Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Painting and Carpet

I am linked up with Nicole's Keep Calm Craft On post at Frontier Dreams for this post :)

We moved into our new home on May 12, one week earlier than we had originally planned, yay!  It has been so nice living out here in our new little nest, and I have loved nearly everything about living here. The only extremely slightly frustrating thing has been the fact that we needed to replace the carpets in both bedrooms and paint Riggs' room before moving our things into those rooms.  So all of our boxes were in the living room for nearly two weeks, lovely.  

Luckily Steve got the carpet installed in our bedroom last weekend, and we were able to move out of the living room/den nook.  Then another week went by (a stressful week in which Steve started working more hours and was like a zombie when he got home each day and I grew more and more irritated that I couldn't find anything because of all the boxes).  This weekend things greatly improved, and we finished all the painting in Riggs' room and Steve got the carpet into Riggs' room.  I am so excited to spend the next few weeks moving Riggs' stuff into his room and getting it all set up just so.  There is a little road bump due to the fact that I can't find the crib hardware (I put the bag of screws in a "safe" spot so it wouldn't get lost - ha).

So I know it's not technically crafting, but it has involved some creative juices so I think it counts.  Here is a little photo journal of our progress:

BEFORE: this is the best photo I have of his room before. Worn, stained blue carpet and purplish gray walls
Carpet ripped out, trim taped and first coat of paint on the walls, yay!

Old color on the left and new color on the right. What do you think?

Walls done and carpet pad stapled down (by me yay!).

Another view...

Bad iPhone picture of new carpet and some things getting put away.  I'm thinking of
using some scrapbook paper to attach to the back of the bookcase to add some visual interest
to the ugly backboard.  I can't stand seeing the fold lines in the particle board :)

His little bee hook hung up (at child level!) and a good demonstration of the wall color.
Warm, creamy nearly white.

And a bonus picture of my sweet little babe, tuckered out from helping mama set up his room :)
Backyard birdwatch update:  a few little Chickadees have been seen visiting the suet feeder on the edge of the yard, hurrah!  Now we just need to get some visitors to the black oiled sunflower seed feeder on the front porch...

Friday, May 25, 2012

{this moment}

{this moment}
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Summer Sun

My child loves being outside in the sun. It is our favorite thing about the new house, I think, to sit out on the front porch in the sun and watch the dogs play in the yard.

The problem is, he takes after me and is very pale and on top of it had sensitive skin like his father. And I just don't trust sunscreen to fully protect his skin. Luckily, I had a genius idea. Hello, umbrella! Not only did it protect his skin and eyes, it was very fun for him to grab.

We still don't have Internet set up at our house and won't until next week, but to be honest it's been a nice break as well as a good reminder that there are other things to do. I wish I could say that I have been taking a break from ALL screens, but no, I still cannot tear myself away from my phone. Its been even worse since I discovered Draw With Me (yes, I realize that I am behind and that this game has been popular for a while). I don't know why but I just love to watch the other person guess what I drew. I have included one of my "lovely" drawings below for you to laugh at. :)

My other new pastime is watching the yard like a hawk for for any sign of birds coming to my new bird feeder. No luck yet but I will keep you posted. I have seen a few Robins hopping around the yard and I hear a variety of birds chirping all the time, so I'm hoping to have some customers pretty soon. I need to go though the pile of book boxes to find my bird guide.

It has been hard not to be able to unpack and get every room set up an all out things put away. Steve just started working longer hours at wok and does not have the energy to do much of anything when he gets home. But Saturday he is planning on putting in the new carpet in our bedroom and then I will at least be able to set that room up and get our stuff out of the living room. I can't wait to post some pictures from my laptop and my better camera, but it is nice to have the iPhone which will do nearly anything in the meantime.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mothers Day, Moving, and Milestones

I had a wonderful Mothers Day, although it was a little hectic. We finished unloading the Uhaul in the morning, then drove to Anchorage to find carpet for the bedrooms and for Mothers Day lunch with the family. My mom got me beautiful flower and they are so nice to have in our new home.

