walking next to me
26. 01. 2017

I didn’t really plan to have so many posts about babies and parenting and everything to do with them, but this is kind of where my life is at right now, so that’s what I’m thinking about, so this is what you get!  Today I wanted to share a few things I’ve learned from my almost 12 months of doing the mommy thing.  (note, these are not in any kind of order and they probably aren’t that profound! ha!)

1. Baby stuff doesn’t have to look like baby stuff.

Before having Abel, I thought my life would be taken over by ducks and lambs and pastels – but it totally doesn’t have to be like that (unless you want it to be!).  Even more traditional baby brands like Carters and Gerber have pretty modern, trendy prints and styles – you just have to look for them.  And I heart H&M Baby  :)

2. Toys are both a waste of money and essential at the same time.

We haven’t really bought many toys yet and I know that will probably change as he continues to grow and to play more, but he really doesn’t seem to be missing out.  We have a few toys that were given as gifts, an exersaucer, and a playmat with toys that hang over him and it feels like it has been the perfect amount.  He really loves the clear plastic cups at restaurants and he has a blue beanie that he loves to carry around with him and chew on and it often seems that he would rather have those than his toys.  I also completely recognize that toys and playing are how babies learn and develop, so you can’t not have them, but I don’t think you need to go nuts.

3. Sleep when the baby sleeps is not for everyone.

When Abel was born that was the one piece of advice that I got the most.  I totally get it in concept but it hardly ever really worked out that way for me.  Generally speaking, whenever he would sleep it would feel like a somewhat normal life experience again and I could get things done!  And I couldn’t just lay down and sleep whenever I wanted – maybe others are blessed with this ability, but not me!  I also never felt that overwhelming fatigue that I hear a lot of other moms talk about (I’m probably jinxing myself for the next baby here) and there were only a small handful of times that I would finally crash and need a nap.  So I would change the “sleep when the baby sleeps” mantra to “listen to your body and don’t push yourself in the beginning”.

4. There is nothing more valuable than a helpful husband (or support system in general).

There have been multiple times in the past six months that I have thought to myself “man, this would be so hard if I was doing it on my own” and I so feel for people in that situation.  Having someone to help with the day-to-day grind is invaluable.  And even past a helping hand, it is much more fun to have someone to be able to share in all of the new experiences with.  I am constantly yelling from the other room for Ben to “come quick, look at the hilarious face he’s making”.  And past our immediate nucleus, we have so many people willing to take Abel off our hands if we need a break or a date night, and that is equally awesome.

5. Making time to still be a couple is super important.

Even if you still end up talking about your baby the whole time, just having adult, kid-free time together is huge and makes you appreciate each other all the more.  This is something I feel like we could improve on still, but at least we are aware of it, and acknowledgement is half the battle, right??  But even the few hours in the evening that we get by ourselves after Abel’s bedtime are great opportunities for this!

6. Babies don’t need ideal, cushy situations all the time to be ok.

We were pretty intentional about not going above and beyond to make Abel perfectly happy and content.  Maybe we have an easy kid, and maybe it is going to blow up in our face later, but for now, it seems to be working.  We just done things like not getting a white noise machine for his nursery, or a wipe warmer.  We have never even purchased baby food, we generally just fed him from the table the things he could eat that we were having that night and supplemented with bananas (his fave) whenever there wasn’t enough baby-friendly parts to the meal.  I’m not taking that much credit here, I really do think he’s a pretty easygoing guy, but by us not stressing out, I can only imagine that it helps nurture that.  Oh and babies bump their heads all. the. time. when they are learning to roll/crawl/climb.  Obviously they need to be safe, but we don’t pick him up and make a big deal out of it if he isn’t making a big deal out of it.

7.  Just so I can make it an even seven, which seems like a good complete number, here are a few other thoughts.

– Get a dog or at least make sure that your baby is exposed to animals a lot.  Get a good, chill dog that is the right breed/size for your family.  Save the large, energetic/crazy dogs for when all your kids are older.  Get a dog that your baby can climb all over and pull it’s hair and be ok until your baby is old enough to learn not to be so mean to it.  It also boosts kids’ immune systems, not that Abel ever, ever chews on our dog’s toys like they are his own.  That would be irresponsible.

– Nursing is weird, but it’s not as bad as your kid FLIPPING out because they are hungry.  Stigmas toward this have gotten a lot better, but they aren’t perfect yet.  It is unreasonable for moms to stay home or be crammed into some nasty public bathroom whenever their babies are hungry.  Because they are hungry a lot! I don’t feel like you have to be extreme about this though.  Not wanting to start a war in my corner of the internet, but if you wear a shirt and cover things up normally, it probably makes sense to do so while feeding your baby.  If topless is your norm, then by all means, but it seems like a reasonable rule of thumb.

– Nursing is also really cool.  I realized the other day that I have spent hundreds of hours feeding my baby.  That’s a lot.  But they are moments that are mine and I love that.  Soon we won’t have those and life will be about throwing sippy cups across the room and refusing to eat vegetables.  Yippy!

