Saturday, September 28, 2013

DIY Wall Art with Transfer Lettering

When we found out we were having a girl, my husband and I decided we wanted to decorate the nursery with hymns.  My husband absolutely loves hymns and is usually either singing or humming one throughout the day.  I wasn't sure how I wanted to actually implement the whole hymns-themed-nursery because I am not a fan of vinyl wall decals and I wanted the room to be elegant (not that vinyl isn't-that's not that I meant.  I just don't like committing to it going directly on the wall!).  I ditched the effort and started doing other things in the room, hoping I would figure out what in the world I wanted to do.

We I finally realized I couldn't put it off anymore and decided I wanted something dimensional in the room that I could personalize. We live in a town that is full of antique stores and malls, and I found this fence remnant for $12.50-

It was in great shape!  I scrubbed off what was left of some bird poop and stained the wood with some stain the previous owners of our house left in the garage (I also used it here).  It took 2 coats-that wood was thirsty! 
After it was soaked in and dried, I sprayed it down with Rustoleum Clear Matte Finish (which smells like coconut!) so that the stain wouldn't bleed through the lettering paint and the nursery wouldn't smell like stain.  I think it retails $3.50 at Home Depot but I had store credit.
 This is what the fence looked like after being stained and sealed:

We picked out "Before the Throne of God Above" as the hymn because it's our all time favorite.  My husband picked out the section if the hymn he wanted me to paint and I printed them off of my computer in pretty fonts, making sure they would fit in each space of wood (which took a few prints).  I used Bodoni in all caps and Janda Stylist Script (they are free downloads).

I cut the words apart and rubbed the back with some sidewalk chalk I had from an end of summer clearance sale a few years ago.  I think I paid a quarter for the whole pack and intended on using them to teach.  Fail.  I guess it works for this, too.  You can buy fancy transfer paper for dark surfaces that works like carbon paper (except it transfers in white instead of black), but I am cheap and I had the chalk.

I taped the words to the wood, making sure they were straight and used a pen to "color in" all of the letters and transfer the chalk etchings to the wood.

I did one section at a time so that my hand didn't rub any chalk off the wood of subsequent words.  I used a tiny angled paint brush and painted over all of the chalk with white trim paint we had leftover from wainscoting and house touch ups.

And done!

My nursing nook =)

 I used fabric from other nursery projects for the bow- it's cotton linen so I spritzed it with a little spray starch and shot it with some steam from my iron.

My biggest concern with this sign was the lettering- I wanted it to look nice, not necessarily hand drawn or written by myself in my handwriting.  I didn't want it to look like a wannabe art project.  I wasn't sure how the chalk transferring would work, but it worked wonderfully!  I used white chalk and white paint, so it wasn't a big deal for the two to mix if I encountered a chalk chunk.  I wouldn't recommend using a colored chalk with white paint- I think it would tint the paint.  Once the paint was dry, I wiped it down with a damp cloth to get rid of any chalk shadowing.

My boob leaked the entire time I painted, my foot fell asleep several times, and there were moments that I couldn't manage to get up off the floor without grunting and using and couch for help, but I think it was worth it.  Waiting for you, baby girl!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Cloth Diaper Stash

I have had a lot of people ask what cloth diapers we have, what we spent on them, and how we managed to afford them.  The most consistent advice I have gotten when buying cloth diapers is to have several different kinds of diapers in your stash.  So, that's what we did.  I am so obsessed with these things and cannot wait to post more about them once we are using them on our Little Miss.

Here is how we store our diapers:

We sanded and painted an old find on Craigslist for about $50 total and store all of our diapers and pajamas in it (sorry, lighting is off in the nursery this morning!). 

In the top drawer, we are storing our current prefolds (which in this case is ready to go for newborn), our newborn fitteds, our snappis and covers, and our liners and doublers.

We purchased:
While some of these things are newborn items, several of them grow with baby until potty training and will be used with bigger prefolds or fitteds.