Picking out carpet was actually a huge hassle but we found something we actually liked that was also on sale, which is always a bonus. Steve got the carpet in the master bedroom ripped out and the subfloor painted (there were stains all over the old carpet from the 2 cats and 2 dogs the previous owners had yuck) and will be putting the new carpet Saturday. In the mean time, all of our boxes and furniture are in the living room. So it's pretty crazy. The kitchen is really the only room that has a little order and organization. I included a picture below to demonstrate the craziness (sorry for the bad formatting, we won't have Internet for another week so I have to use the iPhone app).

In other news, I have a four month old baby! Riggs is just growing and learning like crazy. He has found his feet and loves to lay on his back and grab them. Too cute! We went to his four month appointment on Monday and I was a little surprised by the results. He hadn't gained as much weight as I thought, only about a pound and a half in the last two months. He has grown longer though, by about an inch and a half. Here are his stats since birth:

Birth: 9 lbs 4 oz 21.5 inches 36.5 cm head

1 month: 11 lbs 23 inches

2 months: 15 lbs 10 oz 25.5 inches 41.5 cm head

4 months: 17 lbs 3 oz 27 inches 43.4 cm head

He's in the 99th percentile for length and the 90th for weight. Big boy! His feet and hands have grown so much too, I just can't get over how big he is getting. He wears size 6-12 months now and I had to change out his socks from 0-6 month to 6-12 months! It is so hard to watch them grow up so fast! Luckily it's fun too :)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Closing Day!

Happy Thursday! I just wanted to check in and say hello. It has been a while since I have written! We found out Monday evening that we would be closing early on our house, PTL! We were very excited of course (and still are) but there was a lot to in three short days. I have been packing like crazy and have not even opened my laptop since Monday. I have nearly all the packing done now, I just need to pack up our clothes, the bathroom stuff and take Riggs' crib apart. Not too bad eh?

This afternoon we head out to Wasilla to sign all the closing paperwork and then we will be doing a final walk through of the house. We should get the keys tomorrow morning around 11 or 12. It still hasn't quite sunk in that it's really happening, I'm sure reality will hit, quite hard, tomorrow when we are packing all the boxes in the Uhaul truck.

Riggs has been quite the little packing buddy, and he has enjoyed spending time with his long lost aunt Beka.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Right Now, I am

Right now, I am...

...thinking of how I need to get some more packing done today.  I was happy to get a bit done this morning before baby woke up and then again after he ate.  I have nearly all of his room packed up and nearly all the books done as well.  Today my goal is to fill the six boxes I have remaining before heading out this evening to get more boxes and start again tomorrow.  

...listening to Riggs softly cooing and fussing as he drifts off to sleep in his crib.  I love to hear the little sounds he makes as he falls asleep.  Often he will silently go to sleep, but sometimes he will make little cooing and whining noises as he fights his impending visit to dreamland.  He rarely full out cries unless I have put him to bed too late and he is overtired.  Such a little sweetheart! 

...happy that Steve and I got out yesterday to go on a family walk.  Despite the colder temperatures, dark gray skies and rain, we had a lovely time.  It was nice and quiet, we only four other people walking and a few cyclists during the hour and a half we were out.

...impressed with how well our puppy Tutka is doing with potty training and basic commands.  Despite the harder moments (barking at 3 am for the tenth small drink of water that night) he has already brought so much joy to our little family.

...thankful that there are blue skies and sunshine outside today.  Once Riggs wakes up from his nap we will head outside to feel the warmth on our faces and breath in some much needed fresh air.

...surprised that the snow has melted so fast.  On our walk yesterday we noticed that the snow on the mountains has barely been melting, I think there will still be snow throughout the entire summer and into the fall.  We saw one of the guns they use for avalanche management on our walk too, it was so big and somewhat eerie looking at first looming up ahead of us on the trail.

