Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Mom of Two: Ten Months In

Ten months! It's hard to believe that the anniversary of my labor (a.k.a. Amy's birthday) is just around the corner. I'm having lots of memories from "this time last year" when I was hugely pregnant. For example, this week we took Rufio for his annual shots, and I remembered being incredibly uncomfortable in the August heat last year. It's so much nicer having the baby in the stroller than in my belly!

Amy's biggest milestone this month was taking her first steps. She can toddle short distances and gets very excited while she's doing it. If she needs to go from room to room, she was choosing to crawl, but just today, she started tentatively toddling across a large room.

Her top four teeth came through different days in the same week, which could explain a lot of sleepless nights we had this month. She learned to eat from a pouch, which is very convenient for me! She also started drinking from a transitional sippy cup.

She has started mimicking behavior, like dancing and clapping. She also dances on her own to music, which has pumped up family dance parties even more.

This month, Amy dropped two breast feedings in two weeks. I was kind of glad it happened, because Zane and I are going out of town without the kids in September, so I wanted to drop down to two or three feedings by then (we were doing five a day). I didn't expect her to drop them that fast. I think my hormones got a little out of whack from it, because I had a good two weeks of anxiety and depression for no apparent reason afterward. I'm not even sure if I'm feeling back to normal yet.

My main symptom of life these days is tiredness. Amy has been sleeping well at night this week, but last week she was not. The last couple days, both girls have been sleeping late in the morning (7:00am), which has been wonderful. I'm hoping that lasts! 

Amy is on the go and exploring! We're continually baby-proofing with each new level of development.

As for being a mom of two ten months in, I realized this month that I feel more stress, anxiety, and negative self-image when I'm looking at myself, measuring my "mom-ness," or worrying about getting my to-do list done. I feel more joy, peace, and appreciation for life when I'm looking at my kids and experiencing the moment. I still working on the latter.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Zane Graduated, and I Made a Video

Zane graduated from nursing school this past weekend. Three years of our lives revolved around this one goal, and this weekend he ran across the finish line. Here's a little video I compiled of the events:

The last month was crazy as we got closer to the end. I felt like I didn't see him very much, even though I was seeing him more than I had last Fall when we had the baby.

Then he was done, and I was seeing him a lot. He didn't take a break. He just went from 75% student/ 25% family (exaggerated) to 100% family. He immediately jumped into "give Deb a break" mode. He let me sleep in multiple times in a week and even took the kids away for several hours in a day so that I could relax, read, sew, whatever. He still does all the grocery shopping and dog-walking.

I felt like I was the one who graduated and was getting a reward pampering! This man is so sacrificial!

After Saturday's graduation festivities (shown in the video above), I fell into somewhat of a funk. Sunday was hard. I was listless. This was partly because Amy kept me up a lot teething the night before and partly because I was anxiously wondering, "Now what?" My dreams and aspirations that I've been putting on hold for the last few years still seem far out of reach.

Zane gave me another day-long break on Monday to work on Etsy sewing, but I ended up using the time to make that graduation video. I needed to stop and mark the journey that we just came through.

My tendency is to get onto the next thing, but our next thing isn't happening for a while. Zane was offered a job (Hallelujah!) in Tampa, and our rent is too amazingly low to give up. If those reasons aren't enough, we also have a depleted savings account that needs to be replenished after 15 months of no income.

I was antsy, anxious, and fearful of getting stuck here forever.

As I worked on the video, I reflected on how God has always provided for us better than what/when I would have maybe chosen. His path is always the right time and the right place. Even all the details of us moving to Brandon point to God's perfect timing. I know that when He wants us to move along to the next thing, it will be clear. For now, I've got to keep on keepin' on (thanks, Joe Dirt!) and learn to love (thanks, Ciara!) where we are now.

"Here" isn't that bad, either. My social calendar is usually full, we have plenty of childcare, and we're less than a couple hours from basically anywhere we'd want to go.

So, yay! Zane's done with school! Come see us in Brandon, and we'll take you to Wow! That's Fresh!...because we eat there a lot.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

DIY Fleece Peso the Penguin

I don't know about you, but in my house we have way more stuffed animals than we need. Earlier this year, Zane and I placed an embargo on stuffed animals as gifts. It's even hard for me to honor, because I find myself in a Disney gift shop, Cracker Barrel store, or browsing the internet thinking, "Oh that's so cute!"

