December 27, 2009

Bottle? Who needs it?

Turns out we've been wasting valuable time trying to get Lincoln to drink from a bottle. Should have taken a cue from Grandma Melissa and just skipped straight to the coffee cup*.

He's a natural!

Baby's first Christmas, and baby's first sip of anything other than breastmilk! Big day!

*And before you call CPS- it's just water.

Christmas craftiness complete!

Whew! We're finally through the marathon of crafting and Christmas-ing, and now we can relax! Now that all the goodies are in the hands of their new owners, I can share the projects and sources of inspiration here. Beyond the amazing bloggers and crafters on the web, I absolutely love all the awesome sewing and crafting books that I have in my library, and I'm so excited to have received a couple more for Christmas. It was fun to flip through the books and look for the perfect gift idea for this homemade holiday. So, without further ado, here's what I've spent the last few weeks doing:

First up, one of David's birthday gifts.

I saw these over a year ago somewhere on the web, and I stashed the idea away for future use. I finally pulled it out at the beginning of December and set about a plan to knit one olive a day until hubby's birthday on the 16th. That worked for a few days, but then I got off my game and ended up knitting half of them in one day when I realized that I was running out of time. A little Mod Podge and my trusty die-cutter helped me make the lid label to complete the package, which now lives on his desk at work.

Next, for my sister and (future) brother-in-law (who are lucky enough to be spending New Year's Eve in Mexico), I made these travel portfolios from a pattern in the Spring 2009 issue of Stitch magazine.

They're felt, with machine-stitched detailing on the cover and a little felt airplane applique. Inside are pockets for your plane ticket, ID, and passport. Cute, easy to assemble, and practical too. Now, if only we were the ones going to Mexico! Maybe next year.

I found inspiration for a couple of gifts in Alicia Paulson's book Stitched in Time. There are many ideas in here that I love, and this book is perfect for a uniquely personal gift idea.

I "borrowed" a bunch of photos from her parents' Facebook pages to make this memory game for our niece Kaia. I chose 18 photos to make 36 tiles, and made a little linen drawstring bag to keep it all in. Kaia's almost four, and I imagine she's probably played a memory game of some sort, but not one with pictures of her and her family. When she opened the bag, she declared that it was full of Valentines and was distracted for a few minutes from all the other exciting Christmas gifting that was going on around her.

Alicia's book was also the source of inspiration for these placemats for Kaia's parents. Alicia suggests them as a house-warming gift, and since the family recently moved into a new home, I thought it was appropriate.

The placemats are ivory linen, and I printed a photo of the new family residence on ink-jet fabric. Instead of the address, which Alicia printed on twill tape and added to the design, I chose a couple of house-centric quotes and printed them out to machine-applique. Two say "Love makes a house a Home", and the other two say "Home is where the Heart is". I used the grey metallic embroidery thread from the travel portfolios to satin stitch the quotes on, and I love the little bit of subtle shine that it adds. And since I didn't want them to be entirely impractical for a family with two small children, I treated the placemats with a professional-strength fabric protector before I wrapped them up.

For the other sister Jaeda, who is almost one-and-a-half, I made a little kitty stuffie from a pattern in Amy Butler's book Little Stitches for Little Ones.

I added a linen tote bag sized just right for the kitty to live in, because things are just more fun when they have their own special bag to match.

I also made another set of placemats for my sister and her family, this time with linen and Christmas print fabrics.

I was inspired by a set in the Winter 2008 issue of Stitch, but I didn't have time to hand-sew all the hexes in the English Paper Piecing design. I chose instead to just machine-applique a strip of printed fabric to the front, and bind the edges with the same material. I still want to give the English Paper Piecing a try though. Maybe for a set for our own house!

And then for one lucky Mother-in-law, two handcrafted projects of my own design! A toaster cover in lime green, (which I was unfortunatey forced to Indian-give so I could bring it back home and adjust the size), and an apron inspired by one from her Christmas wish-list.

As usual, I just couldn't bring myself to purchase something that I could easily make myself, so I interpreted the style of an apron that she liked into my own version. I really like the style, and may put another together for the shop when I get a chance.

I also put together some fun wood and paper ornaments with my dear friend Mod Podge, another moebius cowl for my other sister-in-law, and made a couple of pairs of earrings for my mom. Those didn't get photographed though, so you can just use your imagination!

I'm exhausted, and I have a kink in my neck from bending over all the sewing, but I must press on! Two more mixer covers are in progress that were ordered before Christmas. Holiday shipping gummed up the works, so I've got to get them completed and in the mail ASAP!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! I know we did!

December 18, 2009

Christmas Care Package!

A few years ago, my older brother and his family moved to South Carolina so my brother could take a promotion at work. While I still haven't been to visit, I do try to let them know I'm thinking about them by sending a family care package at Christmas time. This year was no exception, although it was a bit more homemade this year than usual, thanks to the economic state of affairs around these parts!

Of course, the most important part of the package are my nephews, Avery and Colby- age 12 and 16. I usually have a really hard time shopping for them, since tween/teen trends come and go so fast, and I never know what games they're currently into or what movies are cool without being too grown up or too kiddie. This year I just opted for cash, tucked inside of a duct tape wallet. I think they're pretty neat, and kids are into weird stuff like that, right? And the cash, obviously, is so they can buy something that they do like in case I'm completely out of touch and my idea of a cool gift actually sucks.

I made my sister-in-law, who has a Christmas birthday, a moebius cowl from a pattern in the Winter 2008 issue of Stitch. It's charcoal velvet on one side and silver satin on the other, and I foolishly neglected to take a picture before I sent it. She's a fair-skinned blonde- I think the cool tones will look beautiful on her.

I also included a big Mason jar of delicious caramel corn tied up with a festive bow and a handmade tree ornament; and a tin of chocolate-peanut butter fudge.

And I did spend some extra time dolling up the packaging to make my little homespun gifts feel a bit more special. I've saved neat little boxes and packages from various things, and my stash of scrapbook papers is growing. I used some of the Christmas papers and my Quickutz Squeeze die-cutter to make personalized packages and tags for each gift. I think they came out really cute!

December 15, 2009

Stockings for everyone!

Obviously, Lincoln didn't have a Christmas stocking, so I decided that instead of buying him one, I needed to make the three of us new ones that all matched.

Stockings are one of my favorite things about Christmas- all those fun little goodies inside! There was always a neat collection of stuff in ours when I was growing up, and we could count on the Life Savers Sweet Storybook being inside every year. Remember those? I might be the only person that thinks butter rum Life Savers are delicious!

Anyway, I found a free pattern online from McCall's, and picked up some various Christmas fabric super-cheap at Joann's. I combined that with some basic cotton solids that I had on hand, and voila!

These are fully lined, and have a layer of cotton batting too, so they're nice and hefty and hold their shape even when empty. I added the names to the cuff with the fusible magic of Wonder Under, then just did a little whipstitch around the edges for fun and to add definition.

Don't tell my hubby, but I think once Christmas has passed, I may make one (or two) more and stash them away just in case Lincoln has a little sister someday. I wouldn't want her to feel left out if her stocking doesn't match!

I'm also planning to make a Christmas tree skirt to match these, but we'll see how far I get on that project this year. Many other things are in the works, so that might have to wait!

What kind of Christmas craftiness are you up to?

