You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2010.

Our doula Susan was absolutely amazing.  She stayed with us for twenty four complete hours in the hospital despite the fact that Kate ended up being born on her birthday.  She gave us an entire prenatal course because she knew we couldn’t access one where we live.  She cried when I cried seeing Kate in her incubator. She cries when we e-mail her baby pictures.  She drove the five hours round trip to visit us this week and I was able to give her this Ishbel.

This is a great little gift project.  It only took nineteen days new mom time.

The yarn is Yarn Chef Bouillabaisse in Popcorn and my new kitchen scale tells me I have enough left over for another. I’m really into yellow accessories these days so I may have to make one for myself.

Other bits:

I’m fascinated by Adele Enerson’s maternity leave project of photographing what she thinks her baby is dreaming about.  The photos should be super cheesy but somehow they’re not. I love that she’s using that precious nap time to do something creative instead of just frantic loads of laundry.

Chris is going back to work on Sunday and I am panicking.  I am manifesting my panic in a desire to buy every baby toy on the planet just to keep Kate entertained so I can have a shower once and a while.  I never thought I’d be into the plastic, rainbow coloured, battery operated toys but I have already bought this monstrosity and I’m also considering a Bumbo, projector musical crib mobile and floor gym but I’m torn between the handmade, European muted varieties or the ones that look like they were engineered by Epcot Imagineers.  This is all not to mention the fact that we have no more floor space for this kind of circus equipment.  How many play stations does the average three month old have?

I initiated my new machines with a project that was a bit of a slog initially.  The Schoolhouse Tunic pattern seems to be written with the beginner in mind and the wordy directions tripped me up occasionally.  When I decided to ignore what was written and do what I thought was right it went a lot smoother. The sleeve instructions for example, had you attaching them to the body flat, which I’ve never seen before and I found more finicky so I disregarded.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about this voile I got on sale at Fabricland at first.  I was worried it was a bit granny and then my Elna was not taking to it which was beyond frustrating when I was just excited to get going.  Turns out I needed an appropriate needle and a bit of a tension adjustment and I was good to go.  It did end up looking like a nightdress, however, mostly because it was much too large.  I hacked off about three inches on the bottom and added some elastic to the underbust seam under the arms as a cheaters resizing method and now I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out.

I also made a narrower hem and I shortened the sleeves, both on account of the lightness of the fabric.

I finished all my seams with the serger (note to Krystyna: I finally managed to thread it!), and while I wouldn’t say it was faster with having to weave in the ends I love how professional it looks.

It’s good to be back to sewing a few things for myself!

For just over two years now I’ve told anyone who will listen that I was going to buy a new Bernina Activa as soon as I could.  Somehow over that expanse of time I failed to realize that said machine costs over a grand and doesn’t even have an automatic buttonhole function.  I convinced myself that I would never be able to afford a decent sewing machine until I called the Triangle Sewing Centre* in Guelph (Ontario) and spoke with Christa who convinced me to buy this beast:

It’s the discontinued (ergo on sale!) Elna 7200, and she is fancy.  Not as fancy as many of those crazy quilting / embroidery / make you scrambled eggs in the morning machines but way fancier than my old Kenmore, which has a new home with my friend Michelle.  It can make a little knot at the beginning of your seam and sew your name and go real fast.  Christa assures me it will last me until my fiftieth birthday.  What’s that?  Miss Elna wants you to know that she has a little friend.

This an even beastlier Kenmore serger that I bought off my aforementioned pregnant friend Krystyna.  It is loud but baby K is already used to the noise interrupting her dreams.  They make a lovely couple don’t they?

*If you’re in the area I highly recommend this little shop. If you happen to go when shop grandson / Lego expert Paul is in store he can be convinced to put a felted bowl on his head and pose for a picture and you will keel over from the cute.

May I introduce you to my new special summer lunch:

Pleased to meet you

This has been my mid-day meal of choice for house guests and for a very special Sunday when Kate napped and we we ate it on the front step, followed by a rousing game of ladder ball.

I have also been making batches and batches of my new favourite cookie for a few months now.

It’s the chocolate oatmeal cookie (with raisins!) from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar except that my chocolate chips come from Costco and are not vegan. I don’t recall a dessert I’ve been more obsessed with.  They’re soft and chewy and because they have oats and no egg I like to fool myself into thinking they’re not terrible for you.

