Monday, January 14, 2013

My Day

I had a really terrible no good very bad day today and decided to vent it out in a little poem. Hope you all enjoy...

Today I am a failure. Dinner was not on the table by 5:00.

Today I am a failure. The house has mud tracked from one end to the other and up and down the stairs.

Today I am a failure. There is laundry all over the living room floor because my two year old dumped out the hamper and has been running around with it on his head.

The bed is not made, the kitchen sink is full, and the bathrooms are hardly spotless.

Today I am a failure. My 11 year old missed his very expensive hockey practice because he chose to not help get ready to leave and I decided that if he wasn't going to do his part, I wasn't going to do mine.

Today I am a failure. I didn't make it to the grocery store.

Today I am a failure. I had to finish cooking and the baby started crying before I was ready to tend him.

My bread didn't rise, I ran out of mayo, and the dog pooped in the basement.

What else can go wrong in a day?

So I'll remember...I have a baby! I am not supposed to be able to do it all!

Then I'll kiss the baby, hug the toddler and tell them all I love them. Then go to bed and rest my head and try again, tomorrow.

This post was included in the Homestead Barnhop

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Menu Planner-Free Printable

Hi all! One of my biggest goals this year, as you know already if you read my last post, is to provide healthier meals for my family. I am convinced the key to this is menu planning! I have always had trouble consistently creating weekly plans. It's kind of like working out. I do great for awhile but once I fall off the wagon I forget about it for a period until I resolve to do better and try again. Sound familiar?

Anyway, perfectionist that I am, I was looking for a pretty template that I could download (for free) and print to plan my meals on, but nothing I found seemed to quite fit the bill, so I made my own, of course. Below you will find both a simple weekly meal plan grid and shopping list page. I'm cheap and don't like to use a lot of ink, so they aren't fancy, but I think they will be exactly what I need. The problems I was having with most of the printables I found were that they started on Sunday instead of Monday, (Yes, I know this is America. I just prefer to do my planing Monday-Sunday. Plus that's how my weekly planner is laid out and this way I can lay them side by side, see who's going to be where what night and plan accordingly.), only one included a place to write in prep reminders, (Take the chicken out of the freezer, soak the beans, that sort of thing...), and none had a place to include other items that you would like to make throughout the week; things like fresh baked bread, snacks, or fermented or home canned goodies. This gives you a place to list those things you'd like to accomplish in your real food kitchen. I use my weekly calendar as a sort of to do/did it list and that is where I plan what to make what day. It seams repetitive but I like to have those items listed on my meal planner when preparing my grocery list because otherwise they can get a bit jumbled up in the other daily activities that are listed on my calendar. This way I'm sure I won't miss anything.

Instructions: There are a couple of ways you can put this together...

1. Print off just the meal planner as needed, and stick it on a clip board. Or put it in a page protector and use dry erase marker. Then you can use the same page over and over.
2. Print off 52 of the meal planner page and either put them in a three ring binder or have your local copy shop spiral bind them for you. (It's super cheap.)
3. (What I'm going to do.) Print off 52 of each, with the grocery list on the front and the menu planner on the back of a page then get them spiral bound. That way, when it's laying flat you can see everything you need to see at once. 

As a side note, I'm trying to source more of my produce organically from the local health food store or markets. I thought it would be beneficial to start a price journal so I can compare and keep track of just how much I'm spending. The plan is to jot down the prices of things straight on the grocery list while I'm at the store so that I can go back, compare sales, and know when I'm getting a great deal or when something is just too much to be worth the extra cost. 

This is my first time sharing files here so if you have any trouble please let me know so I can fix it. Or if you have any suggestions for improvements you'd like to see, let me know! Now, go fix yourself a nice warm cup of something and get to work. Happy planning!

This post was shared at the homestead barn hop

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Goals for 2013...Wherein I Review What Little I Accomplished Last Year and Step Onto My Soap Box Momentarily

Here are my annual "homesteading" goals for this year along with last years list and what I did and didn't accomplish from said list. 

