Copyright © June Cleaver in yoga pants
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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

crafting clothes for baby

A few weeks ago I pulled out the sewing machine, a bag full of old clothes and sweaters, and went at it.

Here are the results.

old turtleneck pants that i remember fitting well

cut out, leaving turtle neck intact
(will serve as foldover yoga pants)
the results on the right side, the ones on the left
are from the sleeves of the same sweater with a simple
elastic waist

super soft newborn woolies (in gray) and a wool soaker for
night time (in brown) The first gray pants on left are slightly
gathered with a waist made from ribbing. the middle ones are
from the sleeves with an elastic waist. the brown soakers are from
a huge chunky sweater i wore in college 24/7 with a foldover waist

hats. i LOVE how the grey pilot cap turned out. made from a old
gap sleep shirt. it was hard to get right. let me know if you want
a step by step tutorial. i will make another!

a hat for brother (he requested a "ball on top") and sister

i really should get a better pic of these.
they are cut from a very felted wool sweater
i needle felted a small flower and leaves over the tacky
red moose embroidered on the sweater. now i just need
some snaps.
will most definitely model this stuff on baby for you
all ASAP. or for me, lets be honest :)

soaker pants, again the one on the right is from the turtleneck
of a sweater, and the ones on the left are from the sleeves.

this is a sleep gown i am knitting. its adorable. its incredibly
tedious. i am secretly hoping to pass off to my mom while she is
here waiting with me to have a baby...

Fun stuff huh? I packed all my sewing gear up in anticipation of little man's party and my dear sister and brother in law coming next weekend....if I don't have this baby by next week you can bet I will be pulling the whole mess out again to do some more. Yay baby crafting!
Tuesday, August 30, 2011

the end of days

So I am now officially full term. It could be ANY DAY. I keep having bouts of contractions that are 5 minutes apart. And I think, maybe? Maybe this is it? Then nothing. And somehow. I am okay with it. I wake up the next morning and keep at it.

And people say, are you ready? Sleepless nights and round the clock feedings and juggling three kids and so on and so forth.

And I think you know, yea, I am.

Life is, well, life is pretty freaking good. I have lots to get done, I keep busy. I have a sweet little house. Friends and family. Two amazing kids. An amazing dada who loves us desperately.

And this song comes on the other day in the car. And I blast the volume, to my kids annoyance, and sing at the top of my lungs. Crazy mama reliving her California teenage years, windows down, dreads whipping in the wind.

Its the end of the world as we know it. Its the end of the world as we know it. Its the end of the world as we know it. And I feel fine. I feel fine.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

happy birthday, dear little man

Five years. Was it really five years ago I gave birth to this little person? Really? It seems like a long time and yet the blink of an eye.

He is very proud of being five. The first thing he said this morning was "Does my voice sound different?" Oh, I love this little person.

I always wondered how it would be to love more than one child. When I was pregnant with little miss I was afraid I would never love her the same or as much as my sweet boy. I was right, and wrong. I think a mother has enough love for all the children she has but it is a different love reserved for each one.

For little man, my love for him is, in a word, fierce.

I think of his birth, all that I went through physically and emotionally to bring him into this world. His first year, with dada and law school and all of our stress. I think of all those sleepless nights, bouncing, walking the halls with him, praying to God that he would sleep.

And then defending him to so many people (Its NOT colic. He is, umm, teething! I started saying this at three months old. He didnt get his first tooth until 9 months.)

I think of the person he is now sweet and funny and passionate and sensitive and marvelous. I look into his eyes and somehow I see myself.

And I watch him sleep and this choking emotion fills me. This love. Fierce love.

Thank you little man. I love you.

Friday, August 26, 2011

stand your ground mama! stand your ground!

Do you remember that scene from The Princess Bride where Inigo, Fezzik, and Westley go to storm the castle?

Fezzik pulls out a cloak from Magic Max "Fits so nice, he said I could keep it!" and away they go, with Inigo (somehow) pushing Fesik in a cart closer and closer to the castle (while carrying Westley on his back?).

All the men around the castle look nervous, waiting for the attack.

And then they hear it. A booming voice. "I am the Dread Pirate Roberts! There will be no survivors!"

Doom is certainly upon them.

And their brave captain yells out, desperately, "STAND YOUR GROUND MEN, STAND YOUR GROUND!!"

