Wipe Out

Today was the day we switched over to using cloth wipes for Flynn, who is snuggled up against my chest in his moby wrap as I type! He loves this thing.
4 days old and at the dog park!
We've already blown through two boxes of disposable wipes since he was born. They were very convenient during the first two weeks because he was pooing and peeing so frequently, and that meconium... nasty stuff!  It would have ruined my cloth wipes. However, the disposables were so flimsy and thin, it took a few of them to get everything off Flynn's bum. Just seems like a waste of money to keep buying them week after week. $4 a box x 4 boxes = $16/month for wipes alone. Uh, no thanks. (Buying diapers is annoying me as well but Flynn isn't quite big enough for his FuzziBunz. Soon though!)

After I used the last wipe, I made my homemade wipes solution. My bottle of dish detergent was almost empty, so I rinsed it out to repurpose it for the solution. I used 3 cups of water, 3 tablespoons of Dr. Bronner's liquid castille soap (the baby kind in the light blue bottle) and 3 tablespoons of olive oil (to keep Flynn's skin soft). In the future, I might add a few drops of an essential oil like lavender (to make it smell nice) or a few drops of tea tree oil (an anti-fungal).
The oil floats to the top, so I just give the bottle a shake before I squirt it on a wipe.
I felt like something useful could be done with the empty plastic wipe boxes, so I hung onto them and turned to my old friend, Google. Well, Yahoo! actually, but it sounds cooler to say I "googled it." Sorry, Yahoo!

This blog came up and I loved the idea. Who doesn't have a whole bunch of plastic bags shoved in a drawer or closet? I bring reusable bags to the grocery store, but always end up forgetting them when I go to other stores.
I made one for the house (lining waste baskets) and one for the car (doggy poop bags, wet shoes, etc.) Now they are all contained instead of floating around and they pop out easily! I love simple organizing ideas and repurposing.

UPDATE: We removed the olive oil from our homemade wipes solution because it was making our cloth diapers repel pee pee. No bueno! So right now it's just water & Dr. Bronner's and it still works great.


Happy Belated Birthday

Welcome to the world, baby boy!
Tired Mama
Tired Papa

Flynn Ryan Annan was born on November 6, 2011 at 5:30 am. Weighing in at 7 lbs. 3 oz. and 19" long... he is the most perfect little thing we've ever laid eyes on. We are completely in love.

Birth story to follow!
(Preview: 27 hours of labor...)


Wrap It Up

I don't know why people even bother trying to keep the Christmas season at bay until after Thanksgiving. Even if department stores didn't put up their greenery and start playing festive tunes, chances are you'd be thinking about holiday gift giving in advance anyways.

This year, my family smartly decided to switch over to a pollyanna gift giving format because we're getting too big to buy everyone an individual gift. (My immediate family is now comprised of 8 adults, 7 children & 2 dogs). We drew names over the summer while we were all down at the beach and set a monetary limit of $35-$40 with a "no gift card" rule. Because that's cheating.

As early as August, I create an "idea list" of what I'm thinking of getting my gift recipients, and the list slowly evolves over the next few months. By now, it's pretty much set and I've either bought some of the items and/or have picked up the supplies necessary to make them.

This year, I'm keeping my Christmas list on my new favorite app - Cozi.
I like to do a mix of handmade and store-bought, depending on the person. Let's face it, giving all handmade gifts can come across as cheap (even if they weren't cheap to make) and sometimes, what you plan on making isn't as cool as you thought it was going to be, so it's good to have something else in the box to back it up. Unless you're some world class knitter who consistently bangs out trendy scarves year after year, it's probably best to not rely 100% on your crafting skills. At least, I would never completely rely on mine...

Once November rolls around, I start feeling the holiday pressure. And additional pressure this year, literally, because there is a baby's head pressing on my internal organs. Stores jumping the gun on Christmas may add to this pressure, but in some weird way, I'm thankful for that because I'd be kicking myself if I waited until the beginning of December to start thinking about the holidays.

In addition to finalizing my gift list and starting to cross things off of it, I always think about how I'm going to wrap everything. Last year I posted about how I dislike "traditional wrapping paper." You know, the kind with cartoon santas and reindeer on it? Not a fan. If you give me a gift wrapped in paper like that, I'm not going to judge you or think it's lame, because clearly that wrapping paper spoke to you. The way we wrap gifts reflects our style, whatever it may be.

