Thursday, December 31, 2015

Good-bye, 2015

So... it's been awhile, eh?

In my defense, I did have a baby six and a half weeks ago, so that's been keeping me busy.

Here's this little guys' most recent mug shot:

Lincoln has definitely made the last few weeks interesting. We're finally finding somewhat of a rhythm to our lives again (and then re-finding it when Lincoln switches it up on us). Tonight we are out of our rhythm, visiting Chris' parents in Yucaipa, because Chris had a short wedding in Palm Springs today. Link had been doing really well the last few days, going to "bed" at around seven (which we're trying to get him in the routine of) and sleeping pretty much through the night, meaning he'd go back to sleep fairly quickly after waking up to eat. Today, however, he's been in and out of twenty minute naps, and is refusing to fall asleep for good, despite knocking down four and a half ounces at "bedtime." It's now 11 pm, and he's been dozing on each of us and suddenly waking up with a vengeance for about three hours. We think he subconsciously knows it's New Year's Eve and is showing his stubborn colors early by fighting sleep to make it to midnight.

So. My plan today, during what would have been his nap times, was to update the blog with all kinds of things. The last days of pregnancy, his birth, the crazy first week of parenthood, and a good ol' reflection of the past year. But I'm calling it now. It's fifty-five minutes to midnight and this blog post is basically just me tiredly writing sentences and trying to be coherent. I'll continue to type until I fall asleep and we'll just see what happens.

Last year (post here), my word for the year was TODAY. Though really it was the phrase, NO DAY BUT TODAY, a line from the last song in the musical Rent. The idea behind it was basically not letting fear of the unknown hold me back on things that I wanted to do. At the beginning of the year Chris and I had decided it was finally time to add to our little family, and though the idea of changing our lives so drastically was a little intimidating (yes, that fear was still there despite the fact that I have been in the "I want a baby" zone for about, oh, 15 years), we obviously went ahead and pulled the trigger on the baby thing. So I'd say that goal for 2015 was a success.

The other being part of TODAY was choosing health. 2015 saw a lot of green smoothies, and some new healthy recipes, but overall food-wise we didn't do so well. Working on that more in 2016 (Hello Fresh boxes will be a big help with that). Exercise was a lot better.  I was at the gym way moreI got my FitBit in January, and up until the day Lincoln was born I wore that thing every day, except three days when I forgot it at home in the charger. My goal was set to 10,000 steps for the first 8 months or so, then I lowered it to 6,000 for the last two months of pregnancy. My school went on a big health kick this year, too, with a big FitBit step challenge, which has been awesome, but I did push it a bit too much too often. (It's really hard to take it easy and stay off your feet when your FitBit app keeps telling you all the other people who are passing you up in steps.) When I return to work in February, I am so going to be back in the running for those weekly prizes. I put my FitBit back on today for the first time since Lincoln's birth, and I've even got a set of new, variously colored wristbands to wear it in thanks to Christmas and Chris' parents.

So what's the word this year? I honestly have no idea. I haven't even been able to focus enough to think of what I want next year to look like. A lot of the year is up in the air. I don't know what it's like to raise a baby from six weeks old to thirteen months. That's a big span with lots of changes in the life of a baby! Seriously no idea what to expect on that front. As for teaching, half the year will be spent continuing my study hall/math resource job, but for the fall I have no idea where I'll end up. I could go back to my 8th grade math job, I could stay where I am, or I could get moved to the high school. Really the only thing I can control in 2016 is eating better and getting more exercise.

I'll think of the whole word thing over the next few days. We'll see what I can come up with for 2016.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Lincoln Meets Santa

Two days before Christmas, I lay in bed one morning while Lincoln was taking his morning nap and the thought popped into my head that we HAD to take Link to see Santa. A quick search on my iPhone told me Santa was hanging out nearby at Parkway Plaza.

Chris thought taking him to see Santa at five weeks old was ridiculous and opted to stay home. So I bundled Link up in a cute winter outfit and we headed to the mall. In winter. Two days before Christmas.