Yes. This scene. This is what flashed before my eyes this morning as I had the following conversation with little man.

As every morning since being sick last week..."Mom, can I watch morning cartoons now?"

(Fezzik is approaching the castle, the men are apprehensive, looking into the darkness in terror.)

"No buddy. Remember how you screamed at me when I turned the TV off yesterday?"

(Westley and Inigo light the magic cloak on fire, the men gasp and panic. Fezzik yells out "MY MEN ARE HERE, AND I AM HERE, BUT SOON YOU WILL NOT BE HERE)



"Well, I told you no TV today as a consequence."


"BUT MOM??!!!" Whine, whine, whine, snivel, snivel, snivel.

And so the day begins. It is approximately 7:42am. This is going to continue in 15 minute increments for the rest of the day.


I find there are very few things in parenting worth this kind of effort. I was raised to eat all the food on my plate. I dont make my children do this. If they are hungry later they can have a carrot. If my kids want to sleep with me, okay. There must be a reason. I let them wear there pajamas all day if they put up a fight about changing into daytime clothes, even to the store sometimes. I JUST DONT CARE. It's not worth the hassle, I would say 75% of the time.

I never thought I would be this kind of parent. But the fact is, I value peace in my household. A lot. Its not that I let them walk over me. They are good kids. Respectful. Kind. (for the most part) But I think that a lot of times finding the "yes" in a situation is best for everyone all around. Give your kids a way out. Some of the best parenting advice I have heard. In the middle of a battle over whether or not you get to play with the big toy car set in the middle of the freshly picked up living room? Well, if you help pick it up when you are done, then sure. Etc. etc.

I think we often default to a "no" without cause. I know I used to, a lot. For example. Kids want to cut out strips of paper (birthday decorations) and hang them in random places around the house. In the past this kind of thing would make me crazy. But now, well, sure. Why not? Kids want to play outside more, while you want to go start dinner? In the grand scheme of things starting dinner 15 minutes later isnt THAT big of a deal.

You see what I mean.

But sometimes, well. A mama has to put her foot down. My children have developed an unappreciated (by me) early morning cartoon habit (that frequently stretches into an all morning habit) since being sick in the past few weeks (just colds nothing serious but they were sleeping so poorly and so crabby sitting them in front of the tv was just, well, easier, you know how it is).

Its just PBS Kids. Not the end of the world. But I don't like it. I like having them play around me as I drink my morning coffee. Cuddling. Reading books. Chasing each other around the house with their little pushcarts, playing ambulance. Not sitting mindlessly in front of Super Why. (Also, I was rather disturbed to listen to little miss recite all the catch phrases of show after show the other day)

And when I told him to turn it off yesterday and come put on his shoes (to go get daddy and get Happy Meals for dinner! fun right?!) and he screamed at me hysterically, well, I lost it. I reacted badly. (I was crabby, in the middle of a contraction and not feeling terribly patient) And that is when the consequence came out. NO TV TOMORROW. Ugh? I thought. What did I just DO??

("Give us the gate key." "What gatekey? I have no gatekey." "Fezzik, tear his arms off." "Oh, you mean this gatekey?")

No. No. Stand your ground mama.

And so far, well, its 9:08. The morning sun is streaming in the windows. Little man is listening to A Muppet Christmas album. Little miss is having a picnic with her breakfast on the floor. And I have only gotten two comments about YOU-KNOW-WHAT ("Mom. Its not going to be a nice fun day if you dont let me watch tv." "Mom, but WHY NOT??")

Hopefully I wont get my arms ripped off. Ha.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011

cloth diapering creations part 2 - the pocket diaper

So I have been totally lazy about sewing cloth diapers for this baby. With little miss I was stitching up a storm and made scads of diapers...not so much this time around. I just, eh, not feeling it.

But then, in the past few days I have been organizing baby things and realize I have given away/lent out a LOT of my diapering stuff and don't have as much as I would want.

I thought about buying some but then I go to our local purveyer of cloth diapering supplies and cant bring myself to pay TWENTY FIVE DOLLARS (??!!) for a single pocket diaper. I know you can find deals online. (I kind of have been thinking about buying these in newborn size and these in medium size but I still havent done it. Plus I am kind of old fashioned and really dont like buying things online. I want to see it first, anyone else like that?)