More than anything else, I think you just need to figure out what works for you and your family and if it isn’t working, change it.  It needs to work for mom, dad, and babies.  And kids change and develop all the time, so the system needs to change with it.  We’ve done weird things, like not giving him grains/wheat until a year old (yes, we have successfully raised a kid thus far without Puffs!), but it works for us and it’s what we think is right.

If you are absolutely dying to know, I can tell you all about the wheat crisis we face.  But this post is about how to parent, because it seems like there aren’t enough of those posts out there these days.  ;)

20. 01. 2017

Somehow, I really have no idea how, I am planning my baby boy’s first birthday party that is in just a few weeks!  So many mixed emotions about this.  But the good news is babies don’t care one bit what their party is like, because they don’t even know what a party is on their first birthday.  So I get to hold off on the Daniel Tiger themed parties for a little longer and we are hosting brunch for family.  (I threw out Daniel Tiger because I think it’s relevant.  In reality, we don’t watch TV at all yet so I really struggled naming a kids show.  Daniel Tiger might not even be a thing anymore but I heard about it a few months ago…)

So when you hop on Pinterest because there is no other way to start planning a party, bunting is everywhere!  It looks simple enough that there is the typical moment of inspiration (or Pinspiration if you will) and you think, “Hey, I could do that!”  And then you start researching the heck out of the countless DIY options out there.  You know when you see those tutorials on Pinterest written by women who apparently are professional crafters who use words like pennant that you have to look up (pennants are apparently the individual flag things of the bunting) and they are require a bunch of supplies that will take you two hours to check all the crafts stores in town trying to find some random thing that is actually kind of expensive and then you find it on Amazon and then you think to yourself, I don’t have Prime, this isn’t going to be here for two weeks so you end up just buying it on Etsy?  (that was an intentional run-on sentence, rest easy high school English teachers!)

While I love me some Etsy and I still want everyone reading this to support small businesses like the one’s on Etsy, this post is here to provide the non-crafter’s tutorial for a really simple, quick and dirty bunting.

Let me start by saying, yes I could have spent more time on this project but I knew that it was mostly going to be used for this party and that was it.  So there are raw, unhemmed edges and sometimes I didn’t cut perfectly straight, but for what I needed, that was ok.  I think this situation comes up a lot for people, which is why I am writing this tutorial!

Let me start by saying that this is bunting:

It has nothing to do with baseball or a snow suit for a baby.  It’s fabric triangles strung together on a string.  That’s it!

So here is what you will need to make one of these puppies:

All I had to buy from the list above was the fabric and I bought twice as much as I needed because I was in a hurry in the fabric store and didn’t think it through properly (aka ahead of time).  So this project should have cost me $4.50.  Not bad and cheaper than Etsy (sorry Etsy).

Let’s get started!

Start by picking the size you want your triangles to be.  I made mine 5″ wide along the base and 5″ tall.  I probably could have made them a bit bigger but it’s a baby’s birthday party so smaller is on theme right?? ;)  The easiest way to do this and crank out a bunch is to mark out the half point and whole length of your base (2.5″ and 5″ in my case) and then at the half way point measure out for your height (5″ in my case) and then just draw your diagonal lines to connect.  And then you can draw a horizontal line connecting the points across the bottom and you have another set of triangles.  Another pro tip, keep your fabric folded in half so you have half as many cuts to make!

This is probably easier to understand using the picture below.  Follow the numbered steps and cut the blue, green and purple lines and you will end up with 6 triangles (assuming you kept your fabric folded)

 

Cut them all out, then fold the base in to make a little pocket to run your string through.  Mine was about 1/2″.  Just keep in mind, it needs to be wide enough to thread your string/twine through once you are done.  Pin these in place.

Sew them closed.  If you wanted to not use a sewing machine, you could use some kind of fabric tape but I didn’t have any and I was trying to keep this project inexpensive.

Trim the corners off that are hanging over when you folded it.  I had originally planned to iron all of the triangles at this point but since it was just a lightweight cotton fabric, it wasn’t wrinkled and didn’t seem like it needed it, so I skipped that step (I know, bummer, because I really love ironing)

   

The final step is just to string your string or twine through the pockets.  I tied mine onto a crochet hook to help feed it through and that worked really well but I feel like a safety pin or even a pencil (if your pocket is wide enough) could work if you don’t have one.

   

And that’s it!  See what I mean?  Totally doable!

   

One of my buntings is going around the high chair tray because apparently for a first birthday you have to decorate those things like a throne.  The kid better not get the cake frosting from the cake he also had to have all of it… ;)  Above is the quick trial run, I will definitely make sure my spacing is better when it’s actually party day!

