May 27, 2010

shop 'til you drop

I'm an extremely practical person ... But I've learned from the best!

I remember, while picking up a friend for a sleepover one fine summer evening, jumping out of the van at my mother's request to scavenge a rolled up carpet from someone's tree lawn. It was the night before garbage day, and such treasures were ripe for the picking. It was just a carpet, after all ... Nothing a good washing and/or vacuuming couldn't fix.

Today, I find myself also looking for a good deal on second hand items ... Although I'm not jumping out of my car to obtain them. I have found some really great buys on Craigslist: a kitchen table and chairs and a gorgeous dining room set with hutch. Both were purchased at very reasonable, if not unbelievable, prices. But, my biggest, and best second hand secret (if you can even call it a secret) is the Salvation Army Family Store.

As a mother of a growing boy, I can barely justify shopping for his clothing any other way. Babies grow so quickly that it's hard to get your money's worth out of an item that costs even $10.00 (at least in my mind). Not only are the prices unbeatable at the Salvation Army Family Store, many of the items are barely worn to begin with ... You might as well be purchasing new items. It's not hard to find brand names either: Baby Gap, Baby Sonoma, Carter's, Gerber, Gymboree, Old Navy ... They are all well represented! Then, as if it couldn't get any better, Wednesdays (at least in the Cleveland area) are "Family Days" where most of the merchandise is half off!

Who can beat that?!

To show you what I mean, here are the spoils from my last trip:

Ten assorted tops and four pairs of shoes ... Not too shabby for just under $25.00, right?!

With other day-to-day expenses always looming in the background, shopping sprees like this one make me feel a little bit better about beefing up my little guy's wardrobe for the current season and beyond!

If only I had more time to shop for myself, too!

May 25, 2010

he is my sunshine

I truly enjoy science-themed baby clothes. In fact, when it came time to register for baby goods, one of the only articles of clothing that I selected was a set of onesies patterned with twisting "DNA" strands (I didn't receive them). Upon closer inspection of the shirt in today's feature, one can see that it says: "the world revolves around me."

For Malcolm, or for any other baby for that matter, this statement certainly rings true!

Although the theme and pattern aren't outwardly "science-y," they are enough to put a smile on my face. You can't see it in this picture, but there is actually a little earth in orbit around the big, smiley sun. It's details like that that make me love this shirt and outfit! It didn't hurt that I got to bust out a pair of my home made "babylegs" either!

Long-sleeved tee-shirt: Circo (gift)
Shorts: Circo (thrifted as part of a onesie/shorts set for $1.50)
Baby leg warmers: Home made ($2.00)

May 24, 2010

eight months already

Malcolm turned eight months old yesterday.

It seems as if he is growing at warp speed!

Before I know it, he will be too cool for his Mom ... And definitely too cool to pose for a picture or two (or a million).

I better get my fill while I can!

May 21, 2010

the littlest vampire

About two weeks ago, I noticed that Malcolm had an upper tooth coming in.

It was one of his "eye teeth" (or "canines" as they are often called) ... Not one of the two front teeth as I had expected. After getting used to the idea of my baby growing a top tooth, I thought it was pretty funny that he would have such an asymmetrical smile ... I mean, what baby gets teeth way off to the side before those that come in in the middle?

What baby grows fangs, first?

My baby, apparently ... His other eye tooth is currently making its appearance!

Once it is fully emerged, my sweet little Malcolm is going to look like a member of the undead. I used to joke that his Dad was a vampire ... He did have quite sizable eye teeth himself, along with pale skin, pale eyes, a gaunt stature, and sensitivity to bright light. Maybe I was on to something.

Or, maybe my boy is being influenced by popular culture already. I know that Twilight is the thing in many circles, but, come on Malcolm! You don't have to follow the crowd at such a young age!

You're way cuter than Edward Cullen anyway.

May 20, 2010

big mouth

Although he was only in the 25th percentile for weight at his six month appointment, my little guy is a big eater!

Lately, he has been polishing off a baby bowl of cereal, a (stage 2) container of vegetables, a (stage 2) baby dinner, and usually a small helping of applesauce during dinner ... Then, about an hour later, he washes it all down with 6 oz. of milk! I figure that, as long as he keeps opening his mouth, I'm going to keep putting food in it. As surprising as the quantities may seem, he is a growing boy and he is becoming more active with each day that passes. He's not the cuddly little slug of four months ago that just laid on the ground and occasionally rolled over when he felt like it. No, now he's the nearly eight month old baby that prefers moving around the room on his stomach, kicking nonstop, or "running" full force in his doorway bouncer. At any rate, he is a little human (not a goldfish) and he will let me know when he has had enough.

