The Key Three

Monday, October 21, 2013

This past year, I have dramatically changed my life.  Duh!  What mom hasn't?  For me, it has been changing 40 years worth of everything from clothes, shoes, my home...the list could go on, but you get the picture.  Probably the hardest thing about being a mom for me is just how set in my ways that I have become.  Yep, I sound like an old lady.  I'll own that one.

Probably the first week of motherhood, I said to my own mother, "I don't want to look like a mom."  Reflecting, I don't really know what that even means.  I know lots of moms that look great.  They are pulled together and seem to be flawlessly styled regardless of the occasion.  

I'm not going to say that I have achieved that level of poise.  However, I am trying to figure it out.  Simplicity is always a winner in my book - even before King Diaper came into the picture.  Accessories and classic items can always be incorporated into any wardrobe regardless of season or occasion.  

This all leads me to my own personal "Key Three".  These are the items that have been life savers and staples in my everyday life.  

1.  Britta Water Bottle
2.  Nude Flats
3.  Chew Beads Necklace

Maybe not the list you were expecting.  But, these are certainly my "go to's".  

Britta makes several filtering bottles that you can take with you every where you go.  I put mine on the stroller while walking the baby, in the car on errands, around the house while doing work.  Its with me constantly.  And, if you are breastfeeding, water is a must!  Its also a good way to help shed that baby weight.  This bottle will save you a head in bottled water too!  

I don't think I'll ever loose my love for sky high heels.  But, picking up a baby and toting him around isn't always easy to do in 5 inch heels.  Therefore, I have traded in my heels, sometimes, for a nice pair of flats.  Nude is my color of choice.  You can pair it with black or brown.  It goes with any color really - even white.  Throw them on with jeans or a dress.  Either way, you are ready to go and look well groomed.  

Finally, once your baby starts teething, you can kiss your jewelry good bye for a bit.  Our mister tries to rip every piece of jewelry off of my body for inspection and chewing.  Chewbeads has a cute line of teething jewelry that you can wear with baby in mind.  Lots of baby shops have them.  They come in a variety of colors and designs.  You can select from necklaces and bracelets.  

And while we are at it, the bracelets can serve double duty.  If you are breast feeding, put the bracelet on the wrist where you feed from the next time.  Its a handy and stylish reminder for which breast is in rotation.  Yes, you will be tired enough for a reminder at some point.  I pumped for 5 months while our son was in the NICU.  After a while, I couldn't remember to swap wrists to remind me.  

You may have your own "Key Three" list of mommy friendly items.  Let your Key Three reflect who you are.  However, don't let these items be tennis shoes, maternity pants or work out gear.  These things all have their place.  But, don't live in them.  After a while, you will be in a funk just from the boredom of it all.  Making wise choices can keep you feeling good about yourself and help you embrace being and 'looking' like a mom!

The NICU Guide and Post Partum Sanity!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

My husband and I didn't plan on having a baby in the NICU or a preemie for that matter.  When I got pregnant in April 2012, I was in great shape.  I was running, biking, walking, doing yoga, lifting weights and walking.  I enjoyed being active and felt like this was going to play an big part in an easy and uneventful pregnancy.

Up until about week 20, this was the case.  I was never sick.  I was enjoying work and traveling to see customers.  It was a happy time in my life.

I was a bit uncomfortable in my own skin as my body shape changed, but I was supposed to have this happen.

However, when my pregnancy went wrong, it went off the rails.  Starting my 20th week, at a routine appointment, the doctor discovered that my cervix was shortening and advised me to slow down.  And I did.  I was walking slowly - only for circulation and staying off of my feet.

The next week, my body started to leak fluid, and it was down hill from there.  I was admitted to the hospital for a cerclage and placed on strict bed rest for the remainder of my pregnancy.  I managed to make it to 25 weeks which was my goal at that point!  And the next 6 1/2 months were a roller coaster that we could have never imagined.

If your baby is in the NICU, first let me tell you that there is really to right or wrong way to do it!  There is no guide to tell you what to do and what to expect.  And get used to this phrase, for it will dictate your life for a long time..."Every baby is different."  I heard it so much that I would laugh at the nurses when they would say it in response to questions I had.

I'll be there first to tell you this to remember first a foremost, GET SOME REST!  The NICU for some is a quick in and out stop on the way to your home.  But for an itty bitty like ours, it was a marathon.  Not a sprint, and this ordeal needs to be treated as one.

