What's In My Bag? The Hospital Bag

11:00 AM

Hi there!

Still pregnant over here, I mean, we're barely tapping 38 weeks but I feel so very pregnant. The good news? My body is doing all kinds of not so beautiful things over the past few days that lead me to believe we are close!

But at the same time, she can stay snug in there for a few more weeks if she wants. It's all about a healthy baby, no matter how done I am with being pregnant.

I've been having an increase in contractions so I decided it was probably time I packed up my hospital bag.

I like to wait until the last minute on important things like this.

While, I knew most of what I wanted to take, I took time to peruse the internets and pinterest to see if there was anything clever I hadn't thought of.

A few blogs reminded me of little things I forgot while others just blew me away. How much stuff do you need to have a baby!?

With my first, well, I said I like to wait until last minute. I just threw things into the bag before running to the hospital. Big mistake, I didn't grab a brush or make-up, while I could shower, I still felt messy the whole time. It's not important stuff, but after having the baby, it would have made me feel tons better to put on some mascara and brush my hair.

So I'm still a simple lady, my list is simple, the things I packed are simple. My bag is half empty and I'm planning to stay in the hospital for a few days! I can't pack this light to stay overnight at my Grandma's... mostly because that requires outfits and planning. This is all about comfort.

There is no right or wrong list, some of us just desire more or less than others.

Here is my simple bag:

Above we have my basic necessities and needs for the hospital.

Pictured are...

  • My Robe - Mostly incase I have to get up and walk around in that backless hospital gown
  • A Large Pajama shirt for after birth. Some women choose a gown, I just wanted a big, oversized comfy shirt.
  • Yoga pants, a t-shirt and flip flops for going home [I'll also take my tennis shoes if I feel up to it]
  • Maternity dress just incase I don't want to wear pants
  • Socks
  • Glasses [all my solution and such for contacts is in the make-up bag]
  • Phone and charger
  • Cheap Toiletries
  • Make-Up Bag so I can feel nice after birthing a baby, 
  • Face wash and lotions
  • Headbands and Ponytails for before, during and after birth
  • Boob care, nursing pads and sweet lanolin to relieve the itching and aching [get these even if you don't want/plan on breastfeeding, you'll still need them]
  • Embarrassingly large maxi pads for the after birth [If you're having your first baby, then warning! You get a gross, heavy, period like time after birth while your body clears everything out]
  • Any and all prescriptions or vitamins, like prenatals. I have to take iron and vitamin c because I'm anemic. 
Not pictured...
  • DERMOPLAST pain relieving spray. The hospital should give you some, but after pushing a baby out of your nethers, this is so relieving.
  • Granny panties [or those gross ones for THAT time of the month], I kept mine out of sight because ew.
  • A comfy bra or nursing bra - Choose something WITHOUT an underwire, your breasts swell, you swell and a wire is really uncomfortable. I, personally, just chose a comfy, non-restrictive sports bra [the kind for girls with small/no boobs] for comfort. And it stretches to breastfeed, so it's an all around win for me.
  • Camera, if you have one [make sure it's charged and has an empty card!]
  • Pregnancy Pillow, some people prefer a regular boppy pillow, but I like the big one I can squeeze the life out of
  • Snacks. You don't really need much, I'm packing a few snickers and a couple of clif bars. You're not suppose to eat during labor, so these are pick me ups after baby.
And that's it!

That is all I'm taking. My husband has been instructed to pack himself a bag, though we live close enough to the hospital, he'd probably rather come home to shower and change. But I'll make sure he has pajamas and a change of clean everything, because I love him.

Also, it's thoughtful to get a roll of quarters for the vending machines so your spouse/partner/child/parent can easily get a snack from the vending machines if needed. Or for you, you'll be hungry.

I suggest browsing around and checking different lists, mine may actually be too much for some Momma's or not nearly enough for others.

DO consider that your hospital visit may be prolonged if you have a c-section or baby has any complications. I was there for 5 days because I induced, the first time failed and my water broke in the middle of the second attempt. And then my son had jaundice, so we stayed while he was treated.

Good luck!

- Amanda

Bump and Baby Update: Week 36 and Final Bump Photos

11:00 AM

So here it is, I've reached that point where I just can't pregnant anymore. I have to, but doing anything more than being awake and taking care of the day to day is beyond me.