From my Goals for 2012:

1. Plant a garden: Last year I finally managed to get in some berries. I planted 2 blueberries, 3 raspberries, 3 grapes, 1 blackberry, 3 hardy kiwi, and 3 rhubarb. Of those, 1 raspberry, 2 grapes, the blackberry, kiwis, and 1 rhubarb took. I also got in some lilac that I had wanted for a long time. I have an existing herb garden with sage, oregano, thyme, chocolate mint and lemon balm. (I plant basil and rosemary in pots each spring since I've never had luck with them indoors and they aren't hardy here.) Right now, with our house on the market and wanting to buy some land I'm not planning on replacing any of the lost plants, but I do want to make sure to put in a vegetable garden. I finally installed some stepped beds along the side of the house last fall and now that the holidays are over, I am anxiously awaiting weather that is warm enough to fill them up, using the square foot gardening method, with tomatoes, peppers, onion, peas, carrots, lettuce, and more. I also plan to use the easement along the back of our property to plant Seminole squash, regular and sweet potatoes in straw or loose mulch, and maybe some corn and pole beans.

I spent most of last year pregnant with our fourth boy and the last couple of months with a new born and all of the fatigue that comes along with all of that. I was ambitious with my gardening goals last year and most of it was unsuccessful. I planted 9 varieties of heirloom tomatoes and although they grew profusely, the extreme heat and drought of last summer kept them from producing much until I was at the end of my pregnancy and not much inclined to go digging through the mass of plants to find the fruit. I neglected to pinch the sucker shoots early like I should have and the plants got way out of control, falling over on top of all the gorgeous basil I had planted around them. As for the potatoes...they died back unexpectedly and I never got around to attempting any sort of harvest. And cucumbers...beetles got 'em. Squash, melons and zucchini? I did manage a few nice big zucchinis before my nemesis, the squash bugs took over. The sweet potato slips went in to late to do much of anything. Carrots and onions didn't grow, but I did have some beautiful lettuce early in the season.

2.  Bread: I've got my honey wheat sandwich bread to a place I'm happy with. Same goes for pretzels, biscuits, and sugar cookies, blueberry muffins and pancakes. I want to try sour dough and maybe some other artisan loaves. A good Italian Rosemary bread is on the list and I need to continue working on the original list of baking goals: croutons, pita/flat bread, bagels, quick breads, and carrot cake. Scones, baked donuts and cinnamon rolls are also on the list.

I've been on again off again with my bread making this year. I did make a pretty awesome Italian Rosemary bread a couple of times.

3. Cheese: Learn how to make it. I've made my own sour cream. Next is a whole milk Ricotta, and on from there. Hopefully by the end of the year, I can be on to some hard cheeses.

I made queso fresco, once, but it was really good!

4. Yogurt and Kefir: Obtain cultures to make these myself.

I almost bought these water kefir grains but wasn't sure I wanted to start that project with the house on the market and the possibility of moving, so I didn't.

5. Keep updating my cook book and trying new recipes. Work on consistently completing weekly menu plans and finding more healthy dishes that the kiddos will gobble up.

This is my number one goal for this year...

6. Obtain the necessary supplies and learn how to can all that fresh stuff that my garden WILL be producing. :)

I did attempt a little canning with some borrowed supplies. I managed two quarts of peaches and 4 pints of some really nasty pickles. 

7. Find a local orchard and go pick peaches and apples.

I did pick some peaches, many of which went bad before I managed to can what was left and freeze a few because my internet went down right when I had the last of them peeled and ready to process into a salsa, the recipe for which I was viewing on my iPad and had not printed. It was a very frustrating day... 

8. Get some mini citrus and banana plants that can be raised in pots and brought indoors during our Midwest winters. A Meyer lemon, dwarf guava, super dwarf Cavendish banana, and some sort of orange top this wish list. In conjunction with this I will have to pare down on my other house plants to make room.

I have managed to get rid of some of my assorted house plants and clippings but with the house STILL on the market, I have made no attempt to obtain more. 

9. In addition to paring down my inedible tropical plants, I desperately need to purge my craft room and finish several projects.

This I've done really well with, with a BIT of prompting from muscle man. We moved my June Bug into what was my craft room so the new baby could have the nursery and I have since proceeded to drive the man nuts with various projects strewn around the living room at various times. I have managed to finish a few things. Check out my Pinterest Board to see tutorials for much of what I made over the last year.

10. We purchased our first 1/2 hog this year and I am loving shopping in my freezer for delicious pork cuts. Next, I'd like to find a source for grass fed beef and purchase a portion for the freezer. Same goes for free-range chicken and eggs.

