Archive for October, 2009

Traditions

October 28, 2009

I am really getting more and more into traditions.  I had some growing up, but it was more of where we would go when and not so much what we would do.  For example, it was always a given on Christmas Day that we would go to my Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  I like the idea of knowing where we are going on what day, but I also really like the idea of having fun things to do at home that are a given.  I want my children to grow up remembering these traditions and to want to come home to mom and dad (even when they are older and we are no longer super).  I want to be able to reminisce with them and form lots of special memories.  I really think this helps us all bond too.  As our children get older, we are open to their ideas too!

Here are a few traditions we have already started here:

Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas countdowns.  These are really simple!  For Halloween and Christmas it is a long paper chain (black and orange / red and green) to a pumpkin or Christmas tree.  Each day we take off a chain link and count the number of days until the upcoming holiday.  This has also been a good way to get some more practice counting.  For Thanksgiving, I just made a turkey body out of a paper grocery bag and crafted some paper turkey feathers.  Each day we take off a turkey feather and count again.

Birthday (for our daughter only, not for us, although a tradition for us is in the works…)  She gets to wear her birthday crown, have whatever she wants to eat (including if she wants birthday cake and ice cream for breakfast), open presents, wears a sewn by mama birthday shirt and do whatever fun activity she would like to do for the day (the last two years we have just picked the zoo for her, but this coming birthday she will pick).  We also hang a mama sewn fabric birthday banner.  We also make sugar cookies cut out into the year (for example, last year was 2 and this year is going to be 3).  (Thanks to my sister for this cute little tradition!)  My husband even got ’30’ cookies last year!

*Christmas:  We always go to my mom’s on Christmas Eve to eat and open presents.  First thing in the morning we open our stockings, eat breakfast and open presents.  Then, late morning my husband’s side of the family comes over.  We watch the Christmas Story (typically while our daughter has napped as it is on over and over again for 24 hours on TBS I think).  We play cards, open presents, eat lunch and supper, and just enjoy each others company.

Christmas tree:  Last year was the first year we ditched our artificial tree for a ‘real’ tree.  I’m so glad we did.  We just went and picked one off the lot.  We will definitely get another ‘real’ tree, but I’m not sure if we will just get one off the lot or cut one down…to be decided.

* Easter:  I cut out paper bunnies and our daughter searches the house for them.  She loves this!  Each year it will get more challenging and fun (for her and us).  She finds her Easter basket and also some mama sewn fabric eggs.  We then head over to my sister-in-law and brother-in-laws house for an Easter lunch and egg hunt.  We had been going to my side of the family for Easter for as long as I can remember, but I have to say we really enjoyed ourselves so much last year that we will now start going to my husband’s side.  (My side has so many gatherings that it is nice for a change of pace.  Plus, it makes my husband happy.  I think he has always felt like his family gets left out of the holidays and I don’t want him to feel like that.)  Leading up to Easter, we also dye Easter eggs.  Last year I made the egg dye and it turned out really good (cheaper too).

Valentines Day:  I really want to keep this about love and friends.  Not so much about romantic love, but about loving and being thankful for all the love and support in your life.  We have a special Valentines Day dinner and our daughter gets a few special things (I think last year she got a book or two and some small treats).  My husband and I might exchange a small gift like chocolate or his favorite beer, but no big bouquets of flowers or romantic dinners here.  I also make Valentines Day cookies in the shape of a heart.  Our daughter will be more involved in this process this year.  I also cut out paper hearts for our daughter to find, just like we do at Easter.

Oktoberfest:  We just started celebrating the last day of Oktoberfest this year.  My husband is half German and I really want to bring some cultural awareness into our lives.  We just celebrated this year with Oktoberfest beer (for my husband) and a German dinner.  There are some activities that we may try in the future, but this year was just the start.

Footprint and Handprint Christmas Ornament:  The daycare our daughter attended her first year made us this cute little fabric ornament using our daughter’s hand and footprints.  I am continuing that.  I have the 2007 one (from daycare) and I made a 2008 one.  I will make the 2009 one sometime in mid-December.  I’m not sure if we will hang these on the tree or if we will do some kind of display.  We will see.

