Hopeful Thoughts

Crafting in Between

As I have a few minutes here and there, I’ve been working on a few crafty things since G’s arrival last year. I’ve continued to make the flannel receiving blankets, but I was forced to cut back on my crochet and knitting due to some pretty painful postpartum carpel-tunnel syndrome. I have a few projects on hold that I hope to get back to, but this post is about my newest focus: sewing.

I was fascinated by the diaper pail liners and wet bags that my sister made for me. When my friends Allison decided that she was going to cloth diaper her new baby, I resolved that I was going to make a few things for her. With the help of my little sis, I got fabric ordered and cranked out four diaper pail liners (2 for Allison and 2 spare for myself) and 4 cute little wet bags.

Upon seeing how cute these turned out, I kept going back to the site where we ordered the fabric, Kids in the Garden, and just looking. The lady who runs it makes and sells cloth diapers. She also sells a couple of patterns for making your own. I’d noticed LOTS of sellers on Etsy who make cloth diapers. It was so tempting, but I was completely freaked out by the idea. The idea of working with the elastic scared the heck out of me.

Eventually, curiosity got the better of me. I HAD to try. So, I ordered a pattern (The Nikibaby One Size Diaper)… it was less than $10. I purchased some cute fabric, and a set of snap pliers with plastic snaps.

Yes, the elastic is a super big pain, but it turned out not to be as difficult as I’d expected, and I quickly cranked out this cute little number:

I was SOOOOO excited! Here’s a shot of my little guy modeling it. Sorry for the bad photo. It’s really hard to get him to stop moving!!!

After getting comfortable with this pattern, I thought about how to modify it to make a cover for pre-folds. I took some measurements of the covers I had around the house and made a pattern. Putting the diapers together turned out to be another challenge, as there is the added difficulty of binding the edges with fold over elastic (FOE). After 3 attempts, I finally got it down in time to make a gift for my friend Paige. Wish I had a picture of that one, but here is G in one of the first attempts:

Making diapers has turned out to be a lot of fun. You can do so many creative things. If you are a wanna be cloth diapering expectant mom and a friend of mine, expect some cute “fluff” in your baby gift!

A Year in Review

Come Friday morning when I wake up, the little guy that snuggles next to me each night will be a full blown one-year-old. As I consider how quickly the time has flown, I’m also blessed to reflect on what has transpired in the last year of our lives.

July 29, 2010 at 5:40 in the morning, after nearly 24 hours at Inanna, Grayson emerged into our lives with my little sister and my best friend standing by. In the days and weeks that followed, we were showered with love from visitors. We hosted my entire immediate family…(Mom, Dad, sister, 2 nieces, nephew), with the exception of my brother in law, but including my parents dog. Ryan’s sweet mother was waiting patiently in her car, already in town, for the moment’s notice to come and see her new grandson. To top it off, several families in our amazing little church brought us meals.

We settled into a little routine and in September, I started my little tutoring business. This kept me busy four afternoons a week, but it was a great way to be home with Grayson. Thanks to Hawley, Gus, Allison, Joey, Kaycee, Nathan, Emily, and Kim for helping make that possible by watching my little guy. The business is flourishing and I love being able to work with the kids in this way.

Ryan has continued to enjoy his job as a game programmer, though his official title is “Senior Software Engineer”. He started in September of 2009 at Bonfire Studios (while I was in Argentina). In October of 2010, Bonfire was bought out by Zynga, providing more stability to his position.

Just before Grayson was born, we closed on our house. We’ve experienced lots of ups and downs during Grayson’s lifetime, though we are so glad to be in a house with the little guy around. In September, we were able to put our home buyers’ credit to work and pay for a complete replacement of our HVAC. Then, we turned around and spent whatever rebate we got from that overhaul on a brand new water heater when the old one exploded in December. The joys of an old house! Our AC unit was 35 years old, the furnace dated almost as old as the house, and the water heater was over 20 years old. Recently we’ve had the roof patched from wind damage, and replaced a belt on the tenant’s dryer. I think we need the kitchen drains worked on next.

We have been able to get some work done improving the house in addition to all the repairs. Grayson’s room got a fresh coat of Viking blue paint, thanks to the help of his Grandma, and it’s looking better and better as we add to it. This spring, we hired a crew to do a major overhaul on the yard. Trees were trimmed and brush was cleared and the result is impressive. Next on the list is an exterior paint job, scheduled to take place in the next few weeks, and landscaping with new sod in the fall.

