Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

This is the message of Christmas: We are never alone."
~ Taylor Caldwell (1900-1985), English novelist.
 Our Christmas card photo.

My parent's Christmas card photo.
Candy Cane 2

And, a month later, one chubby elf.
Santa's Helper Reporting For Duty 

Wishing you a joyful Christmas! 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tummy Time Fun

Our beautiful girl is one month old. Here she is having a wonderful time at her check up. She is now officially 9lbs 7oz which is just over two pounds more than she weighed at birth. We are so proud! And, since I am breastfeeding I am pretty dang proud of myself too. For real.

Anyway, while I was pregnant I started a "pin board" on Baby Activities.  Today we came up with an activity that I actually consider blog/pin worthy. While at the doctors we discovered that Marilee loves the crinkly paper on the exam table. So, we decided to recreate that fun at home with some parchment paper. It worked great. The waxy side was actually a little bit "grippy" on the bench and the paper side was slippery enough for some good play time. Now she had two parents inches from her on this padded bench. Otherwise, I would definitely do this on the carpet.

If I waited to post this until I had a chance to edit that rough ending out, it would never get posted. Warning this video contains delicious baby toes.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

My Awesome C- Section

11-19                                                               12- 2

My mom just left on Tuesday, so for the first time in two weeks I have had lots of alone time to think about my birth story. For a while there I was too busy with the happiness, the nursing and the laundry to be reflective. I want my story to be out there because it is really hard to find C-section birth stories online.

Here is my birth story. It's an awesome, happy, mostly painless c-section story.

My official due date was Dec.2, but because of all my other surgeries I was scheduled for a c-section on 11-22-11. We were so excited about the date because it is a palindrome and we are nerds. On Sunday 11-20 we made plans to go to Ojai (small quaint town 1 hour away) for a sweet "last day as a couple" date. We were both a little nervous about going so far away, but Ojai is a really special place to us. It's where we have gone following every miscarriage for some peace. It's sacred Indian land and I swear it is the most peaceful place I have ever been. Anyway, Sunday night I went to bed and Baby Z was doing flips upside down and sideways. She was so active! Cliff asked, "Is there anyway she can bust out?"
"No!" I reassured him.

Well, at about 1:00 am I sat up in the middle of a dream and said, " I have to pee." That's when I felt and heard a pop and was flooded. I told Cliff, " I have either REALLY peed myself or we are having a baby!
So much fluid! Gross! Anyway, I called my doctor who was fast asleep and didn't know who I was. He told me to go to the hospital and wait until my contractions were so many minutes apart when he would come in to catch the baby. I didn't bother correcting him because when I got to the hospital I figured the nurses would set him straight, which they did.

At the hospital they hooked me up to monitors and we tried to sleep. Well, that's a joke because hospitals and sleep are incompatible. Eventually I started having contractions and although I was only 2 cm dialated they were less than a minute apart. They weren't too painful, but I did have to breath through them. Cliff had not yet been to sleep, so he was desperately trying to catch a nap. I decided to have an epidural so that I would be able to sleep. I thought Cliff might sleep better if he knew I was pain free. After all, I was having surgery anyway, there would be drugs so why be a hero?

Well, the epidural didn't work at. all. But try to convince people of that! Not too easy. Finally the anesthesiologist was poking me with a toothpick and asking what it felt like. "Um, it feels like being poked with a toothpick."

At about 6 am my primary OBGYN showed up. He ordered a spinal and friends it was MAGIC!!! Loved it! A warm blanket of mercy!

Soon my other doctor showed up. I was so filled with joy. Here were my two docotors, who've held my hand in some very dark times, there to deliver my baby. It meant so much to me that they both could be there for something good too. It was very celebratory. We joked and laughed and before long they announced that her head was delivered.

I asked if she would cry and they said, "soon." Just then came the shriek of all shrieks. Glass shattering! Whew! She was loud! God love her! This baby has always kicked just when I was panicked that she had been still too long and here she was shouting, "here I am" so I would have no doubts about her lung health.

So there she was, born 7:10 on 11-21-11, just about 24 hours before her scheduled arrival. She gets that from me. I am often the first one at a party. Even when I try to be late, I am often early. And, clearly she doesn't care about pallendromes.