December 8, 2009

face lift & unrelated things

If you actually visit the blog instead of reading through a feed reader, you may have noticed that our digs have recently been updated with a stylin' new masthead and fancy new wallpaper. I figured a year was long enough for the pink and blue pacifiers, which were obviously selected before we knew that Lincoln was going to be a Lincoln and not a girl-baby. The new elements were designed by my talented graphic designer husband otherwise known as the "Gus" of Gus & Lulu.

Which brings me to thing two, and that is the fact that just about everyone knows by now that we are not really called Gus & Lulu in real life. Well, Gus is, but it's not his actual name, and depending on the day he may or may not admit that he kind of hates the nickname...

You may recall that back when I started writing this blog, my alter ego (lets just call her Tiffany) was just barely pregnant and had recently been laid off. Tiffany was looking for work, but wasn't sure if and when to reveal the existence of the tiny human growing in her belly to her future employers. Given the ease with which one can learn way too much about a person on the internets these days, I decided I had to blog in secret under a pseudonym, lest poor Tiffany's potential boss Google her and discover the baby before the time was right. Thus, Lulu was born. A clever shortening of my pre-marriage surname: Louis. Also, I thought it sounded cute with Gus, like some cute old couple sitting on a front porch drinking ice tea in rocking chairs or something.

So anyway, long story longer, Gus and Lulu are really David and Tiffany James. I know that most everyone already knew that, but I'm getting tired of typing "David" and then erasing it and replacing it with "Gus" in an effort to maintain an illusion that no longer requires maintenance. So for future reference, if I say "David" I mean my husband: "Gus"; and if I say "Gus", that's him too. Capisce?

Okay, moving along. There is a fair bit of craftiness happening in the James household right now, but, given the season, much of it must be kept under wraps until after Santa makes his appearance in a few weeks. If it's not secret, I'll be sharing it, but if it is, you're just going to have to wait and trust that I'm not idly sitting around twiddling my thumbs all day. Really, the only person who I'm absolutely positive would never see the blog and ruin their Christmas surprise is my Mom, because she not only doesn't own a computer, she couldn't turn one on should the fate of the world depend on it. In fact, probably less so then, because the pressure of it all would make her sick and she would probably vomit on the computer and short something out. No exaggeration there, in either case. To give you an idea of her technical savvy: she actually suggested that I try playing some nice music in my TAPE DECK in the car to help Lincoln calm down. And yeah, that was yesterday, not 1991. You can just trust me on the sensitive stomach details.

Anyway- craftiness is afoot. A couple of new covers are in progress and I'm making a new Christmas tree skirt and stockings for us, too. Plus the aforementioned top-secret stuff. Fun!

In other news, the bill from the midwives arrived yesterday. Three hundred dollars. For everything. My entire pregnancy care, labor, post-birth home visits, everything. I never paid a cent when I went into the office, and three women spent the night at our house to help us labor with Lincoln! It's no Amsterdam, but it's sure an improvement over the big stupid bill that UW sent us!

Mostly unrelated: David's birthday is next week, his truck is broken down, our fence blew over in a recent windstorm, and our Christmas tree is still sitting unadorned in our living room! Ahh, new parenthood! There's just an abundance of time for all the things that need taking care of. And money too! But- Lincoln is discovering his feet and is thisclose to rolling over, and at the end of the day, that's really the only thing that matters.

December 7, 2009

drive me to drink

One for the "dear god, I hope this is just a phase that he grows out of like, really really soon" file:

So lately Lincoln has decided that he HATES riding in the car, and he wants to make damn sure that you (and everyone within a few blocks) know it. It's a rare moment these days that we can go anywhere in the car beyond a few blocks before the little man starts crying and screaming and the tears, oh- the tears! It's not only obnoxious and distracting, it's heartbreaking and makes me feel like I'm somehow personally failing him as a parent. What have I done to make you hate the car, little monkey? I will gladly undo it immediately.

Just this weekend, for example, we decided it would be easiest to get our Christmas tree from the madness that is known as Ikea if we went on Friday night after picking Gus up from work instead of Saturday or Sunday. Lincoln cried off and on for most of the ride downtown, and he really picked up steam once Daddy was in the car and we were heading to our destination. By the time we arrived everyone's nerves were beyond frayed and I was in tears myself. I just don't know how to fix it and it kills me that I'm so helpless in that situation. No amount of soothing or distracting seems to help, but the moment we pull into the driveway and shut off the car, the wailing stops.

Then, on Sunday, I was invited to a fun little cookie-exchange party, and I brought Lincoln along to meet and mingle with the ladies. He cried for the entire twenty-five minute drive from home to our destination, and he was so worked up that he ended up continuing the fuss for at least half of the party as well. Then he cried for the beginning of the car ride home, but finally passed out from exhaustion before I had to swerve into oncoming traffic or off the I-90 into Lake Washington to put us both out of our misery.

I just really don't get it. Cars are supposed to be giant soothe-o-matics for babies- everyone knows that. Colicky baby? Trouble falling asleep? Take him for a ride in the car! They obviously didn't have a Lincoln.

Anyone have this problem? Know someone who has? Suggestions? Maybe he's bored? Overstimulated? Hot? Cold? Uncomfortable? Has a deep-seated and intense hatred of Hondas?

Mostly I just need to hear that it's going to go away. Otherwise, we may just stop leaving the house altogether.

December 2, 2009

a dramatic pair and more!

Here's a custom set that has been in the works for a while, and was finally delivered today. Hopefully the recipient is a happy gal!

The apron was inspired by a child's style by Cindy Taylor Oates in her "Little Retro Aprons for Kids". The purchaser sent me a picture of one of the aprons on the cover (view A-2) and said she liked the pleats but wanted a big pocket and wide ties. I did my best to recreate the vision, and luckily, she was pleased with the result!

Her matching mixer cover is the second attempt. I played it a little safe the first time, not wanting to freak her out with the crazy silver paisley that I scavenged from a thrifted women's blouse. Turned out she wanted more silver and two pockets, so I used what was left of the material and came up with the version above. Initially I wasn't sure how the pockets would look with the bold silver print, but I really like the result! There may be more mixed-pattern pocketing happening on future covers!

This last one is the one I mentioned before. I had the pieces cut for awhile, and finally got enough time to stitch it all together a few days ago. Then I eventually got it photographed a couple days later and posted in my shop last night. I would tell you to go there and buy it, but it's already packed up and on the way to Tennessee in tomorrow's mail! Gotta hurry up and get my stitch on so I can get the shop stocked up for Christmas!

Two more covers have been ordered and are in the works for the rest of this week- so more to come soon!

December 1, 2009

four, maybe five steps back?

Holy sleeplessness! I feel like just when we're starting to adjust to a new rhythm and get a good system going we're sent right back to the starting line for no apparent reason. And I know we have it good compared to some families out there, but I think last night earned me the right to complain a little bit.

See, we've noticed that since Lincoln has gotten a little bit older and is more involved in what's going on around him, it's gotten more difficult for him to sleep just anywhere like he did before. He's more interested in people and interacting, so if we don't encourage him to nap, he'll just stay awake and get grumpy from the sleeplessness. Once we caught on and started paying attention to his tired signs, it became apparent that he does best if he naps about every two hours, for at least half an hour, usually more like an hour.

We got into a really good flow with it a couple of weeks ago, and we instituted a whole system with the darkened room, consistent lullaby music, the whole package. When I noticed him starting to show tired signs during the day, I would go into the room, turn on the music, and we would nurse until he fell asleep or was finished, whichever came first. Then into the blasted swing, which is still the only place he'll sleep alone. After a few days, he was getting so used to it that he didn't even have to be asleep, just drowsy, and he would fall asleep on his own even with me out of the room.