Unfortunately, my mother isn't so confident in his ability to feel full.

She fears that all of this food is going to create an obese grandson. She thinks that my little boy is eating (and opening his mouth so much), not to fulfill his need for food, but only to make me happy ...

Can eight-month-old babies even process a thought like that?

I'm not convinced. Besides, the food that he is consuming is all of the healthy variety: fruits, vegetables, grains, nutritious dinners made specifically for babies his age. It's not like I'm packing him full of Reese's Peanut Butter cups! And, again, he's smaller than about 75% of kids in his age group! I really don't think he has an eating problem ... If anything, he isn't eating enough!

I only bring this up because it is just one of many, seemingly trivial things that has come up from either my mother or mother-in-law during the past eight or so months that Malcolm has been with us. It just begs the question: What is going to happen when I have to make real decisions that have a major impact on his life? How will my mothers react then?

When I thought of having children, of becoming a mother, I didn't necessarily think that I'd have all the answers ... But I didn't want them given to me (especially when they are unsolicited) either. I have always been a very thoughtful, logical person. I have always felt that I needed to experience things and then learn from those experiences ... Whether they be successes or failures, they were mine to make. In fact, the decisions that I've made throughout my life have helped me to become the woman that I am today. They have helped define who I am and what I am all about. They have given me the tools I need to be the mother that I want to be ...

While I fully understand that both of my mothers have done the whole "child rearing" thing before (and, to their credit, they both did a great job!), Malcolm isn't their child. He is mine. I am the one that spends every waking moment with him. I am the one who knows him better than anybody else ... Shouldn't that count for something?

Shouldn't I be able to feed my baby without being judged on how I do it?

I know that I have many, many more years ahead of me in which my mothering will be scrutinized, so I'm trying to be positive. I've decided to look at the situation as my mother loving Malcolm so much, that she is compelled to do whatever she feels is "the right thing" for him.

It's just unfortunate that her "right" and my "right" are not the same.

May 18, 2010

rainy day duds

At the end of April, Malcolm was featured on a "baby fashion" blog that I follow. Not only was it a thrill to submit his photo and actually have it end up on the website, but it made me wonder why I hadn't thought of such a clever idea myself. I mean, what is more adorable than a baby in cute, little clothes?

(The answer would be nothing)

So, as a way to keep me routinely updating this blog and taking lots of photos of my little man, I thought I'd post my own baby fashion feature every Tuesday, a day that (for me anyway) is typically uninspiring ...

When the weather is cold here in Cleveland (yes, even toward the middle of May), it's all about layers! As you can see, Malcolm is ready for a quick, drizzly walk in his cute and cozy outfit:

Flannel shirt: Carter's (gift)
Tee-shirt: Old Navy (gift)
Long-sleeved onesie (unseen): Old Navy (gift)
Jeans: Baby Gap (thrifted for $2.00)
Shoes (unseen, but I promise they are cute!): Faded Glory (thrifted for $3.00)

Watch out, rain! Malcolm is on the move and he has a knack for brightening gloomy days!

May 17, 2010

improve-your-own baby leg warmers

Since I'm a huge perfectionist, I wasn't completely happy with the way my baby leg warmers turned out ... Especially after a Google search yielded results with cuffed leg warmers. The cuffs not only seemed like they would keep the leg warmers from sliding down over the baby's foot, they also had a more finished, polished look to them.

So, using the same black and gray striped socks as an example, I thought I'd continue my tutorial for those of you that want a "finished" look to your baby leg warmers:

First cut the foot portion of the sock as shown, below. The heel and toe pieces can be discarded.

Take your square tube of material and roll it in half with the "good side" of the sock facing outward (and inward). This will become the cuff.

Take the long piece of the sock (this is the part that I originally hemmed in the first leg warmer tutorial) and feed it through the cuff, right side out, with the unfinished edges all together. You should have three layers of fabric to sew through when you bring it to your machine.

Sew through the three layers. If you want a smaller cuff, sew closer to the folded end. For a longer cuff, sew closer to the unfinished edges. As in the first tutorial, a zig-zag stitch, as well as a longer seam length, provide the completed piece with a little bit more "give."

Fold your cuff down and you are finished! If there is a lot of fabric left on the inside of the leg warmer, you can trim it away.