In the middle drawer, we are storing all of our pocket diapers, all-in-ones, fitteds, extra inserts, and snap-in inserts.

We purchased:
Most, if not all of these diapers will grow with our girl and last her from about 10 lbs to potty training.  Pretty great investment.

In the bottom drawer, we are storing all of our pajamas and sleepers, as well as extra prefolds.

We purchased:
We will be able to supplement our pockets with these prefolds until she is about 18ish lbs.

We also purchased a kitchen trash can for a pail and a Planet Wise Pail Liner in Pink, as well as 2 wet bags (they call theirs "Wet and Dry Totes") from Smitten Baby in their Pewter color (I loooove them!) via Zulily.  We received a Bum Genius diaper sprayer for the toilet at a baby shower =)

Total, we spent $500 on all of these diapers and accessories.  Up front, this cost seems substantial.  And, $500 at one time definitely is.  We follow Dave Ramsey's plan and love it- so any extra items that aren't in the budget have to come from somewhere else.  During the two years we were trying to conceive, we saved up any extra cash from "extras" that didn't come from our base income.  I was blessed to be able to tutor, tailor clothing, do some upholstery jobs, and work volleyball and basketball games at school.  Each time my paycheck had extra on it that we were not planning on, we took out that cash from the bank and put it into our diaper jar-

Ha.  Dumb, I know.  Granted, it took us a while and a half to conceive Little Miss, but over that time we paid for our diapers at least twice over (at one point we took out $500 and bought a new camera lens because we were so sick of it all!) and didn't spend any money out of pocket.  Once we got pregnant, and then found out we were having a girl, I went to work buying dipes and was able to get us some great deals.  Here are some things we did to save on the diaper budget:
  • Research.  It's not really a budgeting tip, but if you go in blind, you won't know what's a good deal.  Researching the different brands, types of diapers, and sellers was not only super important for us but I had a lot of fun doing it.  Once you've got a good handle on those things, start buying.  My husband would make fun of me because I seemed to always be looking at cloth diapers online!  But, if I'm going to spend $500, it's going to be worth it. My favorite thing to do was watch reviews on YouTube by mamas who really use the diapers.  ObbsandLala has an entire series of videos that cover just about everything you need to know about diapers, so that's a great place to start (plus, she is funny and I watch everything she puts out).
  • Decide if used is okay or not.  I am not grossed out by used cloth as long as they are clean- and we actually have a few that are used.  However, I have to be getting it for at least half off retail.  Cloth diapers have a huge resale value.  It's ridiculous!  For me, if someone is selling a used diaper for a few bucks less than new, I am going to just buy new (And people do that- like $2 less than new.  Uh, ya not happening).  If I want these to last multiple kids anyway, I'm going to have better luck if I start off with a new diaper.  My favorite buys were the 2 Newborn Kissaluv fitteds we bought used off of Craigslist.  New they run about $13.95 each.  I got them for $5, no stains.  Baby Woman will only use them for a bit anyway.  I know a lot of people who have had wonderful luck getting used diapers off of Craigslist and Ebay- but beware.  I am a member of a Facebook swap/sell for cloth diapers and people are constantly posting that they are receiving diapers that are in way worse condition than advertised and have paid close to full retail.  Also, you might be an honest person, but we all know there are a lot of dishonest people out there.  Someone might be selling you a third or fourth generation diaper without telling you and you are stuck with it-and out cash.  OR, you might be getting a killlllller deal.  It goes both ways!
