Super Quick and Simple Sewing Project

For Christmas, my husband gave me a sewing machine. That may seem like an odd present, but it was exactly what I wanted. Now, I had no idea how to use such a machine. I barely knew how to thread a needle! But I desperately wanted to learn how to sew. I got the notion when I was pregnant with LJ last year; I wanted to make clothes for my girls (matching, of course). That is still the goal, but I've come to accept that it won't happen quickly. I have so much to learn!

For the past few months, I've been tackling small projects to get a feel for different techniques and build up my confidence. I've made a stuffed cat (that looked nothing like a cat, lol), wallet, a clothespin bag, a ton of table runners out of burlap (for my sister-in-law's wedding), a bib for LJ, and some reversible fabric headbands for me and C. Oh! And a wool cover for LJ - its super ugly but very functional. Every project has taught me something, and so far I absolutely love learning to sew.

I know about 12 pregnant women right now. Almost every one of my closest friends is expecting sometime this year. How crazy is that!? Many of them are on their second child, so they don't need a lot of stuff. So I thought it would be neat to make them some baby gifts. Nothing too ambitious, but some useful and cute stuff. Some things I obviously  need a trial run on, just to make sure they turn out okay and I know what I'm doing. Today's project was a trial run, but it was also something I needed.

I've been needing a diaper changing mat for the diaper bag. For some reason, I've never had one. That was fine for C, but I guess I travel more with LJ, so I've been wanting a mat. The ones in stores have way too many bells and whistles for my taste, and they're so bulky. My diaper bag is pretty small, so I needed something compact. I didn't need pockets and extra compartments; just a flat, clean mat to lay the baby on so I could get her diaper changed. I looked up a few tutorials online and found one I really liked, but today I decided to just wing it and create my own. I'm happy with it, even though its not the most attractive thing in the world!

This was my first time working with vinyl, and I have to say, its not my favorite material. But obviously, a changing mat needs to be able to be wiped down easily, and I saw iron-on vinyl in Wal-Mart recently, so I decided to try that. Adhering it to my fabric was really simple and basically fool-proof. Keeping it aligned with my backing fabric while I sewed the two pieces together was a different story. I'm sure I just need more practice and experience. I used a ton of pins to keep it all in place, but the vinyl was so slippery the fabric didn't stay like I wanted. I made it work, but it wasn't easy and its not perfect by any stretch of the imagination.
The tutorial I found on another blog used bias binding and added a strap to the mat. I don't see the need for a strap, but I think my next one (that will be a gift for someone else) will have the binding, just to give it a cuter look.

Also, I decided not to use any "stuffing" in my mat. I don't think its necessary, really. Its not like the baby stays on the mat for more than a few minutes. I may add a really thin piece of foam or batting to the next mat, though, just to give it a little cushion and substance. My mat folds up super thin and is perfect for my diaper bag, though, so I'm happy with my decision.
Basically, all I did was cut out my fabric (I think my measurements were something like 13" x 25"), iron on the vinyl to the fabric I wanted to be on top (you could do vinyl on both sides but I thought that might be too slippery on public bathroom changing tables), then pin the fabrics right-sides together, sewed them, turned them right side out, and then added a top stitch. Oh, and I threw on some velcro, though I really should have done that before sewing the fabrics together. It was really super simple! I kind of wish I had put the velcro on the other side, though. That way, when the mat is folded up, the vinyl side is facing out. Which would put the cloth side (the side that comes into contact with the nasty public changing tables) is in the inside and won't touch anything else in the bag. The vinyl part will be wiped off if anything gets on it, so it'll be clean - at least a lot cleaner than the other side! So I may need to change that up. We'll see.

For now, I'm happy I've completed another sewing project! Even better, its something I'll get a lot of use out of. Next up, I'll be covering a travel wipes case with fabric and then making a small bag to hold a few diapers. I think that'll be a cute baby shower present!


Cloth Diaper Catch-Up

The last time I talked about cloth diapers on the blog was way back before LJ was born. Which is kind of funny, since she's been in cloth diapers since she was 6 days old! I used Pampers on her the first 6 days because a few people had given us some. On that 6th day, though, I put her in one of her newborn fitteds and was instantly hooked.