This is something I never do. The malls are always crazy the month of December. I try to not even go down the street the mall is on during Christmastime–people are crazy.

So we went to the mall. The line for Santa wasn't too crazy, but unfortunately we got there two minutes into Santa's break so the line didn't move for awhile. At this point, Lincoln decided it was a good time for a nap.

But Santa finally came back, and the line moved surprisingly fast. I think we were at the front in about 30 minutes. Lincoln woke up about ten minutes before we got to Santa, and he was even doing some of his little attempted smiles. And he was obviously excited for his first Santa meet and greet:

Chris thought for sure he'd be screaming when it came time to sit on Santa's lap, but let's face it, at this age Lincoln really doesn't care who's holding him. He definitely did a double take when I plunked him down, though.

I'm pretty sure his favorite part of the whole experience was getting his special Santa plate at the end. He's been practicing that grasp on my hair lately, and was definitely excited to use those pinchers on his first Christmas present.

First visit to Santa was definitely a success. Next year? Probably not so much. He'll be just over a year old, right when you get the really awesome screaming and freaking out pictures with Santa. Good times to look forward to!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Lincoln: 1 Month

Linkydink hit one month on December 15. Here are some facts about this little boy at one month old:

Link was not much of a fan of his photo shoot after about five minutes. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

He's here!

Lincoln West is here! Only four days late, born on November 15. He weighs more than we expected (8 lbs, 4 oz) and has so much hair!

Holy cow, we have a baby!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

40 Weeks

Well, it's almost the end of November 11, and no baby so far. I wasn't actually expecting him to arrive on his due date (I know that's not usually how it works), but I fully expected him to be born before it. But it's looking like we'll officially have a late baby. Each day I go back and forth thinking maybe this is the day. Yesterday totally felt like it might happen soon. Today, not so much. It's like being a time bomb- you never know when it'll happen!

I figure now's a good time to write down all the things I want to remember about my pregnancy. I was surprisingly not good at recording things as they happened. I've only got a couple entries written in his baby book about pre-birth activities; one about the baby shower, and one random entry about day to day stuff. But I know that while it's so fresh right now, years from now, when he and his (future) siblings ask me about this time, I'll probably have forgotten a lot of it. And especially if I have a daughter someday, I'll want to be able to pass on the info of what it was like for me with my first baby.

1) I had morning sickness... kind of. In the early stages I was starving all the time, especially in the morning. I went through about five snacks between breakfast and lunch each day. My students didn't know I was pregnant yet, and I thought for sure someone would point out that I was suddenly constantly munching on apples, cheese sticks, muffins, granola bars.... Then from about months 3-6, I suddenly had no appetite, and felt queasy around food overall. Lucky for me, this didn't manifest itself with throwing up, just sudden gagging. I couldn't look in the fridge or go to the grocery store. And for some reason bananas were just the worst to look at. I did end up throwing up once, completely randomly, after I had chili (my favorite food of all things!) for lunch one day.

2) All the weight I gained is in my belly. I actually lost a bit of weight at first, but my doctor said baby himself was always exactly on target for his weight so I didn't need to worry. And I made it up in the last few months anyway. But seriously, it's all out front. I could still wear my regular jeans at six months (though sitting in them was not fun) and my fitbit is actually looser around my wrist than before I was pregnant. I also haven't had any swelling in my feet or legs, which is awesome. But that doesn't mean I can still wear my cute boots; it's impossible to reach down and pull them on!

3) We got pregnant on the first attempt. Enough said. ;)

4) Baby T. has hiccups a lot. He likes to roll around and kick me in the ribs at night when I lay down. And speaking of laying down, that's just ridiculous. No matter how I lay, it hurts. You're supposed to sleep on your side during pregnancy, but man that makes your hips stiff. You're not supposed to sleep on your back, and you obviously can't sleep on your stomach. My nights are just rolling from one side to the other (which is quite the effort). And then there's the comical act of getting out of bed.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Fall Baby

Way back 9 months ago, I pictured being pregnant in the fall very differently than how it's happened. My cute maternity wardrobe would consist of sweaters and leggings and boots, and I'd spend the last two months cuddled up in big blankets and sewing quilts for this babe. 

