week 19 maternity sewing

baby 2, 19 weeks, wearing jalie top2

I must admit that I put aside a sewing project for Finn to whip up this top for myself. Does KCWC include sewing for offspring who are hidden inside a belly? Probably not. Oh well, I considered this a necessary diversion of my creative efforts.

baby 2, 19 weeks, wearing jalie top

At week 19, I'm finally beginning to appreciate a form-gracing top rather than the fuddy duddy t-shirts I had been wearing to cover up my "not-noticeably-pregnant, perhaps-just-a-beer-drinker" belly.

baby 2, 19 weeks, wearing jalie top3

I love, love, love this top, which is not actually a maternity-specific design, but it happens to do triple-duty as a maternity, non-maternity, and nursing top. It's Jalie 2787. (If you look at Emilie's Favorites, she shares her notes with you about making Jalie tops into maternity tops.)

But let me say a word about maternity clothing this (second) time around. Eew. I don't want to open that box. I never really want to see those clothes again. I remember when I was pregnant with Finn, I couldn't wait to get into maternity clothes. I was insane. I think I went out and purchased my first ugly, saggy-bottomed pair of jeans when I was 9 weeks along. Granted, I gained a lot more weight a lot more quickly with Finn, so I probably didn't really fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans at 9 weeks. (Thank you, constant diet of cheese, crackers, and yogurt!) But still. This time, I'm at 19 weeks and doing everything I can to stay in my regular clothes. A hair tie around the button of my jeans does the trick for now, and I'm considering making myself a homemade belly band. I've also been scouring the 'nets for some stylish maternity-wear tutorials and patterns.

baby 2, 19 weeks, wearing jalie top5

Luvinthemommyhood did a great maternity-wear round up this past Spring. Thanks to her, I happened on this post at Grosgrain Fabulous (awesomely inspiring sewing blog, by the way) about making stylish pants on a budget. I also ran into the website of Megan Nielsen, who sells PDF patterns for sewing your own maternity-wear. I'm really head-over-heels for this shirt.

I went ahead and made the sleeveless version of the Jalie shirt because we're heading to Cabo San Lucas in a few weeks for my dear friend's wedding (for which I have to fit the belly into a bridesmaid's dress - stay tuned for good laughs.) I needed some warm weather options. I'm thinking about making the top with sleeves for when the temperature finally drops below 80 here in North Carolina. Any day now! It's all I can do to keep myself from thinking about pumpkin bread and warm scarves. I'm just sitting here and twiddling my thumbs, making sleeveless shirts to bide my time!

the tub o' beans



Or, how to be a lazy, yet effective mother of a toddler. When all you want to do is sit on your posterior and lounge while watching your toddler happily engrossed in play, get one of those under-the-bed storage bins (with a top that latches closed - more on this later) and head to Costco for a large bag of beans. Pour in the beans, situate the tub on top of some towels, put in some scoops, and sit back. Relax. Don't worry about the beans all over the floor. (Put the tub on the porch or outside.) The bean clean-up fairy will arrive later, with his magic broom wand and his "I'm-the-Daddy-and-I'm-not-physically pregnant-energy".



Aside from a pile of children's books beside you on the couch, the bean tub is a must for the pregnant mother of a toddler. I actually got the idea from my brilliant neighbor, who has a mondo bean tub for her girls. Who doesn't love slipping their hands into a barrel of beans? It's a sensorial experience par excellence.

Surprisingly, most of the beans didn't end up flung around the floor. Finn spends a good deal of time in the tub simply burying his feet, or picking up one kidney bean at a time and placing it in a small container. Pincer grip practice (the Montessorian in me quivers with excitement!)


I do have a few caveats to pass on, though. First, make sure your little one is past the putting-everything-in-the-mouth phase. Finn got over that a while ago, and it's opened up a whole new frontier as far as activities are concerned. Next, make sure you can COVER your bean tub. If not, you might have a lovable yet small-brained cat who will consider the tub to be a sort of luxury litter box. Harumph. Back to Costco for more beans.


a getaway


the wait is over



bubble walk

wilmington, nc

river boats

wind blowing through the hair

pregnant belly #2, 16+ weeks

The beach! We finally got away for a much-needed twenty four hours of relaxation this weekend. The last two weeks have been stressful, as Patrick has started the semester with a bang. In other words, he's had to solidify and write up his dissertation research plan in all of two weeks. This means that I have had no time to work, as he's been working from the wee small hours of the morning until after I go to sleep. But we figured that it's good in the long run ... and plus, we'd planned this little trip to Wilmington to visit his aunt and uncle as a little celebration of a deadline met. Nothing like a carrot hanging in front of you, right?