  • Watch for sales!  We bought all of our Bum Genius pocket diapers from the Cotton Babies Second Sale.  That just means that they are NEW diapers that-apparently-have some defect and cannot be sold for full retail by Bum Genius.  They are almost half price and I have never been able to find what was wrong with a diaper we have gotten.  Several just had an un-clipped thread and another a tiny pen mark that came out in the wash! Great deal.  Several online retailers also offer sales and deals where you can get a free diaper if you spend so much cash.  I did this twice, only because I was spending that much anyway, and got a brand new diaper for free.  One was a really expensive one, but I hated the print, so I got rid of it and bought a new diaper.  We have liked Kelly's Closet and Lil Tulips.
  • Check places like Target, Walmart, Babies R Us, etc.  You wouldn't think they sell cloth diapers because, well, you only see the crappy Gerber prefolds in stores.  But, look online!  Several stores sell lots of different, well respected cloth diapers brands online.  I bought a few diapers from Target using my Target Debit card, while they were running a sale to get $5 off of 2 diapers.  Because I used my Target card, I also got free shipping and my extra 5% off.  It makes a difference!  Also, you can obviously register for any diapers since they are sold online.  You never know! (and, those Target gift cards can always be used for cloth diapers!)
  • Buying cloth is addicting.  Set a limit to how many diapers you want in your stash, stick to it, and STOP when you hit that number.  It's a sad day, but you can easily spend thousands on cute cloth.  I think I stopped when I was 6 months pregnant and haven't shopped for diapers since.
We want to cloth diapers for several reasons.  Besides the fact that they are ridiculously cute,  the cost and savings margin cannot be beat.  For $500 (and even less!!), we can cloth diaper at least one child from birth to potty training (and more kids if we are blessed to have more).  Most sources will cite that, on average, it costs $2000 to diaper a child for 2 years in disposables.  And that is just one kid!  I'd rather make my investment smaller and up front.  I produce an obscenely low amount of laundry since I am not working now (almost embarrassing- something is wrong when you don't have dirty clothes from 3 days because you have stayed in the same pjs, crafting at home and just recycled them after each shower), so our laundry amount will not change above a normal new-person-in-the-house change.  Diapers will add maybe 3 loads per week, which isn't even the same as when I was working.  There are researched benefits to health and the environment, but to be honest, the money we are saving is what sold me, so I don't really care about either of those things (I know I should, sorry!).  There are certain things that you have to consider, like cloth diaper safe detergents and diaper creams, but they aren't any more expensive than normal versions of these things.  There are several "boutique"-like detergents that cost a lot, but there are also cheap alternatives.  We are going to try powdered Tide and see how that works for us.  We bought enough to wash diapers for 2 years for $10 on with a few coupon codes and during a sale.  If it doesn't work for us, we can use it on clothes.

