Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday Meal Planning

It's the last week before payday and before we go out of town so it's a 'use up the back of the cabinet/freezer' type of week. Here we go

Monday - spicy chicken sausage, squash, zucchini
Tuesday - burgers on the grill
Wednesday - baked veggie penne with chunky sauce, spinach salad
Thursday - leftover pasta & spinach
Friday - we'll be on the road to Asheville!

Saturday, July 25, 2009


So I was thinking as I swaddled my 5 month old son tonight about how every baby has a different relationship with swaddling. I remember when I was pregnant reading and seeing women concerned that they were still swaddling their 10, 11, 12 month olds. Most other mothers assured them that they had been there and done that with no ill effects (what could be an ill effect of swaddling?) and then lots of other mothers said their babies didn't want to be swaddled after the first week or two. Just goes to show you how there really is no mold for babies. Considering what a wide range of normal there is for babies its amazing how many books are sold, maybe it has something to do with how worried we mothers are about our babies being 'normal' or at least in that wide wide range. I worry way too much.

Anyhow, back to swaddling - when I was in the hospital after birth the nurses swaddled Q up so tight. I remember this one nurse, she was a tiny black woman with long dreads who was full of energy and told us lots of stories about her 6! kids and WOW could she swaddle. I almost felt like I had to loosen it when she left. She also handled Q in such a confident way that B and I felt envious of and watched her hands move around with him trying to take note of how to hold him gently and confidently at the same time. This other nurse though... I don't remember much about her except for the fact that she swaddled Q with his arms folded up and his hands peeking out the top of the hospital blanket. She informed us that this was the new way to swaddle and that folding a babies arms to their sides was not actually as developmentally appropriate. She told us about the benefits of swaddling (comfort, security, stop crying!) and that it reminded them of the womb with it's tight squeeze, but I remember her saying that their arms were up in the womb and we needed to recreate that with the swaddle. That makes good sense to me, but she was the only one that did it and honestly, we never even tried to recreate that.

Q didn't mind swaddling in general, those first few weeks he really liked his legs folded up tight to his body (he really doesn't like this now though) and swaddling him was the best way to do that. He was born in february so it also kept him nice and warm. As it got warmer and he opened up to the world (4-5 weeks) we just sort of naturally stopped swaddling him. Around 3 months he discovered his arms and more specifically how to wave his arms. He's very into the arm waving still and coupled with hand sucking and eye poking its easy to imagine that it's not very conducive to sleep. It was also around 3 months that we started establishing a rhythm to his naps and have him nap on his own (swing, pack n play, bed). It occurred to us to start swaddling him again and it worked wonders for him (and us). He started sleeping much longer, much sounder and getting there much faster. We started off with swaddling him with only one arm in and one arm out but over the next couple weeks we learned that it worked so much better with both arms in. I've recently experimented with leaving him out of it but he doesn't last 5 minutes. I find it so strange that we've gone from swaddling to months of unswaddle and now we're all very dependent on swaddling. I think I'm destined to be one of those moms who is swaddling her 11 month old.

I'm definitely the type of mom that likes to give everything a try, in fact, I think I'm just that kind of person. I think it's fun to try the silly new fangled baby devices (although I won't invest money in them usually) and I love the tried and true baby gear as well. While swaddling sounds like a tried and true type thing, there are actually a lot of different swaddling blankets and even books on it! This is all a long and roundabout way of sharing some of the swaddling blankets we've tried and sharing what we thought of them.

the hospital swaddling blanket - it looks tiny to me now! I can't believe he ever fit in that thing. It's strange to me now that a swaddling blanket would be rectangular and not square. I think we used it for a day after we got home and then switched to ones we had bought.

the flannel receiving blankets they sell at target, wal-mart, babiesrus, etc... - pretty much the same as the hospital ones except they're not all broken in (which is nice). Pretty pointless for swaddling blankets in my opinion, but they are nice to have around to roll up to prop up a newborns head or other uses. Also, you can use them in a myriad of cloth diapering situations.

the kiddopatumus swaddleme really seems rather ingenius. It is adjustable and has soft velcro to really keep them tight (and very well trapped). It also has a little pouch to stick their feet in that velcros together with everything else. ours was a gift that I got after he was already well over a month old so I didn't use it in the beginning. I did try it when he was 3 months old or so and it was okay... nothing special though - It was nice that it velcroed but it didn't actually seem to keep him in any better than anything else. I think the ultimate reason we stopped using it was because he didn't like his feet closed up all that much and we had other ones we liked a lot more.