So cute!! And holy crap, I can't believe she was ever this scrawny.(These are Clover fitteds and a Thirsties newborn cover.)

Because she was so small, most of my diapers didn't fit her yet. All she could wear was the newborn fitteds and covers I bought. And I only had 12 of those, so she wore Pampers part-time for a few more weeks. I tried to put her in cloth as much as possible, though. Once I ran out of disposables, I decided not to buy more and just make do with the cloth I had. And it was fine! It didn't take her long to grow into my one-sized stuff and prefolds.
I mean, I can't even. Tiny LJ, cute Rumparooz newborn cover, and still-big post-partum belly. Bliss.

Before LJ was born, I was washing C's cloth diapers once every 4-5 days. Since she was only wearing one diaper a day (overnight, actually), I just didn't have much diaper laundry. Sometimes I'd stretch it to once a week. But once LJ started wearing the cloth, I started washing diapers every 2 days. Once she fit into most of my stash, I had enough to go several more days between washings, but she was going through so many in a day that the diaper pail would get full quickly. Its not a good idea to wash too many diapers (or clothes, for that matter) at a time; they need room in the washer to get clean.

Washing every other day really wasn't a big deal. Maybe because I was already used to diaper laundry. Honestly, though, everything about this baby has been kind of low-key. I think a lot of it is because I'm not a first-time-mama anymore, and have more confidence in myself. Whatever the case, nothing seemed like a big deal this time. (A good example is the night feedings. When C was a newborn, I knew she'd be nursing every 2-3 hours round the clock, but every time she woke up to nurse in the middle of the night, it was a huge deal to me. I felt exhausted all the time, it was so hard for me to get up and do what needed to be done, etc. When LJ was a newborn, I had a different mindset. Instead of the "woah-is-me-my-baby-won't-let-me-sleep" mindset, I got in my head that she would be waking up every 2-3 hours and need a diaper change and a feed, and that was normal and unchangeable. And it was easier. I had no problem getting up and taking care of her. I was still tired during the day, but it didn't slow me down. And no, I didn't go back to work, but I also quit taking naps around 3-4 weeks post-partum, so its not like I was catching up on sleep during the day. I have just truly found the second baby to be easier on me. I guess I'm just lucky!)

I've used Eco Sprout laundry detergent since for LJ's diapers. I used All Free & Clear for years, but once I tried Eco Sprout there was a noticeable difference. My diapers were clean before, but now they're CLEAN. I'm not in love with having 2 separate detergents, and the Eco Sprout is not the cheapest thing ever, but its worth it to me.

C is no longer wearing cloth diapers, by the way. She does still need a diaper at night (she has an immature bladder and just can't hold it all night, and she doesn't wake up during the night to go potty - and I am not about to wake her up!), but I finally gave in and admitted that cloth wasn't working for her anymore. Nothing I tried was containing all her urine and she was waking up soaked every single morning. So I tried her in Good Nites training pants and they are wonderful. The actual panty part is reusable, which I love. She just gets a new insert every night, which is basically a huge, thick disposable pad. It holds an impressive amount of urine, and she's never had a leak in these. They're expensive ($18 for the starter kit which includes 2 pairs of the panties and maybe 5 or so inserts, and then $8-9 for a pack of 18 inserts), but hopefully she won't be in them too much longer. And it still beats having to wash her sheets every day!

Anyway, LJ grew out of her newborn fitteds around 11 pounds, which sucked because they were supposed to fit until 13 pounds. She got chunky very quickly! I'm so glad I didn't do the newborn rental option at Sweetbottoms like I had thought about. I would have had the diapers for 3 months, and wouldn't have really gotten my money out of them, since she was about 2 months when they quit fitting. I was able to use my regular size prefolds on her after that, and they were bulky but fit fine.

This is a bumGenuis pocket diaper. She was around 2 months old here, and I had it almost as tight as it would go to fit her. All my BGs are used, though, so they're a little stretched out. I feel like a new one-size BG would have fit her just fine, and probably sooner than mine did.