And, remember?  Cloth has a crazy high resale value.  So, if something doesn't work, we can sell and buy more of what does work and lose little money in the process.

I don't have any tips on actual usage or care of diapers, because we obviously haven't used them yet!  But, we are so excited to use them on our girl and figure out what works on her!  After all of this, please know-I don't care how you diaper your kid.  I don't care how you feed your kid.  Love your kid and do what is best for them and your family.  This is just what we want to do for our family.  I am cheap, love to save cash, and, hey- did I say they are cute?!? =)

If you are interested, here is a video by ObbsandLala about cloth diapering myths!

Monday, September 16, 2013

35 Weeks

I can't believe it- our due date is ONE MONTH away from today.
One Month!!
I always envied mamas that were at this point, never thinking I would actually ever be here.  Now that we are, there are so many different things running through my head.  Looking back, looking forward.  I adore being pregnant and am sad it's coming to an end, but at the same time, I want my girl in my arms.  I want to snuggle her and see the cute button nose she has from me and the big grin she has from her Daddy (thank you, 3d ultrasound!  Best investment ever).  I want to wake up in the middle of the night to nurse, knowing it's just the two of us awake and cherishing the time because I won't get midnight snuggles for very long.  I want to hear her Daddy sing his favorite hymns to her and tell her how much he loves her.
This week has been pretty good- I can't seem to get full though!  When my Tylenol PM wears off at 4am, I wake up starving and sneak to the kitchen for a bowl of cereal.  The pack 'n play we are going to have her sleep in for the first however-many-months sits next to my side of the bed, and I lie awake in the middle of the night imagining her sleeping there.  I can just see her little legs kicking in her jammies as she starts to wake up starving, too.
I finished my list of baby sewing and it feels so great!  I love to sew, and enjoyed having a list to work through.  My preggo brain has been so forgetful that lists are a necessity!  I will post soon about what I've made and links to tutorials used (if I used one).  I find myself searching for more things to sew because I have the time and love feeling her kick when she hears my machine.  The only things we have left to make are some decorations for the nursery.  I'll post a tour when we finish.
I had to get my Tdap shot this week, so that was fun.  I mean, really.  Ha.  My mom is a nurse and I remember loving everything about nurses and hospitals and medical stuff ever since we were old enough to go up and visit her at work with my Dad.  If I hadn't been a teacher, I would have been a nurse.  So, needless to say, I absolutely love going to the OB every single week now and having to get things done.  I am so looking forward to being in the hospital to have the baby and plan on staying as long as my insurance will allow.  I am a freak!
We started shampooing carpets this week (hallelujah!) and have a few rooms left.  I am loving how clean they look and how clean the house smells.  As soon as we finish the basement and my car this week, we can install the car seat and have it inspected. We also finished the birth plan and need to finish packing the bag for the hospital.  My stuff is pretty much ready to go, but Daddy needs some things in the bag (we only live 11 minutes away from the hospital, so I guess he can run home but I guarantee he won't want to leave his girls for a second!).
Physically, I still feel great.  I have had more Braxton Hicks this week than any other week.  Several a day!  At first they scared me, but I know work needs to be done to get things ready.  Heartburn is getting worse, and it shows up every day at 4:30 on the dot as opposed to after certain foods like it did before.  So weird!  Daniel says I waddle now, and that I'm pretty slow getting around.  I told him I hadn't noticed because "I'm with myself all of the time".  Ya, that came out of my mouth.  I don't feel like those things are true because I feel so good, but I am sure they are.  Bump pictures and ultrasounds are all printed (up until now!) and in the albums, but Little Miss' baby book needs some work.

The crying is still ongoing-I had a small meltdown over the weekend because I didn't think Daniel was cleaning the garage right (I know at the time, I felt completely rational, but it's days later that I just want to die laughing!  Who cares! It's a GARAGE!  It looks beautiful though.  Daddies nest, too!).  Our Bible Quiz team is  doing so so wonderful and I am so proud of them.  They know so much!  I can't wait to teach God's Word to our daughter.  Just thinking about that after our practice Sunday night made my cry.. again!

I love the band Watermark and they have the sweetest song ever about their daughter.  We DEFINITELY are not naming our daughter Elliana (no offense, anyone), but it's just so sweet that I bawl every time I hear it.  I found it when I miscarried and never thought I'd ever get to mother a daughter-and here we are.  Could not be more grateful. So excited for the day when we can hear our own little girl giggle like that!

One more day at 35 weeks.  See you at 36!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

33 and 34 Weeks

Why am I so bad at updates?  You'd think I'd have the time to do them, but somehow it just escapes me.  Anyway, I feel like Little Miss has definitely gotten bigger in the last weeks for sure.  I can feel more pressure in my nether regions at different points throughout the day and I am pretty sure there was a night during 34 weeks that I thought my vagine (yes, that's va-jean) was breaking in half (and I thought really?  Get ready for childbirth, honey).  Pretty sure my bones were just readjusting to, oh, a head down there, but it scared me for a minute!