We've also gotten more consistent with his nighttime bedtime routine, triggered by his tired signs at around 7 pm. We start with a warm bath or a massage followed by the change to pajamas, the same lullaby music, and nursing routine like during the day. Then into the swing, where he sleeps until about ten, which is when I come upstairs and bring him to bed with me for the night. It's been going great- and Lincoln is consistently in a much better mood during the day when he gets his naps.

But- apparently someone saw me getting all confident in our parenting abilities and wanted to make sure to nip that in the bud before confidence turned to cockiness, because it all came crashing down last night!

Yesterday morning was fine, and Lincoln took a nice two-hour morning nap followed by a couple of shorter ones in the afternoon. We set about putting him to bed at about 6:45, and Daddy gave him a lovely massage to start things off. I nursed him to sleep, put him in the swing, and everything seemed normal. Forty minutes later, he was awake. Sometimes that happens, but I can usually get him to fall asleep again with a quick nursing session. That was the case last night, but it only lasted fifteen minutes that time, then he was awake again. I went back up and tried to soothe him asleep again, and he stopped crying but didn't fall asleep. I asked for some fatherly intervention, but at ten pm the kid was still up. What followed was the worst night of sleep that I think any of us have gotten since Lincoln was born.

I hoped this morning that it had just been a fluke, and he would nap well today to make up for it. I was wrong. He refused to nap this morning and instead just cried and cried. I finally gave up and put him in the Moby so I could get some things done around the house, and he was asleep within a few minutes for half an hour. The same thing happened in the afternoon, with the fuss and the struggle and refusal to sleep. Back in the Moby he went, and back asleep he fell. Once he was in a nice deep slumber I tried to move him to the swing, but he wouldn't have it. Those brown eyes popped open and welled up with tears practically instantly. I don't know what happened! It's broken. Just when I thought we had a system, it's broken.

Tonight, I'm proceeding as usual as if last night and today had never happened. They say that consistency is the key, so I'm just hoping that he goes down tonight like he had been before this little glitch. Please, baby boy, mama needs her sleep!

November 28, 2009

it seems like yesterday

I can't believe it's been over a year since we found out that Lincoln was going to be joining us and turning our freshly-married coupledom into a little family. The return of the Apple Cup today is what made me realize, because it was the day of the Cougar's exciting win last year that I took not one, but three pregnancy tests and nearly lost my shit because I couldn't believe the results!

It's safe to say that a lot has changed since then, and I couldn't be happier to be where we are now. If only I could count on the Cougs to deliver today like they did last year, we'd be in good shape! Unfortunately, with a record like they have now (1-10) and ZERO conference wins this season, I'm not terribly optimistic.

I am so thankful for our life now, and for my sweet little man who is changing so fast and surprises and delights me every day.

Daddy's feeling a bit under the weather today, so we we're just laying low and hoping that the monkey and I don't get it. Here's hoping that my stubborn determination and my magical immune-boosting milk will deliver and keep us healthy!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! And Go Cougs!

November 20, 2009

a creative melting pot?

I think I may have said this before, but I think Etsy is just so awesome! I love that there are so many different creative voices represented all in one place, and that it makes it so easy to access the art and hand crafts of people from all over the world.

And obviously, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that I also love it because it gives me a venue to offer my own craftiness to the world in exchange! I recently changed my offering in my Etsy shop to reflect the custom nature of the mixer covers that I've been making, and I've had some really amazing orders so far! I absolutely love it! Seeing my pattern come to life in someone's dream fabric is so much fun. It's pure creative collaboration.

This first order was from someone who had never ordered anything from Etsy before, and I'm so honored to have been her first purchase! She requested the Amy Butler Lotus collection print "Wall Flower" in sky and left the rest up to me. I selected Amy Butler's "Oxford Stripe" in lime, also from the Lotus collection, for the ruffle and pocket trim. I think it works perfectly together, and I hope she loves it!

I think this next one is particularly great, because I never would have thought to use a fabric like this for a kitchen accessory. Stacey Winters is a talented photographer with a vintagey, whimsical, nature-loving thing going on in her work. I love these, and we totally had those creepy feisty little elves on our Christmas tree when I was a kid!

Anyway, Stacey requested that I use Kokka's Little Red Riding Hood fabric for the cover for her drool-worthy vintage-blue Martha Stewart mixer. I selected a Moda dot print from the Wee Play collection by American Jane for the trim. This ended up being a favorite of mine! I just love the fabric.

Finally, Desiree saw pictures of my covers on Flickr (check out her tropical studio if you don't mind feeling a bit of jealousy) and wrote to me to ask if I would be willing to make her a similar style cover for her sewing machine. Of course! Just the kind of fun new project I'm happy to tackle!

Desiree requested Alexander Henry's "Sew Now! Sew Wow!" for her cover, and it's a natural choice! I love those old-fashioned machines and the classic sewing notions that adorn this print. I used a lipstick red micro polka dot calico for the ruffle and pocket trim, and since the pocket is so wide, I added a bit of velcro to the center to keep it from gaping open. I added the black fabric-covered button just for decoration. It was in my stash, likely inherited from the collection that my mom gave me.

All of this custom creating is so inspiring! I love the combinations and the way that everyone's unique personality comes through in their fabric choice. And when I find time, I still have some of my own creations in the works, including a cover made from this perfectly appropriate Robert Kaufman print:

Stay tuned for more creativity!

November 16, 2009

I'm a little behind.

Lincoln was three months old on the 11th, which means we're now officially out of the newborn phase and on to infancy (according to whoever it is that decides such things). I figure that also means we've got about two minutes before he starts running around and causing a ruckus.

Three months, people! Where has the time gone? I swear each week goes by faster and faster. I think partly because I'm not working outside of the house, I've reverted to this primitive(?) method of telling the day of the week by what's on tv*. That means that last night we just saw poor Chef Mullen be informed that he will not be the next Iron Chef, but wasn't it yesterday that Chef Freitag was given the same news? And how could it be that there's a new episode of How I Met Your Mother on tonight? We were just introduced to fat Barney like five seconds ago! Yeah, time flies. And if you think it's messing with my mind for my tv shows, try throwing an actual growing and changing and learning HUMAN in to the mix! My brain just can't process it all fast enough.

And thanks to the magic of the internet, I've been getting lots of requests for custom sewing projects! I'm currently working on two mixer covers, a sewing machine cover, and an apron. And I just got a message about another matching set for a mixer and toaster too. All this in between feeding and napping and cleaning the abode and trying to keep the house full of sensible food choices and then maybe even cook that stuff once in a while, it's keeping me on my toes. I never would have predicted that the days of a stay-at-home Mom would be so busy at this early stage. I can't imagine how it will be once he's mobile!

One way that I've been keeping on top of things is by using Toodledoo** and the accompanying app on my iPhone. I'm a total list person, and also kind of a control freak, but with Lincoln's arrival and the baby-brain that has replaced my own functioning brain for the last few months, I've had a hard time keeping my ducks in a row. It's amazing how easy it is to just spend an entire day sitting on the couch with a newborn, and before you know it, it's been a month since you've deep cleaned the buttons on the dishwasher or vacuumed out the dryer vent... or you know, whatever your particular brand of obsessive neat freak likes to do. Now my little electronic brain tells me every day what I'm supposed to be doing, and I get the satisfaction of checking off a virtual list of things once they're done. And now that Lincoln will happily hang out in the carrier all day, it's much easier to quickly sweep the kitchen floor when it comes up on my list and then just check it off until the next time it auto-repeats. Thanks to Apple and computer geeks everywhere, I pretty much don't have to think at all anymore! I just do what the little man in my phone tells me to.