My muscle man actually has been helping with this one. We chose to wait on a cow since, again, the living arrangements are a bit up in the air with the house on the market, but he has a co-worker who has sourced eggs and chickens for herself and brings them to the office for us as often as we need. Can't ask for a better arrangement than that! The prices are extremely reasonable too at $10 per free range chicken and $1.75 for a dozen pastured eggs.

One other thing I've managed to do pretty well with this year is to convert most of my personal care items to more natural alternatives. My favorite change has been to eliminate both body wash and shaving cream in exchange for goat milk soap. I usually use ZUM brand's almond since I love the scent and it's available at my regular grocery store up the street. But this family has some neat product and I've ordered from these folks who produce a wonderful soap although it does seem to dissolve fairly quickly. I have found after switching that I don't have nearly the trouble with dry itchy skin that I did. I am using this organic raw shea butter lotion for both me and the babies and I love it's light vanilla scent but during the summer I can actually get away without using anything. Speaking of scents I picked up some Kuumba Made essential oil scent recently in persian garden. What a great alternative to traditional perfume! I won't mention my current hair care routine because after trying a couple of natural shampoos and even the no-poo method using baking soda and vinegar I am still having major issues with itchy dry flaky scalp. More experimentation will be required to settle on a hair routine that works for me. I have noticed that I can now go 2-3 days between hair washings whereas I used to have to wash daily because it was so oily so there has been some improvement. 

The next time I run out of foundation I plan to try some of the natural mineral stuff that my local health food store carries. I'm still considering natural deodorant alternatives too. I tried Toms and didn't like it at all so I've been nervous about purchasing other natural brands. Wonder what muscle man would say if I tried making my own hehe.

I've also done really well this year with eliminating chemical cleaners. I primarily use some combination of vinegar, baking soda and rubbing alcohol. I found that vinegar and baking soda down the drain to eliminate clogs works better than the chemical stuff and I'm totally digging both this homemade cleaner and one made by soaking orange peels in plain white vinegar for 6-8 weeks. Both work well as all purpose cleaners and the orange vinegar shines up my glass top stove beautifully after I've scrubbed it with baking soda. Vinegar also makes a great fabric softener but be careful with synthetics since they might hold the smell. I've found that most of the synthetic stuff we have doesn't really need softener at all. I have not tried making my own laundry soap, dish soap, (though I do use seventh gen.) or carpet shampoo. We have switched all of our cookware to either steel or cast iron with the exception of one little omelet pan.

Now for this years goals: A variation on a theme...

1. Resist the urge to plant any kind of cucurbit melons, squash, zucchini, or cucumbers and let those squash bugs move on out of my garden. I'm going to concentrate this year on my tomatoes, peppers and greens. Maybe try some beans again, and some sweet peas. The really good news is that my berries, kiwi and rhubarb have all been in long enough that I should get some production from them this year. 

2. I'm planning on making some sourdough starter tonight and really making an effort to produce more of our baked goods from scratch to avoid all the processed junk. I'd also like to do more canning, maybe try some condiments like ketchup and barbecue sauce, and definitely make some more cheese. I could eat queso fresco and homemade corn tortillas every day!

3. My number one goal this year is to work on converting the whole family to a real, whole foods, organic diet. In addition to baking (and cooking...) more, I plan to start sourcing my produce primarily from the local health food store and local organic growers. I haven't convinced muscle man to do a CSA yet but there are an abundant number of farmers markets on different days and different locations throughout the city. Ooh, that might make a good future blog post...

4. Which leads me to my next goal which is to update this blog a bit more often. I've also started working on a page listing local businesses, restaurants and farm sources that we've found and love.

5. My last goal is to make sure I'm showing my family daily how much I love and care for them. I'm hoping I can infuse some love into the food I prepare but like many children my boys are pretty picky so other little things like notes in the lunch box, and some one-on-one time spent with each of them I think would go a long way toward making them feel important. I've been very focused on the babies lately and I think the older boys, especially my nine year old who was the baby for seven years have had a tough time adjusting to all the changes. I also want to make sure to get my June Bug out of the house at least a couple times a week so he can be active and have others to play with. Trips to the local community center, park, library, and indoor play centers are all on the agenda now that the baby is a couple of months old.

