June 30, 2023

5 Days! (And My Big Fancy Butt)

Holy moly, I'm due in less than a week!  Still kind of hard to believe, though my body certainly knows it.  I'm a waddling, achy, heartburnin' lady-in-waiting.  Plus I'm panicking that within a week I'll have a newborn in the house, all while minding an emotional 3 year old.  Soren must know what's up; his mood swings have been epic around here, though he does talk about the baby frequently, and in good terms.

He's also constantly talking about my butt, my "big fancy butt" that is.  Not sure where that came from, but depending on MY mood, it's either hilarious or irritating, lol.  His butt obsession often progresses into a conversation about how when he grows up, he wants to have a big butt like mine.  Aim higher, kiddo, aim higher!

I'm biding my time with stocking up the fridge and pantry, visiting an old friend, and just tidying things around the house and keeping up with laundry.  And sleeping and relaxing too. I don't feel an urge to do weird stuff like organize the medicine cabinet or paint the ceiling fan, so maybe this baby isn't coming so soon after all.  Though I am 1cm and 60% effaced, according to the doctor yesterday.  And occasional, painless contractions where my stomach is really tight and it's hard to take a deep breath.

Thankfully, the nursery is finished, diapers are ready to go, and my bag is half-packed.  We're hoping to enjoy the weekend, just hanging around locally and maybe grilling something.  I also want to take some photos, documenting the last days of pregnancy.

Any recommendations for enjoying these last few days (or hours?).

June 29, 2023

Big Plans, Big Changes in Our Baby's Nursery

Over the past two weeks, I’ve started purchasing items for the nursery using my Slate credit card and keeping track of my purchases with Blueprint. As a participant in the Blueprint Baby Challenge, I was given $2000 from Chase to use toward decorating a nursery for my upcoming baby. I’m competing with 2 other bloggers who are also expecting babies for additional prizes, specifically $3000, $1500, and $500, depending on which room is voted most creative. I’m really hoping you like my room transformation once it’s complete, and that you vote for my nursery when the contest begins on 7/15/11.
Like with most nurseries, the major purchases for the room are the furniture, and Blueprint has continued to be helpful with managing these large items like the dresser and wardrobe. Using the Split plan, I can choose to set up a monthly payment amount or the number of payments I’d like to make to pay down large purchases like furniture or renovations. Rather than paying the entire total at once, I can pay about $275 a month and have my purchases paid by Christmas. I can log on to Chase.com and go to Blueprint at any time to track my progress and make any changes to my plan without penalty.Blueprint  handles the math, which is helpful with so many preparations going on in preparing for a new baby and keeping up with a 3 year old. Blueprint helps me stay on target for meeting my financial goals, and gives me one less thing to worry about.

As for the nursery furniture, I chose a matching wardrobe and dresser set, which are of modern design and eco-friendly. These pieces will provide much-needed storage in the room, since bedrooms in our old house lack closets. The furniture is from an American company which makes sustainable, environmentally-friendly products using birch wood with low emissions. The ebony wood also pairs well with the dark crib we are reusing from my son’s infancy.
I also found a sophisticated area rug made of 100% wool, which keeps with my green theme. My ideas for the room were to keep it simple and modern, with creative touches throughout via crafts and artwork. I’ve been successful in repurposing items (like the crib) and choosing furnishings that will grow with my child, rather than be items that will be replaced as he/she leaves the nursery years behind.
With the arrival of the furniture, my efforts have turned to the walls. We finished sanding and painting the moldings around the window and doors, and will soon put some color on the walls via eco-friendly paint and wallpaper. I’ve also started sewing a quilted wall-hanging for the room, using lively fabrics that will add some color to the neutral walls, and am also working on a felted mobile to hang above the changing area or crib.
I’m eager to continue working on the room, and still have some items to buy. The Blueprint Baby Challenge has been such a fun and creative experience, and I can’t wait to see how my room progresses. You’ll be able to vote for your favorite nursery very soon, so stay tuned for updates. I’m eager to see the unique designs that the two other bloggers have come up with too!
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Chase.  All opinions are my own.

June 26, 2023

Felted Mobile

One of the last handmade touches for the baby's nursery that I finally finished this week was a felt mobile, and I love how it turned out!
Felting is one of my favorite art forms, and over the years I've created many kinds of things by agitating, hot, wet wool (kinky, I know) and shaping it into different things.  This time, I used wool (which I buy pre-dyed and ready to work with from here) and felted around a wooden embroidery hoop.
I got out a basin, added a bit of dish soap and some really hot water, then shaped the dry wool around the hoop.
Using my hands, I gently wet the wool and agitated it, rubbing it around to make the fibers stick together.  I also let Soren play too, though not with really hot water.
Kids love this!
Once the fibers started to felt together, I wrapped some more wool around the hoop 
then I wrapped some mesh around it to hold it in place and continued to rub the hoop.
After quite a few minutes, it became nicely felted to the wooden hoop and would be great for stringing felt beads onto.
Soren and I made some of the beads, but I also used some that I had bought for another project.  You can find lots of pre-made wool beads on Etsy and at other online retailers.  They're wonderful for those of you wanting to work with felt but not wanting to buy a huge bag of wool.
I think the mobile looks spectacular, and I'm imagining the delight when the baby lies in the crib, looking up at what his/her mama (and brother!) created.
For some of my other felting posts, click here, here, or here.

June 21, 2023

Patriotic Fun: Coffee Filter Bunting {Tutorial}

One day, while trying to nap with Soren, my mind was wandering about, and for some odd reason, I was thinking "what can I do with the 200 coffee filters that are clogging up my art cabinet?"  Sheesh, no wonder I have such sleep issues lately--aren't there bigger things to worry about?