From http://www.marthastewart.com/276321/gift-wrapping-tips-and-techniques#/218249
Those who received gifts from us last Christmas may recall this wrapping paper in black and red. Spoiler alert! I'm going with solid colored wrapping paper again this year. I'm picking up a large roll of brown butcher paper, plain brown gift bags, colorful bakers twine and printing my own gift tags on cardstock. Free printable gift tags are available all over the internet. Like here & here. I love the simplicity and rustic look. Plus, you can wrap presents in this stuff any time of the year!

So don't get angry at Macy's for playing "Santa Baby" the day before Halloween. Take it as a hint and start prepping early so you can actually enjoy the month of December.


2 down, 998 to go...

I always have a list of projects that I want to do, and there is no end in sight. With this baby coming any day and my time about to be extremely limited, it's a problem. So tonight I happily told my husband, "Of course you can watch Terra Nova!" and I knocked two of them out of the way. To keep Indy from following me around the house, we gave him a disgusting delicious pork bone which he is still gnawing on hours later.
After my fabric flower failure, I decided to finish my placemat clutch with one of the brooches that decorated our wedding cake.

It started out looking like this.

The placemat cost $1.50 (Christmas Tree Shops), the magnetic closure was $2.49 (after a Joann's coupon) and the brooch was reused. Not bad. My plan is to look for some cuter placemats next time. Pier One? World Market? Just wanted to try it out and needed something cheap.
Next, I finished a project that I started LAST WINTER. Oh, the shame. I had promised Tim a cozy man-sized fleece blanket (apparently he was not happy with the size and warming capabilities of our current throws) and after I started it, we moved and it got packed away and forgotten about.

Until tonight!

 Just a simple tie-blanket, but hey, whatever makes the man happy!
I've also realized that this post at Small Notebook totally describes me.
My ideas definitely outweight my action these days.
Having a baby will solve that... mm hm... right.


Forget babies, let's talk dogs.

Bored with all the baby talk? Me, too! So I wanted to share a little about how we take care of our FIRST baby. Our labrador retriever, Indy! His name is short for Indiana Jones, but he is nothing short of adventurous. Keeps us on our toes, makes us clean the house a little more, and loves to lick our faces & feet. We adore him.

I never really gave it much thought before we got a dog, but now I'm such a believer in giving our sweet little pup the best stuff out there. My husband and I are literally seeing first hand how our dog's diet is a positive influence on his health and appearance.

We try to eat healthy. We buy processed snacks and indulge in desserts now and then, but the majority of our diet is made up of whole foods and I make homemade meals almost every night. We buy organic when we can, avoid added sugars and preservatives and also supplement with vitamins. In my mind, human or animal, any member of our family is going to be treated the same.

We got Indy from a reputable breeder when he was 8 weeks old. From the time he was eating solids, she fed him (and his brothers and sisters) Purina Puppy Chow. While researching dog breeds, my Mom sent me a few articles about typical dog food (like Purina) and what goes into it. Ugh, let's just say it was pretty disturbing.

Here are the first 5 ingredients in Purina Puppy Chow: Whole grain corn, corn gluten meal, chicken by-product meal, whole grain wheat, animal fat.

It doesn't sound terrible, until you realize that animals are like people. What happens when you load them up with processed grains (especially corn) and animal byproducts? They gain weight. They are more likely to develop diseases. They are unhealthy. They have digestive problems. The only healthy things in entire ingredient list are dried carrots and dried peas and they are pretty far down, which means there isn't much in there. Ironic that Purina's motto is "Long Live Your Dog".

So, we decided we were going to switch Indy away from Purina and try one of the newer holistic dog foods on the market. There are more and more available now, which is exciting! I had heard about Blue Buffalo brand and we decided to give it a try. After slowly weaning Indy off of Purina and onto Blue Buffalo, we still weren't impressed. The ingredients were definitely better, but his stools were unpredictable (sometimes loose, sometimes he was constipated) and often times, he didn't even finish the portion we put in his bowl. I'm not saying this dog food is bad, it just didn't agree with Indy so we were ready to try something else.
Indy loved these treats during Puppy Kindergarten & when we were housebreaking him!
Around this time, my Mom went to a local street festival and happened upon a Natural Balance pet food stand, where they loaded her up with free samples. She dropped them off at our house and we decided to see if Indy liked it, because we certainly liked what we learned about the products. (We'd never heard of it before, but once we started Puppy Kindergarten, it turned out to be the brand that the trainer recommended, so we figured it was worth a try).