I made lots of mistakes along the way, but a mom can make it!  I did, and I know lots of others that have too.
  1. Try to have a normal routine of meals and sleep as much as time will allow.
  2. Pack snacks in your bag such as fruit, water and granola for unexpected and non routine days that through everything out of sync.
  3. Write down your questions, even if you wake up in the night and have them so that you can be well informed.
  4. Remember that there are no dumb questions.
  5. When you feel yourself getting overly emotional and angry, let the nurses know that you aren't taking out your anger on them that you are having a difficult day.
  6. Always say thank you to the doctors and nurses and let them know about the good job you see them doing on a daily basis!  They have a thankless job that is very hard!
  7. Talk to your baby, hold his/her finger, change diapers if possible - bond with your baby in any way that the hospital will allow and ask - How can I help with my baby's care?  The staff will let you know.
  8. Maintain friendships and don't shut people out!  You will need them!
  9. When people say harsh, seemingly dumb and cruel things - remember that most people can't relate and they don't mean to say things that make you want to pull our your hair and theirs while you are at it!
  10. Ask and allow people to help you!  You will need help from others more at this time in your life now than ever.
  11. Know that it is okay to wear yoga pants, tee shirts and tennis shoes every day of the week!  It isn't a beauty pageant.
  12. Take at least one day a week to go on a date with your significant other.  Living at the hospital isn't good for anyone!
  13. Find things that are good to read or listen to!  Books on tape and podcasts are a great way to pass the time!  
  14. On days that you can and it makes sense, put on make up or dress up just because you can.  You will feel better and different!
  15. If you are feeling overwhelmed, talk to a priest, minister or counselor to unload and get some clarity.  The emotional stress is on some days more than you can take for both you and your family!

Surviving the First Birthday!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The first birthday is a big deal for every mother.  The general consensus is that this first birthday is more for the mom and her memories than the baby.  For us, this was a happy day of celebration on many levels.  Thinking back over the last year, I can't help but be reminded that I sat in a hospital bed scared and anxious to go down to the NICU to see our preemie that had come into our lives 15 weeks early!  It hardly seems like a year has gone by, and I think much of this is due to us only having been home for 5 1/2 months.  But, our little man has reached a big milestone!  How did we celebrate the big day?

First I started with a theme for King Diaper's party - Milk and Cookies.  Pinterest can the party planner's best friend.  I created a Milk and Cookies Board to collect all of my ideas over time.  I used this board to collect recipes, favor ideas, and more.  When it was time to start actually working on the party, the work was already done.

I ordered the invitations and paper goods pack from Etsy.  There are so many different shops that offer all types of custom printing jobs.  Venspaperie was the shop that I used for these packs.  Super cute and easy to print.  Just download, print and use!

One thing to consider when going this route is the amount of paper you will use along with ink.  Also, will you have time to do the cutting, taping etc.  However, the big plus was having a theme and everything going together.  It was definitely what I was going for and super easy for me!  I would recommend ordering well in advance so that you can pace yourself with cutting out and organizing your party stuff.

While I was at it, I decided to order an outfit for our birthday boy to wear.  This also came from Etsy.  Bowdaciousbaby is the shop that I used.  The shop owner completed this order and had it to me lightening fast!

The rest of the party was pretty simple.  We served:

  1. Cookies and Creme Cupcakes
  2. Chocolate Chip Cookies
  3. Snicker Doodle Cookies
  4. Sugar Cookies - Older children were able to decorate theme with frosting and sprinkles
  5. Animal Crackers
  6. Chocolate Milk
  7. Strawberry milk
  8. Plain Milk
The cookies and creme cupcakes turned out flawlessly.  I think this is one of the easiest cupcake recipes and they wind up looking pretty fancy!  I added a bit of blue sugar sprinkles to tie into the color theme with the blue on the paper items.  Since our little man can't have solid food, I made him a cupcake with the plain batter before adding cookie pieces.  

Also, the cookies were easy as well.  I picked simple recipes that most everyone liked.  We cheated on the sugar cookies and used slice and bake dough.  

The last touch was simple paper items for serving.  I picked up simple and plain cups, plates and napkins.  This kept them from competing with all of the other stimulation overload of too much sugar!  I used red plates and an assortment of coordinating cups with plain white napkins.  This is inexpensive and practical.  I'll be able to use the left over cups, plates and napkins at bunco or tailgating some time soon I'm sure!  

At the end of the party, guests were given little bags to take home cookies for a treat a little later.  

It was a lot of fun and happy memories all the way around.

Do I think a theme and lots of matching paper goods is the way to go for a birthday party?  For me, it was.  It was a lot of fun planning something around a central focus.  And in many ways, it simplified things for the party.  One thing that I loved for this party is that everyone loves a cookie - kids and grown ups alike.

Tips for a successful, mommy melt down free party:

  1. Plan ahead.  
  2. Let family and friends help you if they offer.  My mom mad the chocolate chip cookies and sugar cookies.  I made the cupcakes and snicker doodle cookies.
  3. Take the semi-homemade approach with making some things from scratch and ordering other items.
  4. Use online tools and resources to help reduce shopping time and trips to the store.
  5. Enjoy this day.  