The second bunting I added letters to to spell out Happy Birthday Abel and will string that behind the food table.  I don’t have as good of pictures of that, but I basically just printed out the words in a large, bold font on regular ole printer paper and then carefully cut them out.  I used double-sided tape to attached them to the bunting.  Again, not a long term solution, but they are going in the garbage as soon as the party wraps up, so it didn’t need to be.  More pictures of that to come!

With that, I hope you feel empowered to make your own.  I would say good luck but it really is so easy, you don’t even need it! ;)

05. 11. 2016

Tomorrow is daylight savings.  It’s my first one as a mama and I am already dreading tomorrow morning.  I have heard many times how difficult the time change is on kiddos and while all of you non-parents are enjoying your extra hour, I will be saying good morning to a smiling and energetic baby at 5:00am or earlier.  Oh and Ben is on a men’s retreat this weekend.  Pretty sure the church planned it that way on purpose.  :)

So in honor of “falling back”, I thought I would share the fall decorating project that I finally did today.  This was one of those projects that I had been planning to do for a few years now that I found on Pinterest but it just sat there on my “Crafty” board waiting for me to finally get it done.  (My inspiration can be found here).  To make matters worse, this was probably the easiest project in history.  And I know this is well into the fall season, but cut me a break here people!  I will get at least a month out of this until it is time to decorate for Christmas.

Without further ado, today I made a leaf!

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And I am here to tell you, you can too!

You only need:

A piece of plywood, stained with your favorite stain (this is Dark Walnut) and cut to the dimensions of your choosing – this is about 2’x2′ but any size would work

A leaf garland (mine was about $6 with a coupon at Hobby Lobby)

A glue gun

Scissors

Yes that’s it you guys!  Not let’s talk about the process…

Here I have my stained wood.  Pretty exciting, I know.  About as exciting as my “fruit” basket in the background that only has an onion in it.  Apparently it’s time to go grocery shopping, yeesh!

Right after staining, I left it in the garage for about a week to make sure it was no longer smelly.  If it were just Ben and I, it would have been in the house and finished the same afternoon, but now we’ve got this baby to think about…

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Then, cut the leaves off of your garland.

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Start making the shape of your big leaf out of your leaves.  I just looked up a picture of a leaf online and eye-balled this.  Since you are using things that don’t have straight edges, it is easy to just keep adding as needed to create the shape of your leaf.  I used a hot glue gun to stick my leaves, but whatever type of glue you have would probably work.

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I did the perimeter first to establish the shape, then filled in once it was done.

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Then I spent about 5 minutes removing the little strings from the glue gun.  If I am using my glue gun wrong and there is a way to prevent this, someone please tell me!

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My leaf garland had some bunches of twigs on it.  I used these together to make my stem.

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And then up on the mantle it went!  That was the whole project.  Once it was stained, the whole thing probably took me a half hour.  Including glue gun warm up time.  See, quick and easy!

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A few notes:

I made sure not to glue the entire leaf down so that there was more texture and depth to the big leaf.  You can see that well in the shot below.

The garland I picked had a lot of bright colors, which is just what I wanted.  You can make this as muted, dark, or light as you want.  Whatever’s your thang!

Since I used such a dark stain as my background, I made sure that there were plenty of light and bright leaves on the perimeter so that you can really see the leaf shape and it is easy to distinguish from the dark brown.  Some of the dark reds got a little too matchy-matchy.

The original Pinterest post used real leaves.  I wanted something that would hold up in storage and not get all decomposed on me so this could be used for years to come.  So I went the fake leaf route, but I got the most convincing fake leaves around ;)

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I also have big plans to flip this puppy over and doing something else on the back for the non-fall times of the year.  Still to be determined, but the wheels are a-turning :)

For now I’m going to go light a pumpkin spice candle and ride out this long afternoon nap.

20. 10. 2016

Last Christmas (yes, 10 months ago) I received a wonderful little book in my stocking called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  The book details the KonMari method of decluttering, which was created by a Japanese woman who has built this crazy successful business around helping people get rid of their stuff.

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If you spend any time on Pinterest, you have probably heard about this, or at least mentions of it.  I found it on there when I was reading about minimalist lifestyles.  I was intrigued so I passed it along to my Christmas-list keeper, aka husband.  I think he still regrets to this day buying me this book :)

Before I jump in to my review, a few highlights of the method:

Side note here – if you read the book, you HAVE to try the method of folding clothes that she talks about.  You stack your clothes horizontally in drawers rather than on top of each other so you can really see everything and it saves a ton of space.  Only downside is it does take a little bit longer when folding, but I’m getting faster! :)  Just don’t start talking to your socks like she does.  Girl crazy.

 

So I did this.  Pretty much all while I was on maternity leave and I loved it.  It was so incredibly freeing!  Here’s a few takeaways from my experience.