That's it. I'm (trying) to keep it simple this year with a new baby in the house. He's our last so I really want to savor his babyhood. At the same time I am becoming more and more passionate about what we put into and on our bodies. I want my boys to be healthy and I want to be healthy so that I can always be here for them in the fullest capacity possible. I want to have energy to run after my grand kids some day and I really believe that we, humans, can make a huge positive impact on our health both in terms of preventing major disease and boosting our immune systems to prevent every day stuff like colds by eating the correct diet. Which diet that is happens to be a very controversial subject but I think it makes sense to start by eating whole, natural foods the way nature intended, that are prepared in traditional ways as they were during times when many of today's common diseases were much more rare.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sibling and Dad Gifts for When the New Baby Arrives

This weekend I've had so much fun working on big brother kits and a (not so) new dad kit to give the boys when baby #4 arrives. You can check out my inspiration herehere, here, and here.

Here's what each kit consists of:

For Little Man (who I plan to start calling June Bug because he's no longer the littlest. It's an appropriate Southern term for my very ornery 2 year old who was after all born in June.):
  • Favorite snacks/candies and an Elmo snack/sandwich container he was oogling at the store.
  • Horizon brand organic strawberry milk (doesn't have to be refrigerated!) or juice boxes
  • Dollar store busy toys including a giant dino coloring book, re-stickable wall decals, Cars the movie magnets, Crayola Twistables slick stix, and a magic wash cloth. (All found at Walmart)
  • A homemade car wallet like this one and a new set of cars to fill it.
  • big brother T-shirt
  • A little homemade doll because he's at that age where he copies everything and loves to "help".
  • A homemade felt quite book (TONS of ideas on Pinterest)
  • And I may add a disposable camera
For My Older Boys:
  • Snacks and milk
  • Their digital cameras
  • Big brother T-shirts
  • Mini photo albums to put in any pictures they take of the day
For the T-shirts: the youngest is getting one that says "I'm the Big Brother", the next oldest is getting, "I'm the Bigger Brother", and the oldest is getting, "I'm the Biggest Brother". I ordered the decals from this etsy shop and put them on some craft store T-shirts. She was quick to respond to inquiries and the product was shipped within a couple of days. The service was outstanding. (Note: The colors turned out to be somewhat translucent. I recommend WHITE t-shirts, but they're still cute.)

I wrote a letter to each of the boys to tell them how special they are and how much I love each of them.

They are also each getting a photo book inspired by this one. I haven't started those yet though...

For Strong Man, I made him a T-shirt and baby bib set inspired by this one, a "diaper dootie" tool box kit, and included some retro sodas with these free labels added, a couple of good cigars and a copy of "Just Me and My Dad" from the little critter series.

Backing up a bit...Dad's shirt says, "I Make Adorable Babies" and the bib says, "Adorable Baby." So as not to leave out the other boys who were of course also adorable babies, I made the gift tags on their big brother kits look like awards ribbons- using microsoft clip art and laminated them with contact paper. I picked up some self adhesive pin backs in the craft section at Walmart that I adhered to each and attached them to the gift bags. (Which are re-useable lunch bags found clearanced for 25 cents each!) So they each have little badges that say, "Adorable Baby #1", "Adorable Baby #2", and "Adorable Baby #3". 

Now for Strong Man's "diaper dootie" kit. This was fun. I had seen some new dad survival kits on Pinterest and Amazon so it's based off of those. I collected most of what went in it from around the house so it was practically free. (Love that!) I even had the little tool box already. Here's what went into it...
  • New born diapers
  • Wipes
  • Butt Cream
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Vaseline
  • Baby powder
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Homemade Pee Pee Tee Pee
  • Goggles
  • Face mask
  • Ear Plugs
  • Tongs for diaper disposal
  • Clothes pin for the nose
I made a copy of the above list and mod podged it to the top and made a cute label for the front using Microsoft clip art and word art. 

Zachary's Birthday Book

For each of the boys, I am creating photo books about their birthdays and them as babies to include in their big brother kits for the hospital when baby Jackson is born. The idea came from this Pin which is absolutely gorgeous. I didn't want to buy the templates though and didn't want to take time to make my own so I just used the idea pages on Shutterfly, making small modifications here and there to adjust the number of pictures on some pages. I love making photo books online. No scrapbook supplies to clutter up the house and it gives you such a nice clean finished product. Here and here are two excellent ideas for overall photo organization using photo books. I also love electronic picture frames for displaying lots of photos without the clutter.