Cliff followed the baby around getting cleaned up and getting some pictures. I was fixed up and taken to recovery.  I nursed her there for the first time and we spent the day just gazing at Marilee. That first night Cliff had to go home to get some sleep. I was quite relieved that my night nurse, Theresa, was a lactation specialist. She was with me throughout the night and I owe any breastfeeding success to her. She taught me about nursing while lying down, how to do "kangaroo care." I was able to nurse and doze throughout the night. In the morning, I actually felt pretty accomplished.

My parents arrived from FL the next day and we went home that Wed. There have been a few sleepless nights, an engorgement problem, a latch problem and some issues with gas pains. Step by step, one learning at a time, we are finding our way. Overall, Marilee is very easily consoled and very alert.

She's a super duper pooper! Thank goodness for cloth diapers! I don't feel so bad when she poops through three diapers in one changing! So far we are washing diapers every day. It's not so bad since our washer/dryer is right in our apartment. Cliff is especially supportive of cloth diapers which is nice. Even my mom, who thought I was crazy, was pleasantly surprised by the ease of modern cloth diapers.

My recovery has been awesome. I feel great and even fit into my clothes again. Apparently, Marilee was a tapeworm in a former life. I've been on walks most everyday. We have been out to lunch and dinner and Cliff and I have even gone on a movie date. Had to take advantage of Granma's babysitting while she was here!

 Sitting Pretty
I saw this pin today. It says, "The wold may be broken, but hope is not crazy." Amen.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Help me decided:
Which should I nibble on first?

She's got legs

Or burrito?
First Thanksgiving

Never mind. Today is a day for feasting, I'll have both!

We are home. We are well. More details to follow.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

First Thanksgiving Outfit- Inspired By Pinterest & Project Runway

First Thanksgiving Outfit
Originally uploaded by Jane Little

So, here I am just two days away from "D-Day!" With nothing but tons of time on my hands, I have been trolling Pinterest and watching Project Runway online. It's really kind of crazy. Also, I cleaned out my craft closet last night which inspires me to craft like nothing else.

Looks like we may be home in time for Thanksgiving. There were two adorable Thanksgiving shirts I pinned. However, the images are gone now. I guess people are cracking down on pinning.  I guess I can see why, on the one hand. It can be annoying to be copied. On the other hand, the people who are going to copy are not the same people who are going to buy anyway. Like me for example, I am not going to buy a Thanksgiving outfit because I am going to have a baby in two days and it wouldn't get here in time anyway! LOL.

Also, because I can make it myself in less than three minutes, in the size I need and with scraps I have on hand.

So imagine these cute t-shirts with simple turkeys with ribbon feathers.

I just happened to have this little brown cap that says "Got Candy?" on the back. It is for a photo op with my mom who 1. loves candy and 2. bought stock in Hershey's. I got the hat and matching onesie at the dollar store and all I want out of the outfit is this one picture with grandma.

But, I figure this cap can be reversible since we won't be going anywhere anyway.

The cap is too tiny for ribbon loop feathers and frankly too tiny for embroidered details. So I used snips of ribbon and painted the face on with a toothpick. Then remembering Tim Gunn's rant about glue guns on Project Runway, I decided to glue gun the whole thing together.

I tried to color match to this swaddle blanket I picked up at Goodwill just because it had Thanksgiving colors.

So there you have it a first Thanksgiving outfit.

I can hardly wait!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Due Date- One Week Away! Pink Christmas

With just one week to go, I decided it was now or never for Christmas decorating. I had my heart set on a pink Christmas and fell in love with this pink tree from K-Mart.  However, Cliff wasn't too sure about a pink tree. (I think since all the baby stuff started appearing he has been a bit on pink overload.) The $65 price tag was  more than I wanted to spend. I am sure it will go on deep discount later and I might be tempted to pick one up at that time, but I didn't want to wait.
 Baby's First Christmas Tree
Then one night I was in Target and I browsed through the Matthew Mead Holiday magazine.