the all hailed miracle blanket is not what I would consider a 'miracle' but it is pretty nice, and pricey! I picked one up on a whim the week before Q was born. I had heard so much about them and felt like I wanted to see what the fuss was about. The first time I tried it, I hated it. It has this crazy long tail on it that you have to wrap and wrap around them - what kind of joke is that? How do you wrap and wrap it around them without help or rolling them over or twisting yourself all around? Anyhow, we set it to the side for a long, long time. But then I picked it back up a month or so ago and gave it another shot and I'm please to announce that I'm a convert. I'm definitely not one of those crazy devotee people who take them as a gift to every baby shower but I am happy that I purchased it. It has a little pouch for the feet (which Q actually doesn't mind) and then two little flaps for the arms and then two big flaps that wrap around with one very very long tail that secures everything. Sounds confusing? here's a visual

ok, that woman makes that last part look easy but I swear it's not. Hmmm, maybe I should have watched that video a while ago.

and now my favorite......

ahhh. The aden + anais muslin wraps. I can't say enough good things about these. Ok, I have one bad thing to say - they're pricey! Not as much per blanket as the miracle blanket by far but still a lot to pay for just a pack of blankets. I'm glad I got them though, and I'd get them again, I'm already thinking about ordering another pack because I sent ours to my beautiful new nephew (and I'm trying to justify getting more to my husband). We used 24/7 during the first month (with a warm blanket outside) and then we've used them for sun shades and to play peekaboo with since then. It's the perfect size for swaddling and the perfect weight, the prints are cute, the warmth is perfect and they are soft and durable (a hard combo to find). We use them every night and for every nap, I actually just got one of their sleep sacks in the hopes of weaning Q from the swaddle but he likes both at the same time so far.

I pretty much just wanted to write this blog to declare my love for aden + anais, but I felt I had to qualify my declaration by sharing our swaddling journey and the variety of things we've tried. That and the house is quiet with both boys asleep at 9pm on a saturday night and what's a mom to do but write rambling blog posts about swaddling blankets? I used to be cool right?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tissue Paper Tie Dye

I love color. I love colorful clothes. I like black and tan and grey clothes too but there's something about blues and greens and well... the title of this blog. I've been enjoying making simple and colorful clothes for my boy since he was born and so when I came across a way to tie dye with something I already had lots of in my craft closet I was all over it.
Make and takes posted this tutorial last week and then I was lucky enough to find a clearance rack of plain white onesies and T's. So here's what transpired....

supplies gathered

I really do love deep greens and blues

and of course every project needs a helper

So I was supposed to put the tissue paper on, wet it with the spray bottle and leave it to transfer the color until it was the shade I desired (or darker). Most of them came out really well! especially the cheaper tissue paper that didn't have a shiny side to it. I did notice that as I sprayed they ran a little but that was good with me because that adds to the tie dye appeal!

I also played around with cutting out shapes and putting them on there, with the bleeding issue though it didn't turn out all that great

I noticed that some of the colors were transfering to the cloth as different colors. This one dark blue I was using was coming out purple and then pink. This orange came out very yellow and this pink didn't come out at all. In fact, I added some blue tear drop shapes to the yellow ones that came out and got something more like this
see how light yellow that orange came out?

I sprayed them down with vinegar and left them to dry for 24 hours. I also needed a break, my helper was getting tired of all the hard work

These were my favorites pre-wash

I should have known that despite the vinegar and the 24 hours of drying and spending 45 minutes in the dryer that the colors would fade... but they REALLY faded. Some of them washed out all together and the dark blue that was making purple came out fuschia! most of the greens came out yellow and no blues came out at all. So mostly I have a bunch of pink and yellow clothes now and I think I'll be looking for a little girl to pass these along to very soon. One did come out nice and seemed suitable for my boy for nightwear. We put it on him tonight but couldn't get the snaps closed it had shrunk so much. That's what I get for buying the next size up and not two sizes up. Oh well - anyone want some hand me downs?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Quick, Easy and Man Pleasing


It really needs no explanation just a little photo journey.

OK, a little explanation that the veggies were sauteed in evoo, garlic, s&p, and roasted red pepper flakes for some spice.

It was yum.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Breastfeeding a 5 month old

So this is a couple days early but we've had a bumpy couple of days and our breastfeeding relationship is constantly changing so I thought I'd put this out there.

When Q was 4 months old he started the whole distractable/looking around thing which really he's still doing just as much but now - we're teething (and some new mobility). I'm sure that's what it is but it's affecting so many other aspects of our life, most notably are sleep and nursing and not a lot of either.

All I can think about is today because so far it's the culmination of all these various new issues. He's been sleeping really crappy and not wanting nursing very well during the night, he'll refuse to nurse on one side and if I push the issue he will wake himself up fully and not be happy about it. If I get up out of bed and get in the nursing chair he'll nurse and we'll both sleep in the chair. He wants to sit so bad, it's pretty much all he likes to do besides stand up holding our hands. He would do these 2 things all day if we'd assist him in them. Sitting he does by himself but we have to be watching him very closely to pick him up when he falls over. He wants to sit up so bad that if he's laying down at all (while awake) he does baby crunches, craning his head trying to sit himself up, but now.. he does this while nursing and would seemingly rather do that than nurse except that it frustrates him so bad. Nervous momma's rambling here but basically today it culminated in the fact that he wouldn't nurse for about 8 hours. He's doing a little better at the moment (nursed a bit before bed) and I think we're on our way out of this little nursing strike, but it sucks and it took a lot of work to get him to nurse even the little bit that he did. I got some great advice from my mother in law and sister in law and we did lots of skin to skin and infant and breast massage to calm us all down and get the milks flowing.