PS Today and tomorrow Shutterfly is offering a FREE photobook with the code SUMMERBOOK. So if you have a project in the works, now's the time to finish it up. It's a $30 savings! (I have no affiliation with Shutterfly. I just really like their products!) They offer this deal a few times a year so I do recommend signing up and receiving their emails so you can be notified the next time it comes around.

You'll love Shutterfly's award-winning photo books. Try it today.

Friday, September 7, 2012

What you really NEED for a new baby and my hospital packing list

My pregnancy will soon be coming to an end with baby #4 due in just five weeks (agh!). It's time for me to review my registries, and lists of things we need, and start packing for the hospital. It's tough to shop for a new baby, even for experienced mamas. There is so much out there and new contraptions are coming out all the time that are just so cute or look so useful. Here's my list of must haves, and then my list of wants- things that would be great and useful but not absolutely necessary, and then there are the things you really don't need at all. Admittedly there are probably some things on my list of must haves that others might say aren't needed. Everyone is different. Compare lists and make your own decisions. If you think of anything I missed, please leave me a comment and let me know!

Must Haves for a New Baby:

(Note: I've found that clothing and blankets are very popular gifts so don't buy too much! You'll likely end up with an over abundance of tiny clothes.)


  • Clothes: plan on about 3 outfits per day for as long as you prefer to go between washes. (Babies can be messy!) Keep most of it simple- onsies, sleep-n-plays, and gowns and don't get too much in newborn sizes because they grow so fast! Some bigger babies never fit a newborn size.
  • 2-4 sleep sacks
  • 4-7 socks and/or booties and mits so they can't scratch themselves with those itty bitty very sharp nails.
  • 2 small bibs- my first 2 weren't droolers so these were never used but I needed 3-4 a day for my 3rd
  • 2-4 knit hats
  • sweater or jacket appropriate for the season
  • small hangers
  • 10 receiving blankets or the new muslin/gauze swaddlers that everyone's raving about.(can double as burp cloths)
  • 10 burp clothes (I prefer the flat cloth diapers)
  • 2 thicker blankets


  • Crib and mattress (unless you plan to exclusively co-sleep)
  • Some kind of portable crib/co-sleeper/play yard/bassinet. (I recommend at least one of these so you can keep baby close.) There are some very cool portable pop-up versions available now.
  • 4 fitted crib sheets
  • 4 bassinet sheets
  • Water proof pads
  • Dresser
  • Contoured changing pad with 2 covers
  • Hamper


  • Breast pump. Even if you plan to bottle feed, you'll want a small manual pump (I have used and recommend either the Medela or Aveeno.) to relieve pressure in the first days.
  • Milk storage bags
  • Nursing bras and/or tanks (Target has good reasonably priced ones.)
  • Nursing cover- you can use anything from a receiving blanket to scarf. This time around I made a couple of  these ponchos out of beautiful brocade that can quadruple as car-seat, stroller and bassinet covers.
  • Re-usable nursing pads
  • Earth Mama Baby Angel Nipple Butter or Lanolin
  • The number for your local La Leche league or the hospital's breast feeding support- just in case
  • Bottles- If you plan to bottle feed or give pumped milk. Every baby prefers a different bottle so get one or two of several different styles before buying too many of any one. I like these and these.
    • Bottle brush, drying rack and dish washer rack
  • For later:
    • ice-cube trays for homemade baby food, or this.
    • spoons/sippy cups/plastic or other unbreakable bowls/plates (They will get thrown!)
    • space saver booster seat

Diapering, Bathing and First Aid:

  • Newborn and size one diapers
  • Wipes (regular or cloth)
  • Cloth diapers if you want to go that route- and there are many reasons to! But that's a whole other post. Minimum about 2 dozen pre-folds and 4 covers for every other day washing plus 2 good night-time AIOs with extra absorbency. (Fuzzy Buns is a good choice.) 
  • Cornstarch based powder
  • Diaper Cream (Be careful of the type if cloth diapering! With little man we rarely had to use it...instead we used powder regularly and when he did develop a rash, a homemade wipes solution cleared it right up. 1c. water mixed with a splash of olive oil and a few drops each of tea tree and lavender essential oils. Just spray it right on and wipe off with a soft cloth wipe then allow his bum to dry completely before diapering.)
  • Baby wash (I like California Baby)
  • Baby lotion (I like Shea Moisture Organic Raw Shea butter lotion available at Target)
  • Ear thermometer
  • Nail clippers
  • Gas drops
  • Motrin
  • Nasal aspirator
  • Comb and/or brush
  • Alcohol for the umbilical chord

