Finally, a bit of mommy guilt?

I was just considering showing my blog a bit of TLC, when I got wiped out with a stupid sinus/stomach flu/cold thing. My kid got pink eye, a cough, and a stomach bug, all within the space of two weeks. And now my husband is fighting off a cold/pink eye as well. Phew.

Well, I’m better, and baby R has not thrown up in over 24 hours now. So… yay?

Anyway, last week, I watched the Today Show, since I couldn’t go into work and there was nothing else to do. They had a segment on how, apparently, moms drink. A lot. They drink during play dates. They drink while updating their blogs. And then they come home from work and drink some more.

OK, that seems like a bit of exaggeration. But then they added how some moms, I guess, become alcoholics, too.

Now, I’m not discounting or making light of alcoholism, but I do have to add that, like, the very next day, baby R’s stomach virus started. So, that morning, I got up and breastfed my child like normal.

Well, when I say she projectile vomited, I mean it was bad. She threw up not once, not twice, but four times all over me. It was like some sort of horror movie, where the demon possesses the kid and all heck breaks loose.

We did send her to daycare, and before you say, “Hey, you shouldn’t be sending your kid to daycare when she’s throwing up!” I double checked with the doctor’s office. You see, she was also on a breathing treatment, with an inhaler, that same week due to wheezing. They said it was just her body’s way of getting out all of that mucus or something. So I assumed she wasn’t sick, just getting all the yucky stuff out.

Anyway, later that day, after my second shower, I went into work and did my pumping thing. I’d had to buy new breast pump bags since I ran out last week. The husband and I were both exhausted, since I was sick and my husband was probably coming down with his cold thing. So we ran down to the local Walgreens, since it’s right down the street and the Target is like fifteen minutes away. All we could find were these teeny, tiny bags that are technically made so you can hook them on to your overly priced Medela pumping machines. My insurance doesn’t cover those, so I use Avent, which means the bags don’t work with what I have.

I rather wrongfully assumed you could use just the bag part to store the milk, so when I opened the bag to pour the liquid sustenance, it spilled all over the counter. All over the floor. And all over me.

Of course, I was furious that all my hard work for that day was literally down the drain. And I probably spent the rest of the day at work smelling like old milk.

Then I got home from work and the baby promptly puked on me again.

And we’re not supposed to drink… why again?

Personally, I haven’t been drinking since I’m breastfeeding, and my kid does not usually like to wait the requisite 2 1/2 hours before eating again during the day time. But if, like, I had a glass of wine before bed every now and then, is that so bad? Moms deal with a lot. Sometimes it’s as simple as a hectic schedule.

And sometimes it’s every bodily fluid all over your best work pants.

It kind of bothered me that The Today Show took the whole, “Drinking leads to Mommy Alcoholism!” viewpoint.

I’ve actually had very few experiences with “the mommy wars” or people questioning my parenting decisions. But this was like my first experience with “mommy guilt.” Although I’m not drinking currently, once we’ve completely weaned and baby R is trying to figure out how to get past the baby locks, I’ll probably have a glass of wine. And I’m pretty sure that’s okay.

Of course, alcoholism is a completely different enchilada, and it’s important to seek help if it applies to you. It just felt like the segment was, “If you drink, you probably do it way too much.” Ugh. Way to make assumptions.

Maybe I hang out with an abnormal crowd, but I have never encountered a play date with alcohol, anyway.

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Sewing a purse

I had a couple more friends who had a baby shower, so of course I got to work! I found an awesome class on Craftsy, where we were supposed to learn how to make drawstring bags, but I procrastinated until, like, Thursday for a Sunday baby shower, so I wasn’t in the mood to make the drawstrings. I used most of the pattern (as in, I used fat quarters and cut out the pieces the way the pattern indicated), but it was my husband’s idea to add straps. I actually had never done that before, but I was so tired of these two projects, I slapped them on and called it done. You can totally see the haphazard stitch work on the right side, but, oh well. They ended up kind of cute after all.

One was made for a boy, and the green one was purposely gender neutral since we don’t know what it’ll be yet!

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brown purse

Nothing seemed to go well with these two purses, so I also threw together a quick receiving blanket/burp cloth in case I needed it. The purses turned out okay, so I’ll no doubt find another friend who is having a baby, haha. I found some tissue paper and booties/washcloths to put in there for the babies, since I realize purses really have nothing to do with babies. I’m hoping the mamas-to-be can use them for quick outings. Maybe they can throw a couple of diapers and wipes in there to go?

receiving blanket

It wasn’t easy, but I managed all three projects in three days. It got to the point where I’m so burnt out from sewing, I wasn’t in the mood to work on Baby R’s baby dress!