Before long, I'll be scheduling in writing sessions so I can continue to update the world at large on Lincoln's life and development. As it is now, I've been spending every free minute sewing, and it's been forever since I've dropped in here to say hello. Gosh, has it been since Top Chef***, already? Point is, I'm a little behind. So update:

  • Lincoln is HUGE. And smart and active. And adorable.
  • PEPS is good! Lots of nice people with lots of different ideas about raising a baby. That's good, and also a little bit bad. That's a subject of another post though- more on that later.
  • We've started an infant massage class, which is great! It will be a really nice way to connect with Lincoln and hopefully a nice thing to add to our bedtime routine, which is currently in development.
  • My etsy shop, twilltape, is keeping me busy! Yeah! There's a chance that I may be able to contribute to this family's bottom line after all. Or maybe it will just give me the excuse to keep stockpiling fabric. Hard to say which, exactly.
  • It's almost Thanksgiving! And then Christmas! Holy crap.

*I'm sure that's how my cavewoman ancestors did it.

**No, this is not a paid plug for Toodledoo. I just think it's cool. You don't have to check it out, and if you're not a list-lover, you probably won't care anyway.

***That's Wednesday, in case you aren't using the same calendar.

November 10, 2009

stealthy, like ninja!

So, not only has the little guy found his hands and figured out how to put them to good use in the last week, but he's also starting to work on rolling over. Just a little bit, here and there, and just from his back to the side, but it's bound to happen all of a sudden when I'm not paying attention.

Like just a minute ago, for example...

Thank goodness he woke me up before I was really ready to get out of bed, and I parked myself next to his movement mat with a pillow to try to squeeze in a few more minutes of sleep. And thank goodness I'm lazy, and never moved the pillow from my impromptu resting spot, because it was there to catch the little sneak when he rolled over (and off) the mat just now!

I was standing there tying on the Moby wrap, and I laid him down on the mat with a toy to grab onto, and the next thing I know he's lying on his belly on the pillow! I contemplated running to grab the camera to capture concrete evidence of the moment, but he looked a little bit freaked out by his new positioning, so I just flipped him back over and told him what a great job he did. Of course, then I went and got the camera and requested a repeat performance, but nothing doing. His hands are way too interesting to be bothered with that whole rolling business right now.

Just wait until I turn my back again...

November 6, 2009

they're out there somewhere!

Well, operation Friends With Kids is officially underway! We attended our first PEPS group meeting yesterday at the home of one of the other members. PEPS is the Program for Early Parenting Support, and it's a series of twelve weekly meetings with a group of parents in your area with babies all born around the same time. Our group consists of eight couples with babies born between August 10 and September 2. And yep, it turns out that regular three-month old babies aren't usually this big! Guess the doctor was right...

Lincoln helped us to make a good impression on our future play-date companions by entering the house screaming, and picking the scream back up at convenient intervals throughout the course of the evening. All the other little babes were peacefully sleeping in their infant seats or draped across their mothers' laps, but not our little force of nature! He was only content when one of us was standing up with him facing the crowd, so he could see every little thing that was going on. He finally passed out about five minutes before we left, but woke up again as soon as we set foot outside.

I'm pretty excited to see how this whole thing goes. We're not incredibly social people as it is, and for whatever reason, our friends just aren't getting in on the baby game. That is, except for these guys, who just had a beautiful new daughter, but they live a little bit outside of our play-date range, as we discovered a few weeks ago. I think it will be nice to be able to commiserate with some other folks who are in the same boat that we are, even if it's just once a week for a while and then we never see them again. Everyone says that they continue to meet with their PEPS groups for long after the twelve weeks is over though, so there's always the chance that we'll make some new actual friends out of this experience.

November 2, 2009

tastes like fall!

Fall is definitely my favorite season, hands down. There's just something about new school supplies, crunchy leaves, football, fuzzy sweaters and scarves, and delicious fall veggies that I find so comforting. When I saw the big pile of winter squash in the market the other day it looked so much like fall that I picked a couple up, even though I seemed to remember that Gus wasn't such a big fan.

I started out with a simple roasted acorn squash a few nights ago. I just cut it in half, scooped out the seeds, drizzled on some olive oil and sprinkled on some salt and pepper and popped it in the oven cut side down in a baking dish for about an hour at 375. It was tender and delicious and even husband-approved. I think the reason he claimed not to like squash was that he had never had it without brown sugar, and he doesn't like sweet interfering with his savory. Even pineapple on pizza is a no-no for this guy. Just simply roasted and seasoned, he admitted it was quite tasty. Yeah!

So, with one squash success under my belt, I decided to try a more advanced application for dinner tonight: butternut squash soup. The recipe is another really simple one, and really highlights the buttery sweet goodness of the squash. Just cut it in half and scoop out the seeds, place it cut side down in a baking dish and let it roast for about an hour at 375. No oil, salt or pepper this time though, just the squash. When the squash is just about done, heat a large pot or dutch oven and saute an onion in some butter. Once the squash is tender, scoop it out of the shell and add it to the pot along with four cups of chicken broth. Use a stick blender or a regular blender to break everything down and mix it all together, then let it simmer for a little bit while you finish the rest of dinner, set the table, feed your baby, or what ever. Taste for seasoning- I just added a little cayenne pepper for kick, no salt or pepper was needed, and serve it up! Delicious and nutritious, and a lovely shade of orange too!

Any favorite fall vegetable recipes you'd like to share?

October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Our little monkey wishes you a happy and safe Halloween!

October 30, 2009

this just in: Lincoln has HANDS!!

Over the last week or so, Lincoln has had the majority of his fist in his mouth most of the time. We assumed that meant that he knew where that fist was originating, but it seems that he has only actually realized that he has hands in the last day.

It's amazing to watch him study his own body so closely and try to determine just what he's seeing. I swear you can actually see his mind working as he turns his hands around and pulls his fists in close to his face to examine them.

He uses one hand to grab the other and stop it from moving long enough so he can get a good look. Then sometimes one finger will wiggle free, and you end up with this confused look:

It's just so amazing! I love watching this development happen right before our eyes. Awesome!

October 27, 2009

mixer cover 2.0

I've gotten a couple of requests lately for a cover to fit the Kitchenaid Artisan mixer, which is a different model than the one I have. Thanks to a generous friend and neighbor, I was able to borrow one to work out the sizing. (It's a shorter mixer and the bowl has a handle on it.)

I initially thought I could just take the length off of the cover that I designed for the Professional model, but I wasn't happy with the way the handle jutted out when I did. In the end, it took me three modifications before I came up with proportions that I was happy with! I'm pleased with the results though, and now that I have the pattern set the production time should be much less.

This first model is for a co-worker of Gus, who sent me a photo of her kitchen and said that she kind of had a thing for roosters. I was pretty sure that although there is a plethora of country-themed rooster fabric in existence out in the world, that was not what she had in mind.

What I came up with is a simple khaki cover with red flat piping detail and a rooster applique on the pocket. I took a cue from Margo's suggestion about the skirt and added a split-corner detail like you might see on a tailored bed skirt. And like all of my covers, it's also fully lined so there are no raw edges exposed and it's interfaced so it's got a little bit of body. I love it, and I hope that its new owner does too!

