Apron

My little boy loves to cook! He sits on the kitchen counter when we make dinner, peeling onions, eating vegetables pieces, mixing and pouring stuff, and participating in whatever he can… Sometimes it’s more of a nuisance but you know how it goes with toddlers.

We got J his own little pots and pans for Christmas. He’s already got bowls and wooden spoons so that he would leave mine alone… 🙂

Hubby also loves to cook. He tends to be quite messy at it… So a little while ago he bought an apron. And soon after that J started to ask for his own apron!

Last week I finally made him one. It’s a fat quarter cut into shape, and edged with bias tape.

little boy's apron

There was enough fabric left on the edges to make a pocket too! And the apron should be big enough to last for a couple of years. 🙂

This was my Kid’s Clothes Week achievement this time around… I also cut a hoodie for J but didn’t find the time to sew it up. That seems to be the trend for me. Maybe one year I’ll have more time…

One more photo – like father, like son!

like father like son

Musings on Motherhood, Year 2

The second year of motherhood was quite a ride. Definitely not good for my blogging… I’m sorry I’ve been away, and especially I’m sorry I haven’t responded to the questions left to me in the comments. I just haven’t been checking in at all.

J’s sleep patterns got all messed up at 9 months old. He used to sleep for 45 min, wake up for 15 min, rinse and repeat, through the night, for weeks and weeks… It got gradually better but at 18 months he was up every three hours, still. It was only when he was almost two that he started to sleep through the night every now and then. Now, at 2 years and almost 3 months, he still wakes up once a night on most nights.

It’s been a heavy road. I never knew I could be so tired (and I know I said this in my one-year-motherhood post but even then I didn’t know how tired I really could be…) After some weeks of waking up every 45 min, it was really hard to go to bed at night because, well, what’s the point? You’re going to be up soon anyway… Since then I’ve been having a hard time falling asleep. Apparently there’s something called parental insomnia. It’s slowly getting better but I was tossing and turning past 1 am again last night.

Last year September our friends invited me for a baby-free sleepover. I left J with daddy and spent a night in a house with no kids. I told my mom about it a few days before, and she said “don’t be surprised if you can’t sleep. You’ll miss him.” Wrong. I slept like a log for 9 hours straight, and I really did NOT want to go back home the next day. I would have gladly stayed for a week.

I’ve had really, really low moment in my tiredness. I’ve been rocking J back to sleep the 17th time at 5 am, thinking, if I only knock his head against the wall hard enough to knock him out I might get some more sleep…

I’ve shaken my child in frustration when he was taking an hour or two to fall asleep for a nap – he’s always been a good napper, and that’s been my source of sanity, so on the days when the naps didn’t happen or took forever were the hardest.

I’ve been standing at the platform, looking at the approaching train, thinking, just one good push on the stroller, and I’d be able to sleep…

I know, in the sensible side of my brain, that I would never be able to sleep again if I did any harm to my child. And I would never, ever do such a thing. But I did want to be honest about this, just in case there’s another mom out there, struggling with the lack of sleep and the sometimes violent thoughts that come with it. You’re not alone. And we are not alone. These thoughts are surprisingly common. (I recommend a book called What Mothers Do, it’s a great read for any mom, it helps to put many things in perspective.)

Last year in July I started working. I work part time from home, and it’s taking up more and more of my hours during J’s naps and early evenings when he’s gone to bed. I don’t get to nap anymore, and that was really hard at times.

And last fall J and I went to visit my parents for two weeks. My mom asked me to come, she knew how tired I was and wanted to help. She knows what it’s like – I was a lousy sleeper as a child, and learned to sleep through the night on my own when I turned 5… The plan was for her to take care of J so I could sleep.

Great plan. But things don’t always go as planned… We were all sick during the visit, and J wouldn’t let go of me. That, plus the jet lag, and I was more tired when we came back.