The house is such a blessing. We’ve hosted two baby showers here this year, as the size and layout of our living and kitchen areas works great for big crowds. We still have great tenants in the apartment, who plan to stay for awhile. Not to mention the amazing neighbors in the houses on either side.

And speaking of babies, in Grayson’s first year, we’ve welcomed 3 new babies into our church, two new babies into the neighborhood (one right next door), and are anticipating 5 more over the next 8 months in our little church. Add to that my high school BFF, and we are just bursting with excitement over the babies!

In March, we were finally able to trade in my old car for something more safe and appropriate for mommy stuff. Goodbye rusty white 1999 Camry, hello shiny graphite grey 2011 Outback.

We live pretty far from my side of the family, but thanks to Ryan’s great job and my tutoring income, they haven’t seemed so far away this first year of parenthood. We traveled to my parents’ house for Christmas, I was able to visit my sister in MI over spring break, my mom came for a two-week visit in April, and G and I were able to meet my sister and her kids in NC in June. We’ve been blessed with 3 or 4 visits from Grandma (she’s a great babysitter) and made a couple of road trips to see her in Austin as well.

In December, our dear friends, the Rambows, returned form their stint in Argentina. We were blessed to have them back in our lives for 6 months before they left earlier this month for New Jersey. Emily kept Grayson some for me during tutoring and we are so grateful that he was able to play with their little girl.

I could go on and on about the things that have happened over the last year, but it would take forever. Of course, it would have been easier if I’d blogged all along than to try to cram it into one post anyway! Suffice it to say that it’s been an eventful time, but we are grateful for all we’ve been blessed with.

It's a Busy Life We Lead

The days pass quickly with our current routine of waking up, eating breakfast, running errands, napping, lunch, napping, time with friends, my tutoring business, and more napping. The naps are short, so the mommy time is pretty limited. Before you know it, four months has passed in between blog posts.

Grayson is growing like a weed. In just a little over a week, he will turn a year old. I simply cannot believe how fast the time has passed. It seems like yesterday that we left the birthing center, yet it feels like he’s been a part of our lives for years. He has won our hearts forever.

He’s growing up way too fast.

A Plug for a Friend

Kevin Roden for Denton City Council

I’m not into politics AT ALL! But, a friend of ours is running for city council in District 1 and we are totally behind him. We want Kevin Roden in office. For Real. Vote for Kevin.

Never Assume You've got Any Part of Parenting Figured Out: Sleep Revisited

I’m going to have to be more careful when I offer advice on my blog. Kids live to make liars out of us. Especially mine! He refuses to follow any kind of regular pattern, and don’t ever expect him to fit the profile of any book you read.

Most recently, we’ve faced problems with sleep YET AGAIN, just a matter of weeks after I posted my sleep solutions tips. Grayson figured out how to get out of his swaddle wrap and refused to sleep without his arms tucked inside it. This posed quite a problem. His source of sleep security was gone, so what were we to do? We had to find him another way to feel secure.

Our solution has been for him to move into the bed with me, and for my husband to sleep on the fold out in the living room. Obviously my husband and I would prefer to be sleeping together, but this arrangement is allowing all three of us to get the sleep we need. Grayson feels secure, I’m not losing even more sleep by waking up completely to walk down the hall every time G wakes up to nurse, and my husband is not worried he’s going to roll on top of a baby…or that his wife is going to go crazy from sleep deprivation! It’s actually working out great for all of us.

G is sleeping so well, that I suggested to my husband that we might be ready to move him back to the crib. He responded that we should just keep the status quo for a bit longer, since we were all getting the rest we needed. Quite honestly, I’m not ready to change things yet, either. I actually kind of like to snuggle with my fuzzy headed little buddy! I also love knowing where he is and that he’s OK.

One day, this will not be practical. Whether it’s back to the crib or to a toddler bed, he’s going to have to have his own sleep space. But, for now, we’re happy and rested.

Yet again, I will say that you have to do what works for YOUR family. What we’re doing is not what’s best for everybody, but it’s what is best FOR US.

How to Make Your Own Nursing Pads

A few weeks ago my mom was telling me about my friend, Ginger, who was asking about where to get some good nursing pads. My sister had picked up some organic ones for me while she was here when my baby was born, and mom wanted to let Ginger know where they’d come from. My response was that the organic ones weren’t actually my favorites, but, in fact, I was more likely to wear the sets I had made from some scraps of flannel and terry left over from previous sewing projects. I agreed to send Ginger the directions.