Could Indy have gone any more BONKERS over this dog food? He went insane and gobbled it up so fast. We ended up giving him the rest of the dog food samples for meals & treats until they ran out, and then continued feeding him Blue Buffalo because we still had a whole bag of it left. Guess what? Once he had a taste of Natural Balance, he wanted nothing more to do with his old food. He was so over Blue Buffalo and would barely touch it. The next bag of dog food we bought was Natural Balance and now we're customers for life.

Just for a comparison... here are the first ingredients in a bag of NB: Sweet Potatoes, Venison, Potato Protein, Pea Protein, Canola Oil, Potato Fiber, Flaxseed

They also carry wet canned food & yummy "food rolls" that are GREAT for treats!
Indy's coat is sooo shiny - he almost glistens in the sun and we constantly get compliments on it. His poops are always normal, which leads to happy anal glands (graphic, but it's a part of our lives) and his stomach is rarely upset. He is also one muscular dude! 7 months old and he looks like he hits the gym twice a day. Sorry ladies, he's neutered. Playful, full of energy, social with other dogs/people/children, protective of us when strangers come to the door... just an all around happy & healthy pup!

Natural Balance is more expensive because of the high quality ingredients (like venison, sweet potatoes, brown rice & real chicken). It's about $15-20 more per bag than other non-holistic brands. But, like I said at the beginning of this post, we knew when we adopted a puppy that we were going to treat him like a member of the family and to me, giving him the best dog food we can afford is one of the ways in which we accomplish that.

Look at that face!
Disclaimer: Neither of us have any affiliation with Natural Balance, except that we feed it to our dog!


Least Productive Weekend Ever (For Me)

My lengthy to-do list got very little crossed off of it this weekend. What happened to my nesting momentum? I feel like all I did this weekend was clean up dog hair and do laundry. However, in trying to stay positive, here is what I DID accomplish...

- Finished writing out all of my thank you notes for baby showers.
- Made a delicious new meatloaf recipe & made an extra loaf to freeze for after the baby arrives (Mozzarella Stuffed Italian Meatloaf... amazing).
- Survived the wacky October snowstorm. (4-5 inches and we haven't had snow before Halloween since the 1950's!)

In the beginning...
After an hour or so...
My mums were very confused.

Getting 2 all-wheel drive vehicles was an excellent choice.
It's official. Indy loves snow!

- 3 loads of laundry.
- Vacuumed, swiffered, dusted & cleaned the bathroom.
- Took Indy to the groomers for the first time where they made him look & smell pretty (he even got a cute little Halloween bow... awwh). I'm not sure who the groomers spoiled more... me or the dog. He'll definitely be going back next month!

Daddy is not pleased with our manly dog wearing a ghost bow.
Indy got an excellent "Pawgress" Report from Pet Smart.

- Did not go into labor during the snow storm (Tim was very appreciative of this).
- Bought a new pair of wedges that actually fit. Your feet really DO get bigger from pregnancy. I went from a 7.5 to an 8 and my current pairs of flats are sooo tight.
- Attempted to make a fabric flower and it was disastrous. I don't even want to show you. It looks terrible.

Annnd there you have it. Seems like I did a good amount, but most of these things weren't on my actual to-do list. I'm simply reiterating them to make myself feel better. And I kind of do! Mission accomplished. Hopefully I have another baby-free weekend in my future to git 'er done.


Amy's Homemade Granola Bars

My sister-in-law, Amy, e-mailed me this recipe and I immediately wanted to try it out. It's one of those rare baking recipes that doesn't have to be exact. LOVE. You can also customize it by substituting and adding ingredients. DOUBLE LOVE.


2 c. oats
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. wheat germ
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. flour
3/4 c. raisins
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. honey
1 egg, beaten
1/4 c. applesauce
1/4 c. olive oil
2 tsp. vanilla
1 brown banana


Mix everything together and press into a greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Let cool and cut into bars.

Some possible additions/substitutions include: pumpkin puree, chopped apple, coconut, chocolate chips, dried cranberries, chopped walnuts, sunflower seeds, flax seeds (instead of wheat germ), whole wheat flour (instead of white)... and whatever else your heart desires.

They are fantastic as a quick snack or to grab in the morning as you're heading out to work. Or (I'll put on my future mom hat) to give your kids when they're begging for a snack before dinner. Relatively healthy & not a total meal ruiner.