We were set to leave on Saturday morning. Patrick had been working all day on Friday, trying to get this document written and submitted before we left. Then he called me. The file had been corrupted and he'd lost all of his work. He showed up at the house looking like he'd just found out that he'd lost a loved one! Poor guy. And what did this Superman do? He went to bed at 8 p.m., woke up at 2 a.m., and poured out all of those words again. By 10 a.m., he was done, and we were out the door.

Yay, beach! And yay for my brillant, loving, and hard-working partner in life. I don't know how he does half of the things he does. He just blows my socks off.

And now, it's back to life as usual. Hope you all had a good weekend.

Oh, and did you notice that mini-baby-bump in the last picture? Week 17. I went to see the midwife today, and she predicts a well-behaved girl. I predict a human baby. Being no clairvoyant myself, and not particularly liking being wrong, I stick to sound predictions only. ;)

i give up, & some exciting news

monkey give up

Finn, doing his best impression of his mother.

I had every intention of having an adorable, finished knitting project to photograph for this post. I cast on for it a few weeks back, all vim and vigor. It's almost done. It's super tiny, so I have no excuses.

Well, I do have one. It's a little excuse. The kind of excuse that makes one very tired and queasy, but also very happy.

We're pregnant! Finn's little brother or sister will join us in mid- to late-February. They will be 21 months apart, which makes me both nervous and excited, considering they will be so close. I've started doing some research in those rare moments that I don't feel mildly icky. (You can see the new books I'm reading in the left side bar.)

So now you know why things have been a little on the quiet side around here. I'm operating in low gear, trying to get through the essential parenting and work activities of each day while still being mindful of my body and its new needs. My morning sickness isn't debilitating by any means - I have it pretty good compared to many women - but I still need to slow down. I'll be back in this place only from time to time until I feel my energy return in a few more weeks.

Hey, at least I am doing something creative, even if it has nothing to do with yarn, knitting needles, or a sewing machine. Making a human is plenty of work, after all!

baby essentials

Many soon-to-be-first-time-mamas have asked me the following question: What, exactly, do I need to have for my baby? 

This post is for you!

The good news? Most of what your baby (and you) will need in those first few months is free. For example:

baby essentials :: the fan

If you have one of these, you're SET. Oh, how I wish we didn't live in a rental and that we had the money to put in pretty fans, but hey, Finn loves them anyway. He talks to them. He laughs at them. I worry that, instead of speaking human language, he will just click, clack, and whirl in a rhythmic fashion.

But seriously. 

I hesitate to give a laundry list of baby essentials, because what works for us might not work for you. Every family has its own needs and priorities, and ours are highly influenced by my Montessori background, our decisions to co-sleep and practice EC, and our budget. The bottom line? Do what is right for you, your family, and your little one. Follow your convictions, follow your budget, but most of all, (in Montessori-speak) follow the child. What your child needs is YOU - your love, your smiles, your voice - not stuff! Stuff can be nice (and very helpful) but keep in mind that you shouldn't feel pressure to accumulate it. 

Also, do keep in mind that most of these items can be found second-hand. We have yet to buy new clothing for Finn, as we've been pretty determined to hit every Saturday yard sale in our neighborhood. We've found baby wraps and plenty of clothing. You might try looking on for other, larger items.

That said, here's a list of what our family has found helpful in the first four (almost five!) months of Finn's life:

  • the Moby Wrap. I've talked about it before, but this is our go-to option for soothing a tired baby. Daddy wears the Moby, and I wear ...
  • a ring sling. I've found that it's easy to get on and off and great for covering up while nursing out of the house. Our current favorite is the hip hold - we get a lot done in the kitchen and around the house thanks to the sling.
  • at least 50 pre-fold diapers. They are cheap, super absorbent, and perfect for EC backup around the house, worn with a diaper belt (known affectionately around these parts as Finn's sumo belt). Amanda Soule's book, Handmade Home, includes instructions on how to make your own pre-fold diapers from recycled cloth. We don't use diaper covers unless we're out and about (and we used g diapers with much success while traveling) but I'd say you'd need three covers to be safe.