I always knew that my husband was more of a pack-rat than me but kind of attributed it to the fact that he is nine years older and has just had more time to accumulate more stuff.  I had no idea how deep this thing went.  There were days that he would actually get mad at me for trying to make him get rid of things.     Ms. Marie Kondo actually discusses the fact that you can’t force the people around you to adopt this philosophy with you, and I probably should have heeded her advice a bit more.  Ben did end up getting rid of quite a few clothes, but all in all, he is not into it.  In fact I think it stresses him out.  I’m still trying to accept that fact that this is ok and we can still have a decluttered life with the exception of his half of the closet and his hunting stuff.  I think I’ll get there but there are days that I want to just scream when the closet door won’t shut.  Oh that’s just me too?  Apparently I have bigger issues :)

I had so many clothes that I held onto but didn’t even really like because I was worried that I would suddenly wake up one day and like them.  The odds of this happening were incredibly slim.  So I just got rid of them.  This was perfectly timed with a huge neighborhood-wide garage sale at my dad’s house so we jumped in on that and made about $150!  Now I was getting paid for my decluttering.  Not too shabby!  Obviously not everything sold, but most of it did and St. Vincent’s took the rest.  At the end of the day, mama got a more manageable closet and a pretty new swimsuit!

Had I planned on doing a blog post about this at the time, I would have snapped some before and after pictures.  Next time I suppose.  But we were able to get rid of an entire dresser y’all!

I have always had this horrible habit of settling for things (except for my husband, he’s way out of my league!).  Jeans didn’t fit quite right at the store but I bought them anyway assuming I would somehow be able to make them work once I got them home.  Obviously they sat in the closet collecting dust.  A dress was too short to wear by itself, so I assumed leggings would be the best route but then it looked weird and awkward with leggings but I didn’t return it because I was too lazy.  Not anymore folks!  Sarah doesn’t settle!  I am now super critical of everything I am considering buying and always try things on at the store first (unless I am lugging around a baby, then I might make an exception so I can get out of the store faster).  If I don’t really love it, I don’t buy it.  If I buy online and don’t like it, it gets returned.  Even if I have to pay the return shipping, it goes back rather than staying in my house haunting me with the ghost of a purchase I should have never made.  This is probably not that revolutionary for the average person, but let me tell you, it is for me!

We are in the process of re-doing our living room, which is something I have wanted to do since we moved into our house.  We had third-hand couches of mine from college and a couch and tables from Ben’s bachelor days and I was so ready for big-kid furniture.  But I am so glad that this really started after I read this book!  We now have new couches and a beautiful chair and are in the process of getting new tables.  I’m not stuck worrying if the new stuff will spark joy, but it’s been a great guiding principle and told me that it’s ok to go back to World Market for the fifth time to look at lamps because one day I really will find the perfect lamp and then this will be me:

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Like I said, this may not be ground-breaking, but it really has been for me and based on the success of the book, I would say it has been for a lot of people.  So I highly recommend it!  I would loan you mine, but I already loaned it out to a friend so she can change her life too ;)

I would love to hear if you have tried this, or if my post has inspired you to try it.  I will gladly share in your portion of garage sale profits but take zero responsibility for any arguments this causes in your marriage!  Actually, maybe use that money for counseling when you realize you accidentally married a secret hoarder who says it’s called  “keeping memories”.  Riiiiiiight :)

18. 08. 2016

Baby stuff.  There is so much baby stuff out there!  It can be really overwhelming and I wanted to give my little review on the products we’ve used.  I feel like the stuff you need for babies from birth-6 months is a lot different than 6 months+ so I wanted to take a minute to write about the baby products I loved and those that I thought I would love, but didn’t before I move on to completely different things and forget it all.

First, a few thoughts on the registry in general:

– I used BabyList for my registry rather than registering at an actual store.  I was essentially stalked by BabyList ads every time I looked at anything baby related on Pinterest, so I thought I would give it a try.  I was overall, pretty happy with this decision.  Two positives and two negatives:

I loved the “Products” section where you can see what items other moms have included in their registry and I found it super helpful for items that I didn’t want to waste my time researching to find the best one – like a humidifier and baby toys.

I also loved that you could add babysitting, meals, and hand-me-downs to your registry so that people didn’t feel obligated to actually buy you something if they didn’t want to but still wanted to do something nice.

This is all set up for online shopping.  Most people, myself included, are not this organized when they attend a baby shower.  If I am really on top of things, I have stopped by Target a week before and picked up a few of my baby essentials to give to the new mama.  So really, with the exception of a few allstars, this served as more of an inspiration for people if they even looked at it all.  I suppose this speaks more to human nature than as a demerit for BabyList :)

They don’t offer the percent off your completion purchases after you have the baby like some sites do (Amazon does this).  It would have been nice for sure because there are always things you still need to buy once you have your shower.  But I do love that you can add anything from anywhere and it lets you give more support to small business.

– I also sent this list before it went public to a few of my other new mama friends to see if they thought I should add or didn’t need anything on the list.  I thought this was super helpful because the “must-have” lists that are floating around are way too extravagant if you ask me.  Abel has survived just fine without a wipe warmer but the soft-sided cooler I got because my friend Katy told me I would need one for pumping at work has been a necessity! Use the wisdom around you and only ask for what you will really need!

