Saturday, February 28, 2015

Life lately...

It's been a whirlwind up in these parts over the past couple of weeks.

The biggest thing taking up the most of our time is trying to move.
Operative word: trying.
Mother Nature and my immune system have not been supportive of our efforts to get into our new house.
The first weekend we tried to move, we had -25 degree wind chills and wind gusts of 60+ mph.
And snow.  So we did some packing and only moved some non-essentials.

Max likes to help

 The following Monday, I fell down the stairs after putting Max down for a nap.  Don't worry, I'm fine (though my tailbone says otherwise).  I continue to be thankful for the fact that I wasn't carrying Max when I fell.  And I no longer traipse up and down the stairs in slippery socks.  I learn my lessons the hard way.

That night, we got a bit more snow and Victor had a snow day on Tuesday.  Perfect day to get lots of packing done and a bit of moving since it didn't snow that much, right?  Ha.  I caught a stomach bug and was hugging the toilet all night Monday and was too weak and sore (from falling) on Tuesday to be worth anything.  I don't typically get throw-up sick.  Didn't even have morning sickness when I was pregnant.  So that stomach bug wiped. me. out.  I HATE being sick like that.  So much that I now correct myself when I want to say something is so gross that it "makes me want to throw up."  Because I don't want to throw up.  Ever.  Again.

Ok, back to why we still haven't moved into our house.  We got even more snow last weekend.  Snowed all day Saturday.  We packed things, but didn't move anything.  It snowed some more Thursday morning.  This is the third weekend we've attempted to move, but now we're about to go on vacation, so we're waiting to move the rest of our stuff until after we get back.

Helping dad take the table apart

The moral of the story is: don't plan to move in the winter in Maryland.  Because Mother Nature will laugh at you.  She'll laugh right in your ecstatic little face.

Other things that are happening around here include:

-Max decided that the best time to poop today was when I was trying to put him down for both of his naps, riiiight as he was about to drift off to sleep.  I spent 1.5 hours of my day today trying to get him to take a flippin' nap.

 -I emptied Max's drawers and closet of all of his clothes that are smaller than 12 months size.  At his 9 month check-up last week, Max weighed in at 23 lbs., 14 oz. and is 30.5 inches long.  90th percentile for weight, 95th for height, and his monster noggin is in the 97th percentile.  But his pediatrician assures me that he's not going to be tall when he grows up because Victor and I are shorties.  The kid came out with red hair and blue eyes.  I say anything is possible.

-Max is cruising everywhere.  Around his crib.  Along the couches.  Behind his elephant and singing walker.  He's all over the place.  He's not standing or walking without support yet, so we're not completely screwed, but we're pretty close.

-We're preparing for a cross-country flight with a teething 9-month-old who's never flown before.  Prayers please.

 -I'm reading every night before bed and I'm LOVING it.  Currently reading Still Alice by Lisa Genova (also a movie starring Julianne Moore).  So good and so sad; it's about a woman who is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease.  I hope to see the movie once I finish reading.

Before that, I read Leaving Time by my favorite author, Jodi Picoult.  I had lots of dreams about elephants while reading this book.  For realz.  Also a great read.

Before that, I read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  'Twas cray-cray, that book, but so enthralling.  Also saw the movie a few weeks ago (very true to the book) but left the room during one particular scene that I knew was coming and I knew I couldn't handle since I read the book first.  How's that for being prepared?


That's about it from these parts.  I'm super-excited to be heading to Arizona in a few days for some Cincinnati Reds spring training and to have some fun in the sun with my Ma and my Sis!

Goooo Redlegs!  This was from my trip to Arizona in 2012.

Friday, February 20, 2015

DIY No-Sew Crib Rail Cover

Now that Max is pulling up to his feet every chance he gets and is still chewing on everything he can get in his mouth, this has happened to his crib.

Looks tasty, huh?
I'm not comfortable with Max eating paint for a snack, so obviously I needed to get something to cover these rails.  I looked for crib rail covers on Amazon, and a cover for just one long side cost $23!  A set of 2 short side covers also costs $23.  Max's crib is uniform all around, meaning that he doesn't have the decorative higher long rail (technically the "back" of the crib), so I'd need to buy two long rails and a set of short ones.  That's $70 to cover these bad boys.

I am my father's daughter, and I don't pay for things I can make myself.  So after I did the math, I said,

"Efff. That."