********end of food talk********

  • A quick update to the baby review series: back when I posted about making Kate some receiving blankets a helpful reader Melanie directed my attention to the Miracle Blanket.  I ignored her advice until Kate’s squirming was really starting to drive me mental, then I broke down and ponied up for one.  It finally arrived last week and I’m pleased to say that she’s been sleeping one longer block in her baby straight jacket.  She still flops around like a docked fish from three a.m. onward but I’ll take any improvement I can get.
  • Also, I really want this sling because it is gorgeous, not because it is necessary.
  • Alicia is obsessed with Citronille patterns and now so am I.  I need to get Kate into Thadée.
  • We are leaving for Kitchener on Friday where I will be celebrating my 30th birthday by splurging on a new sewing machine.  I am preparing by cutting out all the fabric and patterns I own so that I can sew like crazy when I get it home.  I’m on a jersey dress kick but I am not enjoying cutting out the slinky stuff. The info in this link makes the process a little more bearable.
  • Erin got me a subscription to Frankie magazine.  Seriously.

So, I totally lied about posting yesterday.   It seems that as soon as I declare success in the nap department Kate decides it’s time to shake things up a bit and not sleep ever.

Here are a few of the smaller things we’ve tried out so far:

Blue Celery Sling / Wrap Hybrid – 2 stars

I really liked the idea of the versatility of this sling. I thought being able to use one loop as a sling and not having yards of fabric to wrap every which way around you would be handy. Unfortunately, Kate is not a big fan of this whole system.  I think it hugs her a little too close to the body, which may suggest that the sling is too small but at the same time I feel like it sags and I have to hold her up in it which defeats the purpose of the whole thing.  She also really likes to look out when you’re carrying her but she’s not old enough for wearing in an outfacing position.  Mostly, this sling was a bust for me because of the cost.  All it is is some strips of jersey serged together. The long edges aren’t even finished which results in a lot of rolled in fabric riding up your back.  Chris wasn’t a big fan of it from the get-go and bought himself this Phil and Ted’s carrier which has a lot more going on at a much cheaper price.

Bummies Organic Prefolds + Bummies Super Bright Diaper Covers + Snappi Diaper Fasteners – 5 stars

We have nothing but good things to say about cloth diapering with this system.  It is so not a big deal to wash your diapers every few days, which is especially easy for me to say since Chris always washes them.  The Snappi isn’t necessary but they’re just a few bucks and they really make it easy to get the prefolds into the cover. Considering how many diapers Kate goes through I can’t even imagine what we’d be spending on disposables, especially given the highway robbery that is the prices at our rural grocery store. When Kate was in the hospital they used perfumed Pampers you could smell ten feet away. This is what they put on all the babies, not matter what their medical condition.  I could not believe it.

Aubrey Organics Natural Baby & Kids Shampoo (purchased at Superstore) – 5 stars

We didn’t plan on using any bath products initially but Kate’s full head of hair gets pretty greasy looking after a few days so I picked this at random off the grocery store shelf. I LOVE this stuff.  It smells like everything a baby should without any artificial perfumes (or parabens or sulfates).  You also only need a little drop so I think it will last a good long while.

Safety 1st High Definition Baby Monitor – 4.5 stars

I registered for this without really knowing what to look for in a monitor but this has great sound quality and it’s really small so your whole house looks a little less like Tom Hank’s apartment in Big. I will say this; when I was pregnant I openly mocked the fancy monitors that have sensors to see if the baby is still breathing or video screens, however, after Kate’s rough start I found myself constantly checking on her and then worrying about the creaking door waking her up.  So, if you’re expecting, you might want to wait until after you have the baby to see what your individual level of paranoia is.

A note on all the stuff I made for Kate when I was pregnant: all of the nursery stuff has done what it’s supposed to and I have no complaints there.  By far the most useful thing I made is the nursing pillow.  I obviously use it for nuring but it also comes in handy for propping Kate up on your lap for optimum eye contact or for sitting her in on the couch for photo ops.  The item we’ve used the least is the snuggler.  It seemed a bit too big when we first brought her home which is totally useless for swaddling and now that it’s beyond warm here the microfleece seems like it would melt her on contact.

