Monday, April 25, 2011

My Life in a Nutshell: Bye Bye Baby (Weight)

I’ve been quieter on the blog than I had hoped since little AJ was born 3 weeks ago, but I guess I’ll accept that as a fair trade for some much needed rest (or at least the pursuit of rest) and baby bonding. We are doing well… healthy, generally happy, and excited for the future. Part of that excitement for me involves losing the baby weight and getting to the point where some of my pre-pregnancy clothes fit again. To be honest, I’m really excited about that. Because right now nothing fits except maternity clothes, and I hated wearing those even when I was pregnant. Now, 3 weeks out, I can tell the weight loss will be the same hard-fought battle it was after each of my other pregnancies, but now I’m mentally prepared for it. Today is Day 1 of the process of reclaiming my body.

To get back down to a healthy weight I’d like to maintain, I want to lose between 28 and 34 pounds. I am exclusively nursing my baby, and I’m not the type of person who automatically drops the weight the minute baby starts eating. Nope… no matter what people may tell you, sometimes nursing makes you really hungry and being really hungry makes you eat more and eating more does not a successful dieter make. For me, it’s always a little depressing to get home from the maternity ward not having lost even the weight of the baby. How is that possible? Well, post-partum water retention and the requisite milk-producing expansion of “the girls” can easily account for it, but that doesn’t make it feel any better when looking at the scale. And after birth, new mothers really do need to take it easy so their bodies can heal properly, so exercise and diets shouldn’t happen right away. And that’s where I am now…

My plan of action? Weight Watchers.

I love Weight Watchers. The only successful dieting I have ever done was using their plan. I lost weight as a teenager when my mom was doing their plan (and so I had access to the tools too). I also lost 20 pounds after my third child and, for the first time in my memory, I was not overweight. It felt good. It felt very, very good. And I enjoyed the process! I think that the WW plan works by helping you understand what you’re actually consuming, creating healthy food choice habits and encouraging variety in both food and exercise. I used the online program and it made keeping track of daily food intake and exercise easy and fast, and kept me accountable for every choice I made. It worked well with my budget-minded mentality… if you want to splurge on something, you have to plan ahead. Today I signed up for a 3 month plan… I don’t want to wait a year being chubby before I decide to get down to business. WW allows nursing mothers to diet safely by calculating the right amount of extra nutrition to make healthy milk. The cost is generally about $18 per month, and I consider that a wonderful price to pay to see real results. And besides, that’s probably less than the new pants you’ll happily buy when you lose the weight :)

Since WW has revamped their system since I last used it, I am spending today acquainting myself with it and planning my next shopping trip. We’re out of the grocery essentials anyway and, with the inherent hassle of shopping with 3 kids under 5, it will also count as some exercise for the day. Double bonus!

So, in the spirit of Keep It Up, David! (David has lost over 165 pounds over the past 16 months… check out the blog for some great tips and motivation, as well as laughs and weight-loss camaraderie), I intend to keep you updated about my progress. So, off I go with a smile and a plan :)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Celebrate the Baby: Quick and Easy Baby Shower Gifts

I’m writing this post very very very much in advance. It’s mid-March and I’m due to have my own baby sometime in the next 4 weeks or so, and my lovely sister-in-law is due to have a little boy about 6 weeks after that. Since this is her first bundle of joy, we’re throwing her a shower! Actually, when this posts, we will have had the shower a couple days ago. And hopefully my own baby is a couple weeks old now… but if you’re a regular reader you will already know when he or she was born, right? Writing for the future is weird when there are unknown and life-altering events to take place in the meantime. But I digress… we’re having a shower and I don’t want to post about the gifts I’m making before the shower, or they wouldn’t be a surprise! And besides, since I have a very new baby myself at this point, I’m probably desperate for sleep and pre-made blog posts. So it works out in everyone’s best interests :)

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I really wanted to make a baby quilt to give but, to be honest, I just didn’t have the energy for another sort-of-major project. So I compromised between real quilt and no quilt, and ended up making this sweet but boyish blanket. It was so simple… just 1 yard of quilter’s cotton on one side, and 1 yard of soft and cuddly fabric on the other. I made the cute bias binding myself (I used a whole yard of fabric to make about 10 continuous yards of 2” bias, which resulted in a 1/2” binding). I just love how it turned out!!! And the best part? I made it in one lazy evening.