October 26, 2009

update on the job front

It's been almost three weeks since I interviewed for the job that I talked about before. I was thinking that they must have hired someone, because it had been so long and I hadn't heard anything, but I was surprised because I thought that they would have at least called to let me know.

Well, on Friday morning I finally got a call, which I missed because I'm sure I was changing a diaper or feeding Lincoln or starting a load of laundry or something. It was the lovely woman that I had interviewed with, offering me a second interview for the position. Of course I was pleased, because that meant that I had been correct in my assessment that the interview had gone well and that I was a good fit for the job; but I was also kind of upset because that meant that I was going to have to make a decision! I hate that!

I put off the call on Friday so I could give myself the weekend to think about it and talk it over with Gus, but in the end I think that I've known all along what I would do. I called this morning and thanked them for the opportunity to meet with them, and told them that I really thought that a position in their company was something that I would really enjoy and excel at. They said that they agreed, and that was why they would like me to come in and speak with them more. I said that I would love to come, but I was afraid that it just wasn't the right time for me. Lincoln is only going to be this small particular age and size once, and I just don't want to miss a thing.

Maybe in a few months things will be different, and at that point it might be the right thing for me to be working back out in the real world. For now though, I'm pretty sure I'm right where I belong. And if this big smile is any indication, I think that Lincoln might agree.

October 21, 2009

approximately 4,000 more reasons it would have been great to have birthed at home:

Despite all the planning and preparation that we did before Lincoln's arrival, one thing we never really spent much time thinking about was the expense of the actual birth itself. Part of the reason for that was the fact that we are fortunate enough to have health insurance, and the midwives that we worked with were chosen from a list of preferred providers on the insurance company website. Once we were certain that our midwifery care would be covered at the same rate as a traditional hospital birth (80% in our case), we just filed it away as something that we didn't really need to be concerned about.

We were soon pleased to discover that one perk of midwifery, and especially homebirth, is that the cost of care is really minimal. And by choosing to birth at home, we were even able to avoid the fee that the midwives charge to labor and deliver in their (lovely) birthing center. Instead, we were simply given a list of things to order from a hospital supply website. The total cost of our birthing kit was just $35 and included such things as a footprint kit, a nasal aspirator, and a whole slew of various absorbent and protective pads. We opted to spring for the labor tub ($300) and the doula ($350) out of pocket because we felt that it was a small price to pay to have everything just the way we wanted it to be in the comfort of our own home.

Well, obviously, things didn't exactly go as planned. We ended up starting our birthing adventure at home with our midwives, labor tub, and doula, but ending it at UW Medical Center in an operating room. And again, fortunately for us, we have health insurance through my husband's employer. And yes, it covers labor, delivery, and recovery at 80% regardless of where it takes place as long as you're with a network provider. And yes, UW and their doctors are in the network just like our midwives.


(I know you had to see that coming!)

Turns out that giving birth in a hospital is A LOT more expensive than giving birth at home would have been! And since hospitals and doctors charge based on what's known as fee-for-service, we even got to pay extra for the cesarean! And we got to pay the anesthesiologist once for the epidural that I received when we first arrived at the hospital, and again for the anesthesia that I received during the surgery! And one fee for the room that we were set up in when we arrived, and a separate fee for the room that we recovered in! When it's all said and done, even just our 20% portion of the hospital bill amounts to more than the total fee that we would have owed the midwives without insurance! And not even just a little more- like a thousand dollars more!

Does your brain hurt yet? That means that for less than $3,000, we had nearly a whole pregnancy's worth of prenatal care- including home visits, three midwives in attendance during my long labor, and post-natal follow-ups. Our 72 hours at UW? More than $20,000! Something just isn't adding up!

I'm not going to get into the politics of the whole thing here, but I think that it is sufficient to say that health care here in America is a broken system. I am grateful that we are fortunate enough to be among the insured, but even with that benefit, Lincoln's birth is going to cost us much more than we ever imagined. And what if we hadn't been insured? The family that doesn't have access to health insurance benefits probably doesn't have $20,000 to pay hospital bills.

The last two episodes (391- More is Less & 392- Someone Else's Money) of This American Life offer a glimpse into the health care system in America, and as always, they're intriguing to listen to. Listen on the web or download in iTunes, it's a good use of an hour or two!

You can also visit the website of The MAMA Campaign to read about some important work that our midwives are involved in to help make midwifery available to more families.

my dress on a real baby!

I was recently contacted via Etsy by a sweet woman who wanted to buy a dress for her niece's upcoming birthday. Isabella was going to turn one, and she was having a ladybug-themed birthday party. (How cute is that, by the way?) Anyway, she saw my ladybug dress and asked if I would be willing to make it in a larger size for her niece in time for the party. Of course I said yes, and she was nice enough to send me a picture of the adorable birthday girl wearing my creation!

Since I've only made a couple of these oliver + s outfits, and they've been rather feminine, I haven't put them on my own child to see them in action lest Gus find out and choose to divorce me. So, that makes this the first one I have seen on a real human child! Doesn't she look great?

Posted here with her mama's permission, of course. Thank you!

October 17, 2009

culinary nerdiness

Last night we fulfilled a dream that every good foodie has- we got to meet Alton Brown!

He was at Third Place Books promoting his new book Good Eats: The Early Years, and buying a copy of the book got us two tickets to the event.

He basically just took audience questions for an hour, and his responses were often funny and occasionally downright asshole-esque. He's a snarky guy, so I guess it's as you would expect.

The book signing after the Q&A was a whole big orchestrated event, with a letter assigned to each ticket that indicated when you were allowed to line up for your autograph. We purchased our tickets pretty late in the game, so we had 'N'. It was taking about twenty minutes per letter, so we figured that we were going to be hanging around for about two and a half hours to get our book signed. Lincoln was amazingly cooperative the entire time, napping occasionally in the Ergo and taking periodic breaks to snack. It was getting late though, and we knew that his good mood couldn't last much longer.

It was approaching the witching hour, and we were only up to the letter 'H' when an announcement was made over the loudspeaker. Alton was specifically requesting that a special group of fans get cuts in the signing line. Fortunately for us, that special group was anyone with a child under age seven! Yes! We knew that kid was going to come in handy for something eventually!

We said goodbye to our friends, who sadly did not have the requisite child in tow, and made our way to the line. After another twenty minutes we were finally there! Alton was standing right in front of us! (He seemed smaller in real life than I expected him to be, by the way.) I thanked him for giving the babies cuts, and then just stood there like an idiot while he did this:

That's a self-portrait, I can only assume, with the instructions "Mix Hard!" and his signature "AB". AWESOME! He signed our book too, but really, who cares? That's not nearly as cool as the mixer autograph.

Since then, I have perused through the book a bit, and it's pretty cool. It's basically the first six seasons of the show, with a mini chapter devoted to each episode. All the cool stuff that you learn on the show is represented, and all the recipes have been reworked and improved since they originally aired to ensure better results. It's going to be a great resource for us, as we're often turning to YouTube to watch the episodes before we attempt one of his recipes anyway.

October 16, 2009

breastmilk: nature's protein shake?

Just thought I should mention that Lincoln continues to overachieve and scored his first 100% yesterday. That's right- he's currently in the 100th percentile for height and weight, coming in at 14lbs, 12oz, and measuring 25 1/4" long. For those of you not familiar with those charts and all the percentile business for infant size, that simply means that he's BIGGER THAN ALL THE BABIES!