– Register for gender neutral items!  This was really easy for us because we weren’t finding out the gender ahead of time.  But it always kills me when I see parents who get a pink car seat for their first baby because she’s a girl because they either won’t use or will hate using it for their next baby – which will for sure be a boy since that’s how the world works.  :)  as Abel gets older, I am still trying to buy gender neutral items when I can – even a simple footie pajama can work for both if you keep it basic enough!

 

Now on to the real reason you are here.  What I would tell me best friend to put on her baby registry.  (PS best friend, this is not a way to tell you to start having babies!  ;))

PSS – I’ve now decided to break this into two posts because I apparently had a lot to say about BabyList and this going to be a long post!  Part 2 coming soon where I will discuss baby products that I ended up not loving.

1. A baby carrier.  We have both an Ergo Carrier and Solly Baby Wrap and I have loved having both.

The Ergo was one I found used on Craigslist and it has been great.  We mostly use it for hiking or when Ben wants to carry Abel, because the Solly Wrap is way too girlie for him.  I will say that I really wish we had spent the little bit of extra money and got the 360 carrier that gives the option for them to look out.  At the time, I didn’t think this would be a big deal but I really think that Abel would like to see where we are exploring.  All in all though, very happy with this purchase.

I have loved having the Solly Wrap too.  It is a lot easier to get into for someone who is by themselves.  (How you are to snap yourself into the Ergo without getting a serious workout is beyond me).  I even used this around the house in the first few weeks for skin-to-skin time when I still wanted to be productive.  I also love how cute they are.  That alone should make you register for one ;)

Really, the best part of these are how much Abel loves being in them.  If we’re needing to just get things done, these have been a life saver.  I’ve vacuumed, planted seeds in my garden, prepped for dinner (you aren’t supposed to actually cook while baby wearing so you don’t accidentally burn a little toe) all with baby in tow.  It’s been great and I imagine as we add kiddos to the mix down the road, it will be even more useful!  Here’s the Solly Wrap in action at the Tulip Festival and the Ergo on a hike.

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2.  A Covered Goods nursing cover.

I truly feel like this product has been the key to me being so successful with nursing.  Abel can be a squirmy guy and I never have worry about accidentally putting on a show because he and I both contained by 360 degrees of fabric.  Such a great idea.  And this confidence has let me nurse all kinds of random places and not be worried about it all.  And the fabric is great and stylish.  This might be a trend for all of my favorite products…. :)

3. A Brest Friend nursing pillow.

Real talk – unless you are like the most blessed person on the planet, breastfeeding is hard.  There’s so much more technique to it than I had ever imagined.  This pillow basically creates a platform so you can lay the babes on it and worry about more important things than your arm falling asleep because you’ve been trying for 45 minutes to feed them and it just isn’t happening.  It’s also great that is fastens around you so it’s secure.  I never bought a Boppy pillow because two friends told me to buy this instead and I haven’t looked back.  And you totally can’t beat the name ;)

4. A diaper pail.

We got this one because you can use regular trash bags rather than buying the ones specifically made for the Diaper Genie.  It achieves the same thing as the Diaper Genie – ie trapping the nastiness in the bottom of the pail so you never have to smell it.  We empty this once it’s full – about once a week – and have never had to deal with smells.  I hear that baby poop really takes it up a notch once you introduce solids so I can’t vouch for it working through all of that, but so far so good!

I also think it kind of looks like R2D2 for some reason??  It’s to the right of the dresser in the picture below.

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5.  Swaddling blankets

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We received a three pack of the ever beautiful Aden + Anais muslin swaddles (pictured above) and really loved them.  They are so very soft and light enough to use even when it is warm.  I will say that we had a little Houdini on our hands and he could get out of even our best swaddle attempts.  So we developed a system of using these blankets for nap time and then bought this sleep sack swaddle at night time.  The velcro is a life saver!  All that to say, I haven’t swaddled a baby in months – ever since the little man could roll over, he’s wanted to sleep on his stomach and swaddling went by the wayside.  But these really are great for just covering up with a light blanket when needed too.

6.  The Snot Sucker!

Unless you are a trained pediatric nurse, don’t even waste your time with the bulb suction thing that they give you when you leave the hospital and go buy the NoseFrida Snotsucker.  You really need this on hand for the first cold so get it before your baby is even born!

A few other honorable mentions that I have purchased recently and really like!  They may not be necessities but they are awesome!

– Mushybooks baby books – these are incredibly beautiful, well made, and non-traditional.  I love mine and it has been so fun to fill out so far!

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– Gathre Mat – I was surprised by the idea of leather for a blanket but it is so great for the outdoors.  We just got this so it’s been kind of limited to backyard use but we also took it with us to the lake and it was awesome.  Just wiped it down with a wet towel when we got home and it was good as new.  And it’s waterproof so you can sit on wet grass or sand and stay dry!  Win!