And before you ask, no I'm not already planning birthday number two.  I'm going to wait and see what the next year holds and what all he's into between now and then.  He may love something and pick a theme for us next year.  But whatever the case, I plan to make it festive and fun.  Maybe I'll be a bit more practical.  No matter what, it will be awesome!  Have a great week!

Ramp Up for Fall!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Now is the time that I'm feeling the need to get really for fall.  All of the new fall clothes make me want to get out there and find something new and fun to wear.  The problem is, I'm just not really the size that I want to be at the moment.  And while I'm not letting that dictate every thing about my existence, I'm resisting the urge to add much to my fall wardrobe.

One of the best ways to amp up your look is accessories.  It will really add to your wardrobe without the frustration of trying on tons of clothes that make you frustrated.  This past week, I committed to a couple of additions that I think will carry me through for a while!

  1. Bras/underwear
  2. Handbags
No, it doesn't seem like a whole lot, but these things are more or a game changer than one would think.

First, clothes look and fit better with the right underwear under neath.  I'm a huge advocate for it and believe that these are the foundations for looking great.  To get there, you have to GET OVER the idea of numbers, sizes and anything else that bugs you about the whole process.  Next, get fitted for the RIGHT fit.  

The first time I ever was fitted for a bra was right before my wedding.  And a woman I have deemed the bra nazi told me that I should 1.) stop wearing minimizers because they just pushed my breasts under my arms and 2.) the size I was wearing was terrible.  As painful as it was, it was a necessary, life changing event.  I never looked back, and I have forever been grateful for this advice.  I still avoid minimizers and just own the size that I am and go to be fitted for bras.  

There are lots of privately owned shops that do this and sell under garments.  I recommend those to many of the chains.  However, this past week, I was able to go to a Soma Boutique for bras.  It worked just fine.  I left with two bras that are awesome and do the job.  Additionally, I picked up a pair of panties that are great!  

Next, I headed to Ann Taylor Loft with my trusty little coupon and left with a couple of great handbags for fall/winter.  Both are brown and can be very versatile.  The first one is a larger, work type bag that will work for every day.  The second is a smaller clutch that will work great for evenings and weekends.  They had a 40% off sale and got both for a steal!  

What else could you do for your fall wardrobe?  Jewelry is always a great way to go.  Charming Charlie is a great store to run in a pick from color organized selections that include earrings, necklaces, rings, scarves, bags and more.  

I highly recommend scarves.  I have tons of them that I pull from for my fall/winter clothes.  You can mix and match them with anything and also purchase them in a variety of weights depending on the season.

Last, SHOES!  Any girl can change up an outfit with shoes.  Look for shoes that will carry you through the cooler seasons like a pair of booties.  Lots of stores are stocking up with them right now.  There are tons of online shoe shops that can pair you with a "personal shopper" and selections shipped right to your door.  Many offer great shipping and sale pricing on your first order.  And, you can never go wrong with Zappos with free shipping and returns!

So, if you are looking for something new, but don't want to step into the dressing room - opt for an accessory rich wardrobe are recycle some things that you have.  Basic pieces can be dressed up or changed up just by the shoes, bag, jewelry or scarf that you have one.  New undergarments underneath will make you feel and look like a million bucks.  Step away from the dressing room and next to something fun for some stress free shopping and great fall looks!  

And that can make any mommy happy!

Matchy matchy

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Have you seen the mom with her toddler out with the pair dressed in matching outfits?  Yes.  You know this scene.  Everyone has encountered this at some point. Well, I have become her.  And, I feel quite certain that I have earned this right.  I'm asked nearly every week if I am the grandmother.  Therefore, I feel entitled to some homemade matching goodness for me and my little man at this stage in our lives.

I wanted to experiment with making King Diaper an outfit.  So, I made him a little outfit for our first home football game.

Patterns can be very expensive.  Purchasing patterns on sale or from a second hand shop is a great way to save money.  Also, you can go through vintage patterns of your mom or grandmother.

If you don't have access to vintage patterns or hand me down ones, New Look has really reasonably priced patterns.  Pattern 6198 is an easy pattern that I really enjoyed.  It contains a pattern for a girl and a boy.

You can customize this pattern with your choice of fabrics, optional pocket on the font, and appliqu├ęs.

One note about this pattern is that it calls for snap tape to place at the bottom where you would open for diaper changes.  I just made my own by creating a piece of matching bias tape from the fabric of the romper.  That is entirely up to you and your sewing skill level, but it was very easy to do.
I was able to complete this romper in one afternoon.  I did have to have some help for daddy duty.  But, I think it turned out great.  Its just a simple one piece with buttons on the shoulders and snaps at the bottom.  It is not lined and the bias tape is the make the leg openings and arm openings more finished.  

To make things more fun, I decided to make myself a matching/coordinating outfit to wear as well.  My mother has lots of vintage patterns that she no longer uses.  So I went with the dress in the blue to the far left.  It's sleeveless and really comfy in hot weather.