I never posted about this particular project. Nursing pads seemed a bit too personal. However, at Ginger’s encouragement, here’s the “how to”.

Supplies needed:

Circular object in the size diameter you desire for your pads (Mine was about 4 inches, but I decided this was a bit too small), another circular object that is a bit smaller in diameter than the first, cotton flannel, cotton terry (if desired), white thread (a good one that won’t shrink in the wash)


Begin by washing all your fabrics hot to make sure that your final product won’t shrink. Cut circles of flannel using the larger diameter object as a stencil to trace. If you want a thin pad, layer three of these together. If you want a more absorbent pad, cut a circle from the terry cloth in the smaller size and layer it between two pieces of flannel. Pin as needed.

Sew across the diameter of the circles 4 times as if you were slicing all the way across a pizza to create 8 “slices”. At this point, you can sew in darts. Stitch two on opposite sides of the circle. This creates a more cup-like shape.

Finish by doing a wide zig-zag stitch around the edge of the circle. I also did this on top of the darts to help them lay flat.

Wear your pads with the darts facing in so that you don’t get lines under your clothing.


Do you remember your first car?

Mine was a 16 year old Toyota Corona (yes, a Corona) station wagon with a manual transmission and a matt grey repainting job that my father had done in our carport one year. (He hung plastic all around the exterior sides of the carport and we had to use the front door for weeks! ) Most kids would have scoffed at having to settle for this, but I was thrilled to have something to drive at all. I also really liked the power of the stick shift, even in an old car! It got me to school, home from practices, to my piano lessons, football games, and even back and forth to my summer job at Camp Don Lee a couple of times. So many fun high school memories!

However, it was OLD, and I was heading off to college. My parents wanted me to have something more reliable, so they bought a used 1980-something Mazda 626 from some church friends. It was Champagne with burgandy interior. It was a good little car, and it got me back and forth to school for the first two years, but it wasn’t really anything special. The summer before my Junior year, I let a camp friend borrow it to go to the doctor, and he rear-ended a little old lady. It was never the same after that. Far from the reliable car that my parents had hoped I’d be able to drive back and forth to college an hour and a half away.

But then, out of nowhere, my dad got a call from a man he’d known since before I was born. He was getting rid of his 1986 (I think) Chevy Cavalier and wanted to give it to me! There’s a sweet story behind why he did it…a sort of pay it forward kind of thing. There are lots of stories I could tell about that car and how many times it left me on the side of the road. There’s also a silly story about how I got engaged, but all for another day! I wish this man could have lived to see how that car impacted my life!

I graduated form college in 2000, and had driven 3 different cars over the 6 years since I got my license. So many memories! But none of these cars meant as much to me as the one I got in April of 2001.

I had my first job. I was on my own. A real grown up with my own life and my own bills. I decided that I was going to buy myself a car. My aunt works for a pre-owned dealership, and she tracked down a gently used 1996 Camry. I saved my money, I lined up my financing, and I bought my first car! 36 months, 7.25% interest, and just over $7000 financed. I was so excited! My parents had always owned REALLY old klunkers that dad kept running by spending his weekends doing constant tune ups. My 5 year old car was the newest, nicest thing I’d ever driven.

This one was special because I worked hard to get it. I was the one responsible to make the payments and set up the insurance. It was a right of passage for me. I was a successful adult because I could buy a car.

I would drive this car halfway across the country twice to visit my future husband. It would take me back and forth to my teaching job for nearly 8 years. It would take me to pre-natal visits, and my baby to check-ups and play dates with friends.

My pretty “new to me” car, didn’t stay that way. The dash lights quit working over 8 years ago , so I had to learn to monitor my speed by feel or the light of my cell phone. The interior lights soon followed in failure. The plate around my stereo controls wasn’t properly attached after installing an after-market CD player. The CD player itself hasn’t worked for the last 8 years. We noticed nearly 4 years ago that the car made clicking noises when turning and found out that the CV joints on all four wheels were going bad and could give out any day, leaving me stranded. The brakes were repaired last summer, but I was told a couple of weeks ago that they need work again. I can’t even remember how long it’s been since my wiper fluid system worked. The timing belt needs replacing. The paint is chipping off and the car is beginning to rust. There’s a giant dent in the front passenger side that smashed the headlight. Finally, I can’t forget how hard it’s been to go to any drive though because the driver’s side window gets stuck every time I power it down.