05. 05. 2016

This Sunday is Mother’s Day and it’s my very first Mother’s Day.  I’m sure Abel has something really sweet planned.  Maybe he will sleep through the night.  That would be incredibly thoughtful of him, but I won’t hold my breath.  :)

While I am incredibly excited about being in the mama club and getting to be celebrated, today I can’t help but think back on previous Mother’s Days.  Until now, I used to view it as a day a lot like Valentine’s Day.  Just basically a made up holiday that you have to buy yet another gift for and Hallmark wins yet again.  But now I see it as so much more.  Mothers should be celebrated!  (yes, yes, please celebrate me, I’m incredible and deserve it.  That’s not the point I’m trying to make here.)  When done as it was designed, motherhood is the most selfless and demanding job out there.  There are days when it seems like I could be feeding Abel all. day. long.  It’s unreal.  And exhausting.  Physically, mentally, and emotionally.  The thing that scares me is I know will only get crazier as he continues to grow.  This is the slow and quiet time.  And there is only one of him.  The weariness that moms feel is by itself enough to celebrate on Sunday.

 

But now that I am a mother, I’ve also realized something else.  That’s not why we all take a day to celebrate the women in our lives.  It’s really to celebrate the love that is shared between a mom and her babies.  The love that I feel when I look at this boy is unlike anything I have ever encountered.  It’s pure and unrelenting.  He was sick a few weeks ago and was coughing in my face all day.  You guys sometimes my mouth was open.  I literally cannot think of another person on this planet that I would let do that to me.  Not even Ben.  And I truly didn’t care one bit.  Every time I look at him, my heart swells with pride and happiness.  It makes me want to work every day so that he, and any future siblings he has, will be my greatest accomplishment in life.  The best part is, I know that he loves me back.  He will be three months old on Monday and he loves me.  The kid still has to practice holding his head up at times, but he is already living out what he was created to do.  I feel special just knowing that no one in this whole wide world gets to have the relationship with him that I do.  Not his dad (though it is equally special, just not the same), not his future wife, no one.  I know he loves me when I am the only one who can make him stop crying and he snuggles into my chest like he’s been waiting all day to do so.  Or when he has just woken up from a nap and he smiles as soon as he sees my face.  Being a mom is the coolest thing I’ve ever done.  And that’s what we celebrate.  The love and the relationship between a mama and her sweet babes.

 

I also think back to last years’ Mother’s Day and getting a text from my friend Katy wishing me a happy Mother’s Day.  Not many know this, but the Christmas before, Ben and I lost a beautiful baby just eight weeks into the pregnancy.  She wanted to let me know that I was still a mother and I still deserved to be recognized as such on that day.  I was so grateful for that because I had been thinking all day about how pregnant I would have been at that point and how excited I would have been.  Just knowing that someone remembered me on that day was so beautiful.  I think of my sweet baby often and wonder what he or she would have been like.  Sometimes I think that that baby got  a pretty okay deal because they get to be hanging out with Jesus all the time, which is so much better than anything I could have ever given them.  I can’t wait to meet him or her some day.  It will be a great day indeed.  So for all of the mamas of angel babies, I love you and your babies love you and Happy Mother’s Day.  All the love that you poured into your little baby for the short time that you could deserves to be celebrated too.

 

So Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms, especially to all three of my moms, and thank you for all that you do!

11. 03. 2016

Hello everyone!  I fully intended to take pictures and post this before Abel was born – because I promise, it really was finished ahead of time!  This was one of the many things that didn’t happen, including:  cleaning my house (the whole “nesting” thing never happened like I thought it was supposed to??), getting a haircut and pedicure, picking a pediatrician and daycare provider, and I’m sure a few other really important things that are long forgotten.  I apparently had really big plans for my last two weeks of pregnancy!

But without further ado, here’s a little photo tour of Abel’s nursery!

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Just a regular nursery guard dog :)

 

 

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This is our dresser and changing station. We’ve definitely gotten to know this area well ;) Artwork “tutorial” here

 

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This rocking chair was used in both mine and my sister’s nurseries. I’m sure Abel and I will spend many late nights in this chair!

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These books are all either mine from childhood or gifts from friends and family. Little guy is getting smarter already!

 

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“All good things are wild and free”. Just like little boys :)

 

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This mountain print is kind of what inspired the whole nursery. I ordered all four of these prints off of etsy. You can find them here, here, here, and here. And the tutorial for the mobile here.

 

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I really love how the crib came together and that it is nice and simple. The crib itself is from IKEA. In case anyone is in the market for a crib mattress, I got this one. Very good price and great reviews. Ben’s mom made the square quilt and the crib sheet and our dear friend Jessica made the hexagon quilt. They both add the perfect touch and were a total surprise! The pillows are homemade with fabric from fabric.com.

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Just in case there weren’t enough books in the bookcase, I thought I would display some too. They are on the IKEA picture ledges. Pretty simple and a fun effect. The chest below is one we had laying around and plan to use it for toys. Ben refinished the top and it turned out great!