The only downside to vintage patterns is that they are made for super models.  And the sizing is what I consider to be way off.  I had to do some resizing to fit this pattern to fit me.  You can find instructions for this online.

As I have stated in a previous blog post, I'm a big fan of simplifying the shopping process.  So, I purchased everything for this online at Fabric.com.

Anything over $35 qualifies for free shipping, and I used this as opportunity to purchase some fabric for another project.

Here is the finished product for both!  I think it turned out just fine.

The total cost for this project was:

Nights in Barcelona Branches and Berries Fabric @ $4.78 x 3.5 yards = $14.34
Invisible Zipper $2.48
Thread $1.78
Bias Tape $1.89
Sew on Snaps $1.68
Interfacing $1.80
Buttons $.80

$24.77 Total

I think that is pretty awesome for an outfit for each of us to wear.  You may be thinking about the amount of time that it took to make these is worth something.  And yes, it is, but that really isn't the point of sewing for me.  I select simple projects that I enjoy.  The time I'm spending at home making a dress that I'll enjoy wearing is worth it to me.

And yes, I plan for each of us to wear these outfits again.  I doubt we will wear them simultaneously.  It was fun for the day.

Sewing Tips:

  • Allocate enough time for cutting out the pattern and fabric.  Don't rush this step or it can ruin your whole sewing experience.  
  • Do things in steps.  One afternoon or evening, cut out the patterns.  The new day, cut out the fabric. Then moving forward, do one step in the pattern at a time until you are finished.  Pacing yourself will keep you from becoming frustrated.
  • Use online resources, instructions and videos to help with steps that you don't understand or that seem complicated.
  • Accept mistakes and little irregularities.  Your project doesn't have to turn out perfect.  It is part of the process.
  • Enjoy sewing and having a finished product at the end!

Savvy Shopping Tips

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Being a savvy shopper makes me very happy.  I have always been a coupon shopper, but I'm a coupon girl now more than ever.  There are lots of ways to ways to make smart use of your time and money.

I am a very organized shopper.  OurGroceries is a great app that I have downloaded onto my phone to keep up with things that I need.  I can type in what I need and look for that item later.  It also syncs up with other users phones.  So, my hubby and I can coordinate our efforts.

First, I shop online for baby, home and even spices.  When I have a little time at home or while on the road working during the week, I use some of that time to buy things that I need.  Online shopping allows me to purchase things from my phone or laptop.  I'm also able to do this wherever I am when I have a few minutes.

Second, mobile apps for shopping is always a winner!  It makes shopping on the go simple and quick.  If there are stores that you shop at regularly, it is the best way to go.

Walgreens is one of the best apps that one can download on their phone.  Once installed, you can login to refill prescriptions, shop and even view coupons and sales ads!  Its a great thing to have and very handy!

Also, if you have a favorite store to shop, download their app.  This will allow you to shop from your mobile device with ease.  Target has the new Cartwheel App.  Babies R Us also has several handy apps.  But, you can customize this to suit your needs.

When you are doing research on baby products and trying to find the best deal, use Google Shopping.  It will allow you to:

  • Compare prices
  • Search for reputable online companies to purchase items
  • Find online shops with the least amount of shipping, taxes, etc.

My final favorite shopping tool is Retail Me Not.  Search for coupons to use both online and in stores.  If you download their mobile app, you can locate coupons on the go.  In a store and want to see if there is a coupon you can use on products you are buying, check it out on your mobile app.  Any time I am shopping online, I look to see if there is a coupon for whatever I am buying.  It never hurts to check it out.  I was able to save over 50% on my birth announcements and thank you notes for baby gifts with this site!  

Don't get down with spending tons of time shopping for deals online.  It can be a bigger time drain than driving from store to store.  
  1. If you are going to buy a specific product, start with Google Shopping to compare prices.  Find a company and go with it!  Over thinking this just costs your time, and your time is worth something.  That is money you are wasting in my opinion.
  2. Look to see if there is a coupon for whatever you are buying on Retail Me Not.
  3. Also, if it is an item where you need to buy more to get free shipping what can you add that you actually NEED?  For example, I needed a new baby thing for bathing the baby.  If I bought $50 the shipping was free.  I bought a box of diapers to get free shipping.  The price was right.  I always need diapers, and that saved me a trip to the store.  Yep, saving gas is saving money!
  4. Buy and move on.  
You can't always wait for sales. Lots of time can be wasted online looking for saving a few dollars.  Save yourself the time, money and gas of driving around town and get it over with.  

Have a great week!  Being a mom is hard, but making good use of your time makes for a lots of happy faces.

Dinning In...