These are my last maternity photos because I just will never be able to muster up the energy to do more. I can hardly sleep at night, I spend the majority of the night tossing and turning, trying to find a way to sleep that doesn't make me ache.

Speaking of aches, well, everything aches.

My feet and calves are swollen.

I rotate between being super hungry and super nauseous.

I am ready for baby to make her way out, which I pray is much sooner than later.

I originally wanted to go to a local park I love and take outdoor maternity photos, but every weekend it was raining.

Heck, it was raining the day I took these and it's raining today!

I put off the photos for so long that the outfit I originally put on and loved no longer would work at my size. The baby belly is increasing size quickly and I'm running out of things that fit.

Thank goodness I bought a comfy black dress! It goes with everything.

So, after many failed attempts to get out and do my photos, I gave in and did them at home.

At least I finished up her room and got to use that for my backdrop.

My son is super eager to help, so while I set up the camera and took care of the settings, he actually took my pictures. I mean, he pushed the button.

I shared a different photo on instagram a few days ago, mentioning how much I loved the photos he snapped when I wasn't ready. Sure, many of them weren't any good, but I had a few where I was giggling because he's a silly kid and I love having those genuine moments captured. It's a little story I need to write down for him, so he can remember that he got to photography his pregnant Mom with his little sister in her tummy.

And, of course, we have pictures with brother. I've gone out of my way to make sure he knows that he's a big part in all this. Having a sibling doesn't make him any less important in our lives, it actually makes him more important. We have little talks all the time about how special he will be to sister and how much I need his help when she gets here.

I still can't convince him to change diapers though.

These are just a few of my favorites, see my full maternity album over on my flickr: HERE

So here is hoping that in the next week or two I will dilate beyond a one, my water will break and I can share the joy of my daughter's arrival.

Then we can talk about sleepless nights with a baby!

And about all the wonderful baby days, I so look forward to the baby days.

- Amanda

Baby Maeve's Eclectic Nursery

11:00 AM

I can't hardly believe I accomplished it, but I've completed the nursery.

I don't have a single room in my house done, yet I managed this.

I go in there everyday and just sit, soak in the baby's room while it's quite and chaos hasn't arrived yet.

I'm pretty excited to show it off, except for one thing...

The room is too tight for me to use my camera for full shots.

I need a wide angle lens, which I don't have... so I had to use my, gasp, phone.

I might try to borrow a lens from a friend later, but for now, I have phone photos. First world problems, right?

The good news, I could still get detail shots with my camera. It's a little reprieve.

We'll begin with the not so pretty photos.

The crib wall is my favorite part. We painted the wall a navy blue, my husband calls it blurple. It has a purple hue to it and everything just pops off of it. [The color is from Valspar, it's called Dark Night... or I call it Dark Knight because I'm a geek and Batman is my favorite hero.]

I picked the little gold triangles up off of etsy and most everything else I already had, maybe gave it a fresh coat of paint, but that's it. [The triangles came from Classy Clutter Designs]

On the other side of the room I have her changing area and storage. We have her books, toys, blankets and other necessities stored over there. And I put up a few hooks to hang clothing, towels or bags on, right now it's just clothes.

Next door is a glider I picked up from my Mom. I wanted to recover it, but it was more work than I really wanted to get into right now. So I just tossed a bright afghan on it and moved along, maybe another time.

And lastly there is her vanity, I hadn't actually planned on the vanity. My cousin had it in storage and offered it to me because she no longer had a place for it. It's a beautiful antique and while it doesn't "match" the decor, it goes with my eclectic style. I definitely could not say no.

That's the broad view of the room, so let's see all the cute details! A friend made her a scrapbook, ready to go when she gets here and has pictures to add. I love it, it's great for a person like me that never finished her son's book... yea. The cute little crochet crown and booties came from my Mom, it's adorable and I had to put it out.

I have baskets under the changing table with little necessities in them. One houses all her diapering needs like, well, diapers along with wipes, rash cream and extra onsies in case of emergency. The other holds blankets, bibs, burp cloths and soft little toys if need should arise while changing.

Other items stored are light blankets and wooden baby toys. I also saved a spot to put the diaper bag, you can't see it very well, but it's a custom "My Little Pony" diaper bag that a close friend made me. It deserves a post of it's own, which it will get!

Above the changing table I have custom artwork displayed, by custom I mean, a friend bought me a vector set and I put words in, ha. And printed them at Walgreen's. I'm fancy like that.