I have more pictures of her in cloth diapers, I'm sure, but at the moment this is all I can find! LJ is now almost 8 months old and hasn't seen a disposable diaper in several months. I think November was the last time I put one on her, and she got a terrible rash from it. These days, I wash diapers every 3 days (unless she fills up the diaper pail sooner). I'll get some more photos and do another update soon!

Next Saturday is the annual Great Cloth Diaper Change, and I'm super excited! Our location won't be participating in the Guiness aspect this year, but we're still doing the change and raising awareness. And we'll be getting swag bags and the chance to win prizes, so you can't beat that. To gear up for the Change, I've been participating in an Instagram photo challenge every day. #GCDC2015 takes you to some great cloth diaper-related shots!


The Liebster Award

Last night I mentioned that my friend Jessica over at Stitches, Seams, and Sass nominated me for the Liebster Award. Its pretty cool. Other bloggers nominate small-time blogs they like as a way to gain more readers and honor the blogs. I'm down with that, even though my posting here is sporadic at best. ( :

Its a pretty award. ( :

Here are the "rules" that go along with this award:
I'm gonna have a hard time with nominating 5-11 blogs. Especially since I've quit reading so many blogs religiously. The blogs I do follow already have huge followings, so they're not eligible - well, except for Jessica's blog, but she's already been nominated for the award. So what I'll do is when I run across a small blog I like, I'll come back and edit this post to nominate them for the Liebster Award. That'll work, right? ( :

Here are my answers to the questions Jessica asked on her blog...

1. Why did you start your blog?
I've kept a blog for 10+ years now, but my first blog is now completely private and I use it to record life events that are more personal, like a diary. I started this one a few years ago because I thought it would be fun to try to have a blog that people actually wanted to read. I live in the South, out in the country on a farm, and I do a lot things a little differently than others around here, so I felt like I had a lot I could share. Not that I think my way of doing things is any better than anyone else's. I'm "crunchy" but I'm not overboard about it. I use cloth diapers and feed my family Hamburger Helper. It is what it is. ( :

2. If you could have any job for a day, what would it be?
Professional equestrienne. Though I'd want to do it for more than a day! Years ago, I had the opportunity to be the manager of a huge new horse barn. I had worked at the owner's barn for a few years, and she got a new property and made her company much bigger. She asked if I would go be the manager at the new place, but I turned her down because it was about an hour away from home. (I know lots of people commute that distance to work, but I didn't like the idea of being an hour away if an emergency arose with my horses, and as manager I would have been in charge of a LOT of horses. I feel like a barn manager should be near the barn.) Now, the farm seems to be quite successful. It attracts reputable dressage trainers and produces horses with awesome bloodlines and potential. I don't exactly regret turning down the job, because I don't think I'd have my girls if I worked there, but I always wonder what if I had taken her up on the offer? Would I be riding a fancy dressage horse in some big-time show? Would I be traveling up and down the east cost with a slew of show horses? Who knows. Its a dream. I have three horses here, but I have managed to ride exactly once in the 7 months that LJ has been here. One day I'll ride regularly again, but until then, I dream. ( :

3. What is your favorite color and why?
Green. I love the spring time when green starts popping up everywhere; its a symbol of new life for me. Its also a calming color for me. I love it so much that I painted my living room a bold shade of green. ( :

4. What are the top 3 things on your bucket list?
 Is it strange that I don't have a real bucket list? There are a few things I've always wanted to do - ride a horse on the beach (I can't believe I've never done this), go ziplining (there's a new place in Raleigh that I intend on visiting this year to accomplish this goal!), and visit Europe. Specifically Ireland, Scotland, England, Spain, and France. My husband won't fly in a plane, though, so I'm gonna have to get a friend or family member to go with me on that trip. Maybe when my girls are grown it'll be a fun mother/daughters trip. ( :

5. What is the craziest thing you have done/almost done?
 I'm pleading the 5th on this one. ( ;

6. What would you do with your lottery winnings?
 First, I'd build us a bigger house. We're pretty cramped here.We don't need a mansion, but it would be nice to have our families over comfortably. And you know, have space for another child one day down the road.

