Monday, September 29, 2014

Fort DeSoto Family Day

Everyone is all, "Yay, Fall! Pumpkins, corn mazes, Halloween!" Well, we did a fall beach trip, because we're Floridians, and we can.

Daisy had been asking to go to the beach last week. She found her beach toys and really wanted to play with them. We decided to skip church and go to the beach, since it would be the last opportunity of the year. It could even be our last family adventure before Amy arrives.

Daisy was pumped!

We chose Fort DeSoto because I wanted something less touristy. We definitely got what we wanted. We were the ONLY people on the beach from about 10:00AM to 11:30AM.

We did, however, get to spend lots of time with birds. There was a lovely sandbar that we lounged on under the watchful eye of an egret (or heron or crane...not sure). We watched pelicans floating and diving not too far from us. Then a flock of some other little birds flew closely by us and landed on the beach right in front of us. I guess our little party of three didn't bother any of them too much.

We had a nice little picnic lunch on the blanket and relaxed in the warm sun. 

There was a very pleasant breeze and plenty of birds and boats to watch. 

Daisy got to play with her beach toys. She thoroughly covered Zane with sand. 

I built some castles with her, but she's not quite to that stage yet. 

After another quick excursion to the sand bar to rinse off, we packed up our things and headed home. 

It was a perfect beach day and a nice ending to September. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Pregnant Belly Henna Art!

During my first pregnancy, I was kind of self-conscious about my belly. I don't know if it was the season of infertility or the fact I had never been big before, but I wasn't really into exposed pregnant bellies. I only have a few photos of my belly uncovered from that pregnancy and only one of my big belly at the very end. 

This time around, I'm more relaxed about my change in size. I have a better understanding of how fast pregnancy goes by. I'm very fortunate to get to do it again. 

Part of the relaxed mindset about my body included the desire to have a little fun with my belly! I found a henna artist nearby in Plant City, Starlight Mehndi, who does pregnant belly henna art. 

(By the way, this blog post ONLY features photos of my uncovered belly.) 

Friday morning, Zane, Daisy, and I went to Darla's house and got my belly painted. It was a really fun experience. I brought some inspiration photos from my maternity pinterest board. She looked them over and came up with her own cool design. Here are a few progression photos that Zane took:  

The final design included Amy's initials! The whole thing took about two hours. Daisy even got a little flower painted on her hand.

After she finished painting, she dabbed the henna with a sugar and lemon juice mix and covered my belly in unrolled cotton balls. From there, she wrapped self-adhesive bandage around my belly to keep the cotton balls in place. I had to keep that on all day and not mess with it or get it wet for 24-36 hours so the henna could set and stain really well. By the end of the night it was pretty itchy.

I slept in the bandage, which was kind of hot and itchy. The next morning, the henna was flaking off on its own, so I stood in the shower and brushed/picked all of it off. Zane helped with the lower belly, because I can only see the top.

It continued to itch throughout the day. I texted Darla about the itchiness, and she said to put coconut oil or olive oil on it. I slathered it on and walked around the house with my shirt up. As the day when on, it darkened from light amber to a dark orange.

Car selfie! 

That night, the itchiness started to concern me. I googled it (wrong decision) and found all these gross allergic reactions to henna. Darla made her henna from scratch using natural henna powder, lemon juice, sugar, and eucalyptus oil, so I know there were no toxins in the henna. I think that maybe my tummy doesn't like the lemon juice or eucalyptus oil.

I wasn't supposed to wash it yet, but I ended up using soap and water with a wash cloth to get the coconut oil off my belly. Then I put regular Jergens lotion on it and went to bed. That helped decrease the itchiness.

I think washing it probably caused it to be lighter than it would have been on Sunday had I not washed it. Oh well.