What we want to start implementing:

St. Nick’s Day:  I really loved this thought and think it is something easy and fun to implement.  We will leave a pair of shoes out on the night of December 5th and see what St. Nick brings us in the morning.  This is yet another way to celebrate our German (not mine) heritage.

Cookies for Santa:  We will be leaving Santa cookies this year too and a glass of milk of course.  Not sure if we will pick a cookie that Santa will have every year or if it will vary…we will see.

Advent Calendar:  I found a tutorial last year on a cute little felt advent calendar and sewed it back in September or so.  I have all the presents wrapped and ready to go for this.  Super excited to start this tradition.

Thanksgiving ‘What I Am Thankful For Tree’:  We are going to get a medium-sized branch and I’ll cut out construction paper leaves and we will all write down things we are thankful for during the month of November.  Hopefully, we will have a full tree by Thanksgiving.

Birthdays:  We will expand the birthday celebrations to my husband and I.  We will get to pick what we want to eat that day (since my birthday is in a week, I plan to pick orange juice, french toast, coq au vin, chocolate cake and ice cream…two flavors) and some place we would like to go.  This year I’m picking the zoo, because they have a free family day and honestly, it is the only way I’m getting my husband to go for a 2 plus hour drive to a zoo that will be crowded.  We will also start watching home movies this year. 

Kids Day:  My husband had this tradition growing up.  Somehow he and his two siblings conned their parents into having a Kids Day, because of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.  Kid’s Day was always right before they went back to school in the Fall.  They each got a gift and did something special.  This sounds like fun to me.  I love giving gifts and having something fun to look forward too.  I’m sure we will keep it semi simple.  It would be really great if I could make a special breakfast, lunch and dinner for each of them (or maybe just a special dinner).  I would definitely be a short order cook that day, but with a little planning, I’m sure it would all work out.

Giving to needy families.  We would like to start some kind of tradition to give to others.  I’m not sure what this will look like yet.  It could be a toy for Toys for Tots or a blanket for Project Linus or even volunteering somewhere.  We will see, but something I definitely want to instill in my children.

What are some of your traditions?????

Sewing Sunday Snake

October 25, 2009

Well, what can I say?  I’m glad I sewed the mail bag earlier in the week, because I had very minimal time to sew today.  We have a lot of household projects to do and sewing just took back seat, as did football for my husband.  Instead, we spent the morning putting trim on the new front door and our daughter’s soon-to-be new closet.  My husband also spent a good amount of time investigating a water issue in our basement.  It is a weird one…just shows up front time to time in one corner and then a small puddle in the middle of the floor.  Doesn’t make sense and we haven’t been able to figure it out.  It doesn’t coincide with rain and the downspouts are not clogged.  Ideas??  We didn’t get our daughter’s shelving up in her closet or the tie backs for her curtains installed, but hopefully both of those things will happen this week.  They are absolutely driving me nuts and would like to get them done.  I’m such a doer that I stress myself out.  Ugh!

Anyway, here is what I sewed today…

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It is a ‘draft snake.’  I found the tutorial a while ago in a book and just knew some day I would use it.  Typically this time of year we start to throw an old towel in front of our basement laundry door to keep the draft from coming into the entire downstairs.  Instead of a towel though, we will now use this draft snake.  I used three different patterned dish towels that I bought a while back to make a dish towel apron for a bridal shower gift.  I liked the pattern, but didn’t want to use them in my kitchen.  There they sat until this project came along.  I really could have made another draft snake if only I had more dried beans and rice on hand (and more time this morning).  I’m not sure what I will use the rest of the fabric from the towels for, but I’m sure it will eventually get used somehow.