Gorgeous! It was just the inspiration I needed. He featured a white feather tree with pale pink tissue paper flowers tucked in the branches. It was then that I knew, I would be very happy with this white tree from Walmart for $25 . I happen to be flush with pink tissue paper from my showers. They were easy to make and fill in the gaps where you can see the pole very well.
Close up
I am very happy with it.  
During the 80's and 90's I amassed quite a collection of Cherished Teddy ornaments which are perfect for a pink tree. Cliff's parents picked up this Fisher Price ornament at their factory store. The classic stacking rings were Cliff's first present to me when he was just 4 and I was only a week old. Yes, we go back that far. Actually, I had quite a few pink ornaments. It was so nice to leave the majority of my Christmas decorations behind and do something new.
Close Up
Then, I hit the jackpot at Goodwill today and found this adorable deer. You know I am out of the blogging habit because I totally forgot to take a before picture. But, you have all seen a realistic looking ceramic animal before. Props to all of you who can spray paint these figurines to perfection. I am far too impatient. My coats were a bit thick and drippy. Hard to tell though because I used semi-gloss paint which is a bit more forgiving. Anyway, I love this pink deer.
Painted Deer
Tonight I am working on the mantle. More pictures to come!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Finally Getting My Creative Mojo Back

I must be nesting, because at long last my creative spark has returned. Oh sewing machine, how I have missed you!

Color Books For the Nieces

Back in August I thought I would get a jump start on Christmas. I wanted to have all my Christmas done before the baby came. You know, just in case it's really true what everyone says: "Your life is going to change!"

I also wanted to use what I had on hand to save time, money and energy. So I decided on I Spy books for my 8 month old nieces. Well, without much creative energy it was a real drag. I got a good start, but it wasn't too much fun and seemed endless.

Then my mojo came back last week and well, here you go!  Soft color books!

Each color has a big picture with some interesting textures and an I Spy page.
Color Books
I tried to use as many interesting textures as I could. Mass producing things isn't really my thing. I get easily bored and prefer to mix it up. So, I tried to pick a few personal things for each I spy page. For example, my niece Ava loves to see her brothers off on the school bus. So her yellow page has a school bus. Meanwhile my niece Elle's book has a John Deer tractor in honor of our Grandpaw.
Cliff was really patient with the mess I made making these. He also requested one for our own daughter.  Yes, I did make one for her too! I figured it was now or never!

These literally took months to make, but I think the end result is worth it.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Halloween Update #2: Extravagent Generosity

 Our Coat Rack
This picture makes me so happy. Just the thought of sharing our coat rack with a wee one is thrilling, but this little pink "jacket." has a special story.

It was an eventful Halloween morning when a young Crayon we call Red arrived.

 This was our conversation:

Red- "Hey Mrs. Little, I got you a baby present for your baby!"

Me: "Thank you Red, that was so nice of you."

Red: "Yeah, my parents told me I could have money for a baby present or a Halloween costume and I chose to get you a baby present."

Me- (Stunned.) "Wow! Thank you that means a lot to me. That was really generous of you, but what about Halloween? Do you want to go in the costume box and get a costume?"

Red: "No. I made a costume. With the left over money from the baby present, I bought a really cheap sheet and made a ghost costume. Wanna see it?"

Me: " I sure do."

He proceeds to pull on a traditional ghost costume much like the Peanuts Gang wore, except it has some simple sleeves.

Me: "Wow, Red, that is really cool. How did you make the sleeves? Did you use staples?"

Red: " Nope. My god-mother came over and helped me sew the sheet like this to make sleeves. And, I drew the face with marker because I didn't want to look like those mean guys who wear sheets. Do you know about those guys?"

Me: "Yes, yes I do. I assure you, that is a terrific ghost costume. I am so impressed! This gift is super special to me!"

This month my pastor has been preaching on extravagant generosity, but once again my Crayons were the real teachers. I am so impressed with both Red and his parents. In this day and age, they certainly didn't have to bankroll both a teacher gift and a Halloween costume. By giving him a choice, they fostered his financial skills and his creativity. I am truly humbled.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Halloween Update #1 - This One Is Good!