Erin Condren review

DISCLAIMER: This is entirely my own review. I did not receive reimbursement for reviewing this planner at all. I just bought one and loved it!

Hello, everyone! I’m writing here from the land of ‘Oh my gosh, so this is what being a working mom is like.’ The capital of that land is ‘Who on earth thought this would be a good idea, and I bet they were far more organized than I ever hope to be.’

Anyhoo, in an effort to somewhat maintain sanity in an insane world, I knew I needed a different planner. Before, I used the Calendar feature on my iPad, which was nice, but kind of blah and, I don’t know, not very interesting.

Enter the Erin Condren Life Planner. I love it! It’s totally up my alley, and it’s cute, too. I also ordered some pens, so I can be doubly crazy and color code all my activities.

planner cover

There’s an option on the website to customize your own planner. I picked brown with stripes because it’s pretty neutral. And, I don’t know, I think it’s cute.

week view

Anyhow, it has both a day and a month view. If I have to plan something way in advance, I tend to put it in the month view and update it as necessary (i.e. a dentist appointment.) The only downside is the day view is split into ‘Morning’, ‘Afternoon’, and ‘Evening’, and the boxes are relatively small to write in. I need a checklist to cross things off, please! ;)

Oh, well, it’s really a minor inconvenience all things told.

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The other added thing that I love are stickers. I love that I can peel off a sticker from the back and add it to my month calendar. There’s nothing more exciting than seeing ‘Day Off’ stickers in your calendar section. (Two weeks, baby! But, I digress.)

I also really liked that it comes with a zip-lock bag and a folder, but I haven’t found use for them, yet.

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ziplock

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How to Organize Your Coupons

Well, I didn’t get as much blogging done as I’d imagined while on maternity leave. I go back to work on Tuesday, which I’m finding so hard to believe! It feels like I just had my appointment to tell me I’d have to be induced.

Today, I’m sharing ways you can organize coupons. There’s a wide variety of ways, so if one method doesn’t work for you, there’s bound to be something out there that works.

Here’s what you should consider when you look for a coupon organizing system:

–How much couponing are you wanting to do? Some people like to spend significant amounts of time searching for good coupons. Some people want to save money, but don’t want to spend a lot of time on it.

– Do you need more help organizing your coupons? If you’re constantly struggling with keeping up with your coupons, you might want to consider a larger holder, like a binder.

– What do you want to carry into the store with you? Some people don’t mind carrying a big binder when they shop, but others might find it to be a hassle. Personally, the less I have to juggle in a store, the better — especially since I have an infant, and I’m also juggling a car seat!

Here are some ideas you can use to keep up with all those coupons when you shop, to help you save money.

coupon binder

1. The first and probably most popular method is the binder system. I’d advise this system for people who are a tad more serious about their couponing. I tried it myself for a few months and found it didn’t work for me. Each Sunday night, I would sit down with the paper and cut coupons, which could easily take me at least an hour to accomplish. I’m a half-hearted couponer at best. Sure, I like saving money, but typically don’t spend enough time to double coupons or buy products in bulk.

If you’re good at couponing and like deep discounts at the register, this is probably for you.

The trick is to buy baseball card holders and to divide your binder by sections. Each week, you’ll want to clip as many coupons as you can to add to your collection. The slots in the plastic are deep enough that you can add coupons if you’re doubling up, and it’s probably the most organized way to keep your coupons together.

accordion file

2. Accordion files are also popular. You’ll want to get the smaller kind, so that the coupons will fit into the sleeves without sliding around too much. Simply take a permanent marker and label each file with the items you buy most. This takes slightly more discrimination, since you only have so much room.

Since the accordion file doesn’t have a lot of space, you’ll need to be more discriminatory on which coupons you put in there. The way that I coupon is the night before I plan on going shopping, I go through the papers and the coupons I’ve received in the mail to see if I can find a coupon for something on my list. I keep a running list through the week of things I need to buy on the weekend, so everything is together and I don’t spend time cutting coupons out that I’ll never use.

3. The other way is to use an organizer that you buy specifically to keep coupons. The Couponizer was a good in-between for people who weren’t into the binder system and needed some more specific organization, but the last time I checked, they were completely out. If you go to Amazon and search for ‘coupon organizer,’ you’ll find plenty of options serving many different kinds of lifestyles. You can also search for organizers on Etsy.

Since you can’t create your own system if you buy it online, make sure you read the product discriptions and reviews to make sure the organizer you’re considering matches your lifestyle, and how you want to coupon.

Hope this helps!