If there are any other baby-related goods you’d like to know about or if you’d like shower gifts don’t be shy to ask.

My expectant friend Krystyna has requested a review of the various baby products we’ve tried out and now that we’ve finally gotten Kate into a good nap routine I’m happy to oblige. I’ll break it up over a few snack sized posts.  I should say up front that I’m not important enough to have any of these products sponsored so don’t fret yourself about me being a corporate shill. Having said that, if any baby companies want to send some free stuff my way I’m not above charity.

I’ll try to link to where we originally got the product and all photos are courtesy of the respective sites.

Fisher Price Papasan Cradle Swing – My Little Lamb – 3 stars (out of five)

This swing sits in our living room and is a great place to plop Kate when we need to run to the bathroom or shovel in some food.  The material lining the seat is beyond soft and I kind of wish it came in adult sizes.  My major beef with this swing is that the lowest swing setting was insanely fast when Kate was first born.  Now that she’s ten pounds plus we can swing her on the lowest setting comfortably but I still would not go beyond that.  There are a myriad other speeds that she may never experience since she may not be able to use it much longer because it’s only appropriate up until she can sit up on her own.  She also isn’t quite aware enough yet to get any benefit from the mobile and mirror and might not until she’s too old to use the swing.  I also had visions of this rocking Kate gently to sleep but I think she’s fallen asleep in it a grand total of two times.  This may be because she’s a bit of a clingy baby but it’s worth noting.  Another little complaint is that it takes up quite a bit of space in our already cramped living area.  I haven’t tried one but sometimes I think a cheap bouncy / vibrating chair would be just as handy. Others have complained about it eating up pricey D batteries but I haven’t really noticed this, probably because we don’t have it turned on much.

Spa Baby Bathtub (actually purchased in store here but it’s not listed on their site) – 4.5 stars

I was terrified of using this the first time and initially it was a two man job, which is the only reason I knocked off a half a star because otherwise Kate loves her bathtub.  Before she lost her umbilical stump we bathed her laying down in our big tub on a towel and she screamed the entire time.  She’s all smiles with this bucket set up.  Now that she can hold herself up pretty well (we like to think of her as a neck strength prodigy) it’s a breeze to bath her. I recommend checking out the how-to video on the product website if it seems daunting to use.

Quinny Buzz 3 Stroller + Maxi Cosi Infant Seat (ours is actually the discontinued lemonade colour) 3.5 stars

I don’t have a ton of experience trying out strollers so this one is a toughy but here goes: the stroller is smooth and handles well. I do run into things often in close quarters because the rear wheels are wider than the stroller itself and apparently I have no depth perception.  Both the stroller and car seat are lightweight and the stroller packs up small which was essential since we don’t have much trunk space.  The car seat, however, is pretty large and can’t be placed behind the passenger seat in our Matrix without it being pulled all the way forward to the dash. My biggest problem with this system is that the only thing I can do easily is expand the stroller from its collapsed position. I’ve only had a bit of practice since we don’t go out much and I couldn’t lift anything until a few weeks ago on account of having a c-section but collapsing the stroller and lifting the car seat out of the car and stroller is a total headache for me. Chris reports that he also has a bit of trouble getting the car seat out of the stroller and that the brake is a bit tough to engage. Also, if you plan on toting a lot of junk around the mall this is also not the stroller for you.  It has a tiny triangular insert that goes between the wheels on which you can fit a few diapers and a burp cloth and that’s about it.  It’s also worth mentioning that it’s a pricey system.  The car seat was a gift and we would not have been able to afford the whole thing otherwise. (Just a note: if your car set is green everyone will assume that your baby is a boy even if she is wearing a dress and even if they knew you were having a girl.)
Arm’s Reach Mini-Convertible Co-Sleeper 4 stars

This little unit is attached to our bed on my side so I can easily hear Kate wake up and nurse her.  I love not having to get out of bed and walk to her room at 3 a.m. to see what’s up and I also love being able to sleep with her near by without her punching me all night.  The nifty thing is that the whole thing also turns into a play pen which will be handy later on.  Also, it collapses into a storage bag so we can take it with us on our travels (like to my grandparent’s in Ontario next week!)  Chris had some difficulty assembling it so set some time aside for that if you go this route but otherwise it’s been a good buy.

I’ll be back soon with some more reviews!