...hungry for a good book to read.  Unfortunately all of mine are packed up so I will have to make do with listening to books on audible.com for now.  Once we have gotten settled into our new house I will make it a priority to find some books to read this summer, especially since I am signing myself and Riggs up for the Summer Reading Program through the Palmer Public Library beginning June 4th.  {There is a summer reading program being offered through the Loussac Library in Anchorage as well beginning on May 12.}

...grateful for my husband for all that he does for me.  He has been such an amazing friend for the last seven years and I am so glad to have him in my life.  Having a new baby has been very fun and rewarding for me personally (and for him), but I know that he probably misses the attention he used to get from me, that is now mostly focused on Riggs.  Despite this he has been unbelievably helpful and supportive for the last four months (and before that during my pregnancy) and has truly blown me away with his capacity for compassion and understanding.  Both Riggs and I are very lucky and blessed to have him in our lives.

...excited about being in our new home somewhat shocked that moving day is coming up so quickly!

...thinking that I had better say goodbye and get back to packing.  Happy Monday everyone!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Whitney's Complete List of Necessary Baby Items

{Yes I realize that is a ridiculously long title}

When I was pregnant, I obsessed over thought a lot about what I would need when my baby was born.  It was one of the most exciting things for me about my pregnancy, all of the the thinking and planning and dreaming.  I devoured any reading material I could get my hands on regarding pregnancy, childbirth, and infant care.  The more I read, the more I noticed how many differing opinions there were. 

As I tried to figure out what we would need, I found that there were so many resources available.  There were lists that had literally hundred of items on them.  There were lists that had just clothes and diapers, the basics.  There was advice I had received from friends and family, information about what had worked for them and what hadn't.  There was the mental list I kept from my own observations and experiences with other people's babies.

Despite this great pool of knowledge, there was still a lot of apprehension.  I knew about babies and how different they could be.  I knew that a swing could be a lifesaver for one baby and completely useless for another.  I knew that some moms never used their Boppy's and that some moms swore by them.  I knew these things!  There was no way to know exactly what would work for my baby, yet I still wanted to collect all the things I thought my baby would need and be totally prepared for his arrival.  

It has now been 3 months, 22 days, 5 hours, and 24 minutes since my son was born.  I am still so new to motherhood, and by no means do I even begin to claim to have it all figured out.  But in those 3 months, 22 days, 5 hours and 24.5 minutes I have learned a lot about what works for us as a family and what doesn't.  I have learned that there are lots of things baby-related that I choose not to bring into our lives and our home.   And most importantly, I have learned to trust my judgement as a mama.  

Let me just admit that I am a completely different mother than I ever thought I would be (not in a bad way, just in a different way).  Nothing can prepare you for having your own child and for the decisions you will make in regards to to parenting that child.  And I really do mean nothing.  Not being the most obsessive involved auntie in the entire world.  Not babysitting at least 20 different babies and children of all ages during your teen years.  Not being the most qualified and experienced nanny in the British Isles.  Nothing!  I hope to sort out my feelings and words enough to be able to write a separate post about this topic, but for now that's all I can really say coherently.  

So I guess it comes as no surprise to the veteran mama's out there that many of the things I thought I would need or wanted to need were not actually useful at all (for us at least).  The swing?  Riggs was not impressed.  Why would he want to swing back and forth when he was trying to look at everything?  SImply setting him down in his cradle, crib or on the couch worked just fine for him.  The pacifiers?  After the first six weeks, he decided there was no need for those - especially since his entire hand was so much more fun to try and fit in his mouth.  And who knows?  Tomorrow he may decide he wants pacifiers again, so I have a little stash of pacifiers in preparation for the unknown.  

There were so many things I wanted him to need that he just really didn't need, at all.  I found that I was letting my weakness for material things overpower my goal to live more simply and to raise Riggs that way.  So I decided to pay attention to what was really getting used and purge nearly everything that wasn't.  

I have grown in leaps and bounds as a person since I had Riggs, and feel very confident in what I have decided to keep in our lives and what I have decided to purge.  So I thought I'd make a list of what I'd buy/collect if I were to do it all again, partially so that I can help others who may be wondering what they will really need for their baby and partially so that I have a well documented list for myself for future references.  Plus I just love making lists of any kind, and I was in the mood for making a really good one.