The Rest:

  • Car seat (either convertible or an infant carrier with an extra base if you have more than one vehicle)
  • Piddle pad for the car seat (babies are messy!)
  • Carrier- whether it's a homemade sling, wrap, mai tai, Moby or Ergo, there will be times when you are at the grocery store and baby just wants to be held, or nursed. Some kind of carrier is invaluable in these situations.
  • Some kind of swing and/or bouncy seat. I just ran across this the other day and I think it would be an excellent multiple use choice but I don't have one so can't attest to that 100%. Little man slept in his swing for the first 2 months.
  • Stroller- not to be confused with a huge fancy travel system. Just a nice simple umbrella stroller, as long as it has a 5-point harness and reclines, will do fine. I have this one and love it.
  • Lidded trash can for a diaper pail
  • Monitor
  • Diaper bag or tote preferably with lots of pockets
  • Night light for the nursery- for night-time feedings, etc. You never want to turn on the overheads and totally wake everyone up!
  • Free and clear laundry detergent and blue dawn dish soap for stains
  • Rear view mirror so you can check baby while driving

Things that would be great but aren't necessarily absolutely needed:

  • Wet bags- little draw string water proof bags to keep handy in the diaper bag for soiled clothes. A must if cloth diapering though.
  • Memory Book
  • Crib Mobile- some kind of crib toy is nice to sooth baby. Here's one that fits on a pack-n-play or car-seat. This is the one I've been wanting.
  • Pack-n-play- goes under the bassinet/portable crib category mentioned earlier. They do come in handy for containing an older baby when needed- if he'll stay in it without screaming. My first 2 did, 3rd wasn't having any of it...
  • Moses basket- great for portability and super, super cute but definitely not absolutely necessary
  • Excersaucer or walker (but you don't need it until they're a little older...)
  • Activity Gym- I made one based on this tutorial but with a simple square mat. (Post about that still to come...) This looks like an excellent, cost effective and space saving option.
  • Glider/Rocker- not absolutely necessary but very nice to have! I highly recommend a super plush upholstered version that you can nap in with baby, especially when baby is sick...
  • Boppy or other nursing pillow. I didn't have one with the first two and found the one I had with the 3rd to not work well. He kind of laid in the crack between it and my body and was too low. But other moms swear by them.
  • Baby tub- really nice for the first 3-5 months or so- after that we just bath in the kitchen sink or regular tub, which works in a pinch for younger babies too.
  • Car seat protector- this fits under the baby's seat and protects the car's upholstery. It might save you some extra cleaning. I've never used one though.
  • Toys- don't need them until baby starts grasping. I am a sucker for anything made by Green Sprouts, Plan or Haba.
  • Safety gear (outlet plugs, gates, door latches, etc)- you will need them, but not until baby is mobile- around 4 months
  • Nosefrida I haven't used one through 3 babies so I left it on the want list, but have been hearing very good things and definitely plan to try it this time around. Update: I was a little unsure once I figured out how this is used, but it works very well! Way better than the standard bulb syringe. 
  • Muslin or cotton gauze swaddle blankets- again, this is a fairly new product that I haven't tried out yet but people are raving about. Update: Love these!
  • A good camera to take pictures of your new little one.
  • A big stainless steal insulated water bottle for mom.
  • Music and lullaby CDs- I love to sing along when putting baby down for the night.
  • Fresh food feeders- the man who invented these is a genius.
  • Nursing necklaces- fun for mom and baby :)
Here's a great Amazon list to check out...
Here's a great one as well as other good advice for the more minimalist, or natural minded mom from Code Name Mama, "As long as you have a breast and some way to hold the baby, you’re usually going to be ok." I love her list of practical things to "register" for instead. 