How do you organize your coupons? Do you use a system that wasn’t mentioned above? Let me know in the comments!

20 Ways Things You Can Use To Organize Your Home, for Free

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Think organizing has to be expensive? Think again! Here are 20 things from around the house you can use to help you become more organized:

1. Shelves

2. Hooks

3. Wrapping paper

4. Manila folders

5. Cork board

6. Bulletin board

7. Binders

8. Dividers

9. Moving boxes

10. Clothes hangers

11. Ice Cube Trays

12. Computer

13. Vase

14. Mugs

15. Glasses

16. Shoe boxes

17. Stickers

18. Crates

19. Rods

20. Mason jars

Thanks to Bob Vila for some of these ideas. Haha.

Wonder Weeks, Or Why Is My Angel Crying So Loud?

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If you’ve had a baby for longer than three seconds, you’ll know that they cry. A lot. They cry because they’re hungry. They cry because they’re mad. They cry because you waited five seconds before changing their diaper. They cry because you dared to put them in their crib to sleep a half second before they actually fell asleep.

And sometimes, it seems like they just cry.

Back when Baby R was about five weeks old, I wondered why she was crying more than usual. I desperately searched for answers. Was she hungry? Mad? Was I holding her wrong? I changed her diaper about six times before I realized she just seemed to be in a funk. Can babies be in a funk?

Of course, I turned to Google for the answer to that perplexing question. “Why is my baby crying all the time?” I typed into the Search Engine.

One of the first things that popped up was a site called The Wonder Weeks. Evidently, each child goes through a period of rapid mental development every few weeks until they obtain all the skills they need to function in life. This makes them fussier as they learn to deal with their new world.

Sure enough, their first wonder week starts about week five, with another one at about week 8. Not only were the authors right on the money as far as fussiness, they also were right on the money as far as the skills Baby R was learning. Since Hetty van de Rijt and Frans Plooij seemed to have the timeline down-pat, I became a believer and immediately downloaded the app and the e-book.

For instance, my little one just came out of the week 8 wonder week. I’ll show you some of the main things that she’s picked up:

This wonder week was the world of patterns. This is what Parenting Magazine has to say about it:

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Wonder Week 8:
The World of Patterns
Sometime around 8 weeks your baby will begin to experience the world in a new way. He will be able to recognize simple patterns in the world around him and in his own body. Although it may be hard for us to imagine at first, this happens in all the senses, not just vision. For example, he may discover his hands and feet and spend hours practicing his skill at controlling a certain posture of his arm or leg. He’ll be endlessly fascinated with the way light displays shadows on the wall of his bedroom. You might notice him studying the detail of cans on the grocery store shelf or listening to himself making short bursts of sounds, such as ah, uh, ehh.

Any of these things—and a whole lot more—signal a big change in your baby’s mental development. This change will enable him to learn a new set of skills that he would have been incapable of learning at an earlier age, no matter how much help and encouragement you gave him. But just as in his previous developmental leap, adjusting to this new world will not come easily at first.

BODY CONTROL:
She kicks her legs and waves her arms.
Kicks at playthings (sometimes)
Tries to lift her head and body when lying face down.
Makes faces

HAND CONTROL:
Swipes at toys (sometimes)
Attempts to grab objects
Touches and feels objects without holding them

LOOKING AND SEEING:
Discovers hands
Watches me move around the house (for some odd reason, she thinks it’s really amusing when I sweep.)
Enjoys watching fast-moving images on the TV
Watches facial gestures (as long as she’s in a good mood, she’ll smile back at me when I smile at her. Awww!)

LISTENING AND CHATTING:
Enjoys listening to singing
Makes a series of sounds, mumbles, and gurgles, as if telling a story
Makes short bursts of sounds, such as ah, uh, eh, mmm, and listens to herself (although she kind of combines vowel sounds together now, like “ah-gu” “ahh-rrr” and “ooooeeuuu”)
Chats to smiley toys

Phew! Now that I’ve written out the list, I think I have a social butterfly on my hands. She seems to really, really like to talk. Haha.

So, the next time your baby cries, check out The Wonder Weeks book… he or she might be ‘growing up!’

Tips on Organizing Small Spaces

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If you own a small home with lots of small storage spaces, I completely empathize with you. It’s hard not to look at those massive storage units on Pinterest and covet them for yourself.

However, you can organize your small home and make it look good, I promise. Here are some steps I take when starting a new project:

1. Before you start any project, take stock of what you want your space to be used for. For instance, for the closet shown in the picture above, I primarily wanted to space to organize all of my wrapping paper, but since it’s by the front door, I knew we needed to put our coats there, too.