So my young friend from the dollar store turned out to be a 4th grader from another class. She showed up promptly at 7:30 am to go through my costume box. She became intrigued by a large piece of dalmatian patterned fleece.  So we worked to build her a Cruelella costume.  She wore a large red blazer left over from a Santa costume. She wrapped the fleece around her shoulders like a scarf. Donned a long blond wig and carried a dalmatian Beanie Baby.  It was a bit hap-hazzard, but she was very happy with the whole get up.

I didn't get any pictures because while I brought my camera, I forgot the memory card. Boo.
But! The really cool thing is she won a prize for "Most Creative" in the fourth grade at the parade!

It was pretty awesome!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Halloween -Sort of Pinterest Style

Oct. 30 -23 days till D-day! 
Crazy busy weekend getting ready for what might be my last day of work before the baby comes! Whoo hoo! Well, I thought Halloween was going to be my last day, but my sub got sick and I still have tons of things I wanted to complete and prepare for her. So, I may just work another couple of days to get stuff done and spare myself from writing sub plans. Writing sub plans is more work than actually teaching sometimes. I am going to play it by ear tomorrow.

Any leftover energy I might have had for crafting is used up making a baby. Thank goodness Pinterest has been there to inspire me. I would never of thought of this cute pose all on my own. Here is the original pin. Love the lighting and the pose is better too. But you get what you get and you don't get upset when you pull over to the nearest city parking lot p' patch and ask a complete stranger to imitate a professional photographer! Can I hear an "Amen?"

In other news, I continue to have the highest of hopes when it comes to making my beloved Crayons festive treats. I actually thought I had found something easy enough to make as directed. But, no. I was too busy to go to the grocery store this weekend and ended up having to use what was in my pantry.
The Pinterest Inspiration Cupcake:

My Cheesy Imitation

I truly thought I had the ingredients to make the "slime" frosting, but alas I was out of corn syrup.

I will say this. God sent me a little angel to remind me that cheesy cupcakes, overwhelming to-do lists, sick subs, blah, blah, blah- I have no *real* problems. As I walked into the dollar store on the way home from church to pick up bug toppers for these cupcakes. A voice yells out, "MISS LITTLE!!! MISS LITTLE!!!" And low and behold there is some child that I don't recognize screaming my name across the store. She runs up to give me a  hug and exclaims with such excitement, "I didn't know you lived in this neighborhood too!"

Well, I don't and if she goes to my school, as I assume she must, she shouldn't live around here either. We are bursting at the seams overcrowded and I know that technically I should report any out of district students. Anyway, I am going to look the other way on that one because tomorrow is supposed to be the first day of my maternity leave and what's one more student in a school of 700?

So she follows me around the store dashing between my aisle and her mother's aisle filling her in on who I am so loudly the whole store must know I am one of the FOURTH GRADE TEACHERS!!!!

While helping me search for bugs, she tells me that she won't get to trick or treat this year because by the time they get home on the bus it will be too dark. So I say, "Well that's OK, we are having a big parade at school tomorrow with lots of candy."  Then she tells me that she can't participate in the parade because she doesn't have a costume. They can't afford one this year. Mind you folks, we are in the dollar store. 

Doesn't that make your heart break?

Never fear. I may have the dumbest looking non- Halloween cupcakes in the world, but I do have a BIG box of costumes in my classroom and an appointment with one little girl whose name I don't even know first thing Monday morning. 

Who says Halloween isn't a Christian holiday? Not me. I think I just got schooled by the big guy Himself.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Luck Be A Cloth Diaper Tonight...

Cloth Diaper Blog

I have had some great luck with contests lately. More details shortly. One big thing is an extra special gift.  Anyway, I  thought I should keep playing and see how long this streak will last.

Here is a contest to win 3 FuzziBunz diapers. Yes, I am going to try cloth diapering. Looking forward to it too. If it doesn't work for us, there are always disposables just around the corner. Really want it to work though!

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

CSI Challenge: Nursery Nook Closet Makeover

I haven't been too crafty this pregnancy. Maybe making a person takes all the creative energy I have? Mostly I "pin" all the things I'd like to make.
Recently, this donation of newborn clothing from one of my former colleagues forced me to take baby storage seriously. Holy onesies Bat Girl! Just in time, the CSI girls announced their closet makeover challenge and that motivated me to put some fun in functional.
Nursery Nook Closet-Before
We have decided to have our wee one sleep in our room for the first 6 months or more. We have a lot of out of town family coming to help us. So, maintaining the guest room for their visits seemed wise. Fortunately for us, we have a large master bedroom/bath with a big nook in the front of the room. It even has it's own little closet!