Sunday we took a family beach day to Fort Desoto, and I wore a bikini, mainly because I had this cool henna tattoo. This photo angle makes my belly look ridiculously ginormous and somewhat fake:

I'm happy I got my belly painted with henna, but if I ever do it again, I'll probably specify that it was super itchy and request that the henna paint be made without lemon juice. If I don't touch it too much, then it doesn't itch, but any kind of touch, including clothes, starts to irritate my belly. Kind of a bummer, but that's okay. 

Getting a cool henna tattoo makes the last weeks of pregnancy a little more fun as I wait.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

End of Pregnancy Musings

I'm full-term, which basically means I can now hope that this baby will come any day, but in reality, she'll probably come after my due date.

The Hard Part

Most of this pregnancy I have been saying, "Wow, this is easier than it was with Daisy! I could totally have a third, no problem!" That upbeat, positive attitude started to disintegrate about three weeks ago. The end of pregnancy is NOT the right time to decide if you want to have another. Last month was the hardest (weeks 33-37).

At week 33, I started to feel all the big-ness of the third trimester, including difficulty sleeping, lying down, bending over, sitting, standing, etc.

At 34 weeks, I started getting concerned about pre-term labor, because I was so close to full term (37 weeks), but not quite there yet, and I was having frequent Braxton Hicks (painless contractions) that freaked me out. One night I had patterned Braxton Hicks that lasted for 40 minutes.

The anxiety caused irritability and insomnia, which added to my irritability. I started taking a magnesium supplement, which helped a lot. Magnesium oil on my feet helped even more.

My anxiety also affected my relationship with Daisy. I was exhausted, and she was well-rested. Things like making her food would irritate me. Taking her to swim lessons became a chore. Cleaning out her kiddie potty would make me sigh, when I should have been thinking, "Wow, isn't so nice I don't have to change her diapers?" I was living with a seriously bad attitude.

This game is called "Put all the stuffed animals on mommy while she lies on the couch." 

One day I was changing her clothes and said, "I'm sorry, sweetie, for being stressed. I want to be a good mommy." She looked at me and said, "I'm sorry, Mommy." Kids are so forgiving. It's humbling.

Now that I'm out of the pre-term labor woods, I'm more relaxed. I have peace knowing that whenever she does come, she'll be fully developed. The last few days have been much calmer.

The Fun Part

Daisy makes this pregnancy much more fun. Our birth center midwives are very pro-family involvement. During my last visit, the midwife had Daisy stand on a chair, put the gel on my belly, and hold the doppler stick to hear Amy's heartbeat. Daisy loved it!

There's SO much that Zane and I have learned this pregnancy that we didn't know with Daisy because we're doing the whole thing natural, prenatal visits and all. I can't say enough great things about going the natural route if you're low-risk. They take the fear out of childbirth and empower mothers and fathers to feel like we can do this: pregnancy, birth, and newborn care.

We even went through "just in case" scenarios if the baby comes super fast, and we end up delivering at home. It's not my ideal plan, but if it happens that way, Zane and I both feel like we could do it.

Playing with headbands. This is my life now. It's awesome. 

People have asked me if Daisy understands what's going to happen, and I actually think she does. She's seen videos of babies being born, so she knows that the belly means a baby. Her room has been transformed for Amy's arrival, and she sees Amy's tiny diapers and clothes. She knows what babies are, and she knows that Amy is a baby. She says things like, "When Amy is born." I don't know if she understands everything to the same extent that Zane and I do, but she has a pretty good concept of who Amy is.

We all will soon learn how the family dynamic will change with Amy's arrival. No one can fully prepare Daisy or Zane and me for that.

The Waiting Part

I have a few things planned as I wait the next few weeks for Amy's arrival: sewing projects, crafty projects, lists of things to clean, and an appointment to get my belly painted with henna. 

I'm also trying to enjoy my last few weeks with just Daisy and soak up the end of an era. 

I also want to enjoy the special time that is pregnancy. There's nothing like it in the world. A person has developed inside of me. A person is going to come out of a person! It's stranger than fiction. My body has gone through a dramatic transformation and in the next year will slowly go back to a version of what it was before. It's crazy.