Saturday, August 24, 2013

I have rediscovered the joys of cooking since we have come home from the hospital.  Now, keep in mind this doesn't mean that I'm cooking crazy complicated menus.  But, I do enjoy making healthy meals that are tasty!  I've also really worked to incorporate local fruits and veggies into my weekly menus.  

This Saturday night, I took advantage of the last of the heirloom tomatoes.  What better to showcase these tomatoes bursting with flavor than a simple pasta?  So, here is a quick and easy pasta that a great substitute for a meal out.  

First, put on a large pot of water to boil and add a nice amount of salt.  When it comes to a boil, add a box of whole wheat penne pasta.  

While you start your pasta slice a couple of pounds of heirloom tomatoes.

Once your pasta is cooked, you will need to reserve about a cup of the liquid from the pot.  

Have a four ounce roll of goat cheese ready to slice up. 

Drain the pasta and add back to your pot along with the tomatoes.

Next, add in your goat cheese and stir in until melted.  Add reserved liquid as needed to make a sauce.  Its important to do this while the pasta is still hot so it all melts together.

Add some fresh cracked pepper.  You can also add chopped basil to taste.

Its a great creamy, light sauce that makes a great meal with a salad, some fresh bread and a glass of wine.  You also have some great leftovers for lunch!  

No secret, life has certainly changed.  Our weekend nights out have been traded for staying in with our little man.  And that's okay.  Having a few tricks up my sleeve for a good meal makes it less hum drum!  

Try out this pasta for a quick weekend or week night meal.  This is a meal that is sure to be a family favorite!

Whole Wheat Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes and Cheese
2 pounds of heirloom tomatoes, chopped
1 box of whole wheat penne pasta, 16 ounces
4 ounces of goat cheese
chopped basil to taste

Place a large pot of water on to boil with plenty of salt.  When boiling, add pasta and cook until tender. Reserve 1 cup of liquid and drain.

Add the pasta back to the pot.  Add tomatoes and goat cheese.  Stir quickly adding reserved liquid as needed to make a sauce.

Add chopped basil to taste along with fresh cracked pepper.

Nap Time Crafter

Sunday, August 18, 2013

When King Diaper came into the world, I was convinced that my crafty past might be over.  Now, I'm just a lot more clever with my time.  I'm the chief nap time maximizer with my time.  

Several weeks, ago I saw the inspiration for my most recent craft time at a school where I was working for the day.  The secretary had this cute little owl door hanger in her office that I was certain I could recreate.  Take a look at the inspiration piece below.

Basically, its an owl made of burlap with a fabric piece of choice to decorate the front.  

I set out to make my own owl, the following items were purchased:

  • Burlap fabric - Choose whatever colors you want.  But, I would go with a neutral colored backing piece, cream or white for the eyes and belly, black for the eye pupil and color of choice for the feet and beak.  Essentially, you will need 3 or four different color selections.  
  • Colorful front body piece of fabric.  This can be whatever you choose.  
  • Mesh Ribbon to coordinate with your fabric for the bow.
  • Jewelry wire
  • Wire Cutters
  • Poly Fiberfill Stuffing
  • Thread for sewing
  • Newspaper or Freezer Paper to make a paper pattern
  • Glasses or round pieces to cut out eyes
  • Scissors
I decided to purchase a patterned piece of burlap instead of using a fabric piece for the front body.  It was a piece of green and cream colored burlap.  Depending on the size of your owl, you will need a 1/2 yard to 1 yard to make the front.  And other piece the same size to make the back.  

After drawing my pattern off, I cut out my large owl body.

Next, I started cutting out the eyes.  I used a glass to cut the round circles for them.  I used the largest size glass to cut the bottom piece of the eyes.  They are in three pieces.  The bottom is a brown, neutral color.  When cutting out the eyes, remember, that you will need two of every piece.  

For the middle portion of the eye or the white of the eye, I used a cream color.  The glass for this one was slightly smaller than the largest one.

I used a shot glass to make the pupils of the eyes.  No, I wasn't doing shots as I created this during King Diaper's nap time.  It actually didn't even occur to me until I was typing this up!

To keep everything in proportion, I placed the eyes on the body pattern and drew a belly piece to use for cutting those out.  I used the same color for the middle portion of the eyes for the belly.

After cutting everything, out, it was time to start stitching everything together.  I did this using a machine.  Very simple stitching.

When I did the eyes, I sewed the bottom brown piece and the cream middle piece together first.  Then, I added the black pupils to the eyes.

Last, I stitched on the belly piece.  Now, it is time to sew the back to the front.  Remember, I used a print for the front.  But I used a brown piece of burlap for the back.  Leave the top of the head open between the ears to stuff it.

After I loosely stuffed the owl, I sewed the top shut.  I did this with a machine as well.  Finally, I hand stitched the beak and feet into the owl.