Awesome Giveaway At Nicki’s Diapers

October 24, 2009

Check out this awesome giveaway at Nicki’s Diapers!  I just am absolutely falling in love with all of their products!  I am planning to cloth diaper this next little one and just love all the information I have learned from the blog and the very helpful store employees!  My husband and I are planning a big shopping day on December 5th, which will include a stop at Nicki’s Diapers to pick out what we are going to cloth this little one in.  Right now we are thinking prefolds, but we are still open to all options!!

Middle Of The Week Sewing

October 22, 2009

I couldn’t wait until Sunday.  It just seems that Sunday sewing does not always happen, so I get a little antsy and need to sew mid-week.  I’ve been reading Handmade Home and although I have found many projects I plan to eventually sew, I have really found more inspiration to repurpose stuff we already have.  Here is what happened.

Our old front door had a makeshift curtain on for the last sixish years.  Since we replaced the door, the makeshift curtain got replaced as well with three small charming, non-curtain needing windows.  Oh, what to do with a displaced curtain?  (Back story:  Curtain was really an airline blanket I thought was mine to keep after my first flight about 10 years ago.  I thought, they are not going to reuse this…boy, was I wrong.)

Well, our daughter had been really into playing mail on Tuesday (day this was actually created and sewn, much to the displeasure of my husband who kept asking, “Are you almost done?  I thought it was only going to be a few minutes?”) and she is already getting some felt mail for Christmas, so I thought she needed a mailbag to go with her mail.  Don’t you think?

Here are some photos of the creating going on:

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Here is how I repurposed what we already had into something new and unique.  The blue ‘body’ of the bag is a small portion of the blue airline blanket curtain.  (Note to self:  Do Not iron this crappy material…it sticks to your iron and causes you to curse.)  The white MAIL letters are scraps of white wool felt from some wool felt star ornaments I made.  The beige strap is part of the curtains I made a few weeks ago out of the thrifted slipcover.  I also had some white embroidery floss lying around and that is what I used to hand stitch the letters onto the bag.

The strap is a little long, but fits our daughter without dragging on the floor.  I thought a little longer is better than too short.  So far, she has played with it a little.  I wouldn’t say it is a big hit with her, but I’m sure it will get some use.

What repurposing have you done lately?  Oh, and does anyone have a tutorial or pattern for hospital scrubs for children?  I’d love to make some for our daughter!  I did an online search with no luck!  I have some Dora fabric I was going to make into curtains, but I already made curtains, and honestly, I’m not really into the character stuff all over.  Scrubs would be perfect, because they are usually a little ‘loud’ anyway with characters and stuff.

Recycled No Sew Tree Skirt And Other Wedding Decoration Reuse

October 21, 2009

I have been wanting to make a new tree skirt for a while now.  The one we’ve been using for the last few years is a vinyl-like material.  I’m not a big vinyl fan myself and the color I really didn’t care for either.  I’m not one to run out and buy a lot of seasonal stuff, so I’ve just been using the vinyl-like gold one for the last 8-9 years.  It is time for it to move onto another home for sure!

Well, I’ve been trying to go through a lot of my wedding decorations from 3+ years ago and I came up with a solution.  I decided to use the satin piece of fabric that was used on our wedding cake table at our wedding reception.  It is about 5 yards long (if I’m remembering right).  I was going to sew it, but I actually like the look of it more tussled and flowing under the tree.  I’m just going to wrap it around the bottom of the tree and tuck under the ends.  Simple.  Done.

I also have set aside some of the little flowers used as wedding decorations for art projects for our daughter.  I have the tulle set aside in my sewing stash, although I’m not sure what I will eventually use it for.  I’m giving some of the ribbon bows to my mom for holiday decorations.  I’m going to use a few of the satin bows on our tree too.  I’m still left with what to do with some larger rose like fake flowers and also some candle votives that look like wine glasses (sort of).  I would like to keep some of the stuff, but I’m not sure why quite yet.  It is just taking up precious space.  Any crafty ideas of what I can do with the extra stuff?

Spinach and Black Bean Burritos

October 20, 2009

Yummy!  This recipe looks delicious and very healthy.  I’ve made black bean burritos once, but this one definitely packs in more nutrition.  Yum!  Yum!