I’m so very glad I’ve had friends nearby when my parents are so far. Channing, you’ve kept me sane… And Joanna and Jenny, thank you for always having the time to talk in the phone even if I haven’t seen you as often as I would have liked. And then there’s my most awesome group of online mama friends – you know who you are. ❤

There are many positive memories from the second year as well. I still love my son more than anything else in the world. I’m constantly amazed at how much more love fits in me, and it seems to grow each day. Sometimes I look at him and just want to hug him forever… And most of the time he doesn’t mind. 🙂

As precious as the first year was, the second was better. I’ve never been a baby person, and that hasn’t changed. I enjoy J’s company more now that we can do things together. We can play, build, and run, and it’s so much fun! He’s a curious child who wants to know what everything is and how it works. He’s obsessed with trains, planes and musical instruments. He speaks two languages and knows when to switch. And he likes to joke and tickle me and daddy, and make us laugh.

J loves to help around the house. He helps with the dishes, vacuums, mops floors and hangs the laundry out to dry with me. Tidying up his toys is another matter altogether – that only gets done if the vacuum cleaner is coming out next.

J loves hugs and kisses, and needs lots of cuddles when he wakes up. He loves carrots, apples and blueberries, and the beef stew daddy makes. He could probably live days on peanut butter and yoghurt. He won’t touch eggs, rice, potatoes or chicken. Or anything green – it’s his favourite colour so he won’t eat it, I guess…

Image

So that’s how it’s been, and I’m sorry I really haven’t had the time or the energy to write, ever… I have recipes I want to share, and some craft projects I’ve been making, but those can wait for another post. Which I’ll try to write in the next little while, really.

Baby Spa

Next time your baby or toddler flings his or her meal on your face or leg, consider it a free spa treatment! Here’s how:

Yogurt (the real stuff, you know, made with milk and bacterial cultures, nothing else) is a great cleanser. It helps to get rid of acne and greasiness, moisturizes the skin and exfoliates dead skin cells! For a homemade facial, mix yogurt with lemon or honey, spread it on your face and leave for 20min. Rinse and feel the freshness! You can also use it on dry, itchy scalp before washing your hair.

Your home spa

Watermelon is the Best Thing Ever in our house right now, and yesterday I was practically speaking covered in watermelon juice. If that happens to you, leave the juice on the skin for 15min. Then rinse it off first with hot and then cold water, and feel the freshness! Or if your face is covered with not only the juice but the pulp as well, leave it for 10min and then rinse, and that’ll give you a natural face lift. And don’t forget to eat your melon, it’ll keep you hydrated, and that’s important for a beautiful skin.

Cucumber cools your skin down, soothes it and softens it, and helps you and your skin relax. I’m sure you’ve seen those pictures of beautiful women with slices of cucumbers over their eyes? That helps to reduce puffiness. Grated cucumber or cucumber juice helps to soothe sunburns. And for a glowing skin, mix 4-5 leaves of fresh mint and one peeled cucumber. Mash them together, stir in one beaten egg white, spread on your face for 20min and then rinse.

Oatmeal makes a great scrub, cleansing off dead skin cells and helping your skin glow. It’s even better if it has brown sugar in it! However, it won’t leave your skin dry because it also moisturizes gently.

Honey is a great natural moisturizer that works wonders especially on oily skin. It has antibacterial and anti-ageing properties. Blend one tablespoon with a peeled, cored apple and use it as a toner, or add half a cup of honey into your bath. But please, please don’t give honey to your babies until they are at least one!

And then there’s milk. Queen Cleopatra, it has been told, used to take regular milk baths. Milk moisturizes and keeps the skin soft and young. Use it as a cleanser as is, mix with honey and a few drops of lemon juice for a toner or a little bit of almond oil for a cleanser and make-up remover. And if you don’t want to carry home all those gallons to take a bath in it, use a cup of powdered milk instead.

Avocado is full of healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. So eat it. And spread it on your face – but make sure it’s really ripe. Avocado slices over your eyes can reduce puffiness. Mashed avocado rejuvenates skin, leave it for 30min and rinse. For extra oomph, mix with tablespoon of honey and one beaten egg yolk. Avocado is especially great on dry skin.