This one is, "The Cause of Great Joy" which is the meaning of her name. There are several meanings to her name, but this is the one that stuck out to me. Probably because her surprise really did bring us a lot of joy... after the initial shock and "how did this happen!?" wore off.

In case you're wondering, I know how it happened. It's just that I naturally kept it from happening for 5 years and according to my calender, it shouldn't have happened. But I had some mad baby fever, so that probably did it.

Her name, obviously. :)

And to finish off my little set, I wanted to add a scripture, something I can read to her [and myself] during our long nights and early mornings. I originally was trying to come up with something to focus on joy, when the old song just popped into my head: "The joy of the Lord is my strength."

And that's how I came about using this specific scripture. I can't think of anything more soothing to read to myself when I'm exhausted and to read to her as she grows. I'm sure, just like her brother, we'll find ourselves a few songs to sing every night... it just won't be Christmas songs this time around. [My son was born a week before Christmas, so we sing Silent Night year 'round]

On the very end I have a few horses, they're a small part to a larger set of vinyls, but at this time I couldn't figure out how to put it all in. Maybe when she's ready for a big girl room, she'll want more horses and we can put the rest up. This was a gift a friend ordered me, she knew I liked unicorns but couldn't find any. I fell in love with the horses once she showed them to me, they tie in with a few more horses in the room.

Over on the vanity I have a tiara bowl full of bows I made... because I misplaced the little gold hooks I planned to hang them on.

I found instructions on pinterest to make fabric bows with a glue gun... duh. I put it off because sewing would take so much time. Now in one sitting, I whipped out 14 bows! This is a great thing, really, considering we only had 6-7 hair bows before this and they were all hand me downs.

Sometimes I think I might fail at this girly thing because I can't even buy a darn bow.

On the wall next to the vanity, I hung this vintage 1930's baby dress my Mom picked up at an antique market. It's the most amazing, adorable yet delicate thing I have ever held. The tiny lace and itty bitty buttons astound me. I have it on display, but I assure you, she will wear it.

I also have the flower crown I made for the maternity pictures I haven't taken because it rains every weekend. I'm about to just do them in home just for the sake of doing them before she arrives.

Onto her crib wall and we begin with the furry rocking chair. It's not really a furry rocking chair, it's a wooden rocking chair decorated by a 5 year old boy. I wasn't sure where I was putting the faux sheep skin, tossed it to the side, he picked it up and took it straight to the chair. Now it looks like some awesome piece of swedish furniture or something, I feel trendy. Never underestimate what a 5 year old can come up with. I added the jackalope, he's a family joke but I find him adorable.

Her white crib is from Ikea, I wanted something simple and how low their cribs set was a bonus to short little me. I struggled with my son's crib due to my height, but I can easily reach into this one.

I have her quilt on the side, I haven't gotten around to presenting it either, but it'll be there. I don't keep much in the crib aside from a few of my little woodland animals. I'm aware that nothing can be in there when she moves in, so why fill it with fluffy pillows or something I'll have to re-home later? Because, most likely, extra crap would just end up in the floor!

Above her crib I hung her sequin chipboard letters and a tassel garland I made with the scraps left over from the vintage sheets used in her quilt. I love how it turned out, it ties in her little quilt without everything getting too matchy.

On the shelf to the left side of her crib I have a book her brother specifically wanted her to have [heart melting], little fox I made, the bronze bunny comes from my Mom, the rose there is my belt buckle from when I showed horses as a kid and the two horses are my Breyers, gifted to me by my Aunt when I was... 8? 9? Somewhere around there.

And on the opposite shelf I have a painting from her brother's baby room, cute birdy vase I intend to put faux flowers in, raccoon I made, a bronze birdy I thrifted and that fox is from Christmas... he was so cute I kept him out.

If you have really keen eyes, you can find a little bit of geekery hiding out. It wasn't visible in the picture at the beginning, but I put a little triforce in there because I just can't help myself. Every time I see it, I start humming the Zelda theme.

The last wall is where her closet is and I didn't see much sense in taking a picture of a door. But I put up a little garland and hung all the sweet little cards she has received. As well as a copy of her baby shower invitation, because it was so cute. I'll leave all that in place until her first birthday and then we'll swap it out for birthday cards!

On the other side I hung a Shakespeare quote I saved, its pretty common around on Pinterest but I loved it, so who cares. I made my own artwork, if that counts.