On Tap for the Weekend

The big news story in the northeast is that we're getting SNOW this weekend.
Lots of it.
Before Halloween.
Everyone's in a frenzy!
We are right on the border of the 3-5" zone and the 6-12" zone (just outside of Philadelphia).
I think it's hilarious to watch everyone overreact about weather. We've had a crazy string of events this year: a hurricane, an earthquake, and now snow in October. Being the control freak that I am, you'd think I'd be panicking, too, but I just can't get annoyed about weather. It's weather. We can't control it, so why bother getting upset?

Tim is working on Saturday, which I hate and love at the same time. It's extra moola... but it also leaves me stuck at home by myself all day. Whomp whomp.

My goal is to tire out Indy in the morning. I will take him for a walk in the rain/snow/mix if I have to! Then I need to do some cleaning and start/finish the projects lined up on my sewing table.

1) The placemat clutch is 90% done, but just needs a fabric flower to cover up the magnetic snap closure.

2) I have all the materials for our Christmas stockings, I just need to get started.

3) I have the supplies to make a few Christmas presents (which must remain a secret)... really would like to knock those out before baby.

4) The pillowcase hamper for the baby's room just needs to be assembled.

5) And as if I weren't busy enough with all of the above, I keep seeing cute projects and adding them to my neverending list:
- Recreating this baby mobile
- Making a sisal rope bowl

On Sunday, this furry guy is going to his first doggie grooming appointment at Pet Smart! Giving him a bath inside has become so tedious due to his black hair, our bathroom's white tile and the fact that I can barely bend over right now. $30 for a shampoo, brushing, nail clipping & ear cleaning... this might spoil us.

We'll try to squeeze in dinner out sometime this weekend as well.
Who knows how many more baby-free weekends are in our future!

Another set of XY chromosomes will soon be added to our family. I might have to start embracing girly colors like pink & purple to break up the sea of gray, black, brown & blue I'm swimming in.


Still Cookin'

Just to answer your questions up front: Yes, I'm still pregnant. True, I could "go" any day now. No, I'm still not ready.

What does "ready" even mean?  Ready to stop wearing maternity pants that give me a permanant wedgie? Yes. Ready to stop waking up at 3am with burning acid reflux? You bet. Ready to not cry inside everytime I weigh myself? Naturally.

But am I really ready for the mental and physical anguish of childbirth and raising a child for 18+ years? Absolutely not! No one's ever ready for that... no matter how much they convince themselves they are. But guess what, we women realize that it's a necessary evil if we want the human race to live on. So we make sacrafices.

Here are some 38 week preggo tidbits for you. Consider this your verbal dose of birth control for the day.

Your weight gain will horrify you. I don't care what the breakdown is for how much the extra blood and placenta weighs. IT SUCKS. I'll tell you how much I gained. 38 pounds. I've heard, "Oh, that's nothing, my sister's friend gained 60!" It doesn't matter how much you gain. Going from your normal starting weight to anything above that feels terrible and unnatural.

Your pregnancy will annoy people. A lot of people will act like a-holes towards you for a number of reasons. I've concluded that all of these reasons point back to jealousy. They wish they could get pregnant and can't/they wish they'd had kids and are now too old. They think you're getting special treatment. They think you're going to quit your job and never come back (and secretly want to do the same). They are generally miserable about life and hate when others are happy, but only because they long to be happy and can't. They visualize you giving birth and it grosses them out (but secretly want to know what it's like).

The little kicks that you first thought were "special" will eventually bruise your ribs and make any position you try to sit/lay in unbearable. You will curse your unborn child. You will wish you never got pregnant in the first place. You'll hear a news story about some woman leaving her child on a doorstep with a note pinned to his onesie and for a split second... have a hard time condemning her.

A lot of medical advice you receive is based on NOTHING. You'll hear a lot of the following gibberish: "Well, we don't know if it's bad or not, so just don't do it." Mmm k, doc. Whatever you say. One turkey hoagie, please...

You will lie to your doctor/midwife. It's uncontrollable. You'll lie about your diet. You'll lie about drinking alcohol. You'll lie about your weight. There will just come a time when you don't feel like hearing shit, and you'll lie. Blame it on the hormones and move on.

Wedding day v. A few weeks ago (who looks happier?)
I've also come to the conclusion that just because other people's kids make me cringe, that it doesn't mean I will be a horrible mother. Tim and I were watching the new show on Animal Planet called "Puppies v. Babies". What happens is they show you a clip of a baby doing something cute and then a video of a puppy or kitten doing something cute, and then you have to decide which is cuter.

In my mind, the puppy or kitten always won.


Baby Powder & Wipes (DIY style)

There is one smell I've hated for years. The smell of babies. Well, baby products to be exact. I'm sure a plain old baby smells delightful (especially if it's your own) but the smell of traditional baby powder & wipes makes me gag.