To finish off the owl, I made a wire hanger of jewelry wire.  This can be cut to the desired length of choice.  I poked an end piece of wire from back to front at the inner part of the ear at the top of the owl head.  I then wrapped the wire around a round paint brush five times.  Next, I rolled off the amount of wire to have the proper amount as a hanger.  You determine the length, but add about 6 inches to this amount.  Cut your wire.  Now poke the second piece back to the front on the other side and wrap five times around a round paint brush.  Or, you can use a pencil.  The point of this is so the hanger wont come out and it looks pretty.

Make a bow and attach it to the head with wire.  Secure it right into the burlap.  

One final detail for my owl was an initial letter.  I painted my piece orange to match the bow and added a little bronze detail.    I attached the letter just under the beak to make it look like it was holding it in the beak.  

So, what did this craft project cost?

1.  Burlap for body and back - 1 yard @ $4.99
2.  Burlap for eyes, beak and belly - 1/2 yard @ $2.49
3.  Fiberfill - already had this
4.  Ribbon - $6.99
5.  Initial Letter - $6.99
6.  Wire - $1.99
7.  Paint - $1.99
8.  Accent Paint - $1.99

Total $27.43 (plus tax)

This amount would be less if you didn't add the initial letter.  Also, you may already have items like paint or fabric that you could use for this project.  So, the costs would be entirely up to you and what you wanted to do with this.  Also, remember that you could use left overs for other crafts.  

Some ways to make this a less expensive project:
  • Use some fabric you already have for either the body, beak, feet or eyes.
  • Omit the initial.
  • Use ribbon you already own for the bow.
  • Paint the eyes rather than using layers for the eyes.
  • Paint an initial onto the belly rather than hanging a wooden one.

So, now the big question....how many nap times did this take???  Well, lets just say that the first day was just cutting out pieces.  Next nap, I sewed together the pieces and stuffed it.  After that, I sewed on the accent pieces by hand.  The initial was painted and bow attached during another nap.  Finally, I added the hanger and added the initial to the body.  

This has given me some hope to being able to nap craft it up!  

What's my next project?  I'm planning to make a dress for myself.  And being truly my mother's daughter, I think I'll use the left over's to make my little man something to match.  Yes, I'm going to be that mom!  I can't help it.  I waited 40 years for this.  And, if I'm going to be asked if I'm that kid's grandmother on a regular basis - well, I've earned the right to put he and I in some homemade matching goodness.  

Get out there and craft it up.  This is a great project for fall doors.  Have fun and space out your projects.  They don't have to be done in one afternoon.  

Spacing these things out gives me something to look forward to as I work on it each day - and a finished project in the end!  

Week in Review

Friday, July 26, 2013

This past week, I determined that becoming a mother is much like going back to the awkward age of puberty!  I'm not sure that my body will ever be the same after King Diaper entered the world.  I had vowed that I would enter my 40's happy, confident, slim and ready to take on any challenge.  Well, two of the 4 are true!  And, I suppose I can live with that.

One bit of advice that I can give any new mother, regardless of age, is get out of whatever rut you are in.  DO NOT allow yourself to live in maternity clothes.  Or, even worse, don't squeeze yourself like a snausage into whatever clothes you are determined to fit into.  Just start over.

Why?  Well, for starters, King Diaper pulls and tugs on everything I own causing a wardrobe malfunction at every turn.  So, shopping will include the need to consider this.

Second, your body shape may not ever be the same.  And, if it does bounce back, it might not bounce back immediately.  Or, if it does bounce back immeadiately, you are a true freak of nature and other women hate you.  (Just kidding, bask in the glory of that enjoy some ice cream!)

I have learned to rethink my wardrobe.  What once was flattering in terms of style and fit, no longer is.  I am not going to spend the next how ever long mourning my previous happy weight.  I'm going to enjoy being King Diaper's mommy and figure out what I can fit into and feel good about.

Try on clothes that you wouldn't have tried on before.  No, this doesn't mean a G String Bikini.  Try on lots of different shapes, styles and patterns and figure it out all over again.  Find things that fit your new lifestyle and activities.  And whatever you do, limit the amount of stretchy pants!  Go for things that you might not have to iron, skirts, dresses and things you can throw on and feel good in.  Trust me, you will thank me for that!

I'm still busy figuring this mommy thing out, but I do know that I'm going to love it and that doesn't leave a lot of room for obsessive diets and self loathing over a few pounds.  Working out every day, I'm on it.  I'll be back to my happy weight at some point.  I don't even know that I want to set a goal for it.  I just know that I have the following goals:

  • Be happy and enjoy being King Diaper's mommy.
  • Work out and eat to be healthy.
  • Try to keep a relatively clean house.
  • Balance work and home so that I can do a good job at both.
Well, that is quite enough.  Life is busy, and I'm trying to soak it all up -  changes and all.  Have a great weekend.  I'll post wardrobe suggestions and ideas soon!