All around, I haven't had as much time to ponder this pregnancy and God's provision. I'm very thankful that we were able to get pregnant again, and no matter what complaints I have about being pregnant, I'm ultimately SO glad to be in this special stage of life.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Maternity Photo Adventure

Last weekend our long-time friends came to visit and take some maternity photos for us. This is kind of a side, hobby thing for him, at which he obviously excels. We started at our house and took some photos in front of our west-facing window. I LOVE the way they turned out:

Then we headed over to Sand Key State Park in Clearwater for some beach photos. We chose this location based on an informal Facebook survey (status update question) on what the best beach for sunset photos is in Clearwater. 

Traffic was horrible, but that's just Tampa. 

We skipped dinner to race against the sun and arrived a little after 7 PM, right when the sun was setting. There were multiple wedding parties taking photos and several tourists enjoying the beach, so we booked it down the beach to a more secluded area. 

Then Mike got these shots: 

About ten to fifteen minutes after we started, a HUGE black cloud rolled in from the shore. We tried to get some shots using the very little remaining sunlight, but the rain started to fall. 

We could see the haze of a downpour down the beach, so we started running back to the pavillion where we parked. 

Everyone else had already vacated the beach, and we got majorly caught in the deluge. There we were running to the bathroom pavillion: Mandi pushing her kids in a double stroller through the sand, Mike with his camera bag under his shirt, Zane carrying Daisy, and me, the large, preggo woman with a beach bag and a saggy maxi skirt bringing up the rear. 

What a sight!

We just laughed and shrugged. It was a shame to cut the session short, but Mike got some amazing shots in the short time we had. Daisy and Brynn played in the rain, while the rest of us waited under an overhang for the worst of it to pass. Then we changed clothes as best we could and ate a late dinner at Chick Fila. 

It really was a crazy, fun adventure. Luckily, the kids stayed happy until 10pm (a miracle!), and we got some good, quality time with friends. My only regret is that we didn't get a photo of the whole group. 

Thanks, Mike, for the awesome photos!

ALL photo credit goes to Mike Armand. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

DIY Cloth Storage Box

Last Christmas I made a play kitchen for Daisy, and throughout the year, she has accumulated lots of kitchen accessories to the point where cleaning up is difficult, because the toys just fall out of the shelves. 

See before: 

I searched many home good stores for 12''x12'' bins or baskets that would fit in the kitchen to put the toys in, but I was not happy with the prices I found, especially when some of them could easily be made if I just had the materials. 

For example, I found one made of super-stiff felt sewn together with a zig zag stitch. I tried to locate super-stiff felt, but didn't have much luck. 

We had a large cardboard box that we were going to take to the dumpster, and I thought, "Hey, I'll make my own boxes!" It took quite a while over several days, so I'm not even sure that the savings was worth the work, but if you want to undergo this project, here's how I did it. 

1. Determine the size of your boxes and cut your cardboard edges. I needed two 12x12x10'' boxes, so I cut eight 12''x10'' rectangles out of the cardboard and two 12''x12'' squares. This was by FAR the most tedious part of the whole process, because I couldn't find our box cutter. I used scissors. Ugh. 

Plus, I'm nine months pregnant on the floor cutting cardboard with an antsy toddler. Not fun. 

2. Make cloth sleeves for each piece of cardboard. I'm estimating that you'd need about 2-3 yards of fabric for this, but I used this old shower curtain that was missing a chunk from a different project years ago. It wasn't quite enough fabric, so I used two 12''x12'' panels of denim for the bases of the boxes. 

Basically, cut out DOUBLE the amount of fabric that you did cardboard, because each cardboard piece has to have two pieces of fabric to make the sleeve. Add 1'' around the edges for seams. So for me, I cut 16 panels of 13''x11'' and 4 panels of 13''x13''. 