And lastly a quote from Napoleon Bonaparte that the internets has altered and made popular. Again, I loved it, so I don't care how popular it is.

My husband and I laughed after I put these up, because I call her sassy. She is, poke at my belly and she'll punch back. But her name has ties to female warriors as well, Maeve, a Queen in Irish Mythology that went to war for a prize bull, this making her fortune equal to her husbands. And her middle name, Lorraine, refers to the region of Lorraine [in France] where the warrior Joan of Arc was born. So she probably will be a bit feisty, but she's a little sister, she'll need it. And I seem to be encouraging it with my "warrior princess art."

That concludes the little tour of her room. Like I said, I'm a little shocked that I managed to get it done ahead of time. I never had the opportunity to put together a nursery for my son, it was just a crib and rocker. And even since we've owned this home, I have not completed a single room in the house!

Now the wait for the baby continues.

- Amanda

Dining Room - Update 2

11:00 AM

I finally have made it back around to the dining room, it's about time.

Last time the dining room graced the blog, it had a fresh coat of paint and a list things "to do" before I feel it's at least looking complete.

I haven't completed the list but I'm much happier with how the room looks now!

Oh that's a pretty view!

I have...

Curtains - Check!
Wood Blinds - Negative
A Large Rug - Check!
Recovered the Chairs - Check!
Art and Decor - Check!
Shelves for Glassware - Negative, but I'll explain
Table Decor - Umm, well, sorta
New Table - That's a fat Negative
Highchair - Oh, well, that wasn't on the list, but I suppose it does need to be in there

So I managed to knock out most of my list and everything that's a priority for me at this point.

I love how the curtains ended up. I probably wouldn't have them done yet if my Mother hadn't come over and decided it needed to be done right then! So she bought me 7 yards of white muslin and everything to hang them. I just had to sew them and put it all up.

I love the clips, I may be addicted to clips now. They are so easy and if something is wrong, I don't have to pull the whole rod down, just unclip the panel I need to fix.

I ended up hanging all of these copper molds my Grandma gave me. I didn't intend for them to be a part of my decor, I was going to bring in a lot of my glass wares. I picked out shelves I wanted from Ikea, but shortly before we went a certain wonderful man I am married to brought home a large record player.

The shelves just didn't work with it in the room but I liked it so I'm working around it now.

There she is, in all her beauty. She works too! I didn't really have another place for her, but the previous owner treated her like a buffet so I figured why not. I love it in there, really, it brings something special to the room. Many people have suggest I pop out the vents, paint it and make it more modern. It the model didn't work, I might do that. But with it being fully functional, I don't dare mess with it.

Plus, I actually appreciate beautiful wood work, not everything needs to be painted turquoise/peach/mint/gray/whatever color is trendy.

I've even decided to pull in a little bit of a masculine vibe with by bringing in some of the items my husband has collected. He bought these crystal bottles before we were married and they've moved around with us since then. I only have them right now, but I'd love to find a nice tray and buy him some high quality tumblers to go with them, even if only for display.

I also displayed some of the neat old items my Grandma gave me. I don't dare use any of it because of it's age, but I love the look of it all. The yellow cow has to be one of my favorite pieces. He's a Six Flags Creamer Cow from who knows when! I just adore him.

I also finally framed and hung these local art prints I bought for my husband a few years back from a local store, Shop Good. They don't have these online and I'm not even sure if they're still in store. Like I said, I bought them a few years ago, we both loved the art and I went back for them. Even though you can't get what I have, the moral of the story is: "Shop local for beautiful and unique art."

It also helps to store said art for a few years so no one can get it. My bad.

The rug is in but I didn't buy it. I had this rug, it floats from room to room because it doesn't really fit my decor but it was given to me. So until I actually buy a rug, this one is it! At least it helps pull the room together.

And lastly, those recovered chairs. Sadly we discovered that two of the six chairs are broken beyond repair. I knew we had two that "needed repair" but once we had them apart and several people looked them over, we found splits in the wood. Sure, we could make them workable, but I don't want to risk anyone going down because I had to have the chair. We eventually want to replace the dining set anyway! [This one was another freebie after all]

I covered the chairs with a tablecloth I nabbed on clearance at Target for $10. It's not exactly what I would choose to go with the room. But it did get the job done and the chairs covered, I will not complain.

And that's where the room stands now. If you look in the photo above of my son trying to enjoy his lunch, you'll notice I took the little hats off my chandelier... I win! [My husband liked them... I did not]

I'm super happy with the dining room at this stage. It's not done, but it's good enough that I can move onto another room until I can afford the major items and changes I want.