Things you really don't need at all:
  • Changing table- use a contoured changing pad on the top of a dresser and use the top drawer to organize diapers, wipes, creams, etc.
  • Wipes warmer
  • Bottle sanitizer
  • Pacifiers- big no no if breast feeding, especially in the beginning if baby's having trouble learning how to latch on. Later, well, some like 'em, some don't. None of my boys have used them. Little man did a bit at first but quickly decided he preferred the real thing. If you decide you need some, this is my personal favorite.
  • Baby wash cloths and hooded towels- cute, but you can use regular ones.
  • Diaper genie- they don't work well and are kind of a pain. Just use a lidded trash can and take it out every couple of days.
  • Diapering organizers- use the top drawer of the dresser. Or any basket or caddy will do if you want something mobile.
  • Crib bumper and comforter set. They look nice in the nursery, but they're for mom, not the baby. You can't use the thick comforter for him and now they say bumpers aren't entirely safe either.
  • High chair- they take up too much space. Get a booster seat such as this one. If you have the space however, this convertible chair would be a good option that could be used for years. 
  • Travel System- too big and bulky and really won't get used all that much. At least the one I had with my first baby didn't. As soon as he was big enough I got a $10 umbrella stroller and exclusively used that.

Last, some tips for saving money where you can:

  • Buy USED. Consignment sales, yard sales, thrift stores, craigslist. Babies rarely wear out their things before they outgrow them and there is nothing wrong with putting it to good use.
  • First buy what you NEED, then what you WANT.
  • Wait until after your shower to buy ANYTHING. 
  • Take your time and look for sales. Make a list!
  • Ask your friends if they have items you can buy or maybe even borrow for free.
  • Save baby's things to use next time. 
  • Don't forget to check etsy and local craft sales! You'll find beautiful one of a kind hand made items, sometimes for very cheap, and support a small business owner too!

The Hospital Bags:

So, now you've got all the stuff and are all ready to meet your new little one. If you are giving birth in a hospital or birth center you'll want to bring some things with you. You'll likely be in the hospital for 2 days after a vaginal delivery, or 3 (I think) for a c-section. I (try to) pack light, so here are the essentials, in my opinion...

For Baby:

The hospital will provide basic clothing, receiving blankets, pacifiers, diapers, wipes, Vaseline, alcohol wipes and other essentials for the baby during your stay. Make sure you load up on the "freebies" before you head home. (You'll likely be charged for them either way...)

  • A couple of gowns/outfits if you want baby to have his own.
  • A going home outfit (This doesn't have to be anything fancy unless you're planning a welcome home party, which I do not recommend. Everyone's going to be tired.) Make sure the legs are separate- no gowns- for the car seat to buckle.
  • 2 pair socks and mittens Update: I was unaware of the current recommendations- mittens and hats are no longer allowed because they are believed to be a SIDS risk. 
  • Hand sanitizer (homemade here) for mom after numerous diaper changes and siblings when they come to see the baby.
  • Comb and baby nail clippers- not always necessary but they don't take much room just in case.
  • Plastic bag or wet bag for bringing home soiled clothes
  • An installed car seat- the hospital will inspect it before they let you leave
  • A heavier blanket to tuck around baby in the car if it's going to be cold on the way home.
  • If you want, your baby book for foot prints
For Mom:
  • Picture ID, insurance card and any necessary hospital paperwork
  • Your birth plan if you have one
  • Sports bra for the birthing tub
  • Things to help you relax- classical music, lavender eye pillows, Hypnobabies tracks...
  • Snacks (My hospital's cafeteria food is barely edible.)
  • 2 nursing bras and/or tanks
  • Underwear (dark is good)
  • Flip flops for the shower, socks, slippers
  • 2 sets of comfy, loose fitting pj's. (I like yoga pants with a rolled waist and a nursing tank but consider a gown since nurses will be checking you for awhile and easy access is key.)
  • Going home outfit- again, keep it loose and comfy.
  • List of phone numbers for family to notify when baby arrives
  • Personal toiletries- chapstick, toothbrush, toothpaste, lotion, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, deodorant, hair ties, make-up, hairbrush, blow dryer, glasses/contacts, regular human size maxi pads, etc
  • Nipple cream or lanolin and nursing pads in case your milk comes in before you head home.
  • Camera!!
  • IPod/IPad/Laptop
  • Chargers/Extra Batteries
  • Cell Phone
  • A (dark colored) full size towel for the shower. You might not get more than a hand towel from the hospital.
  • Your own pillow if you're picky about that sort of thing. The hospital's will probably be hard and flat. Remember to bring it home with you!
  • Probiotics! In case you end up with a c-section or deliver in triage, (clears throat here...) and they decide to give you a round of "preventative" antibiotics this will help stave off yeast and thrush infections. I highly recommend either Dr. Mercola's Complete Probiotics (He has a kid pack too for those who, like me, can't swallow pills.) or Inner Eco coconut water kefir which is available at whole foods.
  • New Mama Bottom Spray 
  • Optional but fun: Sibling, New Dad, and Nurses Gifts. (Post coming soon...)
Now I'm heading over to Amazon to buy the rest of my "must haves", then time to start packing! Baby has dropped already over the last couple of days (Little man didn't drop until during labor and he was born exactly two hours after my water broke and 30 minutes after we arrived at the hospital.) so we MAY be looking at a slightly early birth, but no one can predict these things until they are happening. Prayers please that he doesn't arrive on the side of the road! I hope I can finish all my Pinterest baby projects before he shows up...