Also, cut four handles. Since I was using a shower curtain, I just cut the hem off, and I don't even remember how long I made them. I'm guessing 8'' each. 

3. Sew the panels, which will also be the sides of the box. I sewed around the tops and sides of each panel, and only about 1/2'' around the corner of each bottom. On two panels per box, pin your handles in the top before you sew (pinning the handles into the right sides which are facing each other). 

4. Turn your panels right side out and press with a hot iron. I used to hate pressing my projects between sewing stages, but it makes things much easier down the road, plus you get a much cleaner look. At this point, iron in the bottom open part of the panel as you would like it to look, turning in the unfinished edges. This aids the hand-sewing part that comes at the end. 

5. Sew the four panels' sides together with top stitching along the outer edge. The edges will look clean from being pressed, so having the seams exposed gives the box a crisp look. Make sure you alternate a handled panel with a non-handled panel. Also, make sure all your openings are at the bottom. 

6. Pick open the 1/2'' that you sewed on either edge of the bottom panels with a seam ripper, then stuff each panel with it's respective cardboard piece. I had to trim a couple of the cardboard pieces down, but most of them slid right in. Then flip the box upside down, so you can add the base. 

7. Slip the base cardboard into the base panel. Set the base piece on the respective side of the box and hand sew it on. This was another kind of tedious part, but once you get in the groove, it goes pretty fast. It only took about 20-30 minutes per box, and I did them on different nights. Make sure you cover the cardboard completely, and grab all four pieces of fabric in each stitch. This is especially important when you sew the side that has the base panel opening and the side panel opening. 

8. Now you have a storage box! You could stop here, but I added fabric glue to the corners, inside and outside, with a q-tip to give extra security to the corner stitches. 

That's it! It took me several hours over the course of several days, which is why I'm not sure that it's worth the work, unless you want custom sizes. Although, I found pride in just doing it myself and using materials that were completely free to me. 

Daisy can easily pull the boxes out and dump the contents all over the floor. Because of the boxes, she can easily clean it up too (even if it takes her triple the amount of time). No more fussing because the toys keep falling out of the kitchen when she's trying to clean up! 

Good luck! 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Amy's Love Birds and the Girls' Room

A few weeks ago, Zane and I rearranged Daisy's room to prepare for our new addition. We got a toddler bed for Daisy and converted the crib back to newborn height. Right now the room is split with a bed on either side, so each girl has her own wall decorations.

I put Amy's letters above the crib, but her name is so small, that it just didn't seem like enough. I tried using some existing artwork we had, but it just wasn't right, so I thought up a new project just for her that required no spending, because I had all the materials on hand.

Love birds!

I took apart my upcycled puzzle box wall decor, which I blogged about here. There's not a place for it in our new apartment, and they've just been collecting dust. 

I cut the new fabric using the old fabric as a pattern. 

Then I sketched a bird on a scrap of cardstock. I eyeballed the size that I wanted based on the creases on the old fabric. 

Daisy helped. Mainly she drew on other scraps of cardstock while I worked.

The rest of the steps are undocumented, because I got into the groove and didn't take pictures. Basically, I cut out the cardstock drawing for my pattern to create two identical, but opposite-facing applique birds. I appliqued wings on them, then appliqued the birds to the middle of my pink damask fabric. Then I added the little bows on each one. General applique instructions can be found in my birthday onesie post

Then I covered the puzzle boxes with the fabric and used hot glue to adhere it. Those steps can be found in my prevous post about upcycling puzzle boxes. 

That was basically it. I hung them on the wall on either side of Amy's name. This photo of her name isn't that great, but I have a thermal curtain on the window, so the natural light is limited.

And here's Daisy's side of the room with her mermaid bed. 

Almost ready for Amy to come! I still have one big project to do, which is adding another clothes hanging shelf in the closet for double the clothes. That requires some major re-organizing of stuff around the apartment. Nothing we can't do, though. :)