Now we are enjoying it as a family as well as with our guests. She's hosting more and more game nights and has an upcoming Super Dungeon Explorer marathon to host.

Board games and food, I couldn't be happier.

- Amanda

Experiencing Motherhood for the First Time [And What I've Learned]

11:00 AM
5 Days before my son was born in December 2009

As I'm nearing my due date and my body's activity is telling me that we're just about to have a baby, I can't help but think back to having my first baby.

I'm on my second, so I don't count myself any kind of expert, but I'm certainly experienced.

On one side, I don't have the worry and anxiety I had when expecting my son. I worried so much about wether or not I would be a good mom. Was I even capable of caring for another human being?

Aside from the worries, it was all pretty easy. I spent my entire pregnancy going out with friends, staying out late, working a full time job and I was never tired. I didn't even have contractions or anything coming up to my son's birth. When I went in at 39 weeks and they asked [well, suggested, he was a big baby] I induced, it was just a, "Well sure, I guess so" and we did it.

Now on the other side, five years later, I'm calm. I am completely peaceful about baby coming, I know every baby is different but I know I can care for her and I won't be a horrible mom.

But it hasn't been easy this time! For one, I'm five years older and I can tell how different it is for my body to do this. I certainly see the benefit to having children when you're much younger! I mean, I was 22 the first time around and I'm 28 this time, so by no means am I OLD. But it's most definitely a different experience body wise. I'm not working, I stay home with my son, homeschool and maintain the home. Which is a full time job in itself, but I can nap or rest when I need. Yet, I'm always exhausted, my back aches, I can't sleep, etc. And then, here we are at 36 weeks and I'm am totally aware of her impending arrival, on a couple of occasions I thought she might break my water. The contractions, I feel those this time and I don't like them. I don't expect to shrug and get induced this time, I worry about my water breaking at church (it's my biggest fear!) or in the store. It is completely different this time around! As far as birth goes, well, I'll let you know when we cross that bridge.

To keep my mind off all the kicking and feeling like I might get my water broken, I surf around the blog-o-sphere and read about other Moms.

I enjoy it. We all have different experiences and stories, it can be super reassuring to see that you're not the only one experiencing something, good or bad.

Personally, I never had the intention of being a "Mommy Blogger" but I love my children and despite how many things I make or cook, I have more stories about my children than any of that. So I guess I'm a mom blogger somedays.

I follow many little blogs, my list changes frequently. Err, some moms get sponsorships and the whole blog becomes a sale pitch, that's when I tune out. Good for you but I enjoyed your writings, I don't want to be sold stuff every post. I follow fashion blogs for that, ha.

I find it funny how long time or 2nd/3rd/4th/etc time Moms are the brutally honest ones. They don't hide behind an image of perfection, it's just poop. Spilt breast milk. Sleepless nights. It's raw and honest, I love it.

But then, you switch over to the expecting first timer and everything is perfection. I do say that sarcastically, because I can totally tell when they really have no idea. They'll post a picture of a chair and talk about how they plan to nurse and rock the baby before they put him down for the night... like the baby is going to magically go to sleep for the WHOLE night. And share the $40 custom organic bamboo onsie the baby will wear all day without spitting up or pooping all over it ten minutes after he's dressed. And don't forget how amazing it is to purchase that "must have" baby item, the completely over priced one that the baby will love [translation: hate and never use] for the mere six months he fits it.

Hehe, ya'll are so cute.

I get to laugh because I've been there. I never wasted money on trendy items or over priced baby clothes, but I was certainly naive enough to think my baby would come home, snuggle in his crib and let me sleep. We'd wake around 7, as the sun nudged our eyes open, I'd feed him and change him. We'd spend the day snuggling and relaxing bathed in a sparkling haze of fairy dust. It was going to be magical and so easy.

No. He woke up every 2 hours, fed like a monster, filled his diaper and started again. I nursed him, changed him and rocked him back to sleep, while crying. Crying because I was tired, crying because my body still ached from birth and crying because I had all kinds of nursing problems from raw, sore breasts and a struggling milk supply. [So I got less sleep, because once he emptied me out, I sat up with a breast pump try to encourage my body to make more milk!]