We are considered "high risk" because we conceived on fertility meds because of infertility and miscarried.  Which, in reality means little besides getting lots of extra scans and monitoring, starting our weekly appointments a few weeks early and getting my cervix checked a little earlier.  I went in for my 34 week appointment and saw someone I had not met before (although she was nice!) and she said my fundal height was measuring small (HOW?!).  She said it felt like Baby Woman was laying diagonal and that was probably it, but wanted to order an ultrasound just to see what she was doing in there.  But, of course that wasn't the same day and I had to make an appointment for the next week.
Hello, PANIC.
Her heartbeat was great, I am healthy, she is super active despite Momma being convinced there is no more room for her to move, so part of me wasn't too worried.  Besides, my husband is the best.  He knows just what to say to calm me down and love on me in just the perfect ways (even if he is freaking out on in the inside!).  But, he went to work after our appointment and guess who was left at home with all access to Google?  Bad, bad decision.  Don't ever do that!  I was fully convinced I would be diagnosed with IUGR (Intrauterine Growth Restriction) and that we'd be having this baby by emergency C Section in the next week.  I called to see if we could have our ultrasound any earlier and the fit us in the next morning.

The picture totally stinks, but that's okay.  She is perfect!  Everything was measuring right on track, if not a little ahead.  Her head was measuring at 37-38 weeks (at 34 weeks) and her tummy was measuring her to weigh 5 lbs 11 oz!  The tech said it can be off by a pound either way, but that since her head was measuring proportionally to her belly, it was probably pretty accurate.  I don't know how I am carrying a 6 pound human in here!  I'm not sure why, but I always imagine her as this little 2 or 3 pound little girl, swimming away in there.  Fully expecting to have a 8 lb+ baby here, which I am loving!

The location and strength of her kicks have changed since she has, well, gotten huge.  I always heard people in movies and real life talking about mamas getting kicked in the ribs and I just hadn't felt that.  It was kind of like hiccups-I didn't know if I had felt her having them and I worried a little, until I felt them and then I knew.  I don't feel it all too often, but she definitely has had her legs up in there a few times.  I was doing dishes the other day (and she does this every time I sew) and her foot came out so far on my left side that I could see it!  I was in awe.  I always thought I would get used to her kicks, but every one is just something I truly treasure.  I am going to miss them!  She has kicked me a few times in the ribs, but I think she likes being all snuggled and squished.  During our ultrasound (actually, the last 2!) she had her butt in the air (which we can always feel under my right boob) and her little legs tucked tightly underneath.

I think my hormones are pretty much raging at the moment because I have been super emotional.  I don't think they have been too bad during my pregnancy (I don't typically get that way when I start, either), but lately I am crying about everything!  I cried on Labor Day because Daniel wanted to stay home while I went grocery shopping.  I saw all of these couples together in the stores and I got so upset that I bawled in Walmart and the entire way home.  Um, okay.  And then the other weekend we were at a Bible Quiz meet and I asked Daniel if he was planning on us coaching until our girl could quiz (which he said Yes to) and I started crying at the quiz meet.  Cool.  I never really imagine her being that big because I don't want to miss out and wish away the time she is in, but just imagining her being there made me cry I guess.  Oh, and I cried watching Mama June marry Sugar Bear on the Honey Boo Boo finale last night.  Something clearly is abrewing.

I also realized this last week that I am petrified of giving birth, so there is that.

Trying to get everything ready as we wind down the pregnancy (so sad! But, excited of course).  Just a few more nursery projects, some sewing, shampooing carpets and car, and packing bags/finishing the birth plan.  Can't wait for this girl.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Maternity Must Haves