So, I sucked it up yesterday and pulled out my old stash of diaper creation fabrics, plopped the kids in front of PBS kids and sewed for a morning.

I figured I would share the steps I use for making pocket diapers, which really, can be done in one episode of Sesame Street. In fact, I made two in that time alotment.

So, here goes.

First, you need to find fabrics. For the outside you need PUL (plastic-y lining) which can really only be found online, lots of places sell it. Dont try and buy plastic-y stuff they might sell at a Joann Fabric. It won't work. Then you need the inner layer fleece (soft part against the bum, try to find 100% cotton that is non-pilling.) I also like to cover my (plain white) PUL in a fun fabric. This adds another layer to have to sew with but I get bored with the white. I bought it because it was cheapest and a local diaper sewer was selling some excess. You can buy colored or print PUL online too.

You will also need velcro and 1/4 inch elastic. You can use snaps, if you want, but from my understanding you need a snap press, and well, velcro is cheap and easy so I am fine with it. Some people are very opinionated about this but I have found snaps rip out more easily and picking lint out of velcro (its inevitable) every now and then is not a big deal.

Now find a diaper cover to use as a guage for size and fit. Getting the right shape is key. I have made many an awkward fitting diaper that never worked on a real baby. I used a new Thirsties cover I bought the other day.

You can also buy patterns at various places online. My mom and sister recently found this shop online, they sell quality fabrics (remnants for CHEAP) and patterns.

Or, you can be like me and wing it.

Lay your cover down on the PUL and sketch or cut out the basic shape, making sure to stretch out the elastic to get the right shape and to leave 1/4 inch or so for seams.

Now using your cut out PUL piece copy as a pattern and cut out your fleece piece and your outer fabric (if you want to.)

The dark grey/green is the fleece (crappy fleece that isnt all cotton but, oh well) then a blue cloud flannel print for the outer cute layer, then the white PUL.

Now comes the part where I always have to sit and think, doing the steps in the right order. First off, the shiny layer of PUL needs to be on the INSIDE of the pocket with the fabric-y side facing out. Otherwise you will be wicking moisture the wrong way. (Believe me, you dont want to rip out a diaper that has been sewn the wrong way!)

Next step, which I have messed up many times, sewing the velcro onto the PUL/cute fabric layer (lets call this the outer layer for simplicity sake). I like to use about 4-5 inches (depending on size of dipe you are making) of the softer velcro part. I also like to round the corners first by simply snipping the edges off. Make sure you place the velcro low enough from the edge of the waist so you have room for your seam. Use a zig zag stitch to keep the sharp edges down.

So, as you can see from the shot (yes, those are little man's fingers, he thought it was hilarious to stick his hand in the picture) I am sewing the velcro onto the nice fabric AND the PUL (you cant see it but its under the cloud fabric). This is a nice first step because it helps to hold the two layers together as you are sewing the diaper.

Now sew the fleece layer and the outer layer (clouds and PUL) together. Just think, right sides together!! You are going to be turning the whole thing inside out when you are done. Leave about 4 inches open on the back side of the top of the diaper. This is your opening to put in the liners for the pocket.

showing where i usually end the sewing at the back.

i swear it wont look so ugly when you are done.

Okay. Got that okay? I have to think about it every time.

Now we put elastic in the legs. The first few times I did this I was totally unsure how to go about it. Then I found another diapering site that had a little elastic tutorial. Its really simple. Tack each edge of the elastic to your leg. I like to place the elastic through the whole curve of the leg opening. Make sure you are stretching your elastic to fit....this is what gathers it to be elastic-y in the leg. That probably goes without saying but I am pretty sure I sewed the elastic in flat at first and then was like, "oh, right. it needs to stretch to serve the purpose of elastic." (its the California blonde coming out in me maybe?)

In any case.
edges tacked

then stretch into place and sew
Now repeat on the other leg. I usually sew on the seam allowance. If you go over the stitch its not a big deal, that will be your new seam. Comprende? No? Just try you will see what I mean.