Eggs are also great for your skin, toning it and reducing greasiness. But since we usually eat our eggs cooked we’re not going to discuss them further since they usually work better in skin care when they’re raw… But if you really want to spread scrambled eggs on your face as a face mask, I’m not going to stop you…

No, I didn’t just make these up. I used Google a lot… I also browsed through an old notebook where I’ve copied recipes from many library books (but unfortunately I haven’t written down their names). And some ideas are from a great book in my shelf called India’s Beauty Secrets.

You’re welcome.

And once I find out how these things are also good for your carpets and walls, I’ll let you know…

Green onesies

I told you earlier about the romper I made for J, and the problems I had with the pattern.

I also told a friend of mine who asked if I could make a couple of onesies for her friends – one has a six-month-old girl and another has a baby due soon.

Challenge accepted.

Step one; t-shirt shopping. It’s amazing what you can find in the thrift stores, for a buck or two. 🙂 It’s also amazing how many t-shirts are made of plastic. I’ve decided that especially for baby clothing, all the materials have to be 100% cotton. I might allow 5% of spandex or something if the pattern or the picture on the shirt is unbelievably awesome… But all cotton is better.

Step two; washing the t-shirts. Enough said.

Step three; cutting. This is where the mess started… You know how they say to measure twice and cut once? There’s a reason for it. See, I was totally planning to use the neckline of the t-shirt as the neckline for the romper. However, I have no idea why but one of the first things I did was cutting the t-shirt open – and cutting off the neckline!

Step four; plan B. Rompers look cute with raglan sleeves, don’t they? Not that I’ve ever made raglan sleeves on anything… So let’s see…

Next several steps involved more cutting, sewing, ripping of seams, more sewing, re-cutting and re-sewing… But here’s the final product:

 

One of the sleeves has an opening on the back, to make the neckline bigger for a baby’s large head. 🙂 Quite cute, no?

And yes, this onesie is green although it’s pink… 🙂

 

And then the newborn one… The baby’s gender is not known so my friend asked for a green onesie. My pet peeve, when J. was a newborn, was onesies that have to be pulled over the baby’s head when the neck isn’t steady. Therefore I decided that a wrap-around onesie would be the way to go.

I had a plain green t-shirt that made a nice but boring onesie, so I took some felt and decorated it a bit. Here, first the front:

 

And the back:

 

There are some things that bother me, like some untidy seams and the fact that the letters aren’t at the centre… Otherwise I’m happy. 🙂

 

What to do with an old t-shirt?

I’m the first to admit, I have spent way too much time on Pinterest.

However, I don’t just pin things, I actually use some of the ideas there. Like this one; dishwashing soap and vinegar in the handle of the sponge. Our shower is really clean these days! And then there are all the recipes… Like this cookie dough dip (which is cream cheese frosting with chocolate chips, really…) or the most excellent cream cheese banana bread… And I may or may not also have memorized a recipe for a brownie in a mug.

There are also myriads of ideas for crafts, and I’m a sucker for those. I’ve pinned more knitting patterns than I have time to knit until the day I die. Even if I live until I’m 104. And then there’s sewing, and scrapbooking, and and and…

There is, however, this very cute pattern for a baby romper from an old t-shirt. Hubby had a t-shirt that was very dear to him but that had holes in the hem. So I thought, why not… And turned it into a romper for J!

The original pattern has envelope neckline. The neckline turned out to be too small for J, it just wouldn’t go over his head… And the romper didn’t sit well on the shoulders either. The shoulder seams were pulling up, and it just didn’t look comfortable. Also, the crotch of the romper was confusing – I must have sewed the pieces together somehow wrong. I ended up redoing the crotch three times…

I redid the shoulders – took the seams apart and made regular shoulder seams. The shoulders are still very narrow and the sleeves pull high up but it’s better. I also cut an opening on the back (so that J’s head would actually fit through!) and made a snap closure for it. Not my tidiest work ever but it’ll do.