This post has been included in the Homestead Barnhop and Teach me Tuesday.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Toddler Toy- Travel Dry Erase Pad Set

My project du jour was a case for the little man's dry erase pad and crayons.  It was inspired in part by this image on Pinterest. You could also use this design for an eReader, tablet, or other device, skipping the crayon pocket and adding a layer of batting for extra protection if desired.

1/3 yd cotton print for outer cover
1/3 yd cotton print for liner
1" velcro
1/3 yd fusible interfacing

1. Measure the size of your pad, accounting for width and add 3/4" on the top, bottom and one side for seam allowances.

2. Cut out a rectangle from your liner fabric large enough to fold over the pad like a book, again accounting for width and 3/4"  seam allowances all the way around. (You'll see in the picture that I only did 1/2" seam allowance. You'll need the extra 1/4" at the end when you top stitch. I fudged by pulling up the stitching over the corners so I can still fit in the pad, but it doesn't look quite as nice.)

3. Cut out a rectangle from your outer fabric the same size and the inner. Set aside.

4. Cut out 5 squares with 3" sides. Fold 4 of them in half diagonally and iron. Set aside.

5. Figure out how big your crayon pocket needs to be by laying your crayons side by side and measuring the width, depth, and how tall you want it. I'm using chunky dry erase crayons that are 1/2" diameter and all of them together were 4" across. So for the width, I took the 4", added an inch for the diameter on each side, then another inch and a 1/4 for seam allowances. For the height, I wanted it about 3" tall. I added 1" for seam allowances (though I think 1/2" would have worked better here) so my slip pocket rectangles came out to 6 1/4"x4". (I didn't allow enough width the first time. The picture shows my smaller version before I re-did it.)

6. Cut out a piece of interfacing the same size as your pocket rectangles and iron it on to the wrong side of either one.

7. With right sides together, stitch around the edges of the pocket with a 1/4" seam allowance, leaving just enough open to turn.

8. Clip the corners so they'll turn out nicely.

9. Turn the pocket right side out, turning in the open edges and iron. Place it about an inch from the right side of the liner, and sew it down as close the the edge of the pocket as you can. Mine was about a 1/4".

10. Fold the pocket back on the seam, iron, then fan fold it forward again. Fold the other side of the pocket to match and stitch into place.

11. Sew along the bottom of the pocket.

12. Add interfacing and Velcro to your outer fabric. Set aside.

(Center the Velcro on a short side, 1" in from the edge.)

13. Retrieve 4 of your 3" triangles and fold one side under slightly, tucking in the corner on two on them.

14.  Place your triangles, on your cover, using your pad to measure placement. Your turned ends should end up in the middle of your cover liner. Remember I fudged and only left a 1/2" seam when there should have been 3/4" all the way around the pad.

15. Remove the pad, pin the corners in place, and place your outer fabric, right sides together on top of the liner, making sure the Velcro will be on the front, not the back like I did...

16. Starting at the end opposite the Velcro, sew all the way around with a 1/2" seam allowance, leaving just enough to turn and to insert a tab that will fold over to Velcro your cover closed.

17. Take your last 3" square and sew two sides, right sides together with a 1/4" seam allowance. Turn right side out and iron flat with the seam in the center.

18. Fold one end in about 1/2". Tuck the raw end into the opening on your cover and top stitch all the way around with a 1/4" seam allowance. (This is where I had to remove the top-stitching over the corner triangles because I couldn't fit the pad into the cover.)

19. Sew on the soft half of the Velcro to the tab, lining it up with the rough side on the cover.

20. Watch two year old immediately take everything apart while you are trying to photograph the finished product...

This post has been included in Teach me TuesdayAnti-Procrastination TuesdayMorristribe's Homesteader Blog Carnival and The Homestead Barn Hop.