After I removed the ill fitting mirrored doors,  I cleaned out the whole closet. My wedding dress preserved in that big box will go under the bed my dad made. My good dresses have been stashed in Cliff's closet for now. Most of those shoes and purses will get donated. Sadly, my feet are growing and the boots barely fit. Sigh. At the end of the day, it wasn't too hard to give up this closet for a while.


Here you can see the closet empty. There are a few issues. First off, it's directly behind our bedroom door and not three feet to the other side is a wall. It's an awkward spot. To get into the closet you have to close the bedroom door completely. Also, it's a very dark spot as you can see in these pictures.

I briefly considered a curtain door, but decided to leave the whole closet open for ease of use. Also, I want to look at all those beautiful baby things. They are so sweet and so many were gifts from friends who share in our joy. Actually, there is nothing about this time that I want to hide behind a curtain. I want to savor it all. Since it would be visible, I wanted to make it cheery. To make temporary "wallpaper" I hung a favorite sheet that I had been saving for just the right project.
The metal shelf was a hard worker in our pantry at the old apartment. After we moved it became semi-retired in Cliff's closet holding a baseball cap, a gym bag, and a pair of shoes.  I knew I could do better, so I recommissioned the shelf here. Lucky for me, the 99 Cents Only store had these nice collapsible fabric bins. I had seen similar bins at Target and K-Mart for nearly $8! Score!
 Fabric Bins from 99 Cents Only
The thing about dollar store purchases is limited selection. In the size I wanted, navy blue was the take-or-leave-it color. While navy probably wouldn't have been my first choice, I do like navy and pink together. I simply looped fabric scraps to make these girly pulls.
Girly Rag Handles for $ Store Bins
I really like the effect.
The labels are scrapbook paper with a bit of clear contact paper. Easy enough to change as Baby Girl's wardrobe progresses from mostly onesies to more variety.
Also from 99 Cents Only were these two pink baskets. I hung them with cup hooks and clips so that they would be angled down slightly. I really do love binder clips!
Another simple project was to make closet dividers out of old CD's. This worked well for me because the closet rod was so tight to the shelf. As soon as we get more clothes, I will be able to add them in an organized way right from the start.

Looking at the picture above became a total "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" situation. My other improvements made the scuffed up clothes bar look dingy and worn. So I had to paint it.  I had to paint it pink.
Much sweeter!
Since this is a temporary living arrangement, I really wanted to "shop" our apartment as much as possible. I had this little lamp from the old apartment and it's perfect in this area. I painted the cord to match our walls. I really like that it is a low watt light. This area is bright enough without being too harsh.

I also dug up this Eames knock off coat rack that I made several years ago. I love those cheery little knobs!
I wanted to have room to grow in this little closet, so I bought a great little closet bar doubler. For under $10 I think it is a great product. In this set up, the bar rests nicely on the metal shelf unit, but in another closet I can hang both sides to double the hanging space. It's perfect because baby clothes are so little.

By shopping my home and getting lucky with a few dollar store baskets I was able to create a sweet little closet for our wee one for about $15! That's pretty frugal by nursery standards!

Thank you CSI ladies for inspiring me to finish this task! I am also linking up with another favorite "Frugal Friday" at the Shabby Nest.

The Shabby Nest

And, last but not least...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Simple Project- CD Clothes Dividers

While searching Pinterest for nursery nook closet inspiration, I saw a lot of cute clothes dividers. The kind that allows you to separate your 0-3's from your 6-9's. My closet bar is super close to a shelf above it, so I decided to make my own dividers out of used CD's.You know those leftovers that used to upload software to a computer you recycled three years ago?

Step 1- Cut out a wedge in the CD using kitchen shears.
Step 2- Cut out the inner circle to a depth that works for your closet rod. Eyeball it. My closet rod was very close to a shelf so I also had to trim the top off.

