Friday, December 14, 2012

Make Your Own Nursing Tops

The nursing/maternity fashion industry has a wide variety of clothes to help us during this time of change. As our bodies grow and develop during the nine months of a pregnancy, so do our wardrobes. There are several staple pieces that I would recommend getting - one of them being a slimming camisole to help you through those postpartum days. The others are nursing camisoles. And if you prefer to buy them, my strongest piece of advice to you is: shop clearance! Buying a $3 pair of maternity shorts/shirts in the middle of winter might seem silly, but you'll be happy you did when you're 8 months pregnant in the heat of August. Plus, shopping ahead can save you up to 90% instead of paying full price when you really need it. But when you don't find the great deals, you'll still need some clothes. If you don't have $35 to spend on a simple shirt with an extra layer so you can nurse your baby, or if you simply want to be frugal, here are some easy ways to make your own nursing tops!

1) Since layering is in style right now, this idea is awesome. What you'll need: tank tops, chalk, and scissors. I usually stock up on clearance tanks at the end of summer. You will be cutting these, so you can also use your old tank tops for this project. To begin: put the tank top on, and draw one line under each breast. Take off the tank top and cut the lines, making one slit under each breast. Don't make one big one. Make two. Depending on your bust size, you'll have to make them as big or small as you need. This idea allows any top to become a nursing top. It also provides so much coverage, you'll be comfortable and confident without a nursing tent - I mean, cover. :)

1b) I will add, however, that I do not use nursing bras, as they are cumbersome and expensive. I use regular bras (without underwires, of course), which make this nursing top option very easy. I don't have to play around up there looking for the plastic snap before unfolding the extra layer. If you have ever fussed with a nursing bra, you know what I'm talking about. Having the easy access slit allows me to pull everything up in one motion and latch my baby faster than you can say, "What?" :P

2) The second idea is to use a belly band. You might think those are just for pregnancy, but not necessarily. By using a belly band after giving birth, it will not only provide you with some shape, but it will also help you nurse with ease by freeing you from the need of a blanket/nursing cover. Besides, by buying from the link above, you're helping a stay-at-home mom's business!

That's all I got for you. You don't need the nursing tops, nursing cami's, nursing bras to make it work. I've been doing this for 14 months, and it's great.

Share your ideas if you do something differently!

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Wool Soaker DIY

A long time ago, my mom told me the amazing benefits of wool diaper covers, often called "soakers". They are naturally odor resistant, breathable, and antibacterial. They are also very comfortable and easy to care for, as you don't need to wash the cover after each use unless soiled.

They sound awesome, but they are incredibly pricey. I haven't found a good one yet for less than $30! So I went to the thrift store and found three wool sweaters for a total of $9. I washed and dried them, so they became "felted". Then I found an absolutely wonderful tutorial on Pinterest (of course!) and went to work. In the end, I was able to get TWO soakers out of each sweater. That comes down to $1.50 each! And each one only took me about 15 minutes to sew. Unreal!

The green soakers used for this tutorial were the softest, finest wool out of the three sweaters I found.  The other sweaters were much more thick and made sewing a little tricky. So when you're looking for sweaters to use, try to find wool that isn't already very bulky!

 First I cut out the pattern pieces and fabric.

I'm just making sure I have all the pieces. Here are the leg bands, waist bands, and cover. Good to continue.

 The kids stayed busy painting and eating while I sewed.

 Little Huck!

 My sewing machine already had green thread! Love when that happens!

Step one: Sew sides together. I have a regular sewing machine, so I used a zig-zag stitch.
Serging would be great though. :)

 Step Two: For the leg bands and waist bands, I folded them length-wise and sewed the sides together.

Step Three: I took the waistband that was sewn on the side (top band) and folded it in half to look like the bottom band.

 Step four: I took the folded waistband, turned it upside-down, and placed it inside the cover. It was time to sew the waistband to the cover.

Step five: There should be THREE raw edges at the top of the cover. Sew them all together. Again, I used a tight zig-zag stitch.

Step six: Do the same for the leg bands. Fold them in half, place them inside the cover, and sew all three pieces of fabric together (two from the folded legband to the one piece of fabric from the cover). At the end, your cover will look like this. Time to flip it right side out...

You're all done!

Little Huck looks great showing off his new soaker!

Yeah, he's a love...what can I say?