Delivery Delight

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Have you ever seen the lady that you know discovered her 'look' somewhere around 1985 when Dynasty was at the height of fashion?  You know the one the lady that found a look that works for her and has kept it for 20+ years.  Okay, maybe you are younger than I and have no clue who Linda Evans even is.  Put it like this - know anyone who looks good but dated?  That's the one.  Well, I'm determined not to be this mother!

I'm not sure how to avoid this pitfall entirely, but I do know that one thing is keeping it fresh and up to date.  No better place to start than with your face and hair.

I subscribe to a service called Birchbox.  For $10 a month, you get a little box of goodies that include everything from perfume samples, eye cream, hair pins, lip gloss, nail polish....you get the picture.  Its like a pretty little present delivered to your door each month.

Last month, I received a hair protectant spay, hair pins, eye cream, blush and acne cream.  All great scores.  

So, its ten bucks - and you may be thinking thats a lot of cash over the year.  Here's how I see it.  
  1. The products really are great and high quality.  Worth the money for sure!
  2. I travel a lot for work so its a way for me to always have sample/travel size items in my bag while on the road.
  3. Using all of the these samples saves me money on products that I would ordinarily buy to try out, but I'm not committing to a full size deal until I've tried it out!  
  4. Even if you don't travel and don't buy a lot of products to try, its always stuff that you can/will use.  So you are paying for beauty stuff you will actually need!
Its plenty of bang for your buck.  And, I've found quite a few perfumes, facial creams and other products that I have actually bought that I liked.  

Looking for a gift for someone that has everything or that you don't know what to get?  This is the gift that keeps on giving and requires little effort on your part.  Sign up a friend or loved one for a 3 month subscription.  You can do it all online and they get a little gift for three months in the mail.  

BeautyBox5 also offers a beauty box subscription that has a $12 a month program.  But rates drop as you buy in for more months.  Three months is $10 and an annual subscription is $8!  

There are other subscription services that you can try out as well if beauty isn't your thing:
  • For the health conscious, try Klutchclub.  Natural beauty, health and fitness items arrive at your door for $18 each month.

  • Citrus Lane has care packages for mom and baby.  You can customize for the age and gender of the child.  Subscriptions start at $21 per month.

  • Or spice things up for a night with hubby with SpicySubscriptions. The price is slightly higher at $24.95, but this might be the best money spent all night for a much needed date night!  (No pictures posted since I agreed not to include adult content here.)  
Don't get lost or in a rut as a new mom!  I think it is super easy to be so busy with your new little life and just forget what your own interests and wants are.  With such limited amounts of time to shop or even think about what you want, monthly subscription boxes are a way to take the guess work out of what you actually want.  It comes to you!

Adventures in Baby Food

Monday, July 22, 2013

Baby food and feeding time has taken on a whole new set of needs with the introduction of soft foods. I found myself pouring over food choices, making food versus buying foods, organic food choices, best foods for brain development....you get the picture. Information overload! And, maybe I just over think it all! However, I did make the decision to purchase a Beaba Babycook. Based on reviews and all that jazz, this seems like the right fit for me. So, this little gem will steam your baby's food. Then it can be pureed into a nice smooth food for baby. For, my first go at this whole make your baby's food business, I tried carrots. Start with fresh carrots. You can use organic, baby carrots or whatever kind you like. The farmers market is also another great place to locate your veggies for making baby food. I recommend starting there. Dice up your veggies and follow the directions with your machine. In a nutshell, pour the proper amount of water into the steamer chamber. Place veggies in steamer basket. Seal machine and start.
Once you have finished steaming, the baby cook will beep. Empty your veggies into the food processor and blend until smooth. I did have to add some additional water to make a smoother consistency. You can use your own judgement on this. I will say that babies DO NOT like chunks of any kind at first. So the smoother the texture, the better. Once done, you can place into your container of choice and freeze for use as needed. I also purchased the Beaba Multiportions container for storage and freezing. Since they are made of silicone, its easy to remove your baby's food once frozen.
One final word of advice if you plan to make your baby's food, don't take it personally if they don't LOVE it when you are feeding them. You aren't a failure. It doesn't mean that the food isn't good or tasty. Introducing new foods to your baby is a big deal, and they are developing their palate and eating skills. Make feeding time a happy time when they develop a good relationship with both you and food. Meal times should have healthy options and include conversation - even with baby. After spending 15 years of marriage eating on the sofa in front of the tv with hubby at meal time, we are now learning to eat at the table all over again and make it a family affair. This has been a great opportunity for us to do something new and enjoy being parents in a whole new way.