baby care area in our bedroom

  • a dresser with the top drawers reserved for baby diapers and clothing. No need to get a special baby changing dresser - we already had ours, a mid-century-ish find from a thrift store. The above photo is our "baby care station" - a changing pad (with two cotton terry covers - one for the wash, and one for the pad), Finn's Baby Bjorn potty on top of a waterproof mat, a toy or two for potty time, wipes, and two burlap buckets - one for the 20 or so washcloths that we use constantly for cleaning up spit up, drool, milk - you name it, and one for holding my cotton breast pads.
  • a water repellent wool pad, topped with a flannel receiving blanket, for sleeping on top of in our family bed. You can make your own felted wool pad, or buy one here. You'll need lots of receiving blankets. I think we have about ten. You can make your own by buying cotton flannel at a fabric store and simply cutting them to small blanket size - zigzag the edges and you're done.
  • a co-sleeping pillow. This makes all of us feel safe and secure at night. Finn slept in a sleep sack for the first few months.
  • kimono shirts, baby legwarmers, socks and hats. Finn doesn't really have that many clothes - figure that your baby will go through one, maybe two, shirts per day (depending on drool and spit-up) and two or more pants if you choose to use pants. I rarely put Finn in pants because we EC. We prefer to use legwarmers and socks to keep his lower extremities warm. We do laundry every other day, so we only really need about four shirts, two pairs of pants, and a few pairs of baby socks. If you don't want to do laundry that frequently, then you'll need more clothes (and more diapers, probably!)
  • a wool fleece pad or lambskin, for hanging out on the floor, playing with toys, watching mobiles, cats, etc.
  • several mobiles from the Michael Olaf catalog or made by hand. Finn loved his black and white whale mobile.
  • Montessori baby toy set from Pink House Handworks.
  • and, finally, a Svan baby/youth chair. We've just started using it with Finn (because he's just begun to sit up on his own) but we LOVE it. It is an expensive item, but we knew we wanted it and spread the word - several family members went in on it together to purchase it for us as a gift. The chair is so great on many levels - the tray comes off so you can scoot the baby right up to the edge of the table to socialize with you as you eat meals as a family. It's beautifully made of wood. Perhaps its biggest selling point for us was that it converts into a toddler and youth chair which the older child can get in and out of himself with the aid of a step/foot rest.
That's all I can think of for the moment - I'm sure I've missed something. How about this - if you're a mama, think about something that you couldn't live without in those first few months and leave a comment. Let's make this post a go-to resource for mamas-to-be.

mindless crafting

felting balls

When it's 90 degress, when your 39-week pregnant toes look like some dubious meat product, and when your mind has slowed to the speed of your forward-moving waddle (I hesitate to even call it walking nowadays) the only thing left to do is make felt balls.

Mindless crafting, friends. I'm all about it.

I used this tutorial to make five small balls for a simple baby mobile. More on that later, if I don't end up giving birth or melting before I get to it. Melting seems more likely.

finnian's montessori room

finn's room :: another view of the floor bed

His name is Finnian Patrick. He will be an Irish citizen just like his Daddy (who got his papers last week!) His Mama is a Montessori teacher and a maker-of-things. And this is his room. It is waiting patiently for his arrival.

finn's room :: care of self table, baby-size, where he can brush his hair and wipe his nose, etc.

Let the tour begin!

I kept several things in mind when creating Finn's space: I wanted it to be child-friendly and easily organized, I wanted it to be hand-made to the best of my time and abilities, and I wanted it to be high-quality yet very economical.

The first thing you might notice, on walking into the room, is the crib-sized floor bed. In the Montessori educational philosophy, the child sleeps on a mattress directly on the floor in a child-safe room so that once he can crawl, he is free to get up and explore the room. Finn will use this bed for naps (if he so desires), but will be co-sleeping with us in our bed during the night. Although I would have loved to have provided Finn with an organic mattress, we opted for a cheap mattress with an organic puddle pad and organic sheets. We figure he'll be spending most of his sleeping time in a sling or on our bed at first, anyway.