I did some Internet trolling and found out that I could make a no-sew fleece one (much like the no-sew fleece throws I used to make as gifts in high school and college) for a fraction of the cost!  So Max and I headed to Jo-Anns during their fleece fabric sale and picked up some supplies.  I decided to do a patterned fleece for the short rails and a cheaper solid fleece for the long sides.

If your kid is eating the finish off of his crib, then this tutorial is for you!  If not, I've heard that most kids do eventually, so it might be a good idea to whip a set of these up ASAP so you can be ahead of the game.

DIY No-Sew Crib Rail Cover

Here's what you'll need:
measuring tape

Hands/fingers not pictured
  1. Before you buy your fleece, measure your crib rails.  It's pretty inevitable that you're going to need to buy way more than you'll need because of the way fabric is sold.  I got a yard of fleece for the shorter rails and 2.5 yards of fleece for the longer rails.  I'd rather have too much than not enough.
  2. Wash your fleece.  Wash and dry it on the delicate cycle to avoid pilling.  I didn't dry it on the delicate cycle and I'm upset that I didn't because it's already pilling.
  3. Drape your fabric over the rail and either measure or eyeball the length you need to cut.  For a project like this, I love eyeballing.  It doesn't need to be perfect.  Make sure you leave enough hanging down on either side to allow for cutting the strips to tie.
  4.  After cutting the appropriate length of fabric, take it off the crib rail and fold it in half, "hot dog style" (the same way it'll look when it's hanging on the rail).  Then make approximately 4-inch cuts up into the fabric (starting at the "open" end), about 1 inch apart.  Repeat for the entire length of the fabric.
    I didn't take a picture of this part, so here's one from another tutorial.
  5. Drape the fabric back over the crib rail and get to tyin'!  The tutorial I saw recommended tying every other pair of strips and tucking the skipped ones up into the fleece, but I tied each one, meaning I tied 2 pairs of strips between each crib rung.
  6. Repeat steps 3-5 for each crib rail.  Max's long rails have a different design than his short rails, so I didn't need as much fabric to wrap around the long ones as I did the short ones.

When you're all done, stand back and admire your handiwork!

This took me a bit over an hour to measure, cut, and tie all sides.  Max helped by reorganizing his closet and making a mess.

Life with babies is a gas, right?

Friday, February 13, 2015

Notes of Thanks

I feel like I've spent a good portion of the last 2.5 years writing thank you notes.

That's what happens when you get engaged, then have an engagement party, then have several bridal showers, then get married, then get pregnant, then have several baby showers, then have a baby, then get that baby baptized...  Man, we've been busy!

I was raised to write thank you notes for every gift I received.  My mom always stressed the importance of expressing gratitude in writing when others were generous enough to give me a gift.  After every birthday and each Christmas, my sister and I would sit down at the kitchen table and write out thank you notes to friends and family.  If they weren't completed within a week of receiving a gift, we would have to send the gift back.

While I didn't enjoy writing thank you notes as a child, I'm so glad my mom made me do it.  It is something I still do to this day, without question, and you can bet I'm going to make my kids do it, too. Even "just because" gifts and gestures are reciprocated with a thank you note from me.  It's what I do.

I just finished writing the thank you notes for all of the gifts Max received for his baptism (literally, I finished 5 minutes ago.  Had to do a few a day for the past week).  I bought special "cross" cards for the baptism thank yous, but I also always have several different ones on hand, just in case.  You never know when you'll need one!

A sampling of the cards I have on hand
You can usually find me perusing the Target Dollar Spot and the dollar aisles at Michaels for cute little packs of cards to keep around the house.  Some are dedicated thank you cards and others are blank cards.  Both come in handy.

I certainly hope the thank you note doesn't become obsolete.  A good majority of our communication these days is done through email, social media, or text message.  But the thank you note must live on!  I think it is so important to send these little notes of gratitude.  They are more personal when they are hand-written and sent through the mail as opposed to being sent via email.  Besides, who doesn't love receiving snail mail that isn't junk or bills?!

As I mentioned, I've written my fair share of thank you notes, especially in the last couple years.  I've consulted a few websites here and there to help hone my technique.  Here are some great tips I've found to help create a nice template for a well-written thank you note that comes from the heart.

{Not all steps will apply to every thank you note you write.}

1.  Greeting.  Be sure to address each person that the gift was from by name.  Make sure you spell all names correctly!
Dear Aunt Judy,
Dear Cecilia and George, 

2.  Express gratitude for attendance at your event.   If you received the gift at a party, shower, or other event, be sure to thank the guest for attending.  Tell them how their presence made the event more special.  If the person could not attend the event but still sent a gift, let them know they were missed.
I'm so glad you could come to my birthday party.  It was so much fun celebrating my birthday with you.
We missed you at my baby shower!  It was a lovely day celebrating our baby boy.

