Previous month:
May 2009
Next month:
July 2009

June 2009

the doing of things

getting things done

The manner in which things "get done" around here has changed. Some of that change is welcome, and some of it is challenging.

I've had to become okay with lessened "productivity." What is productivity, anyway? Ideally, my definition of a  "productive" life would be one in which I enjoy what I do and how I spend my time on a daily basis - a qualitative definition. Understandably, this vision gets crowed out at times by the more quantifiable, traditional definition - how much did I do? What did I cross of the to-do list? The qualitative measure is so much kinder on the psyche, isn't it?

But yet, some things do need to get done. (Especially when your husband's grad school stipend enjoys a summer hiatus and your crappy health insurance doesn't cover x, y, and z from a birthing center birth!) Patterns need writing, websites need designing, books need editing, and meals need making. Thankfully, Patrick is around to help do most things. The pattern writing and the sewing, however? Not his domain. So I've taken to writing instructions on paper during some of those long, sleepy nursing sessions. I've learned to get right to the sewing as soon as the babe falls asleep. And yes, some things have suffered as a result. My ability to take a shower and do my hair on a regular basis is one. The other is the floor. Darn thing can't sweep or mop itself! (And it really should, at least once a day, because of all the cat hair.) I think that, once Finn starts scooting around, I'll just sew up his clothes in Swiffer material. That would be super helpful.

But joking aside, the most difficult transition for me has been the significant reduction in the time that I spend in front of the computer screen. We have a desktop computer, so I can't bring it along with me as I nurse, etc. I read blogs only here and there, I respond to only a few comments, and I certainly don't spend any time surfing for the heck of it. I come here to blog, ship off patterns, and process photos. Which reminds me - those of you who sent me an email asking a question, etc. since Finn was born ... would you be so kind as to re-send it to me? Your emails have since been buried in a gargantuan to-do list and have been lost to my less-than-stellar email organization skills. I really, really want to respond, I just need to start with a clean slate, you know what I mean? Thanks a bunch!

Not that I don't set aside time to take care of me. (Showering, obviously, isn't my highest "me-time" priority!) I'll be spending the next few days sharing a few of the things that I do to take care of myself as a new, work-at-home mama. They keep me sane, balanced, and, not surprisingly, increase my productivity, both qualitative and quantitative.

What do you do to take care of yourself these days?

common interests

nap partners

Admittedly, I'm a sucker for inter-species friendships. So when my two littles became friends based on a shared interest in napping, I became camera-happy.

nap partners

Amelie initiated the friendship by, at first, extending a curious paw. When the new, hairless kitty didn't respond with a hiss, she started napping on the same bed as him. Closer and closer she crept, day by day, until she was sure that snuggle napping was okay. This hairless kitty must be cold, she thought, given his lack of fur. Kind soul that she is, she decided to warm him up.

nap partners

Now this is how they sleep, cuddled together. Finn has been accepted by the leader of the McElwee Pride.

nap partners

bluegrass boy

first bluegrass concert

Friday night, we took Finn to his first live music performance. I'm not sure what he liked better - the music?

first bluegrass concert

Or his Daddy?

Close call, but Daddy wins, as always. It was, however, a great concert at a kid-friendly venue. Pretty soon he'll be dancing along like all the others.

first bluegrass concert

In the meantime, he can bounce to the beat in his sling.

Here's to summer weekends!

sponsor giveaway :: little pink house

Okay, people - brace yourselves for cuteness ...


I told you so. Melissa, a recovering academic who has found refuge in all things wool felt, is offering this little embroidered hoop to a Sew Liberated reader! I'm sure you've seen her work featured on Etsy. Since beginning her shop, Little Pink House, she's created over one hundred cute little works of felt art. I particularly love her custom portraits and house hoops. She'll even whip up your dog in felt and plop him in the fiber front yard.

From Melissa: I am a poet, fiber artist, and stay-at-home mom. 10 months ago, I gave up a full-time, tenure track position teaching writing and literature at a public university in the middle of Maine's North Woods and moved to a lovely little city on the ocean. Lately I'm spending my days with needle and thread, wondering when I will wake up from this good, good dream.


One more thing about Melissa - she has generously written up instructions for a felt project for my book! I'm really honored to have her felt expertise featured, and I'm sure you'll love the project. Hint - it's in the baby/children's section!

Leave a comment if you'd like to win this little "bienvenue" hoop, and hop on over to Little Pink House if you'd like to order up your own custom felt hoop - start thinking ahead for your holiday gift list!

Good luck! Comments will close at 8 p.m. EST on Sunday the 28th.


Comments are closed - congrats to Kathryn, comment #60!


buried in berries

We're buried in berries around these parts. Ginormous blackberries. I half believe that I've been caught in one of those Honey, I Shrunk the Kids movies.

no joke

What to do? One could carry the bucket around and do bicep curls. One could also make a blackberry pie. We chose the latter. Actually, Patrick made it. It tasted great, but it's not the prettiest. He has since dubbed himself The Pie Filling Man. I am heretofore The Crust Girl. So much for a stunning pie photo. That, plus ... I've already eaten half the pie. The breastfeeding appetite will do that to you.

blackberry hefting


first hike

Get up early to beat the heat: check. (It's always rise and shine at 6:30 a.m. 'round these parts, anyway.)
Pack Moby Wrap, a spare diaper, and a water bottle: check.
Forget to put on hiking boots and do the entire hike in flip flops: check. (That goes for both of us.)
Invite good friends who don't mind doing everything at baby-speed: check.
Make a few breastfeeding and EC'ing pit stops along the trail: check.