Instead, San Diego has refused to let summer go. The last two months have mostly been 90 degrees plus. My maternity wardrobe has been denim leggings, tank tops, and sandals. (Unless I'm at work; then it's been stretchy work pants, tank tops, and sandals.) I've mostly been kicking blankets off in the middle of the night (when I can get my legs to move), and the idea of pulling out my sewing machine in this heat has been laughable.

But today. Today fall finally arrived. And I think it might actually stay. I checked, and for the next 15 days the weather doesn't go higher than 79. 


When I came home from work today, I cuddled right up on the couch with my big blanket. Chris came and sat with me while he set up the new Apple TV (he got it for his birthday) and played around with some apps. The cats interspersed themselves around us, and the sun slowly set outside the window, and gosh darn, it was just so cozy I can't stand it. This is what I wanted for my last months of being pregnant. At least I'll get it for my last weeks! (Or maybe even days, if Baby T will just get on board with coming a bit early.)

This is from a few weeks ago... I haven't been great at keeping up with the editing and stamping of these photos. We actually turn 39 weeks tomorrow! 

I think we might finally be ready. There are finishing touches we're putting on the baby room, but for the most part it's livable. We've got all the furniture in now, and the changing pad, and the dresser with all of baby's cute clothes. The armchair and ottoman are ready to go for those round-the-clock feedings, and the crib's all set up for when we actually attempt to move him into his own room for sleeping (he'll sleep in the pack and play near our bed for awhile). 

We're ready for you, little guy! Whenever you're good to go. :)

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Fall is here!

Yikes, it's been awhile, hasn't it? The entire month of September has flown by, along with the first half of quarter one, and most of my third trimester! Baby T arrives anywhere from 4-6 weeks from now, or as I like to say it (to put it in real perspective): "about half a summer." And if you are a teacher, you know half a summer is pretty much nothing.

This baby could pretty much come tomorrow. That's what half a summer feels like in teacher land.

Some awesome things that have happened lately:

Our baby shower! Oh man, if I'd planned it myself it wouldn't have been more perfectly my style and vision for what a fabulous baby shower should look like. Chris' mom and sister (and many others I later learned) did an insane amount of work to make the perfect baby shower for Baby T. Gah, I'm still not over it, and it was a full week ago.

Our baby room! What a fiasco that's been. We had planned to have it all set up before summer ended and I returned to work, but that did not at all happen. I'm happy to report though, that as of Thursday evening, everything is ready to go and we can officially start putting away little baby clothes and diapers and toys. And decorating season has officially begun.

And school. We just finished up our sixth week of school somehow. This year I have a much different role to play than my usual 8th grade math teacher gig. It's kind of hard to explain, but the gist is that I'm in charge of a new study hall class, with a focus on really making sure the kiddos are growing academically. Lots and lots of management, both during class time with everyone working on different assignments and projects at once, and behind the scenes with monitoring growth. But it's going to work out great when I go on maternity leave, because there is very little day-to-day lesson planning to worry about. And I'm with 7th grade this year, which is a bit weird. I'm so used to calling them 13-year-olds, I was a bit shocked when one of my kids informed me the other day that he was, in fact, just 11.

More to come (hopefully) in the next few weeks before Baby T makes his official debut!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

28 Weeks + Finished Baby Blanket

We've made it to the third trimester! Lately Baby Boy's kicks have been getting more powerful and more spread out. I feel him under my ribs a lot on the right side, and a couple days ago I could feel him tapping way out to the side. Makes me wonder how exactly he's positioned in there to get such a far reach. I asked my doctor at our appointment this week if she could tell, but he's still too small to pinpoint. We're at the point where we go in for checkups every two week; Baby T manages to be spot on in growth at every appointment, despite the fact that I'm still not very hungry most of the time.