The charts will obviously have to be reconfigured to account for that 19 pounder that was recently born in China, but until that happens, we're relishing our little moment in the sun.

October 15, 2009

one fish, two fish...

I think the thing that I hated most about pregnancy was the fact that I wasn't able to eat sushi for so long. It was the only thing I ever really got a craving for and I couldn't have it. Once Lincoln was born, getting that sushi fix was high on my list of things to do, but there aren't a lot of options in beautiful downtown Burien, sprawling metropolis though it is. I didn't want my first experience after so long away to come from the grocery store, for obvious reasons, or the mall.

Mashiko has been my hands-down favorite for sushi in the area, and now that they've gone sustainable, there's even more reason to love them. Unfortunately, hubs doesn't really share my affinity for sushi, but he'll eat it occasionally. I was pretty excited tonight when he announced that he was having a rare craving for raw fish and suggested that we stop at Mashiko on the way home from work.

Monkey was asleep in his carseat, and since he'd gotten his two-month vaccinations this afternoon, he was pretty drowsy. We thought we might as well take advantage of the opportunity to have a nice meal out and we were shown to a corner table by the hostess. Lincoln started fussing the minute that we sat down, so I got to use my fancy nursing cover to give him a snack while we decided what to order. Usually getting a bite to eat will calm and quiet the little monster right away, but he must have sensed that I was really looking forward to my meal because tonight the crying only escalated.

I took him outside after we ordered because we really never want to be "that couple." You know the ones- they force the other innocent patrons at a restaurant to suffer through their child's crying while thinking that offering an apologetic smile makes it okay. Sure, having a screaming child of my own has made me more sympathetic to those people, but it still doesn't make me want to be one of them.

We spent some time pacing around the sidewalk in front of the restaurant, but it seemed that Lincoln was hell-bent on screaming for the foreseeable future. I suggested that we just get our order to go, and headed to the car where I could try to comfort my little monster without feeling the burn of the public's judgmental eye all over us. Gus returned to the table to wait for our order, and brought the brown paper bag full of goodness out to the car a few minutes later.

Lincoln continued to cry for about half of the twenty minute drive home, while I sat in the back seat with him and tried to comfort him. We're pretty sure that the fussiness is due to the discomfort he's feeling from the three mean vaccine pokes that he got earlier- two in one thigh and one in the other. We were sore last week when we got our flu shots, and I imagine it must be worse to be a baby and get three times as many shots in a much smaller region.

Once we were home and had gotten the monkey changed and resettled, we sat down to enjoy our much-anticipated treat. I opened the bag, pulled out the box, and discovered that they had only given us half of our order! Worst. Moment. Ever. My poor hungry husband had to go all the way back to the restaurant to get our forgotten fish. They were intensely apologetic, and even reversed part of the charges for our meal, which was really sweet considering that it wasn't inexpensive to begin with.

So no, it wasn't quite the experience that we'd been hoping for when we made our dinner plans tonight, but that's life now, right? Even things that seem relatively simple, like eating, have gotten much more complex since the arrival of our little bundle. We definitely wouldn't have it any other way though, and I wouldn't trade him in even for all the sashimi I could eat.

October 12, 2009

two months!

Dear Lincoln:

Yesterday you were two months old and I can hardly believe it. The time has gone by so quickly! You are more of a little boy and less of an infant every day. I'm not talking just about your size, (although you are huge!) but about your personality and interactions too. Your smiles and the chattering conversations you'll have with anyone who'll listen are a delight to watch. Midwife Heather said she expected you to start speaking in full sentences by the midway point of our appointment last week!

Your communication skills have changed even in the last day or two, since you've been testing the effectiveness of a new cry on us. You debuted it at around six am on Saturday morning and I have to admit, even at that early hour I laughed a little. It's a high-pitched, squeal-y little number that is so obviously fake- it's really hard not to chuckle at it. You've been experimenting with that every morning since, as well as with a few other variations on the fake-out cry that appear to be your way of asking us to pay attention to you or pick you up when we're being less than attentive.

Thankfully, the last week has also brought about a change in your attitude toward being worn in a few of the carriers that we've amassed. Suddenly and inexplicably, being carried in the Ergo or wrapped up in the woven wrap on my chest no longer brings endless wails of upset. Instead, you're happy to look around interestedly while I describe all the wonders around you, or more often, you curl up and rest your head for a nap. It makes things much easier when we can operate hands-free like that, so I'm so glad that you've grown to appreciate being worn.

You're such a strong little guy too! You've been holding your head up for a while now and no one can ever believe it when we say that you're just eight weeks old. Granted, you were kind of born looking like a three-month old, but we've already broken out the six-month clothes because you seem to be expanding exponentially in every direction. I get a great workout carrying you around everywhere, but you no longer fit across my body for our middle-of-the-night nursing sessions. Your head rests on my arm as it always has, but your feet are now suspended in the air a few inches beyond land. You don't seem to mind, but we'll have to redesign our layout before too long or you'll be kicking Daddy in the belly with your wayward limbs.

And speaking of sleep, I don't know how we got so lucky, but you are just such a great sleeper. We haven't had much trouble at all, and even with all the changes of sleeping appliances and locations we've tried, you just sleep on. We tried the cocoon thing for a week or so, moved the swing to our room for a week after that, and now we're back to the original set up with the regular bedside cosleeper. You'll even let me return you to your own bed for short stretches of time between feedings now, so I get my own opportunity to stretch out and snooze too. I still tend to fall asleep many nights before I get a chance to relocate you, but that's my fault, not yours!

You've also made it crystal clear that sleep is something that's very important to you. Missing a nap is one of the only things that is sure to turn you into a real bear and set you off on hour-long crying sessions. We've learned that we need to act quickly when you start to show signs of being sleepy, because if we miss your window and you move into overtired we're in for trouble. The miracle blankets have been an absolute necessity in that regard, as nothing seems to chill you out better and faster than being swaddled does.

Despite how it sounds, we're not always asleep though. During our waking hours we spend our time trying to expose you to the world. We read books to you and sing you made up songs in our awful voices. You can't complain yet, but I fully expect that as soon as you can talk you're going to ask us to please, just shut up! We discovered early on that we can't remember many of the words to the nursery rhymes we grew up with, so we just improvise (badly). I like to think that we're teaching you creativity and freedom of expression.

I was surprised to find that being your mom is something that has come really naturally for me, and it feels so good to be comfortable parenting. Even though I grew up in a home daycare, (or maybe because of it) before you were born I had never even changed a diaper. I was worried that I wouldn't know how to do this mommy thing, but my fears disappeared the moment I saw you. And watching your Daddy with you is amazing. He's a wonderful father and he loves you so much! Already in your short life you've made both of us more sensitive, more loving, more careful drivers, and we're so grateful to be your parents! We're beyond excited to keep watching you learn and grow. We love you so much!

October 8, 2009

workin' mama?

Yesterday I did something that I haven't done in months, and honestly thought that I wouldn't do for many months more. That's right- I interviewed for a job!

I've been applying for various positions since January, and as I've mentioned here before, my applications seem to travel straight from my email box to the black hole the moment I hit send. I've gotten a couple of rare and fruitless calls back, and even one offer to work as a money launderer, but not much else. As a result, I was rather surprised last week to receive a call the same day that I sent my resume to a local business who was advertising on Craigslist.