Okay. So next we need to...hmm...Oh, so next we cut two little pieces of elastic (3-4 inches each) to put in the opening. You can leave this flat and some professionally made pocket diapers dont have the elastic but I think it makes for a better opening and a better fit too. Its kind of tricky to get the elastic in just right, sew it in just below your seam allowance (the tacking on step) then fold the seam allowance over and sew that part, making a nice clean finished edge.

ends of elastic tacked in, now folding the layer of fleece
over for a nice edge. photo courtesy of little mister.

finished edges of the opening.
Now, turn the dipe right side out.

See, looks okay, right?

Now, cut out the velcro tabs for the side flaps (wings? whatever you want to call them) I cut about 2 inches of velcro for each side, again rounding the edges (those corners can be sharp!) leave just 1/2 an inch or an inch sticking out, sew the rest onto the fleece layer of the diaper, again using a zig zag stick. (How is that for a run on sentence?)

And here is your finished diaper!

I hate the fleece that I used but all in all, not bad for having not sewn one of these babies in at least a year! Stuff with whatever liners you have. See this post for more on that.

These are fairly durable (especially if you are lucky enough to own a serger!) but arent great night time diapers. They do leak (no leg gussets!) after awhile. I use them with wool leggings or just around the house. They do hold in messes fairly well though.

Any questions for me? A great tutorial is on this site if you need more help. (Where I got many great tips) HAVE FUN!!

(Oh, and here is the other diaper that I made. I took an old snap cover - snaps had ripped out! - and sewed in a pocket with fleece and replaced the snaps with velcro. EASY!)

Next up: My obsession with wool pants for this baby as a diaper cover option. Hmmm...winter babies...fat leggies in wool pants!! YIPPEE. You should see how many woolies I have made!!
Sunday, August 21, 2011

august, in pictures

I suppose I am not feeling terribly wordy lately. Shocker, right?

Lots of nesting-ness going on though. Lots of mental preparation. (THREE KIDS???!) Lots of cuddling babies. Lots of PBS kids and popcicles. Lots of baby crafty-ness (will post on this soon!). And cleaning too.

And sitting. In the sunshine. Soaking in August.

And, aside from our current state (colds sweeping the house!) its been a good month.

And next week, my little man turns five. Five years of mama. Five years of hugs and rocking to sleep and lullabies and pushes on the swings and wiping of tears and sweeping up graham cracker crumbs. Five years. Amazing.

So here are some pictures. (With my new camera! yay!)

this is her new face. lovely huh?

my first two red tomatoes. ever. i am so, so proud.

pool time.
inspecting the tomatoes. yes, naked.
mid afternoon sun in the trees
yes, any stick can be a sword.

dump sand in the failed garden box (not enough sun!) voila, sandbox!
this is our "summer shelf" relevant books and nature baskets (a la Waldorf style)
(the baby come out book is hilarious! and its a home birth story!)

nature basket for little miss filled with polished rocks and fake flowers.
she (and brother) love dumping the rocks into other baskets
and running their fingers through them.
a great toddler toy!

placing said stick/sword in the back of one's shirt=knight prepared for battle

i must confess i had to lean back to get my birkenstocks in the picture.

veggies from my mom's garden.

my boy.

dreaded adornment

So, my sweet little sisters are really into these wrap tie friendship bracelet things and while at family camp one sister says to me, "hey, we should do this in your hair!" And I was like, "totally you should!"

So they did.

I don't know how long I will leave it in but for now, I am loving it.

wrapping and wrapping.

trying to take a picture of my hair myself. :)

this picture, taken by little man, makes me think, my gosh i need to
suck it up and go to a salon to have a dreadster dread these babies up for me.
but then i put it in a ponytail and forget about it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

the story of little miss

oh, hi dada!
Little man predicted his sister’s birthday. He told me the Monday before that she would be born that Saturday, and I kind of felt like he was right. The night before I went into labor we stayed up late watching a movie after a day of errands (shopping at Ikea...with a 9 months pregnant...ACK) and cleaning (I think it was the fridge) and a special mommy and little man outing (hot chocolate and library storytime).

I woke up at 3:30 in the morning on Saturday wondering if my water had just broke. I could feel something was different. I had endured months of severe Braxton Hicks contractions (including one 8 hour episode that sent us to labor and delivery at a nearby hospital at 32 weeks) but this was different. I laid in bed for an hour watching the clock, trying to rest, as the contractions got closer and more intense. By 5am they were 4 minutes apart and really intense. I finally decided to wake up dada, called my mom, and called our midwives. It was going to take an hour for my mom and sister to drive up from the farm so we called in back up childcare, Jack's favorite babysitter, to come over the minute he woke up and play until they got to us.