In other news, teacher training started up this week so summer is officially over. It's back to actually knowing what day of the week it is for me, and looking forward to weekends again! I tried to finish up my last few sewing projects beforehand, but I've still got a few left to do. I did manage to finish the baby blanket though!

 Please disregard my hair above; I think I had just pulled it out of a bun I'd slept on.

If I have time (HA, remember I said school's started?) I'll post my methodology for this fast, easy blanket that even I was able to pull off. Did I mention this is my first ever blanket? I seriously made this thing from scraps I was trying to use up and a tutorial I found online to do the binding. It was a lot simpler than I would have imagined, but it's by no means perfect. I don't think I could have handled the process if my expectation had been perfection. I was more shooting for... doesn't fall apart in the washer. :)

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

How I'm making fitted cloth diapers

So why am I even bothering making cloth diapers, when there's already so many adorable ones out there? When I first started researching (and being overwhelmed by) cloth diaper types, one thing that kept coming up over and over was that most newborns aren't big enough for the one size fits all model. Most people just used disposables until their babies were fitting into the cloth brands, but then I came across DIY diaper tutorials. I figured why not make flannel fitteds that are newborn sized to use for those first couple months? Our plan is to use these flannels, as well as a stash of prefolds, with Thirsties wraps as the leak proof outer.

I read through quite a few tutorials before I found the one that made the most sense to me. Mary Ostyn at OwlHaven has an amazing method, AND she has specifications for different diaper sizes. I made a template for myself in Photoshop to make cutting the fabric easy peasy. After a few attempts and modifications, I had my system down. But I was still having trouble with the elastic. And then I stumbled on Ali's tutorial at Dream Crafter, and boom. Elastic became my friend. (Finally.)

The best thing about making cloth diapers is that they are DIAPERS. So even though I'm not the best sewer, I can rock these. Because at the end of the day, it really doesn't matter that my stitches aren't perfect; these things are going to be used to wrap a baby's booty. So much more fun to sew when perfection isn't required.

So here's my methodology (along with way too many pictures).

1) Cut out two pieces of fabric: One will be the front of the diaper, one will be the back.

2) Use leftover fabric to make a stack of ovals to be the main absorbent part of the diaper. I get 5-6 stacked per diaper.

3) I run a line through the stack to hold the pieces together.

4) Then sew it down with a zig zag stitch to the wrong side of one of the pieces. 

The part that you'll see is the right side of the fabric, but it will be the inside of the diaper. Does it matter if the stitches are a perfect oval? Nope. Not one bit.

Okay, so this next part I sometimes do, but mostly don't: adding velcro for easy attaching. I like the idea of easily fastening the diaper with velcro, but I'm mostly okay with using Snappis to hold the fabric in place on baby. After I did several velcroed diapers, I tried them on my friends' newborn and they didn't quite work so well. Granted, her baby was five weeks old, not brand new, and bit bigger than average, but I figure why do all the extra work each time for a chance that it'll fit right. If I don't do any attachments, I don't have to worry about it fitting or not. 

But. I still do it once in awhile. Just in case. :)

5) Cut a long strip of the soft side of the velcro. I put my diaper pieces together at this point and fold it up so I don't accidentally sew it to the wrong spot. (I am 7 months pregnant at this point, and I do ridiculous things like that). The long strip gets sewn to the part of the diaper that will be the right underneath baby's belly button.

Here's another secret: I sew right on the front of the velcro. I know you're supposed to sew from the back so it doesn't look hideous, but it was really hard for me to keep my stitches straight on the velcro like that. I ended up falling off the side of the velcro way too much and having to go over it a few times, which ended up looking worse. So I decided whatever, and just sew right on top now.

6) Cut four small pieces: two of the soft side of the velcro, two of the scratchy side.