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I also had some new cloth diapers around, so I embellished a few with more of the bias tape for distinct burp clothes…

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And made a pacifier clip to match (had to get a snap in there somewhere!).

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Baby legwarmers have come into vogue since my last newborn 4 years ago, and I wanted to try making some (using a new pair of knee-high women’s socks)… they were very successful, if a little boring in the color department (I didn’t think the little guy would want too many crazy patterns going on when he looks back at photos of his infancy). I cut off each sock at the heel and sewed a hem with a zigzag. So easy!

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And, for the discerning newborn gentleman, I embellished a onesie with a necktie. I just love these, and they really are terribly easy. My very stylish sister-in-law would have loved to have some cutesy items if this baby would have been a girl, but she’ll find that boy things can be just as much fun :)

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For more formal events, I couldn’t help but make one with a bowtie as well. Mini James Bond?

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I hope my sister and brother-in-law enjoy using these things for my little nephew as much as I enjoyed making them :) I’m so excited for all the joy this baby will bring to their lives… babies are such a very good thing :)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Welcome to the family, Andrew!

I’m so happy to announce the birth of our fourth child, little Andrew! He made a quick and exciting entrance at 2:25 AM on Monday, April 4. Our little guy weighed in at 7 pounds and 2 ounces, and 20.5 inches of beautiful baby boyhood. I just can’t believe he’s actually here… I’m totally in love!

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Celebrate the Baby: The Best Bib Ever

*This is a pre-scheduled post due to the likelihood of my being out of commission… today is my due date, though hopefully I’ve already given birth to the little bean and am napping blissfully with my new babe-in-arms. Or at least sitting down somewhere comfortable. Enjoy!*

My aunt Beth introduced me to the clever design of Dex Dura Bibs when she and my uncle adopted my cute little cousin Kimmie about 5 years ago (and now a little sister Patty too!). These bibs are seriously the best, easiest, most convenient, most washable bibs ever created. It is pure genius, and I highly recommend them as essential feeding gear for children of all sizes. The design allows it to be snapped up to give a seamless catchall for every manner of wet and dry dribble, and then unsnapped for easy wipe ups. It’s made of a waterproof vinyl material, so even big liquid spills will not make it to the clothing. It can be machine washed when it gets funky, and sanitized on a daily basis with an appropriate detergent and wet cloth. It’s brilliant. Did I mention you should get one? I think they sell them at Walmart, Meijer, and a variety of other brick-and-mortar locations in addition to Amazon. 

Now, we’ve gone through a few in our time and, eventually, maybe after 2 years of continuous use, they tend to crack where they are always being folded and unfolded. Not a bad life-span, I think. But now that I have awesome Kam Snaps and the means to install them, I figured I’d try to make my own copycat version. Here’s the original, for reference:

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To make mine, I picked up some pleather on sale at JoAnn’s. I love the glittery silver… sort of gender neutral “rock star” looking, if you ask me. I’m not sure it’ll have the same lifespan as the actual Dura Bibs because I just feel like this fabric will crack sooner, but who knows... maybe I’ll be surprised. Next time I may look into other waterproof fabric options. I bought a half yard which will probably make 5 bibs. For the black edging, I used some fold over elastic bought many moons ago on Etsy. And black Kam Snaps, of course.

I simply traced the original bib on the back of the pleather and cut it out with my mini rotary cutter. I also made a second piece to cover the bottom back of the pleather when the bib is snapped up, since the back was not nice-looking. I then sewed the FOE around the edges. I’d be sinning by omission if I didn’t mention that I had to rip out a couple areas and re-sew them where I didn’t fully catch the pleather. I suppose practice would make that skill perfect, but I’m not frequently in need of FOE. But with black thread, you’d never know it now. Add in the snaps (again, just using the original as a template), and I have a perfect working copy! I’m so pleased!

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And here it is on my slightly-too-big model, just moments before I discovered he had drawn on the walls in two of the upstairs bedrooms. Oh, you naughty boy! Look at that impish smile. If only this bib could prevent THAT sort of mess, then we’d be in business…

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