The interview went really well, and it seemed that my experience and interests meshed well with the company philosophy and their needs. It's a part time position, 16 hours per week over three days, with the potential for more hours later. It sounds like a really great job that I think that I would enjoy doing.


I'm not fully convinced that I want to go back to work right away, and it definitely wasn't part of the plan that I would. We've resigned ourselves to the fact that we'll be living carefully on one paycheck because we believe that it's best for Lincoln if I stay home. I can't imagine leaving him in a daycare, and we've even turned down baby sitting offers from my mother-in-law because we don't think any of us are ready for that just yet. The guilt that I feel even thinking about being away from him for an extended period is enough to break my heart.

And even if I was mentally prepared for it, there's the monetary factor as well. Child care doesn't come cheap, and it's unlikely that I would even make enough working (full or part-time) to cover the added expense. Add in the cost for my commute and the additional expenses involved with being a member of the workforce again, and it's probable that we'd actually spend more.


All logic aside, there's a sliver of a percentage of my mind that wants to have a job again. I realized the other day that 2009 is almost over, and I haven't worked formally since January 15th! If it hadn't been for the two weeks we spent selling off the equipment after the business closed last December, I wouldn't even get a W-2 this year! It's just so strange to think about.

I think perhaps if I hadn't been unemployed for so long, I wouldn't have this (tiny) longing for work- for something that's just mine. I mean, there's plenty to keep me busy if it's just the labor I'm after. My to-do list has been growing as steadily as our son, and no matter how much I try, I can't seem to squeeze enough time out of the day to ever get anything done.

Fortunately for me, I have a wonderful and understanding husband who totally gets it. He supports the desire to stay home with Lincoln and he also knows that I might need to have a job in order to get out if the house a little and maintain sanity. Either way, it's going to mean sacrifice and hardship to a certain extent. I haven't been offered the job yet, but if I am, we'll have to decide how to handle it and weigh the costs carefully. Emotional, financial, developmental... How do you decide what weighs heaviest?

October 5, 2009

happy to be home!

Well, I think that the trip went pretty much as expected. Lincoln did fine in the car for the most part, sleeping much of the way as predicted. When he wasn't sleeping, however, you would have thought that there was someone in the car driving hot stakes under his fingernails, so loud and inconsolable were his cries.

The drive that should have taken about five hours ended up taking eight each way, after we stopped all the necessary times to feed, change, and comfort Lincoln. Some of the stops were at restaurants, gas stations, or rest stops, but plenty of them were simply off on the side of random middle-of-nowhere roads when we couldn't make it any further.

At around the sixth hour on the road each way, Lincoln started to get sick of being in the car and decided to express his discomfort and general unrest the only way that he knows how. Unfortunately, it was around the same time that we were also tired and cranky and ready to be done driving. His version of the "are we there yet" is way worse than any five year old's- guaranteed.

It wasn't until we were nearly home that I realized that I could have saved us a lot of time and stops if I would have had the foresight to pump so that we could have fed him and made forward progress at the same time. As usual, hindsight is 20-20. I would say that we'll know for next time, but I would like to think that we're too smart to attempt another trip that long for quite a while.

We had a great time once we finally arrived at the farm, and our hosts were amazing as always, feeding us and providing us with a comfy nest to sleep in. We even got to participate in some fun farm activities while we were there. Gus helped out a bit with the construction of the red shed, which is being outfitted as a guest house; and I followed Hanni around with Lincoln in the Ergo while she milked the goat and fed the chickens and did other farmerly chores.

I was excited to meet their midwife, who came for a home visit on Saturday evening. Unfortunately, Lincoln had other plans and we instead spent about an hour and a half in our room while I tried in vain to soothe a very cranky and overtired boy. He was wailing and crying big, heartbreaking crocodile tears and absolutely refused to be consoled. He eventually did fall asleep, but the midwife was long gone and I'm sure Hanni was questioning her decision to procreate by that point.

Now that Lincoln's a big grown up boy of seven weeks, who stays awake for longer stretches of time and is far more involved in the world around him than he was a month ago, it's easy for me to forget that he's still a newborn. He's a huge newborn who is wearing six-month clothes already, but he's a newborn nonetheless. I think I've been so anxious to resume some pattern of our previous life that I've been stretching the limits of what he's really capable of right now. My sweet little boy has been considerably more fussy the last week or so, and I'm pretty sure that that's in direct proportion to how much I've been dragging him around lately and how many naps he's been deprived of as a result.

This week I'm going to try to be more conscientious, and make more of an effort to take better care of my boy. He's only going to be a baby for a little while, and I don't want to rush through this part! There will be plenty of napping on mommy happening this week. I think my list will just have to wait.

October 1, 2009

Road Trip... Addition

I just wanted to pipe in here for a minute with a few minor details. Lulu forgot to say the friends we're visiting are scheduled to have their first child in a about a month. On top of that they've been spending all their free time doing fairly major construction converting an out building into a guest house. This has included the 7 month pregnant wife burying utility lines. That's right. here's a math formula to illustrate this scenario

8 month pregnent lady + major construction = Exhausted lady who isn't getting much sleep

These ain't no sissy folks, but I don't know it they're ready for the little sleep they've been getting to be disrupted but our suddenly slightly more fussy baby boy.

Exhausted lady who isn't getting much sleep + fussy baby screaming in your ear = X

Solve for X

I know they're looking forward to seeing us, and I can't wait to get my farmhand on, but I think Lulu's right and we've possibly made another series of unwise decisions here.


September 30, 2009

road trip!

During what may still prove to be a considerable lapse in judgment on everyone's part, a couple of weeks ago we invited ourselves out to visit some friends who bought a farm in Springdale, and they accepted. For us, that means five hours in the car with our seven week old baby. Each way. For them, it means hosting us and said baby for the weekend. In their house.

Since we really have no way to predict how Lincoln is going to handle such a long car ride, this may be a very unpleasant weekend for all of us!

Stay tuned to find out!

September 26, 2009

trial and error

It seems to me that this baby-raising thing involves a lot more trial and error than one would think. There are so many things to figure out based on your particular baby's temperament, size, tendencies, and personality that you just can't really do until your baby is born and you've spent some time getting to know them. For someone like me, who loves to research and plan things out in advance, that's been a bit of a challenge for me to adapt to!

I've already documented a bit about our search for the perfect baby carrier here, although my writing and photos have only scratched the surface of the carriers that we've purchased and tried (all second-hand, at least 50% off!), much to my husband's chagrin. We've also been through a half-dozen cloth diaper covers in search of the perfect combination of a good fit around those chubby little thighs and leak protection that will survive at least part of the night. Then there was the obvious clothing obstacle, as we didn't realize until Lincoln arrived that those adorable little newborn size onesies were never going to fit him with his overachiever's body.

At this point in time, a little over six weeks after Lincoln was born, we've gotten many of those things hammered out. The one glaring exception to this, and the one that impacts me the most personally and directly, has to do with sleep. And that's not sleep quantity- as our little monkey is a great sleeper and consistently gets around 12 hours a night, going down some time between 7 and 9 pm, and sleeping until 7 or 9 in the morning. There's some variation depending on how much he naps during the day, but overall we've lost very little sleep so far, and I think that might be a miracle!

So the issue we're having with sleep is not how much we're getting, but where and how we're getting it, or more specifically, how I'm getting it. Since those first nights in the hospital, Lincoln has slept on my chest or by my side so we have easy access to nurse every one-and-a-half to two hours. That was fine when he was a little newborn (not that he ever really was), but now that he's over thirteen pounds and he's working on two feet long, it's getting to be considerably less comfortable for me to sleep with him on top of me all night long!