 

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I hope they take naps together in here someday :) I say someday because Abel is still working on the nap thing.

 

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I can’t take any credit for this sign. Ben stained it and put it together and my dear friend Michelle painted on the letters for me. Although I did go to Home Depot and had them cut the boards to the length I wanted!

 

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These blocks were another project we did. I had Ben stain them (I was pregnant so I couldn’t do these things!) and then used rubber stamps to apply the letters. I sealed the letter-side of the blocks with Mod Podge. Yes I know, these are not baby friendly, they are just decorative :)

 

So there you have it!  A massive thank you to everyone who contributed – especially to my husband, who probably would have refused if I asked him to stain one more thing :)  I am sure that Abel is well aware of just how awesome his nursery is.

03. 03. 2016

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It has now been just over three weeks since Mr. Abel joined our little family and we are truly so amazed at what a perfect baby he is.  Today I wanted to share the story of Abel’s birth with you all.  It’s long and I tried really hard to leave out any of the gross details, but it’s probably more of something that the ladies will want to read anyway.

On the Saturday night before his birth day, about two and half weeks before his due date, I started to notice a change in the way I was feeling.  It is hard to explain this part, but I started to feel a shift in my body and I started to get very nervous about what felt like might be ahead.  This continued on Sunday and Monday.  Monday evening I started to feel kind of crampy but it was still very irregular and I figured they were Braxton Hicks, which I had never had during the pregnancy.  The cramps woke me up every hour or so throughout the night and around 5:00am I got up because they were too intense for me to be comfortable laying down.

Ben woke up around 6:00 and found me sitting in the dark living room on the exercise ball.  He stopped in his tracks and just said very seriously “are you in labor?”  At that point, I was convinced that there was no way this was real labor yet.  So I told him I was calling the midwife at 7:00 because I didn’t want to annoy them too early in the morning when it most likely wasn’t labor.  I spoke with the midwife on call and she seemed unsure whether it was labor too.  She suggested I take a shower and see whether that changed the frequency of contractions.  I had about six contractions in the shower and then went back to my spot on birth ball.  I sent Ben to work because I was still thinking it wasn’t really time even though he was beginning to feel it was time.

By about 10am, contractions were averaging about six minutes apart and lasting 45-60 seconds.  I decided to call the midwife again because I was pretty sure that it was the real thing at this point.  For some reason (apparently they were very busy), it took over an hour for the midwife to return my call.  During that time, I texted Ben that he needed to come home because things were picking up.  He got to the house around 11:00 and sprang into action getting all of the final pieces of our birth center bag put together.  I was finally able to connect with the midwife and agreed that we would meet her at the birth center at 2:00.  By around 12:30, Ben was having to help me work through contractions and applying pressure to my lower back.  At 1:30 we loaded up the car with our bags and our puppy dog and headed into town.  Contractions were lasting a solid minute long and were coming about every three minutes.

After we dropped the puppy off at my dad’s we arrived at the birth center a little bit after 2:00.  When we checked in, they instructed us to wait at the counter while they got a room ready so they could check my progress.  I was incredibly annoyed by this and had about six contractions while I was standing at the counter.  When the midwife checked me, she was very surprised that I was at 6 cm, which was great because it meant that I could stay at the birth center.

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Just a few hours before Abel was born.

I got into the bathtub right away.  From what we learned at the birthing classes, I had expected this to make me feel a lot better but it really just accelerated labor.  Things were progressing pretty quickly and the midwife asked if I wanted to give birth in the tub.  A water birth wasn’t something we had planned on so they had me get out of the tub.  At this point, my water still hadn’t broken so the midwife suggested we break my water so that baby could move further down and help me dilate further.  Once she did this, things got really intense.  I think this was the point that I moved into transition labor.  I know that for most women, this is the most intense and painful part of labor and this was definitely the case for me.  The contractions came in so strong and it was all I could do to just breathe through them.  The midwife stepped out of the room to let Ben and I work through contractions as a team.  I remember getting the infamous “urge to push” for several contractions but the midwife instructed me not to push because I wasn’t fully dilated.  Not pushing through these horrible urges was the hardest part of the whole labor.  I remember physically shaking from trying not to push.  At that point, Ben went to get the midwife to let her know that I was no longer able to not push.  She came in and determined that I still had about a half centimeter to go and said that with the next contraction, I should try pushing and she would try to push the final part out of the way.  Pushing was still painful, but definitely better than transition.  I pushed for about twenty minutes when I started to feel the ring of fire.  It was much more intense than I thought it would be but I also knew that it was a sign that things were getting close.  Our concept of time got pretty hazy at this point, but what seemed like about 10 minutes later, the midwife told me that in a few contractions, he was going to be here.  Talk about encouraging news!  She then asked Ben if he wanted to catch the baby.  He was a little hesitant, just wanting everything to go well and for a safe and healthy baby to arrive, but he decided to do it.  I kept on pushing through a few more contractions and then all of a sudden he was born.