7. Apple or Android?
Android for sure. I had an iPhone through my old job and loved it, but its just so "mainstream," and I hate doing what everyone else does, haha. I also had an iPad that I used daily. I kinda miss the iPad, actually. But now I have a Droid phone and really love it. I don't think I'll ever go back to Apple.

8. What is one thing you most want to get better at? Sewing. I desperately want to be able to sew my girls some clothes! I'm obsessed with them wearing matching dresses but they are incredibly hard to find in their sizes (5T and 12m), unless you want to pay an arm and a leg for them, which I don't.

9. What is your favorite quote?
"We are more lost and sinful then we ever dared believe, but are more loved and accepted than we ever dared hope." Don't ask me who said it. I read it in a book in college and it has stuck with me all these years. I can't even remember the book!

10. What is the last book you read?
"The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers." It was really good! I highly recommend it for all mothers.

11. Are you right or left handed? Left! Though I can't write much at all these days. I have a cyst and a bone spur on my wrist and it makes doing a lot of things really painful. :( I need to have surgery, but I'm putting it off. Cause how on earth will I handle these two kids with one hand for a while?? I've tried, and I just can't change a diaper with one hand. But one day I'll do the surgery and get rid of this pain I've had for 15+ years!!

Now for 11 random facts about myself...

Thanks for nominating me, Jessica! I'll be on the lookout for other small blogs that I can nominate. ( :


Long December

There's a Meme (I think that's the name for them!) going around on social media lately that says something like "I respond to every text message in my head...and then forget to actually respond. I'm working on that." That describes me perfectly! I compose a million blog posts...in my head. And then life happens, and I never type them up. I even take pictures of things with the intention of blogging about it...and then don't. My biggest life goal over the past several months has to be more intentional. I can't say that I've hit the mark every day, but I have learned to let go of a lot of things that aren't necessary for me.

Before LJ was born, I was following a LOT of blogs. I mean A. LOT. I don't know exactly when I quit reading them all. Maybe it was gradual, maybe one day I just didn't click to my blog reader page. I honestly can't remember. But now I have only four blogs that I check daily, as I am pumping in the morning (yep, still having to do that). Just FOUR. Occasionally, I'll read a few others, but I don't get upset if I miss a post like I used to. That used to really irk me, when I missed a blog post from a blog I followed. Why? Don't get me wrong, I totally support the blogging profession. Bloggers are awesome. I know how hard it is to keep at it, and how impossible it is to be successful at it (which is why I don't and I'm not, haha). But reading so many every single day was really wearing me down. Not the actual reading, cause I love to read and would read all day nonstop if I was able to. But just reading about everyone else's seemingly perfect lives just really brought me down sometimes. Why can't my home be as nice as hers? Why can't my kids always be dressed perfectly and let me take awesome candid shots of them? I know in reality no one's life is perfect, no one's life is any better than my own. But that doesn't stop the little voices in my head sometimes. (What, is that just me?! No one else has voices...? haha)

Anyway, I read my daily blogs while pumping in the morning, or if I'm bored and nursing LJ during the day and that's it. I'm intentional about how I spend my time online. Mostly. I've become a little addicted to Instagram lately. I love following Etsy shops and seeing all their adorable creations. Though the past few days I've been heavily editing my "following" list. I check in on facebook occasionally, but I don't spend hours scrolling through like I used to. That actually was kind of forced on me earlier this year. Our modem for the internet broke one day and we were almost over our data limit for our phones. It took 2-3 days to get a new modem, so I was basically offline for several days. That was so freeing! After that little break, I realized I didn't need to read what every single person on my Facebook friends list was doing. I miss a lot, but I figure eventually I'll hear about stuff anyway. And the people that really matter tell me things personally. So I guess I'm more intentional about social media, too. Though I need to cut down my Instagram time more. I really don't need to follow quite so many shops...lol.