Step 3- Decorate. If I was more productive I would have spray painted these and used rub on letters. Instead, I covered them with scrap paper and some clear contact paper.
CD Closet Dividers
Using what I have...easy peasy lemon squeezy!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Kids Christmas Gift for 2011

lI am a big believer in gift multiples.  A few years ago nearly everyone on my list got stockings. Before that I made many rice heat packs and cool eye masks. With multiples I feel as though I am being fair and enjoy the ease that familiarity brings to a project. With each gift it just gets easier. I also like seeing how I can personalize each project.

This year I have six kids on my list between the ages of 5 and 10. They all live long distance and that requires advanced postage planning. I am not sure, but I have been told that having a baby rocks your world. So, I anticipate that getting to the post office in time might just be a challenge this year.

So I was looking for an idea that would be easy to mail ahead of time and suitable for school age kids.

When I first saw this amazing project on Pinterest...

I just about died with cute overload! A gum advent calendar How sweet!!

Then it hit me! This is an affordable, light weight and easy to mail gift for kids ages 5-10!! And, it's designed to be sent early!

Then I wondered if I would ever need to come up with my own ideas again. Pinterest is just so awesome. I have found pretty much everything I have needed since joining this summer in a matter of minutes.

Gum Advent Calendars
I questioned whether it was even worth blogging all my Pinterest knock offs. Then it hit me in the middle of this project, My need to be cheap always throws a monkey wrench in everything I copy. Maybe other people would like to see how I solve those glitches?
Gum Advent Calendars
Like for example- the gum used in the inspiration project above has 12 pieces per pack. The gum I bought at the dollar store only has 8.  Believe me I was shaking my head when I discovered that. It never occurred to me that gum that comes in similar packaging could be both a different shape and have fewer pieces. I was so blinded by two packs for $1 that I never counted the pieces! Whoops.
Gum Advent Calendars
Thankfully 8 is a multiple of 24 so I could still make the calendar! Whew! What would I have done if there were 10 pieces?  My books just need to fold in thirds. It took a little playing to get the first one, but soon it was easy! Thank goodness for multiples.

Gum Advent Calendar

Another change I made was to use acrylic paint for the nose. Wouldn't you know it, my orange Sharpie was dead. I applied the paint with a toothpick and it worked perfectly. Maybe even better than a Sharpie.

These two are headed on the slow boat to China. My cousin moved her family of six to China last year. I was so sad, but thankfully facebook has actually made it very easy to stay in touch and see pictures of the kids. Hard to send gifts though. This project is really a blessing.

But first I need to  make another gum run to the dollar store!

Gum 2/$1 - 75cents per book.
Paper, paint, Sharpies and hot glue from stash.
Postage to China???

Pinterest Rocks My Teaching World

This year my district is going from a largely whole group direct instruction reading program to a largely centers/small group instruction model.  There are centers for English Language Development, reading and math. It's a good change, but it's going to take a lot of work and organization to make all those transitions and activities run efficiently.

Instinctively I am not such a great organizer. Boo!

Thank goodness there are hundreds upon hundreds of brilliantly organized teachers sharing all their ideas on Pinterest. I could read teaching blogs all day and not get all the ideas a quick ten minute browsing of Pinterest provides.

This idea., though, knocked my socks off.

 The little white thing highlighted here is a plastic stand that makes any binder into a flip chart!
They only cost $2 and look like they would be a good investment. I immediately began to search for them on Amazon. No luck. It seems that they are only available here.

Here en-lies the rub. I am super cheap to begin with and have already spent a ton of money and time on my classroom this summer. We have potentially five furlough days again this year so it's really important to stay within our budget. And, the site above charges $7 dollars to ship 5 of those little plastic things.

So I made my own.

Binder 1

First gather up two large binder clips and a short piece of ribbon-about 5" long.


Clip the clips to the binder covers and tie the two closest metal thingies together. Done.

Dear Ms. Plastic Binder Holder Maker,
I love your holder. Really I do. I would buy 5 for my classroom. I would. But you see, I have free Amazon Prime and I have become spoiled. Paying 70% of the product cost for shipping is just too steep. If your product shows up on Amazon, I will be the first to buy it. Promise.  In the meantime, Yankee ingenuity all the way.
Love, Mrs. L