Again, (as you can hopefully see) this provides a more "finished" look to your baby leg warmer. Since the seam is hidden, you can essentially use any color of thread and it won't be visible ... This is a great time saver if you are creating multiple leg warmers from socks with different colors and patterns!

May 15, 2010


A certain someone is teething (two top teeth are coming in at once), and, as you can see, he is not too happy about it!

May 14, 2010

sleeping beauties

If you would have asked me what I thought life with an infant would be like, I wouldn't have known what to tell you. I probably would have mentioned some of the old standbys ... Stories about sleepless nights, engorged breasts, projectile vomit (or spit-up), or dirty diapers from hell. Lucky for me, only three of these four were realities for me and my husband.

You see, it turns out we created a kid that likes to sleep almost as much as I do!

When other people (usually mothers) ask me if I'm getting any sleep, I almost feel guilty telling them that YES! I do ... Lots of it! And I have been since Malcolm was about two months old!

Our current schedule is probably the best one, yet ...

  • Wake up at 8:00 am to nurse.
  • Play for a little bit or read a story, then go back to bed by 9:00 am.
  • Wake up at 11:00 am to nurse again.
  • Eat some solids around 12:00 pm, play for a little bit, then take a nap at 1:00 pm.
  • Wake up anytime between 2:00 and 3:00 pm and eat a snack.
  • Play!!
  • Nurse at 4:00 pm.
  • Get sleepy for another nap around 4:30 or 5:00 pm.
  • Wake up around 6:00 pm and eat "dinner" at 6:30 pm.
  • Take final bottle at 7:30 pm, then read a story with Dad.
  • Bed time by 8:00 pm.

Did you see that?

Twelve hours of sleep through the night and then another two in the morning ... And this trend has continued in the face of teething. I thought, for sure, I'd be up with a cranky baby when that time came ... But it hasn't!?

I also thought nap times would be a battle ... But I was wrong again! All I have to do is lay the kid down and he does the rest: He pops his sweet, little thumb in his mouth and he is off to dreamland in moments. Seriously. I don't know how to explain it and I'm left wondering how much longer he's going to keep up this charade.

I am so incredibly spoiled it isn't even funny.

In fact, I'm about 99% sure that the next kid (when that day comes) is going to be an absolute terror that doesn't need sleep! I guess I better continue to take advantage of it now, while I can!

May 12, 2010

sew-your-own baby leg warmers

It seems that my baby boy is about to become mobile. He has been "circling" on the floor for a couple weeks now, pivoting on one knee and using his arms to spin round and round, rather than traveling forward or backward. It's totally cute, but he is starting to create little rug burns on his knees (especially the one that he pivots on).

In an effort to alleviate the problem, I found myself searching for reasonably priced baby leg warmers on the internet. You probably know them by other names: babylegs, huggalugs, or even knotty legs. While all three "brands" are incredibly cute, the least expensive among them are around $8.00 a pair ... Which adds up once you select the one(s) you like and have them shipped to you!

So, I did a little leg work (ha!) and thriftily created my own variation ...

On with the tutorial:

First, you need to locate some knee length socks. I found some really cute, colorful pairs at Target (in the women's section) ranging from $2.00 to $5.00 each. Walmart also carries knee length socks (although I did not find their selection to be as extensive or as cute) for comparable prices. They did have some men's socks (not knee length, but not crew either) in more masculine stripes that would be shorter on my little guy's legs and probably a tiny bit cooler for the summer months.

Once you get your socks home, lay them flat on a table and cut the "foot" off. Striped socks make this process really easy because they give you lines to work with!

Discard the foot and turn the upper part of the sock inside out, folding over about 1 in. of fabric to finish the edge. I pinned it in place, although you could probably get away with not pinning because the elasticity of the sock holds it pretty securely ...

Adjust your sewing machine to a zig-zag stitch in order to give the new seam a little bit of "give." Increase the seam length for the same reason. It is probably a good idea to play around with the settings and test them on some throwaway fabric ... Once you are satisfied with your settings, carefully sew your hem so that you don't seal off the sock's opening.

Trim off any excess fabric.

Turn the new leg warmer right side out and repeat the process with the second sock. Once you get going, it takes about 5-10 minutes to complete a set!

As you can see, I got a little carried away ...

Lastly, enjoy your new creation(s) and be prepared to take lots of photos of the cuteness that ensues!