Whitney's Complete List of Necessary and Nice to Have Baby Items

Must Haves

1.  Cradle

Pros:  I love the glider cradle that I found on Craigslist for Riggs when I was pregnant.  It looks so sweet set up in our room and is a nice size for rolling around the house to have a place to put him down.  I have used it quite a bit, and Riggs spent the first two months of his life at least starting out his night in the cradle.  He has no aversions to the cradle, although we did place a folded blanket underneath the mattress at one end so that he head was elevated for better breathing when he was a newborn.  
Cons:  It was such a pain (literally) when he was a newborn and nursing every two hours during the night trying to lean over the cradle edge and grab him.  It was very hard to try and pluck him out of the cradle while sitting or laying down, because the rails would dig into my ribs.  If I had to get out of bed and stand up to get him, he might as well have been in his own crib in his room.  By the time I would get up, get him out, sit up to nurse him, re-swaddle him and put him back in his cradle, I was wide awake.  It would have been much nicer, I think, to have an Arms Reach Co-sleeper attached to the bed for easier access when he needed to breastfeed.  Riggs sleeps with us all night now, but I think I will start the next baby out in a cradle or co-sleeper too because I just wasn't comfortable sleeping with such a young/small baby all night while being so tired from waking up so often and he was/is very good at going to sleep on his own.

Bottom line:  I am happy with how the cradle has worked for us, but if I think I might go the Arms Reach Co-sleeper route next time.  If you have experience with the co-sleeper, please email me or leave a comment with your feedback, I would love to hear from other moms who have used one.  

2.  Crib
You might think that this is not one of our necessary items since I already said that Riggs sleeps with us at night.  However, I use his crib for at least one nap a day and for playtimes throughout the day when I'm working on chores or other tasks.  It is great to have a very safe place to be able to set him down and not worry about him falling, like off the couch, for example.  And I do plan on having him sleep in there at night time when he gets older.  
Bottom line:  I would definitely try and have a crib set up in either your room or the babies room before they are born.  It has been a great tool for us!

3.  Diapers

Pros:  This is my favorite diaper that I have found so far.  I love nearly everything about it!  It has soft organic cotton next to your babies skin and a waterproof outer that comes in beautiful colors.  This diaper has never leaked (I have only had them for two months) and is remarkably trim for having so much absorbency.  It is the diaper I always use first when I am going out and about and I have been selling my pocket diapers in order to buy more of these.
Cons:  They are relatively expensive at $24.95 each and they do take longer to dry in the dryer.  I have never tried line-drying them outdoors since it has been winter, but once the temps warm up I plan on giving it a try.  

Pros:  These are my favorite prefolds. They are so soft (they are made out of an organic cotton/hemp blend) and absorbent that I rarely have them leak.  They have a little bit of stretch too so they are easy to fit on your baby with some Snappi's.  
Cons:  I'm not the biggest fan of using prefolds when I'm out and about because they tend to leak more (in my experience) when the baby is in the carseat and such.  I love using them around the house though and they are so economical that I probably always will.

c.  Rebourne Wool Diaper Covers
Pros:  I love wool diaper covers for so many reasons.  Wool is a wonderful material to use for babies and diapering in particular as described on Rebourne's Etsy shop: "How can wool be a diaper cover? Wool can absorb a ton of moisture (30% of its weight) and not feel wet to the touch. It is naturally antimicrobial. Urine is neutralized by the natural oil in the wool, so it doesn't retain any odors like plastic! You don't need to wash it after each wear: simply hang to dry or use again."  I love these covers in particular because the shop owner, Marni, uses old sweaters that she repurposes for the outer part of the cover and they are all so cute!  I also love the shape of these covers, with the elastic and the snaps - they fit so well!
 Cons:  They are expensive, at about $27-$30 each, and they are not as "easy" to wash when they need it as the PUL covers are.  They require hand washing rather than machine washing, but I haven't found this to be any kind of problem for me.  