My three year old has been completely obsessed with Octonauts. She often has Zane or me pretend to be Peso and help heal her other stuffed animals. This morning she was playing that game, and I thought, "She needs a Peso doll." I looked it up on the internet, found some Octonaut merchandise, and then remembered my stuffed animal embargo.

Then I realized I could easily make one, and somehow the hand-crafted aspect of a plush doll justified adding another one to our huge collection. Plus, I was hankering for a creative project.

It's really not too difficult to make, once you break down the steps. Hopefully this DIY tutorial will give you the confidence to make your kids' favorite character into a simple doll if you feel the inclination. With the right planning, you can easily make a simplified version of any character.

**Disclaimer: I did not make this with the intention of writing a DIY post, so I don't have pictures of each step, but I hope my written instructions make sense. Feel free to ask questions!

Materials Needed: 

Less than 1/8 yard each of black, white, blue, yellow fleece.
Hot glue gun
Fabric glue
Poly fill Stuffing or scraps to stuff with
Index card for Peso's medical bag

Part 1 - Cut Pattern and Fabric

1. Find an image of the character you want to create. Front-facing is best. I searched Peso the Penguin and found this image: 
via: http://wondersofdisney.yolasite.com/resources/disjunior/octonauts/peso.png

2. Save the image on your computer and paste it into a word document. I decreased my margins to .5'' and expanded the picture as big as it would go on a normal 8.5x11'' page. Then I printed it.

3. Use scrap paper to trace out the sections that need to be cut out separately. I traced a big head and added about .25'' around for an inseam. Then I moved my trace paper around to trace the black eyes, yellow beak, white face, black body (add .25'' for inseam here too), white belly, black wings, yellow feet, white hat, and blue collar.

3. After you trace your sections, cut them out of the scrap paper. Now you have patterns for each part of the doll.

4. Use the patterns to cut your fabric pieces. Remember to cut 2 identical fabric pieces for any part that you intend to stuff:

  • Black: eyes (2), head (2 pieces, add .25'' inseam), body (2 pieces, add .25'' inseam) 
  • Yellow: beak, feet (2) 
  • Blue: collar (make it a little longer to go around entire neck) 
  • White hat, belly, face **For Peso, I did not cut his white face out with the pattern. Keep a rectangle for his face, and go to the next step. 

Part 2 - Sew

1. FACE: I used the instructions from this Monster Hat tutorial, specifically how she sewed the eyes of the monster with a tissue paper pattern to sew Peso's face on his head. I've referred to that tutorial a lot for fleece appliques. If you don't want to click her link, then here's my instructions below: 

Trace Peso's face pattern with chalk on the white fleece rectangle. Pin the white over the black fleece, trying to center the "face" part on the black oval. I sew along the chalk line. After it is sewn on, cut just along the outside edge of the stitch. 

You can do the same for Peso's white belly or glue it on at the end, which is what I did. 

2. HEAD: White face facing inward, sew Peso's two head pieces, leaving an opening at the bottom where his neck will attach. Flip it inside out and stuff with poly fill stuffing. 

3. BODY: Place wings and feet pointing toward the middle of the black body piece as if he's folding up his legs and arms. Then sandwich the other body piece on and pin around the edges. Leave a little bit of arms and legs poking out to make sure that they get sewn in. Sew around the edge. Flip it inside out. The arms and feet should wave around on the outside. Stuff the body with poly fill stuffing. 

Hand sew the top of body (neck area) into the hole left at the bottom of the head. 

Part 3 - Glue

1. BELLY: Glue the white belly in the middle of the black body. If you sewed it on, skip this step. 

2. COLLAR: Optional: hand-sew chevrons on either side of his collar. Use hot glue to glue it to his neck. I extended the fabric past my pattern to wrap around his whole neck and glued it in the back, further securing my hand stitches at the base of his head. 

3. FACE: I cut tiny white pieces and used my fabric glue applied with a tooth pick to glue them to Peso's black eyes. Then I used hot glue to glue the eyes and beak to his face. 

4. HAT: The hat was the most tedious part of this endeavor, because I had to freehand cut an Octonauts symbol, which looks ridiculous. Then I hand-sewed it onto the hat. I'd say forget the Octonauts symbol unless you're really detailed. Just take small rectangle of white fleece, fold up the bottom by a 1/4'', and sew/glue it in the back. Then round off the top with your scissors and glue it on his head. 