After a breakfast of eggs, taking bites between contractions, our midwives started to arrive. By this point I couldn’t speak or move during each one and they started scrambling to get things ready, thinking a baby was around the corner.

This was one intense labor - but peaceful at the same time, much like missy girl's personality actually.

Dada went down to our family room and lit a fire. It was about 6am. I came down and did squats, experimenting with different positions to ease the discomfort. Unlike my first birth experience I felt so clear-headed. It was amazing feeling everything, every move and ache, trying to tell just what my body needed.

With little man I was on the birthing ball the whole time, rocking over my giant belly listening to music. But for some reason I couldn’t sit, I wanted to lean, stand, move, squat a little. Around 8am we thought maybe I might be ready to push and I did, leaning against dada a little, thinking it was time, but it wasnt quite right. A quick check confirmed, I was only 3-4 cm. Thankfully no one told me until after the fact - “progress updates” can only serve to disappoint and I would’ve been devastated!

More than the pain it was the endurance mind thing of labor that caught me off guard. It really was like forcing yourself to run another mile on the treadmill, tricking yourself to do another five minutes, another ½ mile, to push yourself to the limit. And then, to do this for hours. Eight hours it turned out.

After the check they told me, quite kindly, you know lets try to work through them a little longer, maybe a shower? My body, they knew, needed to relax into the pain to open up for the baby to descend. I climbed the stairs in one contraction up to the shower “like a mountain goat” they said later on. The shower helped. I lunged from side to side with each contraction, the water on my back.

Back downstairs in our birthing area they checked me again. Little girl's head had descended to +1 station and I was dilated to 7cm but her head was cocked to the side, just like little man's head been.

Strangely, I wasn’t panicked.

I never once thought, “this is it, I need another cesarean, lets get to the hospital.” Instead, I knew that my midwives could help me through whatever lay ahead. We had been working for months on getting my body ready with nightly inversions (positioning yourself upside down) and cradling my belly with a rebozo.

Instead my response was, okay, so what do we do?! My body was trying, so hard, to move her down and reposition her, which is why the contractions had felt intense enough to push so early.

At this point one of our midwives who is a yoga instructor, made a suggestion. She had noticed my slight lunging into each contraction earlier and suggested we do this five times on each side in a more deliberate way, through each contraction. I lunged five times on the left and then, with the first lunge on the right, I felt the baby shift inside of me, immediately sending a gush of liquid as the pressure increased incredibly. (ACK. I didn't know it COULD get stronger!!)

I was nearing exhaustion at this point, unable to take the intensity for much longer, and said so to our team. They however had the perfect response. This is the time in labor when hormones flood your body and you start doubting yourself but you CAN do this. That made sense to my rationale brain and I was able to keep going. Oh, ok then. Let’s get on with it!

For the next hour, I worked through each intense contraction, as I finally transitioned and readied my body for birth. During this hour one of our dear midwives held one hand and my husband the other, as I lay on my side, talking me through every single contraction. “And you are rising with the wave, and let it wash over you, don’t struggle against it, let it carry you up to the sunshine, and now back down again as your toes touch the sand.” As a former California girl this image really worked for me. By the end of the hour the urge to push was uncontrollable, and finally I really could. My body knew what to do and had done it to reposition my baby and get her down, with the help of some smart women.

After two hours of work, feeling every centimeter of progress in a strangely satisfying way as she traveled down the birth canal, our daughter came into the world, placed on my chest by loving hands. She was a perfect little rosy girl. A few squawks and then peaceful. She was content to look up at my face and I down at hers. We explored her toes and fingers, discovered her crooked ear and her blue eyes. And then she latched on and nursed happily for the next hour. Sleepy big bother met her after waking from his nap a few minutes after she came into the world. A little family of four.

As the afternoon turned to evening and the fire died down, our three midwives gathered around to say goodbye. They stood circled around me and my girl and we all kind of got choked up. “Sara, you are the HBAC goddess you wanted to be!” I started crying. I really HAD done it. It wasn’t terrifying. It was beautiful. It was hard, but it was perfect. And I had done it.

introducing brother and sister.
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