General Information:  I love using cloth diapers.  They are so. much. cheaper and Riggs has very sensitive skin so they are much better for him in that way.  Although I have had more leaks with cloth than disposable (it's actually more of a wicking issue), I have had many more blowouts when using disposable diapers than when using cloth.  I find that they are just as easy as using disposables, except that you have an extra load of laundry to do every other day.  This works great for me since I stay at home and don't work.  I assume it's a little more of a hassle for moms who work part or full time and have someone other than dad watching their baby.  

Like any other baby products, there is a learning curve with cloth diapering.  There is no way to know which diapers you will like best for your baby until they are born.  Because of this I would recommend starting out with a few different types and getting them used, if possible, before building up a huge stash.  

I started out with Rumparooz, some Oh Katy!s and a few Bum Genius 4.0s and I did really like how they fit and their ease of use.  Unfortunately stay dry diapers don't really work for Riggs because of his skin sensitivities, which the polyester seems to irritate.  So since then it had been a trial and error period while trying to figure what does work for us.  

There are a few random diapers we have that we also like:  
Imse Vimse Organic Flannellette Contour Diapers - we have about 6 of these and we really like them.  I like that they have no closure system like a prefold but they have the contoured shape which helps them to fit better and keep messes in.  
Bummis Organic Cotton Prefolds - I got these at a children's consignment store here in Anchorage for a great deal and they had never been used.  These are nice diapers as well and a bit more economical than the BabyKicks prefolds, and we do use them quite a bit.  They just don't seem to be quite as absorbent and for some reason I just find myself reaching for the BabyKicks first. \
Flip! Diaper Cover - These are manufactured by the same company that makes Bum Genius, they come in the same colors, and they fit the same way.  Perfect!  While I love wool covers, I do like to have a few PUL covers around too.  I also love these Flip! covers because up to this point I have been using disposables when we travel or when Riggs has a bad diaper rash that calls for Boudreaux's Butt Paste Maximum Strength.  With the Flip! system, I can buy a pack of disposable inserts instead, which is much more convenient and much better for the environment.   

4.  Boppy

Pros:  The Boppy pillow has definitely been a must-have for me.  I use it for every feeding out in the living room and wish I had it with me nearly every time I feed him anywhere else.  It is also great to have a around for propping him up on, both on his stomach and back.
Cons:  I still have to use my arm or another blanket under his head while he's eating or else I find myself hunching over a bit.  This is probably just me (and other long-bodied people) since I am not the average height or build.  It is the only negative I can think of and it really is a small one!

5.  Swaddle Wraps

I have all pros and no cons for this item and consider them to be a must-have.  We simply love them!  They are so much easier than swaddling them yourself, especially once they can flail their arms around.  Although, if you do want a good blanket for swaddling, I would go with the Aden and Anais muslin blankets.  How cute is this:
Riggs at about one week old
We have a few different SwaddleMe wraps and still (at four months old) use them during some naps and at night.  However, some babies don't like to be swaddled, so I would recommend getting just one to test them out on your baby and see if they like it.  Riggs will sometimes fuss when trying to go to sleep and flail his arms around, and just softly holding his arms down at his side will cause him to instantly fall asleep.  It is a lot easier to just use the SwaddleMe to begin with and he always goes to sleep so quickly and peacefully that way.  Although now that he is stronger and bigger, we usually find him in the morning like this:

Or like this:

He's such a flail-er!  So silly. 

6. Baby Carrier

One of the most important must-have items (in my opinion) is a baby carrier.  I am a huge proponent of babywearing and love to wear my little Rigglet.  I have two favorite carriers that I have described below.

ERGO Baby Carrier - This is my favorite baby carrier.  I love nearly everything about it!  I love it so much that I have two of them - one that lives in the car so that I always have it when I'm out and about and one I always keep at home.  I have the one pictured above, the Navy organic carrier, and the classic black one with a green hood that I purchased used from my sister.  My favorite things about the Ergo are how comfortable it is for both the carrier and the baby, the hood for when baby is sleeping, and the two pockets (one with a zipper - this is imperative for me so that I don't lose my car keys or cell phone when bending over or moving about).  Steve also has worn Riggs in the Ergo and loved it as well:

Moby Wrap - This was a great carrier to have around when Riggs was a newborn.  It might seem confusing at first to use, because it is a very long strip of fabric you have to fold up and wrap around yourself, but I found it very easy to figure out and it just got easier and easier with practice.   I don't use it at all anymore but think it is definitely a must have for when your baby can't hold their head up.