It’s basically falling apart and unsafe.

So we decided that we needed to replace it. It’s taken us awhile to save up the money to buy something newer, but this weekend, we did it. And in doing so, we traded in the Camry for a tiny $500. The car that meant so much to me turned out to be worth so little. It made me a little sad to say goodbye, but we’re happy to be providing a safer vehicle for our family.

Some Thoughts for Today

It’s beautiful out today. I’m so glad I was texted by a dear friend this morning to go for a walk to our town square where we had lunch outdoors at a local Mexican restaurant. Grayson loves walks, and he loves his stroller.

After returning home, there were a couple of happenings worth noting.

I have officially ordered G’s new car seat. We’ve had a love-hate relationship with his infant carrier. The convenience of leaving him in the car seat while he’s sleeping has been a plus, but it’s gotten SO HEAVY that G’s little 5 foot tall Mommy simply can’t take it any more! We settled on the Britax Marathon 70 in Onyx. Should be here before the end of the week!

I also ordered a new Baby K’tan carrier. I LOVE my old one, but the more I use it, the more I realize the sizing is wrong. So, I posted the Small one on Craigslist last night for $40. (They run $55-$65 new).

Just as I was ready to take G next door to the sitter for tutoring, I realized he had pooped! So, I was finally able to try out my newly installed diaper sprayer. It works GREAT! I am going to have to get a little help adjusting the connection between the hose and the spray wand, as I ended up with a puddle in the floor. Otherwise, it is the PERFECT tool for the job. It was so easy to use and it cleaned all the solids out of the diaper without splashing into my face or the floor.

The Diaper Sprayer

I mentioned in my previous post that I’d changed my mind about the need for a diaper sprayer for rinsing soiled diapers. I thought I would spend some more time explaining the evolution of my opinion and comment on the installation process.

What do you do with the poop in a baby diaper? If you are exclusively nursing, you just throw the whole thing in the wash and don’t give it a second thought. Breast milk poop washes right out like yogurt!

But, when we’re talking solids, down the toilet it must go! But how do you get it there? Cheapest way is to dunk and swish. If that didn’t work, I figured the shower sprayer would reach my toilet to handle the big messes. Why would I need a special gimmick just for diapers?

I think the dunk and swish must work fine with flat diapers. My sister has never complained. It was not, however, cutting it for my pocket diapers. I just couldn’t get the poop out of the nooks and crannies round the elastic.

So, as planned, I tried to wash it out with the sprayer from my shower. It was effective, but such a hassle. It was difficult to get over to the toilet in the first place, and then the spray was too wide to keep from getting water all over the floor, not to mention causing poop water to splash back in my face!

So, I finally decided to order a diaper sprayer.

It sat around for over a week, thinking I was going to ask my husband to install it. I kept thinking it was going to be hard to do, despite the promise on the package that is was not. So, today, I finally decided to get it done. While G was down for his nap, I installed the diaper sprayer all by myself.

I had a little trouble getting the “t” connector to seal around the connection to the toilet tank and ended up with a little water in the floor when I turned the water back on, but it was easy to fix. I simply hadn’t tightened it enough. Once I fixed that problem, it’s leak free and works perfectly!

I can’t wait for G to poop so I can try it out!!

Lessons learned...cloth and solid foods

About three weeks ago we started Grayson on purees. I knew that we would see a change in his diapers, but I didn’t realize how quickly that change would happen. We fed him mere teaspoons of banana for a few days, and all of a sudden, the diapers were chunky!

I’m not giving up, but I have changed my mind about a couple of things related to cloth diapering.

The Diaper “Pail”

Any old garbage can will NOT do when you are cloth diapering. Something with a good seal is a must. After a bit of shopping after my husband complained several times about the stink in G’s room, I have decided that the diaper pail people know what they are doing. I chose a model that clearly states on the box that it works with any bag.

I am a little miffed that the pails don’t hold nearly as many diapers as my step garbage can. I’m still looking for an option for stashing soiled diapers between washes to avoid stinking up the world so I don’t have to wash every time my pail gets full.

The Diaper Sprayer

I thought this was a gimmick. Absolutely NOT! BUY ONE!!! This is a way better option than dunk and swish in the toilet. Early solid diapers are really sticky, and I have trouble getting it to come off in the toilet. The water pressure from a sprayer helps so much.