I’m working on making my own romper pattern with regular shoulder seams, with snaps on one shoulder. I’m not sure there’s a way to use an adult t-shirt’s neckline in a baby romper as is, I will have to see. I will also figure out a way to redo the crotch… There has to be an easier way. And next time I will use a t-shirt that hubby is not quite so fond of… (Note to self: Don’t use precious things as materials unless you know exactly what you’re doing.)

Are Babies Expensive?

I remember reading some estimates that it costs a family about $6,000 for the first year of the first baby’s life. So I decided to see how we compare. 🙂 I kept track of all our baby-related expenses, from the time I was pregnant until J. turned one.

Some of the figures are rounded (say we bought a package of disposable diapers on a grocery store trip; we know the price of the diapers but the sales tax gets added only at the cashier, and I didn’t always bother to find the calculator to get the exact amount at home). Some things might be missing – I tried to write everything down but sometimes I forgot to do it right away, and had to go back and try to remember…

Also, this calculation does not include things like extra laundry detergent, photo prints, postage for thank you cards, etc… And I haven’t factored in the loss of income, both during pregnancy (hello, mornings sickness…) and after. However, I also haven’t included gift cards, cash gifts from people or the government tax credits. This is simply the stuff we bought.

So here’s how we compare with the national average:

Pregnancy and birth:

Clothing                                                                      $117.05
Birth (incl. doula fees, pool rental, etc.)       $563.00
Total                                                                                                 $680.05

Big things:

Crib & mattress                                                        $266.38
Stroller & car seat                                                   $0 (gift)
Baby carriers of all sorts                                      $137.00
Baby gate                                                                    $27.01
Bath tub                                                                       $7.00
Other                                                                             $50.79
Total                                                                                                $488.18

Diapers:

Cloth                                                                            $285.57
Disposable                                                                 $135.07
Total                                                                                                   $420.64

Clothing, shoes, etc:                                                                               $213.45

Toys:                                                                                                             $88.76

Medical stuff:

Teething relief                                                          $177.00
Cold relief                                                                   $82.00
Lotions, creams, etc.                                             $34.00
Total                                                                                                 $293.00

Other:                                                                                                          $76.44

Expenses during our Christmas time trip:                                   $200.00
(estimate; this includes diapers, etc. baby stuff as well as a visit to a doctor when J. was sick)

Baby-proofing:                                                                                         $50.00
(estimate; this includes containers, magazine boxes, etc….)

Pregnancy, parenting, etc. books:                                                   $150.00
(estimate; I didn’t keep track of this from the beginning)

Grand total:                                                                                                $2,660.52

Sorry about the crookedness of the “table” above – it’s really hard to get all the numbers lined up using the space bar… 😐

That is a fair amount of money… But we’re still way short of the assumed average of $6,000. We would be even better off if we hadn’t used disposable diapers at all, if we hadn’t bought J. toys (most of which were not needed anyway since he’s had lots of hand-me-downs; we got some because they were simply irresistible!), and if we had read library books instead of buying them. Overall, though, we haven’t done badly at all.

And what’s the secret for all the savings? Accepting hand-me-downs with gratitude! There are several little boys in our circle of acquaintances who are about a year older than J. I got a lot of maternity clothing from their moms, and we continue to get clothing and shoes for him. Most of our cloth diapers are hand-me-downs as well – some are ten years old, and at least 8 kids have used them before! That’s some serious environmentalism right there. Also, thrift stores, baby consignment shops, craigslist.org and freecycle.org are great resources for good or decent quality baby gear, for cheap or for free. And I’ve passed on things we didn’t need or won’t need anymore – sold some, given away lots. What goes around comes around.

My final verdict is that babies don’t need to be VERY expensive… But family finances do take some planning, especially when you’re down to one income. It’s doable, though, and the second child will cost less because most of the stuff is already there.