Thankfully, as he's gotten a little bit older, he sleeps for longer stretches at a time, and now when he first goes down for the night he usually stays asleep for four to five hours. He's also fairly easy to relocate during this stretch, so we're able to move him from downstairs (where he falls asleep with us watching tv) to our room when we're ready to go to bed. He starts out the night in the cosleeper, and I bring him to the bed the first time he wakes up, usually around 1 or 2 am. He eats and falls back asleep, and I do too. Lincoln's happy and snug as a bug, but unfortunately, I'm sleeping sitting up with the equivalent of an oversized sack of flour on top of me! And no, he won't let me put him back in the cosleeper. He wakes up the instant I put him down, and no amount of soothing or patting or reassuring him that I'm still there will convince him that he should fall asleep again.

And while having him so close does make nursing easy, part of my problem is that it almost makes it too easy. Lincoln has no problem eating from 3am until 6 or 6:30, while maintaining sleep, and seemingly without interruption. You can only imagine what those marathon feeding sessions do to the delivery devices. By morning, not only is my back stiff, but I feel like a human pacifier. I feel like there's just too much temptation, and if he would just go down in the cosleeper maybe he would forget for a minute about eating and I could also lie down and get some relief.

And so, a couple weeks ago, after a particularly uncomfortable night, I found this on Craigslist and went to pick it up. The owners were a sweet young couple, about our age, who related a story that sounded so familiar that I could have narrated it myself. Their daughter slept on mom- it was fine at first but after a while mom would give anything just to lie down, or sleep on her stomach for even an hour. They have the cosleeper, but daughter won't sleep in it. They heard that the cocoon works for a lot of babies, and they were willing to give it a try. They were willing to give anything a try! And now, a few short weeks later I found it on Craigslist. I'm an intelligent woman and I could sense the likely futility of this purchase, but I too was blinded by discomfort and was willing to try anything!

The first night I was thrilled to find that when we transferred him to the cocoon during his first stretch of sleep, everything went great and he slept until 1 am as usual. He woke, I fed him, and I returned him to the cocoon for another two hours. It worked! I was so excited and well rested that I could hardly contain myself. That is, until the next night- when we were right back where we started and he woke up as soon as I put him down. We've gone on in this manner ever since, until last night when I finally gave in. You see, we've had a solution at our disposal this whole time, but foolish pride has gotten in the way of us putting it to use.

The solution appears to be this devil of a swing- a gift from my sister that she insisted that we needed and that we have tried to return to the store twice with no success. I think we're opposed to the swing on principle more than anything. It's huge and cumbersome, made of plastic and obnoxious in its design, and then there's the fact that it takes FOUR D BATTERIES to operate it. I just can't stand the idea of the thing, so we left it in the box in the basement storage room until Lincoln was a few weeks old and we decided in a moment of weakness that since we couldn't return it, we might as well open it up and see if he likes it. Well, he doesn't. He LOVES it. It's the only place other than my lap that he'll nap during the day, and he calms down pretty much the instant we strap him in, mesmerized by the flashing lights and plush fish. More than one evening Gus and I have sat grumbling on the couch after we've spent half an hour walking, bouncing, snuggling, singing, swaddling, shushing, and otherwise attempting to calm Lincoln down only to put him down in the swing and have him go out like a light in two minutes.

So last night I finally requested that we swap the cocoon by my side of the bed with the blasted swing. I was worn down by the fact that on Thursday Lincoln spent the hours between 1 am and 5 am gnawing me raw, and I was determined that that be the last night of that. Ultimately, my comfort won out over pride, and I have to say- I slept like a dream last night! I brought him to bed with me from 1-3, and again from 5-6:30, and he stayed so long because I wanted him to, not because he wouldn't sleep elsewhere. The swing successfully lulled him to sleep during the in-between times, while I slept peacefully and horizontally! Woo hoo!

September 23, 2009

Grandma's brag book

My mom's birthday is tomorrow, and she's absolutely the worst person in the world to shop for. Instead of buying her something that she doesn't need or won't use, I decided to make her something that I hope she's going to love.

Every Grandma needs a brag book, right? And a hand made and embroidered fabric version must beat any one that you can find in a store.

I took apart an small basic photo album to rob the page inserts for mom's book, and hand embroidered the patch with a baby block pattern for the cover. There's a layer of soft but stiff interfacing to give the cover the weight that it needed, and the blanket stitch on the edges keeps it all together. The label with his name and birthday is printed on ink-jet fabric for a neat and tidy look, since I didn't think I could embroider cleanly so small.

I requested that Gus set up the tripod and take a family photo too, because we didn't have any pictures of the three of us and I'm sure Mom will appreciate it. We felt like the biggest nerds in the world posing like that in our living room, and it took a lot of takes to get one with all of us making a normal face, but I think it turned out okay.

Happy birthday Mom! Hope you enjoy it!

September 21, 2009

keep 'em covered!

The nursing cover was another one of those baby-registry things that I presumed that I would be able to do without. I figured that I could always just leave the room, or wear outfits that made discreet nursing easy, or cover up with a blanket if I felt really exposed. Plus, once I pulled one out of the package to inspect it, I realized that there was no way that I would ever consider paying for something I could very easily make myself if I ever changed my mind about the usefulness of such a thing.

Well- I did change my mind, as I sat in the corner of a busy restaurant's outdoor patio at lunchtime, nursing Lincoln under cover of a flimsy receiving blanket that I carefully held with my teeth while adjusting him on my lap. It became all too clear that those silly squares of fabric with their essential little neck straps really might have a place in my life after all. So I made one!

One of the things I love about making things myself is that it gives me the opportunity to customize things and sometimes even improve upon the original design. So I did a couple of things to modify the basic cover idea to make it suit my needs a little better. I had a piece of the Heather Bailey fabric left over from Dizzle's mixer cover, and it seemed to be about the right size for the project, so I got to work.

First I added a strip of flannel receiving blanket to the bottom hem on the underside, both to provide a little weight to keep the cover in place while I'm using it, and also to work as a handy clean-up rag for any dribbles that might occur.

And since I really don't like how the neck straps of most of the major brand covers have a dangling strap that you pull to tighten it up, I used some hardware that I had purchased for the Cupcake Apron to make mine adjustable in a slightly different way.

I had some boning that I purchased for something or another along the way, so I added that to the neckline so I can peek down at Lincoln while he nurses. That's a feature that the commercial brands have that I might not have thought of, and I think it's kind of brilliant.

I haven't tried my cover out in public yet, but I imagine it will be much easier than my blanket-in-mouth method, and more stylish as well.

September 18, 2009

history repeats

Since the moment that Lincoln was pulled from the womb, people have asked us (and we have wondered) just who he looks like. We have consistently replied that we didn't really think that he looked like either of us, what with the reddish peach-fuzz hair and the still softly defined baby features.

But then I remembered the photo album* that my mother-in-law brought me a few months back and now it's all very clear.

I snapped this pic of Lincoln a couple of weeks ago.

And this one is of his daddy, at around four months.

I know! Right?

But wait. It gets better!

No, we didn't stage this photo. It's pure coincidence that the composition is so (eerily?) similar. And clearly, those genes are powerful. He's definitely his daddy's boy. Mystery solved.

*You might recall this little gem that I posted before.