After 2 weeks or so of disposables, we're switching over to cloth diapers. I'll spare you from a long-winded rant... just know that I think they're awesome and I'm super psyched to use them! So since we're going to cloth diaper, we're also going to use cloth wipes. Everything goes into the laundry and gets re-used. It just makes sense to use both together.

Since the wipes don't come pre-moistened, I'll need a liquid solution to soak them with before cleaning baby's bum. Luckily, there's a DIY for that! (What isn't there a DIY for?)

Here is the recipe I'm going to use:

1 tablespoon almond, apricot, or other oil
2 drops tea tree oil (a natural anti-bacterial)
1 drop lavender oil
1 cup water

Mix everything together and store in either a spray or squirt bottle. I like the idea of repurposing a dish detergent bottle because it's *free* and the spout on the top would be easier to use than squeezing a spray bottle trigger 20 times.

They do make cloth wipe warmers, but we're going to forego that for the sake of keeping things simple.

Another little known fact is that you can't use diaper rash ointment with cloth diapers because it interferes with the absorption. However, it's not a big deal because cloth diapered babies get less diaper rash to begin with because of the breathable, natural cloth fibers. The people at FuzziBunz recommend airing out your baby's tush for a minute or so between diaper changes and using baby powder to protect skin from moisture.

According to my Mom (the DIY queen), the best baby powder comes from the grocery store and you may have heard of it. It's called cornstarch! Yep, plain old cornstarch. I picked up a box in the baking aisle for a whopping $1.18. Johnson & Johnson try to sell their "special" cornstarch baby powder for $5. I'm not falling for it.

I bought these cute shakers from Amazon.com to store my cornstarch in (2 for $9). They're really for parmesan cheese, but I hear they dispense the perfect amount of baby powder during diaper changes. I'll be sure to label them so I don't douse my pasta with the wrong stuff.
Of course, we'll be using regular wipes & disposable diapers occasionally, during outtings and for the first few weeks when I'm not up for doing a load of laundry every day. I'm not totally hardcore... yet.

Pregnant on Halloween

Halloween is really a let down when you're knocked up. Every other female is dressed as a sexy insert noun here (pirate, cat, police officer, french maid). So you have two options: completely bare your stomach or completely cover it up. I have no artistic ability so painting my stomach was out. It's freezing cold here. And I didn't feel like spending money on a maternity costume (yes, they exist).

So I went with the second option and donned a giant Mexican poncho. FAIL. Instead of looking pregnant, I just looked fat. Let's just say there was a lot of unnecessary belly rubbing to show people that hey, there's a baby in here, I didn't just let myself go.

Tim basically wore his same clothes and pulled off being a lumberjack quite well! The suspenders are my dads and the rabbit-fur lined hat was his Valentine's Day gift last year from some awesome lady he's married to. (I got a bamboo cutting board from Crate & Barrel. Way better than flowers!)

Will I break out the fishnets & corset next year? Probably not. I'll be too busy making a costume for Baby A and people will forgive me for not dressing up because he'll look so adorable. Or maybe the Mexican poncho will make another appearance. It would work pretty well as a nursing cover...


Quickie Curtain

Making a simple, valance curtain is ridiculously easy. All you need to know are the following:

1. How to operate an iron
2. How to use a ruler/measuring tape
3. How to use scissors
4. How to sew a straight line

Measure your window. Measure & cut your fabric. Sew some hems. Sew an opening at the top large enough for your curtain rod to fit through. Hem the bottom... and you have a curtain! Okay, if you've never sewed before, you might want to look up a tutorial or study a pre-existing curtain you want to duplicate, but after you've made one, my over-simplified directions make perfect sense, I swear.

The matchstick blinds we put up in our bathroom window recently grew black mold. Yummy. Most likely due to the long, steaming hot showers I've been enjoying lately. Once the baby is here, I won't have time for such frivolity so I better squeeze them in now! The moldy blinds went in the trash and I decided to replace them with a simple curtain to keep the neighbors eyes out of our bathroom.

After a week of hanging bath towels over the window while my fabric was being shipped, our bathroom no longer looks like a frat house. I used 1.5 yards of Michael Miller "Secret Garden" fabric and a tension rod I already had that just happened to fit the window perfectly.

Total cost = $12.

If the curtain gets musty from bathroom steam, I can just throw it in the wash instead of the trash. And I love how it kinda looks like stained glass with the bathroom light off!