His entrance into the world really fit the whole day – quick and unexpected.  With one final push, he was born and Ben put him immediately on my chest – despite being doused by a fair amount of amniotic fluid!  The midwives covered him up with a warm blanket and Ben was so focused on getting him to me, he forgot to check what the gender was.  He peaked under the blanket and said “It’s a boy!”  Our families in the waiting room started cheering.  He was incredibly calm and not moving or breathing when he was born and was really blue.  He didn’t cry right away and the midwives were rubbing him all over to get him to breathe.  He was up so high on my chest that I couldn’t see anything but the top of his head and had to ask Ben if he was cute or not.  Ben said that his eyes were wide open and he was just staring at him and looking around the room.  I am so happy that they were able to have that moment together.  We got home at 11:00 that night and I remember thinking that just with the timing of everything, in a way it felt like it was “all in a days’ work”.  I woke up at 5:00am, gave birth to our son Abel at 5:07pm, and came home the same day with a baby – and he really is the most incredible baby!

It was all such a blur at the end and it took a while for me to even grasp what had just happened.  I had just given birth to a real, live baby that was all ours!   What an incredible moment!  I feel proud that I was able to have the natural and unmedicated birth that I wanted.  But really every part of it was different from what I was expecting – from him coming two weeks before his due date, to the intensity of the pain, to how quick labor really went.  There really is nothing like the experience of birth and the love that fills our hearts now is so much stronger than I would have ever thought possible.  We are so, so in love with sweet Abel and can’t wait for the adventures ahead!

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26. 10. 2015

I completed another piece of the nursery about a week ago that is definitely more on the artsy side, but I also required swinging a hammer a few hundred times.  I really wish I was kidding on that part – I think I started to develop tennis elbow!  But I really like how it turned out and it definitely has a handmade quality to it, which is what I was going for.

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Albeit time consuming, this project was really easy.  I first went to Jerry’s and bought a 1×12 board and had them cut it to 4 1/2 feet for me.  (Seriously the cutting counter at the hardware stores is the best thing that’s ever happened to my crafting life!)  Then I had the husband stain it with a dark walnut stain for me so I wasn’t exposing baby to too many bad smells.  After a few days of it drying/airing out, I taped down paper the full length of the board and drew on the shape of the mountains and snow.  Then it was as simple as adding nails every 1/4″ or so along the mountain ridges and the perimeter of the “snow”.  I went with 1″ #7 wire nails and I went through almost four boxes.  You do need a little bit of a head on the nail to hold the string on.  Then I just added the white string (this kind) to create a defined pattern.  I doubled around both sides (top and bottom of the nails) on the mountain ridges so they were more defined.

With breaks (and not counting Ben’s labor), I probably spent around 6-7 hours on this one.  It is also one of those projects that didn’t turn out quite as good as the Pinterest inspiration, but I still really like it and I think it will be a cool statement-type piece in the nursery.  The tentative plan is to hang it above the dresser/changing table.

More wall decorations are in the works and hopefully I will make a crib sheet soon so stay tuned!

12. 10. 2015

Decorating the nursery for this sweet babe is the most fun and intimidating thing I’ve ever done.  I’ve never started from scratch in a room and decorated it exactly how I want to (hence why I still use the dresser that was in my own nursery as a baby).  There are just so many options, but also not so many because there’s these little things like a relatively small room and an even smaller budget.  But I’ve got some fun ideas in the works and I plan to share them on here as projects get finished.

First of all, what’s the theme??  Good question.  I would describe it as a kind of adventurer theme with touches of tribal and geometric prints.  That’s the plan anyway.  And it’s gender neutral because we’re those weirdos who are waiting for the ultimate surprise :)  so there has been a lot of time spent on Pinterest scoping out ideas.  A lot of time.  I should probably stop.  But I can’t.

But Pinterest led me to this wonderful little mobile DIY that can be found at here.

I really followed the tutorial pretty closely but I thought I would share my cell phone pictures to try to compete with the professional ones you can find in the other tutorial :)

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It’s kind of tribal but also kind of cool and modern.  I love it.  And even with buying all the materials, it was way cheaper than buying a mobile.

I started out by painting the tips of the feathers gold on both sides.  Then I wrapped the gold ribbon around the ring in what was supposed to be a more random pattern but actually ended up pretty symmetrical.  I’m just an accidental perfectionist, what can I say ;)  I glued each point that I wrapped the ribbon because it was sliding all over the place when I pulled it tight.

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I really like it hanging in the window though.  And there’s a little sneak peak of the crib.  It’s actually white, not a natural wood finish like it kind of looks here.  Darn that cell phone camera!

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More nursery updates to come for sure.  I definitely picked the easiest craft to start with!

As a side note, growing a human is kicking my butt these days.  My whole body just aches, especially my lower back and stomach.  I am happy that I get to be experiencing it, but it’s tough.  And I’m only halfway!