3.  Express thanks for the gift and tell how it will be used.  Be sure to convey how much you appreciate the thought that went into choosing the gift, even if it's money--tell them how you'll spend it.
Thank you so much for the pajama set.  I can't wait to cozy up in them with a movie and popcorn!
I just love the adorable clothes you gave us for baby Joey.  He is going to look so handsome in those overalls!

4.  Look ahead.  Mention the next time you might see them.
I'll see you next month at Lucy's birthday party.
Hope to see you again soon!

5.  Restate your thanks.  Try to add new details.
Thank you again for your generosity.  We can't wait to use our new china set.
I feel so blessed that you could celebrate with me.  I couldn't imagine turning another year older without you!

6.  End with your regards.
Many thanks,
With love,

Of course, I take some liberties with this template, depending on who the recipient is.  I'm more formal with my mom's boss and some family acquaintances.  I get a little silly with my sister or close friends.  The bottom line is to make sure the recipient knows how grateful you are and that your message comes from the heart.
Do you write thank you notes?  What do you like to include to express gratitude?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

This measles nonsense...

Is anyone else (mildly) freaking out about this measles stuff?

I am.  And my freak-out reached a new height today now that I'm certain that Max has a cold (and by "cold," I mean he has a runny nose, probably due to all the kisses and love he received at his baptismal celebration).  In case you didn't know, cold symptoms (fever, runny nose, cough, sore throat) are the same as the early symptoms of measles.
I'm also worried because he's too young to be vaccinated.
And because he's too old to be protected by the antibodies in my breastmilk.
And because I tend to unnecessarily freak out about things.

Granted, most of the measles cases are out west, but still, I'm nervous.  There's only one reported case in DC, none in Maryland, and a suspected case in Virginia tested negative for the virus.

I can pretty much guarantee that I'll be nervous for the next few days while I wait for a rash to break out--and I know it likely won't--but I'm still worried.  And no, I don't think you'll be able to convince me not to worry.  My mom calls me a "worry wart."  Victor says I'm a hypochondriac.  You can call it whatever you want.  It won't make me worry less.

I'm so jealous of Max's cousin's mom, whose son will be vaccinated against measles in a few weeks when he turns 1.  Never did I think I'd be longing to have my little boy pricked by a needle.  I'd love to have that peace of mind during this outbreak.  But alas, Max needs to wait another 3 months.

Max isn't worried at all.  He's too busy figuring out how to crawl under the chairs to make it seem like he's in a cage.  He's also walking everywhere with his Sit to Stand Learning Walker.  It's likely that he's growing some new teeth, too.

I'm sure he'll keep me super busy over the next few days that I won't be able to obsess over an impending rash.

I'll still worry when I can, though.  Promise.

Also, I'm not sure how the only dust bunny in my entire house managed to sneak its way into the above picture.  (Lies...there are many dust bunnies in my house.  Max is really good at finding them.)

Monday, February 9, 2015

May God Bless and Keep You Always

We had a busy weekend around here.

Our sweet Max was baptized on Saturday!  We had a lovely ceremony at church and a rockin' party afterward at Victor's parents' house.  Max was a total rockstar and kept his cool even after missing his afternoon nap due to all the excitement!

Handsome little fella

We are so grateful for all who came out to celebrate our little guy's big day!

Here are some photos from the day.

Before the ceremony.  Mom and sis came to town for the occasion!
The Prado Family...including one of Max's girlfriends, pretty Annalise
Daddy and Max
Already not paying attention at church
Bath-time has prepared him for this moment.  Didn't even put up a fight!
Bless this child
Victor Simba-ed Max
Parents and godparents
Both sides of the immediate family
Proud parents!
Glam-ma and Auntie
Tio and soon-to-be Tia
Crawling out some energy
Tios and Primos Encarnacao.  Max was too distracted by his cousin's hair to look at the camera
Primos.  I have a feeling it won't be long before Max and his cousin Jayden start causing some trouble at family parties.  And his cousin Juliana is going to be an awesome babysitter!
Tia and Primas
A table of handsome lads
Max's other girlfriend, Eleanor

That cake.  Yum.
It was a beautiful day celebrated with family and friends.  I made a lot of DIY decorations but didn't take any pictures of them.  Shame on me.

How did you spend your weekend?

Friday, February 6, 2015

Baby essentials?