It does make me sad when I see the illusion of perfection broken and these Mom's just want to pull their hair out and run away in the first few weeks. I kind of wish I could just travel the world and give first time Mom's a hug, promise them everything will be okay and hold their babies while they got a nap.

Sadly, I don't have enough arms to hug that many moms or hold that many babies.

But I can share what I've learned and what I know from my own experience here.

It's not a warm hug, but it's the best I have to offer.

What I Learned

Your baby won't hate you. I see people say it all the time and I worried about it too. I never spent a lot of time around babies and for the most part, they never seemed to like me. I was very worried about how I would care for my son because I didn't seem to be a natural at it. I knew so many that had no problems holding and caring for someone else's baby. But when I held a baby, it was like they smelled my fear and immediately began crying, so for the most part I didn't hold babies. Now, if you hand me your infant, you might find me passed out on the couch with the baby on my chest because I love baby naps and I seem to have the magic power that puts babies to sleep.

I think it's an experience you have to go through to really get an understanding. Unless you're neglectful or abusive, your child will love you. Don't take an infants constant crying or inability to be satisfied as a failure on your part. Your baby is, well, a baby! They can't communicate and they are trying to get a grasp onto this new world you just brought them into. You both just have to learn about each other day by day and before you know it, they'll cry and you'll know that specific cry means they're hungry or dirty.

It's okay to do things your way. There is, inevitably, a lot of pressure put on you when you become a mother the first time. Everyone wants to tell you how you MUST do things and it's hard not to cave. Before your baby even gets here there will be those trying to tell you how you must deliver, home birth!? All natural!? Cesarean!?

Will you breastfeed? You must breastfeed! You're selfish if you don't! You give your baby formula!? 

Diapers! Huggies are best! Pampers are best! Cloth diapers are best! Off brand are best! Don't you care about your baby!? 

Will you vaccinate!? Will you keep your child rear facing until they're 4? In a carseat until 8!? Will your son be circumcised!? Will your baby be dedicated!? BAPTIZED!?

Let me tell you this, whatever you decide will be best, because you're the child's mother [or father, Dads count too!]. Yes, there will be people who can show you all the statistics to prove their point... but then someone else can most likely show you statistics to prove their point over the others. Does your head hurt yet?

I'll tell you from my point of view, cloth diapers were never an option because I know myself. I hate cleaning and certainly hate laundry, I understand that from a natural or green viewpoint I'm just lazy. But I did what I knew I could handle and hearing stories of people leaving poopy diapers until the next day and washing loads five times to get them clean did not encourage me. But ultimately, it's up to you to decide if you can handle it. I have friends that cloth diapered all their children, no problem!

I wanted to breastfeed so badly and I tried my hardest, but for whatever reason, my milk just would not come in enough to satisfy my son. The sad thing is, a lot of mothers just made me feel horrible for something I couldn't control. They simply related to their experience where the milk just came right in and they had tons to pump, freeze and save. Not me, I'd pump, I'd feed my son, he'd be unsatisfied, I'd feed him what I pumped just hours before, he'd still be unsatisfied and so I'd supplement with formula. I still have Moms shake their heads and tell me I should never have used formula and just "powered" through. Maybe, maybe not. But I gave it my best for three months before my son just refused to latch, at all. The sight of boob just made him cry, so I put pride aside and took care of his needs. 

I can even say I have friends that had zero desire to breastfeed, so they didn't and guess what? Their children are just fine too.

The "Mommy Wars" will find you and there will always be that opinionated person to let you know that if you're not doing it their way then you're a failure. Don't let it get to you! Give it your best and everything will be fine.

I even get grilled today because we chose for me to stay home and now I'm homeschooling our son. I get questions about the money we don't have because I don't work, though if I did work, it wouldn't amount to much after I paid for daycare. But I'm also aware that not every Mom wants to stay home or can stay home, so why bother debating over it? With school it's all about socialization, is it a religious thing and what do I have against public school!? [The answer is nothing, I have nothing against public school.]

When it comes to making decisions for your kids, forget about other people's opinions, skip what is trendy for the moment and do what you decide is best. Sure, you might get side eye or even have the person that will never shut up about how much better their way is. But you'll be happier in the long run doing things your way.

Babies cry and they don't care if you get sleep/food/a shower. Something that somehow I was never warned about was crying... I mean, some one should have given me a heads up! Now this is one of those things that varies baby to baby, but the average baby wakes up every two hours to eat and at some point in between they may pee or poop.