I hope this weeks events and especially today's events are not a sign of things to come during the rest of this month.

Monday Meal Planning

I'm sitting here making my grocery list and starting with a meal plan and the coupons I clipped on Sunday for some guidance. I thought I'd share what we're doing. We meal plan for the 5 weekdays and wing it on the weekends since we're not sure what we'll be doing.

We strive to have:
at least 2 vegetarian dishes a week
leftovers for my lunches (B takes sandwiches)
grill out at least once (sometimes it doesn't happen during the week)

Monday - tofu (either stir fry with pineapple and veggies or curried with chickpeas)
Tuesday - grill night - chicken, peppers, onions, pineapple,
Wednesday - leftover grilled stuff on top of baby spinach
Thursday - summer veggie pasta
Friday - salmon with rice pilaf and roasted asparagus

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Felt Applique Baby Clothes

I've been playing with felt a lot lately - wet felting, needle felting and felt applique. I bought a couple cheap sheets of synthetic felt from Jo-Ann and searched around for some fun ideas for baby clothes - I found lots of fun ideas and tried a few.

Caterpillars have become a theme around here so when I ran across
this caterpillar shirt I knew I had to make one

I have such a cute model

I used fusible web and an iron to secure these to the shirts (that I had dyed with some dylon), I secured them on with some hand stitching (blanket stitch on the caterpillar)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Very Playful Caterpillar

Since caterpillars have become something of a pattern around here I thought I'd make a little toy for the Qman. For most of my felting so far I've gone from someone else's idea but I was making a bunch of felt beads the other day and I thought I could create some kind of caterpillar and I think it worked out pretty well.

I wet felted a variety of beads that were not very uniform in size. I took an embroidery needle and strung the little beads/body of the caterpillar together. I made a little knot in between each bead and finished it with a knot right in the middle of the 'head' - I made him a big knotty nose. Then I used little bits of roving I had left over from other projects and needle felted some spots on 'Jo' the caterpillar, I made him some eyes and a smile too. I tried to make some sort of antenna but nothing came out looking good, I thought about just giving him some floppy embroidery thread antenna but since I have a little guy who puts everything in his mouth I decided against it.

This has been great fun for Q to wave around bop himself in the head with, the balls are big enough to chew but not big enough to fit completely in his mouth.

I really like these felt beads and I have lots of random projects in mind to do with them - teething necklace? mobile? hat topper?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

How To Make Vanilla Extract

I brought back a lot of vanilla beans from the UAE with the intention of making vanilla extract for christmas gifts - LAST christmas. Oh, well. No time like the present.

I did lots of reading online and I know there are tons of tutorials for making vanilla extract out there in the blogosphere, but I thought I'd add mine anyhow.


Vanilla Beans

Vodka or Dark Rum

Jars (any shape and size although the taller the better)

paring knife

Very simple really, but what stumped me was the ratio of bean to alcohol. In my reading of other peoples experiences I found that the ratios varied from 1 bean per 1 cup of alcohol to 3-4 beans per cup. I decided that stronger was better since I wanted this extract to be the type where as it ran low you could top it off with more vodka or rum and it would last forever. Vanilla extract is definitely one of those 'gets better with time' types of products so I wanted mine to have some staying power. and be strong.
I also read quite a bit about the benefits of vodka over rum or the other way around so I decided to make some of each. I'll have to let you know how it turns out but I don't think it's going to make a huge difference. My husband suggested using vanilla vodka to enhance everything, but I followed the advice to use the CHEAPEST vodka available ($11 for a half gallon), since it really does not matter.

OK, enough talk. here are some pictures of the process

supplies gathered

slice them up

scrape the insides

and put both the bean and the flecks of vanilla (the good stuff) in the jars

then pour on the vodka! (or rum)

I'll post more pictures as it gets darker and darker and better and better. ~6 weeks until it's "done" enough to use. Just got to make sure to store it in a cool dark place, like uhh - your baking cabinet.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Mommy Brain Moment

This morning I couldn’t figure out which was wrong: seventy million or eleventy million. It still seems like they are both made up, or both right. Either way, I had to ask B. Apparently I didn’t get enough sleep last night.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Breastfeeding a four month old

That bra is SO smart because my boy is VERY distractable. Apparently this is pretty normal for a 4 month old and it’s VERY annoying. What’s worse is when he wants to look around at the world WITH my nipple in his mouth. He’s trying to stretch me all around and then gets mad if the nipple comes out!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Mommy Brain Moment

This mommy brain moment is brought to you by Wilton

While it’s great that I scored some candy melts on sale for $.25, it wasn’t so great that I left the bag in my car for…. 5 days in the june heat :( It wasn’t pretty. Well actually it was, they were purple.