This article popped up in my News Feed on Facebook this morning, so I thought I'd give it a read to see if I agreed with its claims.  I am, after all, a pro at motherhood after 8 months.  Ha.

A list of things new parents don't need from The Washington Post

Turns out, I sorta agree.  And I'll tell you why.

The article lists many popular baby "essentials" and then tells you why they're not worth your time and money.  Some of the items I agree with completely--such as a wipes warmer--while others I have found to be at least a little bit useful.  Still, there are some things on this list that I completely disagree with.

A changing table.  The article states that it's not necessary to buy a separate changing table because you're rarely going to actually change baby's diaper on it.  I agree 100%.  We got this dresser from Ikea and just put a changing pad on top of it (highly recommend this dresser.  It's HUGE!).  Still, I have changed Max's diaper more often downstairs as opposed to in his bedroom, and now that he's so mobile, I prefer to change him on the floor so he doesn't roll off of the furniture!

Diaper bag.  You need some sort of bag to lug all of baby's things with you!  The article states that a regular tote bag will serve just fine, and then you can use it after baby is grown up for whatever you want--sure, that makes sense.  I like all the pockets in designated diaper bags, though; it makes it easier to find things and stay somewhat organized.  I bought a different diaper bag after using the one I registered for for a few months--it kept slipping off my shoulder.  Seems silly, but when you're also toting a baby, you don't want to be thrown off balance by a finicky diaper bag.  I really like my new one from Skip-Hop.   This one does not slip off my shoulder.

Diaper pail.  I disagree with this one completely.  The article states that you can just take your trash out more often to avoid needing a diaper pail.  But our trash isn't full every day, even if we put a day's worth of diapers in there.  We actually have 2 Diaper Genies, one in our family room and one in Max's room.  Diapers stink.  Diaper pails hold the stink in.  The end.  Of course, this is a personal preference.  Many people can get by without a diaper pail.  I just can't.

Diaper stacker.  Correct.  Unnecessary.  I just fill one of those little drawers in Max's dresser with diapers.  And downstairs, we had an extra little cabinet we used to have in our bathroom that I store diapers, bibs, and burp cloths in.  You just need a place where the diapers are easily accessible.

Baby swing.  OMG I 100% DISAGREE with this one!  Max's swing saved my life when he was itty bitty!  It soothed him immediately!  If you've studied the 5 S's for baby soothing, swinging is one of them (the rest are shh-ing, sucking, swaddling, and side/stomach position).  I didn't even register for one but my mom insisted that I get one and boy, am I glad she did!  Yes, it takes up space, but it's worth it.  I almost cried the day we had to pack it away because Max was too big for it.

Baby shoes.  Agree.  Max has chubby feet and can only keep shoes on for about 3.2 seconds before they fall off.  He lives in socks and his Zutano booties (these are AMAZING and great for the winter.  Max hasn't been able to kick these off at all!)  However, I have been a bit jealous of all of my mommy friends whose babies can keep shoes on.  I personally think they're a(n adorable) waste of money.  But to each her own.

Baby monitor.  Um, I love my monitor.  Yes, I usually can hear him cry without it, but I like spying on him.  When he first started sleeping in his room, I would zoom in on his stomach to make sure he was still breathing.  Keeps me from needing to go into his room every 5 minutes.

Wipe warmer.  Never had one, don't think it's necessary.

Bassinet.  The article agrees that it's reasonable for the first couple of weeks, but not much beyond that.  We got a Pack 'n Play with a "napper" attachment.  I used that for the first week.  Then I started swaddling Max and put him down in the pack 'n play on the raised bassinet attachment (it basically just raises the bottom of the playard up higher).  He slept wonderfully.  Never had a Rock n' Play like many of my friends had.  Don't think I'll get one for future babies, either (although it takes up much less space than an entire Pack 'n Play, so if you have a small space, that might be for you).

Baby books.  I love my baby books.  I'm an independent gal by nature, so I like to figure things out on my own, in my own way.  Yes, I listen to my mom and mother-in-law, but it's been 25+ years since they've had babies.  Things have changed, new resources are available, new research has been conducted which recommends new practices, etc.  So get your baby books if you want.  My favorites are the What to Expect books, The Happiest Baby on the Block, and now The Sleep Lady.  Also, Sage Spoonfuls was recommended to me by a friend for baby food recipes and how-tos.  I love it!  (I just got the cookbook, not the entire kit.)

And there you have it: my expert mommy opinions.  Bottom line, go with your gut, new parents.  You'll figure it all out.

I leave you all with this cute mug.

Crappy cell phone pic

Have a wonderful weekend!