**All of the glue parts, I used a toothpick to apply fabric glue to the edges and corners to prevent peeling up or fraying when my daughter plays with him. Hot glue is nice for big pieces, but fabric glue is better to get small pieces and spaces. Fabric glue holds better with fleece too. 

5. MEDICAL BAG: I folded an index card in half, cut out the corners to leave a "handle" in the middle, and drew a blue bandaid on with a blue marker. Then I taped up the sides with packing tape and filled the "bag" with strips of white fleece for Peso's bandages. 

My daughter LOVES him. My creative bucket is filled, by knowing that he's now a favorite toy makes it all the more worth it! 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Marta's Legacy by Francine Rivers

I haven't posted a book review in a long time, although I have been reading several books lately. I just finished a 2-book series by Francine Rivers called Marta's Legacy, which was split into the following two books: Her Mother's Hope and Her Daughter's Dream. (Follow the links to the Goodreads pages for other reviews, but don't read too much and spoil the story for yourself!).

I wanted to buy a different book online and was trying to buy enough for free shipping, so I browsed Goodreads and found that Francine Rivers had a new (okay, a few years old now) series about mothers and daughters, so I bought them, not expecting to read them so quickly.

I couldn't put them down. I should have known.

They're a saga for sure, starting in the early 1900's and going through to present day. It follows four generations of women in one family, focusing on the mother-daughter relationships.

Oh my goodness. Aside from the extremely interesting history of the 20th century, my eyes were opened in a new way to understanding not only my mother and grandmother, but people in general and how we interpret our experiences and let those experiences shape us.

The books are just brilliant.

I felt the need to seek reconciliation with family members and pray more fervently for my daughters' futures, which as much as I try to shape, is ultimately in the Lord's hands. It also helped me to better accept people as they are instead of frustratingly wishing they would change or trying to make them change and only causing conflict. Even in a family of generations of believers, there are things that cause hurt and misunderstandings. My experiences are different than the characters' in the books, but the same concepts apply.

It put me in a very reflective mood, which is one of my happy places.

I was going to share a beautiful quote from the end of the book, but I decided not to, because it may be too much of a spoiler, and I want everyone to experience these women's stories like I did.

I strongly recommend these books!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Daisy's Third Birthday

Daisy turned three at the end of June, but you know how life is, so here's my late blog post about her never-ending celebrations. 

We met my parents and sister's family in Davenport for a week-long getaway. I was a single parent for part of it, which was a little rough, because Amy had a cold and didn't sleep well in the condo. Daisy also had some potty regression while there, possibly because of the unfamiliar area or lack of routine. Not fun for momma, but I still got plenty of time to relax in the pool and hang out with family, so it was definitely fun. The pool had a water slide, zero-grade entry, and lazy river. We went to it every morning!

Leading up to Daisy's birthday, we went to the Fort Wilderness Chip and Dale sing-a-long. It was blazing hot, but we still had a great time roasting s'mores and singing silly campfire songs. We left before the free movie, because that would have been too late for the kids. 

My mom, sister, and I took Daisy to a little tea house in Davenport. It was very hometown, but Daisy loved it. She got bored and didn't really eat the food (she had some stomach issues during our trip, probably due to my poor attention to what she was eating), but she enjoyed the whole "tea" experience. 

We had a little family birthday party for Daisy at the condo, which she was really excited about. She loves parties. She helped decorate and pick out her cake from Publix. Helping to prepare for the party enhanced the experience for her. 

She loved it. She definitely gets birthdays. She wants the cake, the candles, the song, and the presents! She enjoys all the parts of a party. 

On her actual birthday, we went to Downtown Disney (soon to be Disney Springs) and ate at the Rainforest Cafe. She was afraid of it at first, but Zane was able to walk her around and get her comfortable with the ambiance. She voiced her concern about how the elephants were separated from each other and probably wanted to be together. She still talks about the pretend rainstorm. 

Before and after lunch we walked around Disney Springs. There's so much free fun to be had there: legos, splash pad, shopping. Zane took her on the carousel too (not free). 

After our Orlando trip, we celebrated the Fourth of July with Zane's family and combined it with another little party for Daisy. We ran to Old Navy that morning to pick up some patriotic attire, because we didn't have anything for the girls. Plus, we're proud to be Americans, so we have to dress the part! 

Daisy loved her last party and being sung to once again. It was a very relaxing afternoon with the kids playing while the adults chatted. We indulged her by letting her have two cupcakes. We've come a long way in three years. 

Now we officially have a three year old!