Our daughter will love them too!  She will probably roll it apart and eat the beans, but that is where all the good stuff is anyway.

Not sure that I will go all out and make the homemade salsa, but you never know.  I’ll let you know how they taste!

Also, like that the recipe uses dried beans and not canned.  No one wants BPA Spinach and Black Bean Burritos now do they!?!?

Any healthy recipes you like?

Early Shopping

October 19, 2009

I’ve been doing some early Christmas shopping for our little ones (yes, we only have one daughter out of the womb now, but shouldn’t Santa bring a thing or two to the little one too…I think so).  Here are some of the fun purchases we made.

Plan Toys Dancing Alligator

Plan Toys Twisted Tossing (actually this is what Grandma is getting her)  I think this will be a fun indoor game to share with mommy and daddy in the long winter months here.  Also something I could participate in when I nursing (with a little assistance from our daughter retrieving the rings for momma).

Plan Toys Fish Castanet (Blue one)

DUKTIG Doll's bed with bedlinen set

IKEA Doll’s Bed With Bedlinen Set  (I actually have this all put together to avoid lots of assembling and box recycling on Christmas.)

We are planning a day for my husband and I to go shopping without our daughter along.  I have to admit it is not as fun with him (sorry dear).  We have different ideas about what to get our daughter and I have to compromise (like he really wanted to get her the Story Reader for her birthday and I didn’t…we got it and she actually plays with it.  Although, I think the quality is crappy and it doesn’t work that well.  She likes it.).    I have a few things in mind that I would like to get her and I’m sure he does too.  I’ve already made a few things for her, like felt mail and two ‘E’ shirts.  Any ideas on what else I could make her?

Hope your shopping is going well too and you are having as much fun as I am with it!

Sewing Sunday Short

October 18, 2009

Sewing Sunday was cut rather short today.  We have been waiting for a while to have our front door installed, and it just so happened that this weekend was full of door installation.  You see, Saturday did not go so well and tools needed to be borrowed to finish the job on Sunday.  I think it took a total of 9 hours to install the door, door knobs (including deadbolt) and screen door.  Who would have thought it would have taken so long?  There is still some touch up work to do in the Spring when the weather is a little warmer and also some trim work to finish within the next few days, but overall, the door is finally in and I can finally park back in the garage after four months of not being able to.  Yay!

I was only able to get about 1 1/2 hours of sewing in this morning, but it was enough to get a few small projects done that I have been wanting to do for some time now.

I sewed two patches on the hubby’s pants.  Boy, is he hard on them!  Good thing I learned this new and easy skill last week.

I sewed an extension on our cart cover.  Those Target shopping carts are just so roomy that our daughter would get annoyed when the cover would constantly fall down on her.  Hopefully this small extension (about 10 inches) will help a little.  If not, at least she will be interested in the firetrucks, trucks and cars on it.  (The picture is less than ideal…the sun was shining so bright!)

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I also made our daughter two cozies for her Klean Kanteens.  She kept saying, “Mommy, please blow on my hands.  They are cold.”  I would definitely make them a little larger next time, but these will work for now.  I haven’t heard, “Mommy, please blow on my hands.  They are cold.,”  all day.  I would also make them both out of dark fabric, as the yellow apple one is going to be prone to stains.

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 Not sure what sewing projects are in store for next Sunday yet.  I’m still getting acquainted with Handmade Home.  Maybe I will be able to make something from that book for next week.  I also want to make a tree skirt before Christmas too.  I need to find a tutorial or good pattern first though.  Any suggestions?