Getting Back on Track

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Before baby (BB), I worked out 6 or 7 days a week. I was obsessed about diet and exercise. And, going into pregnancy, I was determined to come out on the other side in great shape and unfazed by this total transformation of my body. Mother nature had other plans for me. I started out my pregnancy biking, running, walking, weights...all of the things I had been doing before. The doctor felt fine with this. So, did I. But, at 20 weeks my cervix started to shorten. At 21 weeks, I started to dilate and was on strict bed rest. By 24 weeks, my water broke - then I delivered at 25 weeks. 193 days later, I brought home a baby and a lot more weight that I would have wanted too. First, I've decided that I am in fact an emotional eater. There. I said it. But, what am I going to do about it??? Well, BB I was in great shape. And, there is no reason I can't be again. After 40, its a big deal, but each day I'm living it and relearning how to manage baby, work and getting back in shape. Enter - Jawbone UP! If you don't know about this little gem, run - don't walk - and get one of these!!!
You wear this wrist band 24/7 and it measures your sleep patterns, steps, exercise and even food. Overtime, it can help you track you health, see patterns in your lifestyle and make better decisions. In short, its a fancy pedometer/lifestyle meter! You can even generate all kinds of fancy charts and graphs as it syncs directly to your smart phone.
Why do I recommend this for new mom's? Well, this is when mom's try and get back into shape like myself. I don't always have time for a big workout. But, I can always keep up with what I'm doing to make a difference in my overall health. And lets face it, being healthy is important to me! It was before. It is now. I just have to be a little more strategic about what I'm doing. So, here's to getting back on track AB (After Baby)! I'm not there yet, but I'm getting there! This is just one piece of the puzzle!

Bath Time Blues

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Our family lives in a small house by American standards. We use every inch of our 1,200 square foot home. Adding a baby into our space has required a lot of planning. Every purchase that we have made involves the investigation of space saving features. Planning for our little Boo Man's bath tub was no different. I finally settled in on one of the folding tubs by Puj. If you have not heard of these tubs, I highly recommend it. For starters, it can be stored flatly by hanging it up in the shower.

The tub is soft and has large plastic covered magnets that help it fit together well within the sink.

Your baby should fit well until the 18 pound mark. Our man is 16 1/2 pounds and quickly outgrowing it, but it has served it purpose well. I've avoided a large plastic thing that takes up too much space. It is soft and helps to hold the baby well. In my opinion a baby must have. You can purchase or register for this item at most retail stores that carry baby items. I purchased mine at Target. Or, you can purchase one directly from the Puj site. In the coming months, I'll offer more space saving solutions to help you figure out space issues. Even if you have a larger home, baby stuff is big (ironic with such a small person) and takes over your life. Strategic planning will help you keep you sanity and probably save your neck when it comes to tripping over this stuff late in the night when getting up with baby!

How does all the new fit in with the old?

Monday, July 1, 2013

When I found out that we were having a baby, I was elated with all of the new. But, as soon as this all sunk in, I was struggling with where this all fit into my life. Over the fifteen years of marriage, my husband and I seemed to have accumulated 2 lifetimes of 'stuff'. What was I going to do with it all? First, watch Hoarders! After a few episodes of this, you might become convinced you are a hoarder. And, if nothing else, you will most certainly want to clean every room of your house! Immediately! Actually, I started out one room, closet and bookshelf at a time. Soon, we had the process down to a science. Even if you aren't having a baby, you will have a ton of stuff in your house that is not being used! Get rid of it! While we donated a lot of stuff to charity, I sold all of those things that were in good shape and would yield some profit toward the new stuff that we would be filling our house with. I sold new fabric that I had squirreled away for crafts. Yarn that I had bought for knitting but never used went as well. I sold CD's, shoes, clothes, furniture. Pretty soon, I had enough cash to pay for the fabric to decorate the baby's room and the paint we needed. I was pretty proud of this. As we went, I tried to think of how to rearrange things to make room for baby. Kids need a lot of stuff. Even after 9 months, I'm constantly amazed at everything that we have for a baby. But, then again, he's a person - he needs a space in our home too. That is what finally helped me to wrap my head around it. I've been looking at this as stuff, space and me really. Being without a person to be responsible for can develop some selfish habits. And there is nothing wrong with that. But, our son needs space to play and grow and be. As soon as I got over the whole, "look at all of this stuff" deal and began to embrace what all he needs - my life got a whole lot clearer. Sure, I have been focused on him and what he needs since before we ever saw his sweet face. But, it is so much more real when you are living it every day while him, his things and his needs. And I love it. Getting rid of the old didn't just make room for another person. It helped to change the scenery in our home. Our life was changing. It wasn't just us anymore. Those changes took our lives from being the old us to the new us with more stuff and new person. And, we are changing with it. I like the view from here. Some people usher in midlife with a convertible or plastic surgery. I did it with a baby, strollers, a need for a four door car and plastic surgery on the back burner! Shedding the old is a great way to start a new chapter in your life. It can be whatever you choose it to be! Make something great happen with some changes in your life!

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