Believe it or not, we are coming to the final weeks of pregnancy.  I can't believe it!  We have just 3 weeks until full term and 6 to our due date! Here are the things I couldn't live without during my pregnancy (obviously in no particular order):
  1. I am not one for reading, but I was particularly interested in what I should expect during pregnancy and nursing.  I read What to Expect When You're Expecting and The Complete Book of Breastfeeding.  I enjoyed both, but I took to the breastfeeding book more-I guess because it's practical, need-to-know info.
  2. My Camera, for bump pictures of course!  We took them every week starting around week 13 when my bump was bitty.  We took them in the same place (not the same outfit, though) every Sunday morning before leaving for church.  We have the Canon Rebel T3i with an additional Tamron lens-I think the AF 28-75mm f/2.8.  We love them both.
  3. My iPhone and Pinterest.  I loved taking pictures of little things and sending them to my mom and sister because they live far away.  A few times I was able to video record Little Miss jumping in my belly to show them and my husband!  And, of course, to get on Pinterest.  Sleep has become such an issue that I am usually on there pinning baby outfits and freezer meals every morning at 3am.
  4. Nail Clippers.  Early in my pregnancy, everyone told me my hair would get thicker and be super lustrous and beautiful.  Um, no.  My hormones did the exact opposite and my hair has become super brittle.  I have one to two inch breakages all around my part.  It's pretty bad!  However, my nails have taken all of that growth.  I have to trim them every single week.  Granted, I don't like long nails at all, but still.  Every week!
  5. Palmers Cocoa Butter Preggo Line.  No, they didn't prevent stretch marks.  If they really did, I wouldn't have any (and I do!) because I lathered up 2-3 times a day.  I really liked the lotion and cream in the morning after showering and the butter at night time.  It really kept the itching at bay!
  6. Water!  I mean, clearly you need water while pregnant.. like 8 oz at least every single hour.  I had such bad heartburn that everything gave it to me but water.  I've always got a huge bottle with me wherever I go (I was like that before pregnancy so it wasn't much of a routine change but I drink so much more now!).
  7. Zantac and Tylenol PM.  I always thought before I got pregnant that I would be all natural and not take any medications and eat whole, organic foods.  Ya, no.  I had to start taking Zantac because my heartburn was so severe that I couldn't eat.  It kicked in literally the day after my morning sickness stopped.  I had already lost 11 pounds during my first trimester from being sick and not being able to eat, so I was put on prescription strength.  The heartburn went away during the 20's and then came back a few weeks ago, maybe week 32.  Yuck.  And, I already said sleep is not going so well, which started maybe around weeks 28-30.  If I don't sleep, I have contractions.  SO, Tylenol PM is great!
  8. Fruit.  I have craved fruit like crazy during my entire pregnancy.  I eat a lot of it as it is, but having all of my favorites in season during the summer made for serious cravings.
  9.  My sewing machine!  I knew I wanted to make this baby tons of little things, but when I found out she was a girl, it went into overdrive!  I have sewn her bedding, some clothing, and still have a few more things to do.  I have been a busy little sewing bee, that's for sure!  Plus, she loves it when I sew.  She always kicks to the rhythm of the machine and I love it.  Cannot wait to teach her.  I have the Singer Stylist sewing machine and Juno Serger by Janome.  I bought them both from Hancock Fabrics (on sale and with my teacher discount!) and love love love them both.  Great machines.
  10. Maternity Clothes.  Alright, so I am cheap.  Like, really cheap.  I have always worn leggings and loose fitting tops, so a lot of my clothes lasted me through at least half of my pregnancy, some still!  But, my favorites have been maternity tanks and normal tanks from Target, cardigans, and Old Navy's Low Rise Maternity Leggings.  Seriously, I wear the leggings every single day of my life.  I have some maternity jeans, but A.  It is summer and super hot and B. Now that I am really big, they pinch me under the belly.  So, leggings it is.  Highly, highly recommend getting the two pack- it's a black and dark grey pair for $28, which is a really good deal.  They saved my life!  Their maternity maxi skirts are also wonderful.  I bought them early in my pregnancy and thought I would have to take them back because they were too big, but by the time I needed them, believe me, they fit!  Order true to size.
  11. Pillows.  You know, all those little aches and pains that come with pregnancy-spreading hips, relaxed ligaments.  I always have a ton of pillows around me, tucked in places that need extra lift and support, especially for my hips.  I tried my Leachco Snoogle Total Body Pillow several times and I have to say, I totally hate that thing.  I am so glad I bought it on consignment for ten bucks!  (I'm not saying it's a bad brand or product.  I know lots of preggers that can't live without their pillow and I'm sure this one is wonderful, but it did not work for me and actually hurt me more!)
That is it!  Pregnancy has been so wonderful for me.  I have loved it and still do.  A little sad it's coming to an end!
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