This will help keep you focused. Try to avoid the temptation to put a bunch of ‘miscellaneous’ objects in a box, since you’ll never remember where you put them later when you go looking for those objects. Also, it will actually make the space more cluttered in the long run, since you’ll most likely be tempted to put everything in your miscellaneous box, if you’re anything like me.

2. Take stock of what you might need. If there’s no shelving, you might want to buy a shelving unit. If you just need to keep similar items together, either find some unused boxes around the house, or go find some that you like and fit your personal style. The more you like the organizational technique you’ve selected, the more tempted you’ll be to use it.

3. Take everything out and measure, measure, measure. If you’re working with a small space, it’s extra important to make sure all of your measurements are right on the money. If you decide you need a shelving unit for your space, and you buy something that’s too small or too big, it obviously won’t work. Getting the measurements right the first time will save you time and money.

4. Scourge. Be ruthless during this step. Don’t like it? Figure out if you want to donate it or trash it. In bad shape? Throw it out. Doesn’t go with what you’ve decided to use the space for? Find another spot in the house for it. Shred, file, or throw out any paper clutter you find.

This is one of the reasons that measuring is an important first step. You’ll want to make sure everything you put back into your space fits neatly. If it’s all crammed in, it won’t look organized.

4. I don’t usually do this, since I’m not artistically inclined, but you may want to do something like paint the walls, or if you’ve decided to use boxes to organize the space, you could always decorate the boxes to make everything look nice and cute. Just make sure that whatever you do here doesn’t add to the clutter.

I’m boring so typically I just label everything with my label maker.

5. Obviously, at this point you’ll want to install a shelving unit if you’ve purchased one, or put boxes on the shelves in your space, or however you’ve decided to organize it. We put tiny baskets we found at the dollar store in the closet in the picture shown above to hold any small gift wrapping accessories. We also bought the shelving unit to attach to our wall.

6. Put everything you’ve decided to keep back into your space. Hopefully, by this point, you’ve significantly reduced the objects that go back into your space. Put things that go together nearby. For instance, we had a box of ribbon and string, so we added scissors because it made logical sense to have the scissors with items we would normally cut. You might want to put things like tape and glue together, since they serve similar functions. You get the idea.

I hope this helps you come up with ideas to organize your own small spaces! If there are any other tips you can think of, I’d love to hear about them as well. :)

Happy Rockin’ New Years

OK, secretly I resolve to not play with my food. Just kidding.

OK, secretly I resolve to not play with my food. Just kidding.

Happy Rockin’ New Years, as Dick Clark would say.

I had all these awesome crafty things planned throughout the month of December, and I failed just about all of them. Turns out, having a newborn and a sick husband really takes it out of you, haha.

So that’s where I’ve been. My blog isn’t going anywhere, I promise.

This morning, I was searching Pinterest, and I found this great template for New Year’s Resolutions.

http://ashfromscratch.blogspot.com/2013/12/welcoming-2014-and-creating-those.html

As always, a click on the image sends you to the original website.

Anyway, I loved how positive the template is. I find that if I make a resolution to “Stop being late to everything,” I break it pretty quickly. It’s like I can’t deal with it unless it’s presented in an upbeat manner, if that makes any sense.

So, this is what I came up with:

Bad habit to break: Always running late. When I started to become more organized last year, I knew this was something I should work on. Alas, I still run late to about 95% of everything I’m invited to.

A new skill: I’d like to learn sashiko. I got some books and a kit for Christmas and it looks REALLY hard, haha.

A person to be more like: I couldn’t think of anyone specifically, but I would like to work on having a more classically elegant look this year. I’d like a promotion at work, and I’d like to look more professional.

A good deed: I’d like to challenge myself to do missions work at church. Not necessarily a missions trip out of the country or anything fancy like that, but I’d like to do something to at least impact my community this year through the church.

A place to visit: I chose Myrtle Beach. I’ve actually never been, but everyone loves it and I have this cute (and, I’m sure, unrealistic) image in my head of me and my daughter sitting on a beach blanket playing with toys in the sand. For some odd reason, in this vision Dad is off playing in the waves. What makes this unrealistic is that I imagine there’s nothing but smiles and giggles and no one — not even my redheaded daughter– gets a sunburn.

A book to read: The Happiness Project. Because I deserve to be happy!

A letter to write: I have this goal to write a letter to my kid each year until she turns 18. I have no clue if she’ll care about this or not.

New food to try: I couldn’t really think of anything, but I’d like to get something unique and cool from the Thai restaurant in my city. Or else, go to the authentic Mexican restaurant and get something that, you know, they actually eat in Mexico.