Klean Kanteen’s And Other Stuff

October 15, 2009

We stopped at Nicki’s store on our way home and bought these Klean Kanteen’sfor our daughter.  I’ve been wanting to get them for her for quite some time, but they are a little pricey (okay, we bought a 12 oz. and an 18 oz. for about $33ish).  She is outgrowing her sippies and is not quite all together ready to go without a lidded drink in the car.  My stainless water bottle is too big for her, so we needed something just the right size that would have a BPA free spout and no BPA leaching lining.  These bottles will probably last her all throughout her childhood, so I can justify the cost that way.  Instead of buying drinks on the go (which we really have very rarely done…I think once or twice we bought some lemonade or tea) we just prefill our bottles at home and away we go.  So far, she loves her new Kanteen’s.  She actually drink so much water out of the one that she had a potty accident on the couch while we were reading some books.  She hasn’t done that for a long time.  They are a hit with both of us so far.  I’m afraid daddy will have a slight heart attack when he sees the receipt, but hopefully he will see the justification in it all.  (He did!  See the justification that is!)  

We are also thinking of cloth diapering our next little one, so I talked to the staff at Nicki’sabout some of the different options.  I’m glad I’ve had some past conversations with experienced cloth diaper mamas or I would have been totally overwhelmed.  I’m thinking of taking my husband there and seeing what would fit our lifestyle and budget.  I can honestly see us sticking it out if it is very easy, like the prefolds for when the baby is a newborn and the all-in-ones or pocket diapers when the baby is a little older.  I think my husband will like the prefolds for the price alone, but I hope we can handle that, as we are both easily stressed people.  I guess once I get the hang of it, it will make more sense and seem like less work.  Also, I think after talking to the staff at Nicki’s I may go with the snap covers instead of the velcro because I don’t think I’ll remember to protect the velcro before washing each time.  I also am going to buy a cloth bag that goes on the door handle and you just wash it when you wash your diapers.  Easy-peesy.

I also checked out Moby’s

 

A lot of the playgroup mom’s I know wear these and love them!  They look extremely comfortable and I have heard nothing but rave reviews about them.  They can run from $40ish to $70ish depending on what color and if organic cotton or not.  I, personally, prefer organic cotton, but the organic cotton does not come with the reinforced fabric.  If I want to wear the little one for a long time, then I’m going to have to go with the non-organic Moby.  So many color choices to choose from.  This will be tough!

So, I have a lot to think about and ponder with cloth diapering and new baby purchases.  I’m glad I have more knowledge and resources this time around.  I know I will never be fully prepared for this new one’s arrival, but I am looking forward to new experiences with some wonderful new products.

Real Food

October 12, 2009

I just finished devouring reading Nina Planck’s new book, real food for mother and baby The Fertility Diet, Eating For Two, And Baby’s First Foods.  It was definitely a great read!  I learned a lot.  Some of the points I want to share with you in hopes to educate and get you to go pick up the book.  She makes a ton of good points (backed up by research).  Thanks Amanda for turning my on to Real Food!

So, on with what I found interesting and enlightening. 

Plant sterols (when reading the Wikipedia description, pay attention to the Potential Risks research):  Found in imitation butters disrupt hormones, which can cause infertility and birth defects.  New Zealand even has a food standard of making any product that contains plant sterols to have a warning label on.  I was stunned.  I’d been eating things like imitation butter since late childhood. 

*  I specifically love her quote about Americans, “We Americans are not sufficiently skeptical about imitation food and additives.”  That may become my go to line.  Isn’t it brilliant!!!  It is exactly correct in my book.  We are not skeptical about our food or any other products.  We are so trusting of what we put in, on and what we surround our bodies with (products)…this needs to stop and we all need to educate ourselves.  People are busy, I know, but this is EXTREMELY important…make time!  (It took me two library renewals to finish this book…life happens, but carve out a few minutes here and there and it can and will happen for you.  I strongly encourage it.  As my college professor once said, “Knowledge is power.”)