I try to be intentional about my time with the girls. Some days its hard. Some days I'm not gonna lie, I pop in a move (usually "Frozen," ugh) and I just tune out. I'm not ashamed to admit that. Some days I forget to do a devotional with C. I do manage to have at least one conversation with her every day about God and what Jesus did for us. On days when I really have it together, we start our preschool time by reading her devotional for the day, then we work on a Bible verse to memorize, then we'll do a quick study of either a Bible story or one of the subjects in the Child Training Bible. Its really important to me that my children are immersed in the Word. C and I pray together, and I absolutely love hearing her sweet little prayers. Does all that Bible study time make her a perfect child? NO. Far from it. I hear all too often "bad Mama!" or "I hate my Mama!" (Yeah, no one told me these behaviors started so soon...I don't remember being so hateful until I was a teenager.) It sucks, and some days I just want to give up. Some days I feel like a total failure as a mother. And then some days C wraps her little arms around my neck and thanks me for reading to her or doing some other simple thing, and its all worth it.

One of my best friends constantly tells me I'm Super Woman. Ha. I do feel like it sometimes. Most often not though. I worry constantly that despite my best efforts, my girls will grow up to hate me and be terrible members of society. Okay, I don't actually think that'll happen, but we mothers always go to extremes I think. I do worry that they'll turn out "bad," despite everything I do. And on days when C and I just can't get along and she's back-talking to everything I say to her and stomping off to her room and kicking her wall...I feel like I've already failed. Then I remind myself that she's FOUR, she's still figuring out her emotions, she's still learning so much every day. And I have to remind myself that its not about me and I can't take it personally. I know she doesn't really hate me, even when she says it. She just has big emotions and doesn't know how to express herself well.

That sounds like a cop-out, huh? My kid is incredibly smart. I'm not bragging, its just a fact. But despite her being so smart, she has a hard time with her emotions. From what I've read, this is totally normal. So I try my best to just roll with it. Meaning, I try  not to let it really bother me. I don't let her get away with bad behavior. I'll take away a toy in a heart beat. And we are constantly having discussions on the proper way to behave and how God wants us to act. And praying that God gives us patience and makes us act nicer. I think we all need to say that prayer!

All this is to say that, my life is pretty much the same as it was back in October, when I last posted a blog entry. I'm still striving for improvement while not beating myself up when it doesn't happen.

I'm savoring this time at home with my girls full-time. Next month, I start a part-time job. I'm excited about it, but I'm dreading it at the same time. I haven't been away from my girls much at all in the past 7 months. Sometimes C spends the day with one of her grandparents, and even though I need a break sometimes from her, I miss her the whole time she's gone. It'll be interesting to see how our days go once I'm working away from home a few hours every day.

I should have a ton of things to blog about. I do, really. Its just a matter of putting pen to paper...or fingers to keyboard, I guess. There are so many things I do that are different than a lot people around here (cloth diapers, babywearing, baby lead weaning, etc.), and I have a lot to stay on these topics. For Christmas, I got a sewing machine, and I've had so much fun learning to sew. I can't say I'm good at it yet, but I am improving. And really, having something fun to do is the goal, not getting good enough that I can make money at it. My goal is to get good enough that I can make matching clothes for my girls. I have a long way to go! My photography business is doing pretty well. It went basically dormant over the winter, but I expected that. I know 10-11 pregnant women (I know, right!), and several of them want me to do their maternity and/or newborn pictures, so soon I'll have a little business boom. I even have one friend that wants me to be her birth photographer! How cool is that! My mother is opening a restaurant next month, so I'll be working there some to help out. The Great Cloth Diaper Change is coming up. My sister-in-law is getting married in 2 weeks, and my girls are the flower girls. I made their dresses and they are BEYOND cute! So yeah, I have a ton to blog about. I'm really gonna try to get back into it. Blogging kind of holds me accountable. Even if I don't have any loyal readers, if its out there that I'm getting up at 6am every day and having "me" time before the girls wake up, I'm more likely to keep doing it. (For the record, that hasn't happened since....December? Ugh. I have GOT to get back into that habit.)

Plus, my friend Jessica over at Stitches, Seams, and Sass has nominated me for the Liebster award, so I pretty much HAVE to get back to blogging! Which is what prompted me to open up the laptop tonight. ( : I'll be back soon with details on that!