7.  Clothes
Okay, I'm not going to make a list of all the clothes I like for Riggs.  I just needed to add this on here because, in Alaska at least, clothing is a must-have item for babies.  I will say that I was really surprised by what have become my favorite articles of clothing to put on Riggs.  

I think as a general rule it is important to chose clothing made out of natural fibers, such as cotton, silk or wool.  This is much better for their sensitive skin and much more comfortable too.  What I have found myself using most are short and long-sleeved onesies, soft cotton and wool pants that are not too baggy, footed sleepers and soft, cotton sleep sacks.  I also nearly always have a hat on Riggs.  He doesn't have much hair, so I like to keep his little head warm at all times.  He does wear a hat at bedtime too, but it is always off by morning.  


If you are still reading, I am very impressed, this has been a very long post!  I will be posting the Nice to Have portion of my list at some point soon, but for now, happy Friday, and I hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Simple Woman's Daybook

I am thinking...
I can't believe how fast babies grow.  Every morning I look at my baby, and I truly think he grows and changes during the night!  This morning he had a classic bumbo blowout...I guess he thought it would be a great place to have his morning poo.  I had just gotten him dressed and ready for the day, and slipped him in his bumbo to hang out while I cooked some oats for myself for breakfast.

I came back to get him out and he had spit up a little, right down the front of his clean shirt and just enough on his pants that they needed to be changed.  As I pulled him out of the seat, I noticed that his waist felt wet.  I just thought it might be from spitting up, but no, it was an entire diapers worth of poo, all the way up his back nearly to his neck.  Lovely.  

As I was cleaning him up and changing his clothes, I was sad again thinking about how all his newborn clothes are put away and he is fully into the 6-12 months sizes.  Where does the time go?

I think he was planning it in this picture...

And he looks so innocent...
In the kitchen...
There is a lovely box of dishwasher detergent on the counter, ready for the day we move into our new home.  I have not had the pleasure of having a dishwasher since I moved out of my parents house in 2005.  It will be such a treat to have one, I can't even imagine how much more efficient it will be.

The funny thing is, I actually don't mind washing dishes once I start them. What I'm really and truly excited about is having the dirty dishes in the dishwasher instead of piling up on the counter.  There's nothing like a pile of dirty dishes to get my blood pressure up...

I am wearing...
My hair is in a braid again.  I think braids are destined to be my main hairstyle for the next year or so.  I like to french braid it to the side and pin my bangs back - it keeps everything out of my face.  Plus it greatly reduces the amount of times Riggs gets a death grip on my hair and tries to eat it.

I am creating...
Unfortunately, I will not be doing much crafting for the next two weeks.  I need to spend any free time I have (that i'm not blogging lol) packing.  We are all ready to close on our loan so if the seller can get moved out soon we have a good chance of closing early (yay!).  This means I really need to get serious about packing which also means I can't procrastinate by working on sewing, knitting or crocheting.

I did, however, take advantage of the Costco coupon for $.09 prints this week.  I print 298 pictures (nearly all of them of Riggs - ha) and even managed to get them in order and into their respective albums. Tonight I plan on finishing the captions as soon as I am done with this post.

I am going...
I plan on taking a quick walk before bed tonight to get the last bit of puppy energy out of Tutka before he goes to bed.  I have been very diligent about walking him and have managed to take him on at least one hour long walk a day, usually with one or two more 30 minute walks thrown in for good measure.  He is doing very well walking on the leash and learning good manners.  What a smart big little boy!

I am looking forward to...
Despite taking an hour long nap this afternoon before Steve got home, I am really looking forward to getting in bed, unwinding from the day and cuddling my soft, warm and plump little baby.  I just cannot get enough of him, especially those little elbow dimples!