our family and to be moving home. We celebrated with a trip to walmart--where shopping the baby section was more than just something to kill time.

(ps--unfortunately, benefits became too important and I can't pass up the good deal I've already got here--so for now we're in Savannah, but we're still really happy just the same) StumbleUpon