*  I learned a lot about sperm counts.  If you are thinking of conceiving, you may want to pick up this book just for the Fertility section alone.  Tons of great information!  It covers every angle of sperm, plus some.  I really didn’t know anything really about sperm (okay, so I knew some, but not in the detail Nina writes about), but the one thing that stood out was that iron raises sperm counts.  I also learned that you are better off eating your iron than taking a supplement (they are not very readily absorbed).  There are many sources of iron you probably already eat day to day, such as red meat.  Also, I didn’t know (I’m sure most people don’t either) that sperm cells need vitamin E to mature.  Vitamin E also helps with sperm motility and prevents the little guys from clumping up.  Another strong point for Vitamin E is that it can help an embryo survive because it decreases the need for oxygen, which is in short supply in the beginning.  

*  Dental fillings contain mercury:  Okay, so I did know this, but only within the last year or two.  A lot of our dental work comes from foreign countries, so make sure to ask where your crowns and such are from.  Sadly, I found this information out after I just had a crown put on my tooth.  So, these fillings may contain mercury and can have neurotoxic effects on the nervous systems of children and even fetuses.  They are even banned in Norway and Sweden.  If only I lived there.  I also learned that gold or porcelain are better options, which I will opt for porcelain next time for sure.  This is a big part that totally freaked me out…the book advised to never have fillings removed while pregnant or nursing.  The mercury vapor is released in to your blood and breastmilk just from the drilling process.  I look back and know I had a lot of dental work done while I was nursing our daughter.  Scary what damage may have been done. 

*  The next two, I asked one of my midwives about and she didn’t really have a lot of information for me.  She did tell me what the common procedures are, but wanted to look into it herself.  Of course, I forgot to bring the book, so I was fumbling with my crazy memory.  Anyway, I learned once the baby is born it is beneficial to skip the bath and to not cut the cord until the placenta is delivered.  In relation to skipping the bath, I knew that the vernix (white coating) is a moisturizer, but what I didn’t know is that it contains immune factors too.  If left on the baby, it can protect the baby from group B Streptococcus, K. pneumoniae, Listeria monocytogenes, Candida albicans, and E. coli.  (The research she sites here is: H. Akinbi et al., “Host Defense Proteins in Vernix Caseosa and Amniotic Fluid,”  from the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 2004.)  About the delayed cord cutting.  My midwife told me the midwives wait until the cord stops pulsing before cutting it.  I am definitely going to do more research on this and relay it to my midwives in hopes to come up with a standard for my baby’s cord cutting, whether we stick with what they already do, or we adjust to current research, we’ll see what we each find in the research I guess.  Anyway, the book says not to cut the cord until it is white and flaccid, and ideally, not until after the placenta is born.  I seem to recall it being white and flaccid, but know the cord was cut with our daughter prior to the placenta being born.  If you leave the cord uncut until it is flaccid and white, you give your baby an extra 100 millitiers of blood, nutrients such as zinc, and choline and betaine (brain builders).  (The research she sites here is:  A. M. Molloy et al., “Choline and Homocysteine Interrelations in Umbilical Cord and Maternal Plasma Delivery,” from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2005.) 

*  The last point I’d like to touch on is baby cereal.  I fed it to our daughter and she ate it.  Most of us probably did, but what I read freed me and made me really think about what to feed this next little one.  I can tell you in short, we’ll skip the cereal.  I learned that babies do not even produce starch-digesting enzymes until one or two years of age.  The Whole Foods baby food guide says, “There is no medical need to feed cereal as a first food.”  Sure, Whole Foods is not my pediatrician, but it does make sense not to feed the baby cereal as its’ first food.  I was already thinking of feeding the baby more simply, if you can ever feed a baby simply.  I guess what I mean is not buying into all the commercialism and hype surrounding baby food.  Our current plan is to just feed the baby what we eat in small chunks or tiny little bites.  As of this point, I’m not sure I’ll freeze that much.  I’m thinking I will freeze little bits of leftovers here and there for quick meals or when we are on the go, but how freeing not to be stuck to some ‘standards of feeding.’  I will definitely feed our baby nutritious foods, but they just won’t come from a jar (okay, sometimes they will, that is life). 

If you are interested in any of these points I am interested in, then I really think you should read this book!  There are so many more points and good stuff in this book.  Do your research and just enjoy life…eating whole, good foods.