May 10, 2010

mother's day memories

Since becoming a teacher, I have felt that mother's day (sort of) applied to me ... One does not necessarily have to be biologically related to a child in order to be a mother! Lord knows that I acted like a mother to all of the different students that I worked with over the past couple of years. In some ways they prepared me for what was to come. In others they made me question whether or not I really wanted to create my own child ... One that would actually live in the same house as me!

In order to commemorate this special "first" Mother's Day, one in which I have a son of my own (that not only lives with me, but has taken over the entire house!), I thought I'd post a couple of photos ...

This is what I looked like on Mother's Day last year: Twenty weeks pregnant and filled with all the excitement and anticipation that that brings.

This is how I look(ed) this year: A mom for nearly eight months and (still) filled with all the excitement and anticipation that that brings.

The amount of love in my heart for this little guy is indescribable.

He is gift enough.

Happy Mother's Day!

May 6, 2010

the little guy

Meet Malcolm, the inspiration behind this blog.

He's the inspiration behind everything I do, really.

But, after gazing at that sweet, little face, can you blame me?

Up until this stage in my life, I never really thought of myself as being very maternal. When my husband's cousin and sister had babies, I didn't feel the need to swarm and cuddle them like most of the other females in the family. I didn't feel any sort of "pull" toward them. In fact, when we went to visit our new niece in the hospital, I nearly refused to hold her. She was too small, too fragile ... I just didn't feel comfortable. Babies weren't my thing, and besides, she wasn't mine.

When I found out that I was pregnant (only a couple of months after our niece arrived), I was amazed at how that new reality occupied most of my thinking. I ended up on pregnancy websites for most of the day, reading up on what my growing fetus was doing at any given stage of its development. Was it as big as a blueberry? A grape? An orange? Could it see? Taste? Touch? My days were dominated by thoughts of this baby. It was hard to go to work and focus. It was hard to come home and act like it was "business as usual." The mundane aspects of my day didn't feel so normal anymore.

I found it really thought-provoking that I was so consumed by my pregnancy, yet those closest to me (besides my husband, of course) didn't even know that anything was different. I was already becoming a mother, even though I hadn't really done anything.

Fast forward to today.

While I still wouldn't say I'm necessarily very maternal, I am everything you'd expect from a first time mother ... I fill in every little detail about his life in his baby book. I find myself just staring at him (whether he is playing on the floor or napping in his crib) and being perfectly content. My heart soars when I hear him "singing" in the backseat as we drive in the car with the radio turned up. I carry a "brag book" around with me if I know I'll be meeting new people. I take far too many photos and post most of them on facebook. I am so unbelievably in love with this child that I don't know how I even existed without him.

What was life like before he arrived?

I don't even remember.

May 4, 2010

getting started (again)

Welcome! You have found (or been directed to) my blog!

Though it might be a surprise to many of those who know me, I should begin by saying I am no stranger to the "blogosphere." I am an avid reader of many different blogs and have kept various blogs of my own in the past. I have tried my hand at journaling my day-to-day and experiences and even went semi-anonymous to discuss the trials and tribulations of being a science teacher. While both began with a lot of enthusiasm and were quite therapeutic, as time passed, they seemed to fall by the wayside.

Was my daily life really interesting to those few people that read about it? Could my words truly be honest and open even though I was hiding, protecting the identities of those I taught in the classroom? Questions like these made me wonder about my purpose as a blogger and, soon, the gaps between entries grew and grew. In fact, the start of this new blog comes over a year after I stopped writing for the last one.

So, will this blog be any different?

I feel like it will be.

Although much about me as a person is still exactly the same as when I stopped writing for my previous blog, one thing in my life has changed significantly: I am now the mother of a nearly seven and a half month old boy. In that short amount of time, I have had to learn and grow in ways I never thought possible. I have had to recognize and foster my own inner strength in order to provide for another human being who is completely reliant upon me! I truly am his everything ... He can not thrive without my guidance (although he certainly tries). He needs me to be the best mother that I can be, during every single second that he is awake. Who he will become ten or twenty years from now begins at this very moment! What a daunting, yet exhilarating thought!

Therein lies the fundamental difference between this blog and all those that I began before ... Unlike the others, this blog is for him.

Hopefully, in this space, I will find a place to work through my thoughts and to chronicle important events as they occur. I hope to write, not only about my experiences as a new mother and how they impact me and my family, but also to offer advice and/or solutions to the things that people like me care about. Hopefully, as time passes, this blog will grow and take on a life of its own, instead of becoming burdensome and fading away.

Only time will tell ...