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Save with Insultation

This upcoming week, we're having our house assessed for energy efficiency. I'm surprisingly excited for this, because Ian and I are all about saving energy. Partly for the cost, but also partly because it's the right thing to do. We want to know what we should change or be doing differently to do our part in conserving our resources. The inspectors will be checking our appliances, furnace, windows, attic, basement, roof, and insulation. I know we have poor attic insulation because we have dreadful icicles in the winter. Yes, they're pretty, but not a good sign! I wonder if the inspectors will recommend any Insulated Concrete Forms, or ICF. If we have to replace anything in the foundation, I would rather do so with some high-quality products that will work in the long run.  
Other ways we've been conserving lately is unplugging the Christmas tree during the day and once we're in bed. I pouted about this, but Ian insisted. For one thing, we can't see the lights during the day anyway. And at night, we're sleeping, so it shouldn't matter what's going on in the living room
We're also shutting off lights when we leave the room and keeping the oven off unless we are baking more than one dish. It takes a little bit of effort and memory to do all these things, but they do make a difference. To us, they're small. But if everyone did them, the change would be unstoppable. Make a change and make a difference!

Mama Zoe

My friends have been telling me for years now to watch the show Parenthood. So I finally started to do just that a few months ago. While I wouldn't recommend it for a really young crowd since morally it's not amazing, I flew threw the first three seasons during naptimes. I had been told that there was something amazing happening at the end of season 3, so I was pretty curious to keep going.

So we have a main character Julia, who is a successful lawyer and desperately wants another child. After months of trying to conceive, she finds she won't be able to. She and her husband Joel begin looking into adoption. So cool. Oddly enough, the coffee girl at Julia's work, whose name is Zoe, announces she is pregnant. She's young, living with her boyfriend, not into the pregnancy, and says she wants to put the baby up for adoption. Julia befriends her...and eventually she asks Zoe if she can adopt the baby.

Zoe says no.

It's troubling. Zoe explains she wants a fresh start and is going to close all options of adoption. She says it would just be too hard to go through with everything. It's clear she's looking into abortion.

Julia continues to be her friend...and slowly, their relationship grows. In a beautiful way, Zoe eventually agrees to let Julia and Joel adopt the baby. Zoe even moves in with them for a few months to get her life in order after she breaks up with her lame-o boyfriend.

Julia is right there at the hospital when the baby is born. Though it's quite dramatic (and I'm sure she wouldn't have had to scream as much if she'd been able to get off her back and into a more comfortable birthing position, but anyways, off my soapbox), the birth brought tears to my eyes. Zoe refuses to even look at her son...and says she doesn't want to hold him.

Julia's moment of becoming a new mother again had me forcing back tears. She takes the newborn into her arms and cries. It doesn't even seem like a tv show at that looked so real. I cried along with her.

A couple days later, Julia's family is entering the hospital to pick up their baby and say goodbye to Zoe. Julia goes first so that Zoe is not overwhelmed. But then, as she passes the nursery to say hello to her son, she is shocked to find Zoe talking, smiling, and cuddling her little boy.

No words are spoken...the exchange takes place though glass windows. Julia is clearly upset and hurt...but Zoe is amazing. You see a transformation in her. Though she seems apologetic, she also looks protective, ready, and sure. There's no going back.

Though Julia's family is incredibly devastated over losing their chance at a new baby, the season quickly moves on to other dynamics. However, the awakening of motherhood in this young woman was so powerful and moving...I hope every one who saw it was as blown away as I that they would include such a beautiful, pro-life story in their show. There were no fluffy-frilly "choose life" scripts. Instead it was real, heartbreaking, and heartwarming.

Well done, Parenthood. So very well done.

Healthy Ways to Feel Fuller Longer

Every since Little Huck began eating table food, I find that our family plows through the fridge in just a few days. I'll be thinking, But I just went to the store on Saturday! as I write up another shopping list. It can be very difficult to keep these kids full. With Little Olive doing her exercisers all day long (see photo to the right), and Little Huck doing everything in his power to sneak up the stairs, and me chasing after them, I too find myself growing hungry ten minutes after we finish cleaning up lunch!

The solution? Healthy, whole meals. Obviously, you may be thinking. But in all seriousness, it's true!

Instead of just toast and butter, I'll whip up some tasty celery sticks with peanut butter for a snack. Little Olive and Huck would eat peanut butter right out of the jar if I let them, so sometimes I'll make PB lollipops. Simply spoon peanut butter onto spoons, let them chill for a few minutes until firm, and serve. They're to die for! Add a glass of milk, and they have a nice snack. I cook their eggs in coconut oil or left over bacon grease. (When we can't afford bacon, having the flavor is amazing.) I add butter, cream cheese, and sometimes regular cheese to their mashed potatoes. When I serve veggies, I make sure they're buttery and salty so they gobble those peas and green beans right down! Yogurts for breakfast, or carrots dipped in salad dressing keep the kiddos smiling all day. (If only it were that easy!)

Share any secrets you have for keeping your kids happy and healthy with good food choices.