When I say every two hours, I mean every two hours, day or night. If you can, take this one point of advice and sleep when the baby sleeps. It seems a little crazy at first because you'll want to clean or do something when baby is sleeping, but I highly suggest you catch all the naps you can those first weeks. Sleep deprivation is not good for anyone!

A baby won't care if you haven't showered in days, had a real meal or slept. Because a baby is a baby! They don't know, they don't understand and grounding them or taking away their toys won't affect them. Trust me, people have done it. I struggled really hard to hide my shock once when I pulled a toy out to make a 8 week old baby smile only to be quickly told by the mother that the baby couldn't have it because she was grounded for crying. [Oh... bite your tongue, bite your tongue, it's none of your business]

Heck, my son is 5 and still doesn't realize he should let his mother nap when she can. Even when his Dad is home, playing interference, he will find a way to sneak around Dad to ask me an important question about legos or see if I want to play iPad games with him.

Kids will be kids and babies will be babies.

Before my son was mobile, I would sit him in his bouncer while I grabbed a quick shower. When he got older and didn't want to sit still, I just had to wake up before him and shower as fast as I could. Or I would let a little water collect in the tub and let him play at the other end while I showered. I can't do that now because I have a separate shower stall, bummer. [I mean with the next baby, showering with me has been off limits since he noticed my penis was missing... uhh, Mom never had one... no more showers for you.]

You NEED all these baby things. Yes and no? This is a hard one to call because there are so many cool baby things and many more new ones every year. There are so many new things just since my son was born five years ago, even I'm not sure what is necessary.

Everyone I know that had a swing, loved it because babies like the motion. But now there is this new, fancy device called a Mamaroo that almost simulates a car ride motion, I think, and I've heard mixed reactions. Personally, when I first heard of it, I thought I would have wanted it with my son because he loved car rides. But now I have friends that bought them and some of them hated them... so it's a mixed bag and at the price, it's hard to bite if you can't guarantee your baby would love it. This is one of those moments where a hand me down would rock or you can just decide if the item fits your budget.

I do suggest doing research and making sure items, trendy or practical, are safe. I don't recall the brand but I remember loving this super modern and expensive high chair. Seriously, it was like $600 so it was far out of my range but I loved it. Guess what got recalled? The fancy highchair [the minimalist stand couldn't support the seat and baby's weight, so it would FALL OVER, not worth it]. Yet, the second hand Graco chair a co-worker gave me was just fine. I mean, he ate in it and smeared food all over it, it served it's purpose.

Pretty much the only "new" thing I wanted this time was this awesome little tub that temperature controls water while providing clean water for rinsing: 4moms Infant Tub. I saw it at Target and immediately needed it. But I didn't get it. Someone saw it on my registry but instead bought a normal tub and with the money saved, bought towels, washcloths and a set of baby bath essentials. It was a gift, it was wonderful and thoughtful, so I kept it. I would even venture to say, it was smarter than my plan.

And then when it comes to clothes, the first year, heck, the first two, I say, just shop smart. A pair of baby leggings on etsy can range from $24-$50, for one pair! At GAP, $13-$25. At Target or Walmart, $3-$5. We don't really need to do the math here to tell you the better deal, right? Because babies grow out of them in a few months time anyway!

I'm not going to lie, I always bought baby pants at Walmart. Garanimals were cheap, but comfy for him and life went on. I have pants from Walmart now for baby girl. We don't care if we make top trendy baby on instagram, we're just happy we can afford groceries after I buy baby pants.

And your budget is definitely something to consider. I mean, if you don't have one, then buy all the expensive baby things you want! But I find myself a little sad and frustrated when I see a new mom crying about how hard it is on their finances to have a baby when just a few posts back she was going on about baby items they had to have that cost several hundred dollars or the large haul they splurged on at an expensive baby store! I don't want to keep saying GAP because I shop sales there sometimes and get baby items or kids things. It's okay to own nice baby things as long as you can afford them. But don't stress yourself, your spouse or your marriage over buying over the trendy baby things. It's just stuff in the end. [And your child will never look at you and tell you life would have been better if they had <insert expensive item> when they were six months old.]

Food for thought. While you're worrying about affording a trendy $400 stroller, expecting Mother's in parts of Africa are only worried about having enough water TO TAKE when it's time to deliver their babies. Yes, they have to take the water for the nurses to wash their hands, clean their newborn child and hope there is enough left to clean themselves. You can read about that here.