Happy, hiking baby and two new parents thrilled to return out-of-doors: check.


EC at six weeks

To connect with another being, to understand his need, and to help him fulfill that need - well, I can't think of anything that is more wonderful in this life.

We began practicing elimination communication full-time with the babe during his fifth week. Prior to that, we'd been signaling "sssss" to him when we noticed that he had peed (and that didn't happen very often) and clearly stating "poop" when it was (quite obvious!) that he had had a bowel movement. Last week, I just had a feeling that it was time to really give it a go in earnest. Since then, his signals for peeing (fussing or coming off the breast while nursing) have become more clear to us. He fusses, we remove his cloth diaper, we hold him over the potty, and within a few seconds, he relieves himself.

I was shocked. I mean, I was anticipating that it would take him a while to understand the relationship between holding him over the potty, signaling "sss", and the actual act of urinating. Babies are just incredible, and so intuitive, as it turns out.

EC at six weeks

I must share with you a little secret. Although Finn has always been delightfully assertive, his assertiveness was a little tough to deal with in weeks 3-5. He was never inconsolable, but I was bouncing around so much trying to soothe him that I'm afraid I did permanent damage to my equilibrium as a result! ;) As you recall, I had cut out dairy in my diet, wondering if this was the cause of his apparent discomfort. The most frustrating, for me, was when he would wail out in obvious discomfort in the middle of a nursing session. At times, it brought me to tears, wondering why I couldn't console him.

Well, it turns out that the guy just doesn't like wetting himself, or sitting in anything wet for more than 3 milliseconds. We're all amazed, Finn included. You should see the smile that forms after he's gone to the bathroom without getting wet!

It was this positive change for Finn that really sold me. I was interested in EC but somewhat non-committal up until this point. I wanted to try it out to see if it really jived with our baby and our lives. Personally, I didn't mind the diaper changing or the laundry load, and I was confident in our choice of cloth diapers for the newborn stage. Also, there was so much "new" to deal with that I wasn't sure that EC would put us in "new" overload. It just so turns out that EC is, in fact, a perfect fit for us. As long as Finn has a preference for being dry and communicates that need to us, we'll continue in the same manner. If, at any time, he seems uninterested? No problem, we can always go back to full-time cloth.

evening EC

Daddy is in on this, too. He's the pioneer that took his petit charge to the men's restroom when we were out for Indian food. Happy baby, happy daddy - but do tell, why don't they have changing stations in the men's restrooms? Sheesh.

We've pottied Finn on walks along the street, and I'm sure that's something for the neighbors to whisper about amongst themselves. I remember when I went to Europe at age eighteen and witnessed a mama pottying her toddler along the sidewalk in a plastic potty. She tossed the pee into the street, and I was aghast. I mean, I come from the land where people pick up their dog's poop with a plastic bag and tote it all the way home! Human pee on the street? My, my.

Now we are those crazy people. But you know what? I have a happy, communicative baby, and that's all that matters!

If you are interested in EC, I'll recommend a few books and websites. Keep in mind that you can begin EC as early as birth and as late as toddlerhood, and that each family's experience will be unique. You can do EC full-time, part-time, or only occasionally - whatever works for you and your child. The goal is not to have a child that is potty trained at a young age, but rather to communicate with each other about this basic human need.

The Diaper-Free Baby: The Natural Toilet Training Alternative
Infant Potty Training: A Gentle and Primeval Method Adapted to Modern Living
Diaper Free: The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene

Diaper Free Baby
EC forum at
Natural Birth and Baby Care

Clothing and accessories for EC
EC Wear
The EC Store

i'm loving

manly vest

:: Finn's manly baby vest knit by Val in the most scrumptious purple tweed. Perfect for this week's rainy, cool days. I'm already scheming up some knitting time to make him a set of these for this Fall.

sugar city quarterly

:: Sugar City Journal's first edition of their Quarterly - a feast for Mama's eyes while the babe sleepily nurses.

overstuffed fabric box

linen fabric

:: Packages stuffed to the brim with linen and linen/cotton blends, from my go-to source for linen. Consider this a preview of the Sew Liberated Autumn Collection! (And don't forget that today is the last day for the buy one, get one free pattern sale!)

:: New tunes - Diane Birch's Bible Belt - found this weekend while listening to NPR's Morning Edition.

:: Finn's incredible rocket play mat, made by the ridiculously creative and talented Bean at Coyote Craft. Go look at it - it's seriously, seriously rad.

new diaper bag in ikea fabric

:: my new diaper bag from Creating Things, in fabric that is available in Ikea stores. Bummer that they don't sell it online - isn't it unique? Plus, it's a sturdy cotton canvas. And since I still haven't ventured out in the car by myself with the baby, I doubt that I'll be making it to the Charlotte, NC Ikea any time soon. Anyone in Charlotte want to do me a fabric buying favor? ;)

farmer's market flowers

:: farmer's market flowers in the living room.

What's brightening your day today?

well, golly gee ...

finn's bath

... he sure is cute, isn't he? I don't know what it is about bath time, but he always has his mouth open like this. Ever since the grandparents bought us this little tub, he's been the happiest of campers during bath time. Which is good, because his first bath with Daddy in the big people's tub was less than fun, for all parties involved. Oh well. The little guy might just be like his Mama - with an ever-so-slight distaste for large bodies of water.

It's all relative, I suppose - I think the big people's tub is just divine. Glass of red wine, bubbles and a good book? One of these days it will happen again. For now I'm sticking to the shower-like-there's-no-hot-water-speed-cleans. Because you never know when he will wake up and want to nurse!