Do better at: I’d like to remember to do my prayers and devotionals, because I’m horrible at remembering that.

And that’s it! What are some of your goals for this year?

Very Early Sleep Training

Oh, my goodness — everything hit at once around here.

To be honest, the last week or so has gone by in a daze. My husband has been working six days a week — well over 40 hours — leaving me alone with the little one. I can’t complain, since this is just how it is in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Always has been, always will be. I didn’t think too much of it when we had this discussion during my last month of pregnancy, but maybe I should have. This week has hit me very, very hard. It was like all of the exhaustion I’ve experienced in the last 7 weeks hit me like a train. I mean, yesterday I got decent sleep, I suppose, but it just didn’t feel like enough.

Part of me wants to go out with the baby and at least walk around the mall for awhile, but I feel so apathetic I don’t even want to do that. Plus, I think Baby R is undergoing a “wonderweek”; yesterday she woke up crying and basically did not stop until my husband got home. Just nothing soothed her. I’m not sure about her, but I need to recover.

I’m not sure if I’ll finish the 12 Pins of Pinterest challenge. I am so exhausted.

One thing I did accomplish was helping the Little One turn around her days and nights and get better sleep.

Saturday night was awful. She finally collapsed at 2:45 AM, which, sadly, is not atypical. Every time we put her down in the crib, she’d wake up screaming until someone picked her up. I’m all for letting her cry a bit if she’s just fussing a little bit, but this was hysterics. So I decided to put a stop to this ‘no sleep for anyone’ tradition.

I spent most of Sunday Googling bedtime routines. It’s a bit too early for formal sleep training, so I decided to start a bedtime routine for around here, too.

This is what I came up with:

8:00 PM: change into a night outfit.
8:00-8:25 ish (or whenever she’s had enough): quiet play time. Someone suggested playing a bit in their room before they go to bed, so they learn the nursery is not a place that they are banished to when it’s time to sleep. Right now we do tummy time here, which she’s not a big fan of, but oh well.
8:30: clean diaper.
8:35- whenever: nursing
8:50: Read.
After that, we swaddle her, cuddle as needed, and listen to lullabies or white noise, or whatever works.

The actual bedtime has varied each night. Sunday night, we actually had a Christmas party to go to, so we started later than 8 PM. Here is a breakdown of the times she actually went to sleep each night:

SUNDAY: 10:30 PM.
MONDAY: 4 AM. Not sure what happened here, but it was a bad night for everyone, haha.
TUESDAY: 10:30 again.
WEDNESDAY: 8:17. She was lethargic and wanted to sleep all day, so we went for it.
THURSDAY: 11:45, and, quite honestly, after the day we had yesterday, I’ll take it!

Today, I feel better than I’ve felt in a long time. Just a tad bit of energy is all I needed.

Yesterday, I caught an episode of The Cosby Show where the oldest child (I think her name is Sondra?) says that having kids was a lot harder than she thought it’d be, and multiple generations of women all nod knowingly. Her great-grandma, her mom, and her mother-in-law all trade stories of that first year or so. I know it seems silly, but I found a lot of encouragement in that episode. I am not the first woman who’s been shocked that this is more than just a glorified baby-sitting job, and I will not be the last. I’m responsible for raising a child.

And, while I love baby R, boy is it hard. Everyone warned me, but I didn’t believe them.

Now, if only I could get enough sleep so that I feel even the slightest bit rational, I’d feel a lot better about this raising a child thing.

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What I’m Working On… In The Craft Room

Like my new blog set up? I used Blogelina’s  wordpress transfer to get everything on my own domain. Pretty cool, huh? You might see some changes in my blog over the next couple of weeks as I figure out some of the new features I have access to.

Anyway, the past couple of days have been difficult. I know I usually try to update three times a week, but Baby R has this new thing where she will not fall asleep before 3 AM! Aaargh! And I’m a momma who needs her sleep. She’s six weeks old now so it’s time for some serious sleep training. This can’t continue. I’ve been a zombie for the last week or so.

Anyway, I most likely won’t finish The Cooper before the deadline for the sew-along, but I thought I’d show you my progress so far. At this rate, I’d be excited to have it done before Christmas.

The front looks great, but the back was cut weird for some odd reason. It looks like I’m going to have to rip out the stitches and recut contrast fabric for the back.

And yes, I’m putting off attaching the straps. In the directions, they tell you to fold the straps so they only measure one inch across, and boy, was there a war with the fabric. Even after pressing them to an inch of their lives, they still did not want to fold. So I grouchily pinned them to the bag and hoped for the best.

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