Just a little perspective.

So there it is...

My biggest fear is that I'm coming off as a "know it all" or something of that sort. I certainly don't know it all and this is all what I've learned from being a Mom for five years. It's what I have to offer, my experiences, my knowledge and my opinions. 

Keyword, opinions! 

I'm not saying any of this is the rules for being a mom, living on a budget, etc. Because as I stated many times over in this post, YOU have to decide what is best for you and yours. I didn't have a baby with colic, digestive issues or any kind of special need, so I would not dare to tell someone how to deal with those situations.

I find myself a little annoyed when I see articles shared that are "Rules for First Time Moms" or "10 Baby Items You Must Have or The Baby Will Die from Being Underprivileged." I'm exaggerating, but there are those out there that decide they know what's best. My favorite recently was a list of useless baby items, which mentioned the wipes warmer was unnecessary. The comments were nuts with Moms that loved the warmer and those that didn't, because they were all RIGHT and needed to prove it. Personally, I didn't like it, I felt like it dried my wipes out and my son never cared. But a friend's child would SHRIEK if touched with a cold wipe at night, she definitely needed it, for her sanity and the baby's. 

In conclusion, don't stress. Becoming a Mother is uncharted territory until you get there, some people are naturals, some people have to learn with each experience. Don't be afraid to be honest with other Moms and find people you can talk to, in real life or even online.

And if anyone offers to come over, spend time with baby and let you nap, do it! 

Naps are so precious.

- Amanda

Hexie Quilt for Little Miracle, Mr. T

11:00 AM

Having a baby is a different experience for everyone, for some it comes easy, they may not even be trying. For others it take a lot of work and even the help of specialists to make their miracle happen.

I haven't actually met Mr. T's parents, but I they're friends of my husband. He's from CA and I have never had the pleasure of making a trip to meet his many friends and family from out there. Sometimes I feel like I've taken him prisoner out here in OK.

While I may not have known them personally, I had talked with Mr. T's mom on facebook on many occasions. She'd leave comments on photos of my son and we'd become acquainted through the internets. Bless the internets.

This is one of those situations where it took them many, many years and a lot of hard work to conceive their little miracle guy. And when I heard the news, I immediately knew I wanted to make a quilt.

His announcement came along around the same time I started obsessing over hexie quilts, I had a book from the library and I was just itching to do something. But I try not to start projects without a goal or I'll spend money with no intention to finish what I'm beginning. [Granted, after my little lady gets here, my husband has me convinced to craft for the greater good and donate quilts, since making them makes me so happy.]

This is the most difficult quilt I have EVER made, because so much of it was done by hand. It took me 5 months, I think in part because I became pregnant myself and just got too tired to work on it. Annnnd because I was working on another quilt at the time. That quilt I totally forgot to photograph, because I did it as a favor [they bought everything, I just put it together] and now it's living its life out in Dublin, Ireland. Lucky quilt! But much too far for me to just pop by and pick it up.

I decided to be extra insane and do all the quilting by hand. Mr T arrived before I was even done, I was probably too busy hugging the toilet and wishing I could eat at the time.

But, by time I reached the finish, I was super happy with it!

I didn't make the entire quilt from hexies, I wasn't that insane, but I used them in four strips to make a really cute pattern.

I loved these coordinating fabrics from Moda, it made it feel just that much more special when they were all linked together.

I stitched them down and stitched around them to make them really pop.

And last moment decided I wanted this arrow border around it. I actually pieced that together on my machine because I was clearly already running behind and didn't need to be doing anything else by hand!

And on the back, I put an aqua and blue zig-zag to make it pop and all around just be fun, it's for a little guy after all.

My binding job was not that great, but I've learned since then. On my last quilt, I actually blind stitched it down by hand. Probably sticking with that from now on as I can't keep my lines from going wonky when I do it by machine!

And here is the finished project, in all it's glory! It's a bit wrinkly and creased from being put away. Not only did it take me awhile to make, I kept forgetting to send it off.

But it has made it now! Baby boy has had his quilt for weeks and I sincerely hope he's enjoying it. It was so fluffy and comfy, I had a hard time parting with it. Lucky for him, I have a girl on the way, so I really couldn't reason with keeping it, hehe.

I'm kidding, I would have sent it to him even if I was having a boy!

I made my baby girls quilt too! If you haven't caught a glimpse of it on instagram, I'll have it up here soon.

- Amanda
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