I made the quilt using the "Little Bits" pattern in Joelle Hoverson's Last-Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts. The mural is awesome. It's the woodland collection by Wee Gallery. I've long been a fan of their graphic images for infants - I believe I first came across their art cards in the Michael Olaf catalog several years back. I also have several sets of art cards for him which I will use in various capacities - as black and white mobiles, as cards set up on his movement mat for him to study, and as visual stimulation during car trips.

finn's room :: 15" - high table, infant chair from

This little table and chair will be used once he's a little older. It's part of the "Care of Self" area - I will put a hairbrush and tissues on these two trays. He can see himself in the mirror and wipe his nose, etc. He can also use this table as a work table once he can walk and carry his "activities" over from the shelf to the table. The table itself is 15" high - we purchased a basic child's table for $25 from a local unfinished furniture shop, had them lop off the legs to the desired height, and stained it ourselves. The chair is the Michael Olaf Slatted Chair - ergonomically designed for the tiniest of sitters and light enough to be carried by the child. I found the recycled door frame mirror at Rowan's Room on Etsy.

finn's room :: area for elimination communication

Here's the Elimination Communication area. Now, neither EC nor Montessori require that you set up a special potty area for the baby. My bathroom does, however. It's so small that I can barely fit in between the sink and the shower at nine months pregnant, and it would be pretty uncomfortable to hold Finn over the toilet in such tight quarters. This was what I came up with instead. (We also have a potty bowl for use while nursing and during the nighttime.) Most likely, I'll hold him over this little potty until he's developmentally ready to sit up on it himself. We'll use the big-people's toilet, too - just not all the time in order to spare our backs.

Eventually, I'll put some t.p. and a toy or book on the little shelf for his reading enjoyment. :) (The owl and hedgehog are both from Wee Gallery).

finn's room :: iron-on vinyl fabric mat to protect floor under baby potty

(Please! Ignore the cat hair! The cats are so very grateful for all of the new cat nap surfaces that are popping up all over the place.)

I whipped up a little pee pad for the potty area. I used Therm-o-web iron-on vinyl to coat both sides of some Japanese fabric from my stash. The mat is easily finished with a store bought double-fold bias tape. It's sturdy, wipes clean, and doesn't shift on the wood floor.

finn's room :: care of self area

We took the door off of the cedar-lined closet to create a special dressing nook for Finn. This won't be in use for a good while (until he can walk and expresses interest in dressing/undressing), but you can get a sense for how the space will eventually be used.

finn's room :: dressing area

The galvanized steel tub is one of those staples that we brought back with us from Mexico, but I think that you can find a (much more expensive!) version at Montessori Services. The tub is for dirty clothes (and the cute "laundry day" print is from The Black Apple). The little stool, where he can sit down to dress/undress was a cheap find at the local unfinished furniture store. On the other side of the closet I will eventually install a suspension rod where I will hang two or three outfits a day from which he can choose. The rest of his clothing will be stored in plastic tubs according to size on the shelf above the cedar lining.

finn's room :: crate shelves and letters from Michael's, mama-made butterfly and snail from wee wonderfuls patterns

These little crate shelves that you see were a couple of bucks a piece at Michael's Crafts. The letters are from there, too - all were lovingly stained by the non-pregnant soon-to-be parent.

The softies currently on display are Mama-made using the hand-sewing patterns from Wee Wonderfuls. (I also plan on making him his very own wool kitty one of these days.)

finn's room :: photo of his grandfather (my dad) in 1945-ish

...a black and white photo of my dad circa 1945.

finn's room :: infant "work" shelf with rotating toys on trays, rotating pictures in frames

Moving on to another corner you can see the 14" high "work" shelf, the nursing area, and the reading area. Notice that most everything is child-height, including the artwork on the walls, so that Finn can see and enjoy it. The room is designed to be aesthetically pleasing to a young child, not to an adult (although it's a soothing place to be no matter your height!)

finn's room :: the work shelf

The shelf is nothing but a cube shelf turned on its side (and found, once again, at the local unfinished furniture store). It's so inexpensive compared to the shelving offered in the Michael Olaf catalog, and I like that it helps keep activities organized by providing three distinct areas for trays/baskets.