Again, I set up the diaper to make sure I place the velcro in the right spot. These four tabs go on the wings that wrap around baby. The outside two are the scratchy pieces that will attach to the long tab in the front. The inside two are the soft pieces that will be used as laundry tabs, or when the diaper's not in use. The scratchy velcro side likes to stick to the flannel I've found.

7) Then I sew those suckers down.

If I decided not to do velcro, I skip steps 5-7 and go straight to sewing the pieces together.

8) I put the right sides together and pin all the way around. 

And here's where I differ from most of the blog tutorials I read. A lot of those tutorials were actually for pocket diapers, so a gap in the back was necessary. There are a couple reasons I chose not to bother with pockets, the main one being that I found it hard to sew in the elastic for the pocket. Another is that these diapers are meant for baby for when he's really little, so I'm hoping I won't need to add soakers to meet his little bladder's needs. And if I do need some soakers, I'm okay with just laying them in the diaper.

9) Sewing the pieces together: I leave an opening in the front of the diaper (the smaller side) for turning purposes. I try to leave a pretty wide seam allowance around the curves and in the back so the elastic can easily be sewn in those spots.

10) Okay, elastic, which used to be the hardest part. I need three pieces: two 4.5 inches (the sides) and one five inch (the back). Instead of cutting each one out individually, I measure out the three sections on my one long piece of elastic, using a sharpie to mark the end of each piece.

First 4.5 inches:

Second 4.5 inches:

And lastly the 5 inch piece.

I like this method better because it's much easier to pull the elastic taut as you sew when you have a good amount to pull on. When I cut out the pieces, it was harder to keep pulling the elastic the closer the needle got to the end of it.

11) I set my machine for tacking the elastic down on the end. What works for me is a stitch length of .7 and stitch width of 4. This gives a really tight, wide group of stitches that hold that end in place. 

12) I start with one of the side elastics (the 4.5 inch elastic), and carefully hold the elastic in place in the seam allowance. Then stitch!

I probably go a little overboard with tacking. I'm sure just a few stitches are required in real life, but I'm a little paranoid.

13) Next, I change the settings to sew the whole piece of elastic down. It needs to be sewn with a zig zag that isn't so tight it can't move. I use a length of 2 and a width of 1.5.

14) Stitch the elastic down while pulling it nice and taut. That part was impossible to to photograph while I was sewing, so this is the end result, where you can see the nice puckering. Since I'd already measured out the elastic, I know to stop when I hit the sharpie mark, and cut off the rest of the elastic there.

15) Then I switch back to the tacking settings on my machine and tack the heck out of the other side.

16) I do the other side's elastic, and then the back elastic last. 

18) I trim off any excess fabric around the corners and elastic if necessary, then turn the diaper inside out. I poke out all the corners with a pencil or whatever's handy so they're shaped better.

19) Top stitching. Sometimes I do it, sometimes I don't. More often I will do it, because I like how it flattens out the wings better than leaving them as is. The only thing that's really necessary is closing up the gap in the front. Sometimes I'm a little paranoid about hitting the elastic with the top stitch. Stitching over the elastic will kill it, so I often give it a very wide berth.

20) The final step is to close it up, admire it, and then take it to show Chris how adorable it is. Because seriously. 

It's the cutest, littlest thing ever.

I have no idea how well they'll work. Really no idea. I guess we'll see in November! But I figure they won't be completely useless, even if they don't end up being as absorbent as I'd like. And if the fit's a little off, that's fine, since we'll be using the Thirsties wraps over them. 

I made some itty bitty matching liners with leftover flannel. I size them to be a little shorter than the length of the diaper, then cut out a bunch and zig zag stitch them together on the ends. They're not perfect looking, but they fit inside the diapers and are cute to boot. 

Here's my stash so far. I've got about six other flannels in waiting, so I think by the end of this I'll have about 20 fitteds saved up.

We also caved and got a few newborn sized BumGenius all-in-ones. We found a great deal on barely used ones on But that's it! Other than those six, it's going to be these flannels and prefolds until he's big enough to fit in the one size regular diapers. So excited to wrap his little bum in these!