Finn will have limited, developmentally appropriate toys and activities available for his use on this shelf. Any toys that are not in use will be stored in a closet in the hallway and rotated in and out to maintain his interest and to make putting away toys a much easier task.

finn's room :: infant "work" shelf with montessori toys

I did decide to invest in a set of three Michael Olaf frames which have a space behind them for storing up to 10 illustrations/photos. The art on display will be rotated both according to Finn's interests and to pique his interest in other things. I have a collection of old calendars, National Geographic magazines, and other picture/illustration sets that I will use for this purpose. The set that you see here was a surprise find at Michael's Crafts - Martha Stewart's Animal Alphabet Cards. The little chipmunk is from Imagine Childhood.

finn's room :: nursing supplies, library books, and vegetarian-friendly lambswool fleece mat

The mama rocking chair we found in our attic - a discard from the landlord - who knew? I'm also very pleased with our lamb's fleece blanket, found here. I plan on using this a lot - as padding for my arms/rear while nursing and as a mobile movement mat so that Finn can hang out and play on the floor in other rooms, etc. I've heard such wonderful things about lambskins for babies, but I'm a vegetarian and I would feel sad whenever I saw that cute little lamby, so I opted for this animal-friendly, organic cotton-backed version instead. Plus, it's cheaper!

The burlap bags are from MayaMade (love them!) Right now they contain essential nursing supplies (flannel wipes, wash cloths, baby nail clippers, the little potty I mentioned before, etc. I'll also keep a stash of snacks and a glass for water for myself in there as well. I figure that, by keeping all of nursing essentials in these bags, I can easily move them from this location to my bedside, to the living room couch, the screened-in porch ... the list goes on. Portable, prepared nursing!

I found the adorable mini-rocker for $27 from Etsy shop RMD Creations. It's just perfect for a toddler. Once he's into books, I'll keep a limited, rotated selection for him on the bottom shelf. The books? Most of them are from my last trip to the local library - little black and white board books, some Eric Carle, and some more advanced reading if he's into listening to us read to him. The one essential? Favorite Poems Old and New.

finn's room :: movement mat

Here's a look at the movement mat. The mirrors are thrifted and securely bolted to the wall. We ended up buying the Sultan Snarka thin mattress from Ikea on the recommendation of Janice, fellow Montessorian and owner of Etsy store Pink House Handworks, where you can get a wonderful set of Montessori infant toys, including some of the ones you see currently on Finn's work shelf.

So - the movement mat. For the first few months, this is where Finn will hang out for tummy time and the important work of strengthening his muscles in preparation for sitting and crawling. He will also hang out on his back and be given the opportunity to concentrate on different mobiles hung from above with a super-duper, nearly invisible acrylic mobile hanger that I found in the Michael Olaf catalog. I liked its unobstrusiveness so much that I ordered another so that we can hang a mobile above our bed, too. 

I've mentioned before that Montessorians have a different view on mobiles than the typical nursery-decor designer. We like the idea of changing mobiles based on the developmental stages of babies - first hanging a variety of black and white, high contrast mobiles that are visual only (the one I have up now is the whale mobile from Michael Olaf, but I will be making several over the next few days and sharing that process with you). Then, once the baby can move the mobile with his feet, eventually realizing that he can grab onto the object, the mobiles will provide incentive for such grasping and various levels of grasping challenges. These "grasping" mobiles are hung from a hook in the ceiling and attached with a combination of fishing wire and elastic.

The movement mat is also good for rolling soft balls a short way to encourage scooting and crawling. You can also attach a bar along the wall at the baby's "pulling up" height so he can practice standing and cruising. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Eventually, once Finn is walking, we'll take out the mirrors and movement mat and this wall will become the art area and will sport a nature table, a la Waldorf.

finn's room :: birds and matryoshkas

Now, here's a funny side note: this print by Belle and Boo is the first thing that I ever purchased on Etsy. I bought it for my future child's room, years back. This darling boy and his bird friend are actually the color/decor inspiration for the entire room. And I can't help but think that my little Finn will look an awful lot like him ...

finn's room :: mama-made bird branch, belle and boo print, russian nesting dolls, a glimpse at our sling collection

Once again, just so you have all of the info in one place, I made the bird branch using an online tutorial. I talk about the Russian nesting dolls here, and in the corner you can see our collection of slings - eco-silk ring slings from Baby Pockets, a pouch from Gorgeous Baby, and a Moby wrap, which you can't see because it's already packed in the "bring to the birthing center bag"!

We're ready whenever you are, Finny!