Anyway, because our most recent coffee maker uses a cone filter, I have tons of the round ones hanging about, and my A-ha! moment came when the idea of a bunting for the 4th of July popped into my head.
In my pathetic excitement, I skipped the nap and headed downstairs to get materials to make my idea come to life.  Here's what you'll need:
 round coffee filters | red and blue paints, brushes and water | scissors | glue stick | ribbon, yarn or string | newspaper to protect your table

Lay out your filters flat (it helps to put a bunch under a book for a few hours prior to crafting) and paint some areas blue, leaving plenty of white space (both for the red and white).  Kids will love decorating these, and they can meander away from the bulls eye pattern I used.
S wasn't too keen on navy blue, so I got him a different shade.  Whatever floats your kids' boats, or your own for that matter.
Add the red.  I alternated the designs, making the bulls' eye blue on some with red borders, and vice versa.
Ta da! They look great, even just spread out on cardboard.
Once dry, get your glue stick and your length of string ready.  I recommend making it a few feet longer than the total number of your filters times the width of them.  You can always discreetly tie more on if you need to.
Fold your filters in half, and set them aside in a pile.
Starting with the first one, put some glue in the center and all over half of the filter, then lay the string in the middle, making sure to leave around 12" of string at one end, for hanging.
Fold it over, then add your next filter in the same way.
Keep adding filters until you run out.  Super easy, so much so that you can let your kids do it.

Once you've finished, display your bunting wherever you'd like to create a cheap, festive decoration for the upcoming July 4th holiday.
Enjoy and have fun!

Two Weeks!

The time-lapse of pregnancy has been so weird for me. In some ways, it has really gone slowly, especially those sleepless nights and those days when I'm so exhausted but am not able to lie down to rest (yes, Soren, I'm talking about you).  However, I still can't quite fathom that I'm due in 2 weeks.
 Photo from a few weeks ago; trust me, I'm much larger now, and have not liked seeing any pics of myself lately, puffy and blah, definitely not one of those cutesy pregnant ladies
Because I've inherited my grandmother's habit of never being able to make a decision and stick to it, I'm still up in the air about the c-section.  Yes, truly!  Nothing like waiting until the last minute, deciding whether to have my stomach cut open and all.

At the advice of my OB practice, I've scheduled my C anyway, after my due date, even though my intention is to do the VBAC if I go into labor early.  Because Soren's birth in general was not an ideal experience (painful labor, failure to progress, huge head wedged in the birth canal, finally ending in a caesarian), I'm fearful that I'll end up laboring and having to get a C in the end again anyway.  I know, I know, I'm a wimp (my friend Shana, a true natural birth champion is frowning right now, with good reason) but I have such a terrific fear of labor, stemming even from childhood (being the eldest of 5 kids, it seemed like my mom was always pregnant and somehow I knew what she had to go through to get us out).

I guess I'm leaving things up to fate, hoping that whatever method it takes to get this child into the world alive and healthy will be the "right" one, if there is such a thing.  Though I wish my worries about it weren't keeping me up at night; I already have sleep issues as is!

June 20, 2023

Nursery Makeover Challenge: We’re Going Green

I'm tremendously excited to share some news that I've been sitting on for quite a few weeks.  As many of you know (and regular readers of my blog are probably tired of hearing), I am expecting my second child in early July.  While my husband and I cannot be more thrilled to be adding to our family, we were given an additional, unexpectedly wonderful surprise--$2000 to be used toward a makeover our baby's nursery, courtesy of Chase, as a participant in the Blueprint Baby Challenge.
Above: A "Before" photo of the space
As many parents of more than one child know, additional children often begin life with hand-me-downs, and in our case, our eldest child's nursery would have been just fine for the next baby.  But thanks to Chase, we are able to give this baby a fresh welcome into the world.  My son's room, while charming and efficient, was itself a collection of hand-me-downs too, save for the crib, so it is especially nice to be able to outfit the room with "real" furniture and items that will be essential for keeping both baby and parents happy and comfortable.
 Above and below: The remnants of my son's nursery, waiting to be transformed.
When shopping for the nursery, I used my Slate card, including the free Blueprint features which have been helpful in keeping track of purchases.  Blueprint is a first-of-its-kind set of free features offered by Chase that is built into many of their credit cards and which helps you manage your expenses while saving money on interest on certain purchases.  Those of you who have been pregnant probably understand the term "pregnant brain" and can recall how important it is to have someone or something else remembering and calculating things for you.  What's great about Blueprint is that I can use the features in so many ways to pay off purchases faster and save money on interest.  For example, with Blueprint, when charging a large purchase, like the nursery furniture, I have the option of designating a set amount to pay each month toward a larger purchase, or I can decide how many payments I’d like to make.  Blueprint does all the math for me, and I can design a plan to pay down my balance faster and save money on  interest, as well as track the progress I'm making toward paying off my larger purchases.

As for my ideas for the nursery, I really want to focus on items that will grow with my child and that are eco-friendly.  Rather than buy a changing table that will only be used for a short time, I want to invest in furniture that my son or daughter might even take with him/her when she leaves our home.
Some ideas for the space
Because babies and children are so sensitive to chemicals and smells, I've chosen paints with low VOCs, environmentally-friendly, formaldehyde-free wooden furniture, organic crib sheets and a natural fiber area rug.  I plan on reusing my son's crib as well as creating some handmade items like a mobile and textiles for the room.  Decor will most likely be repurposed from other areas of our home and will include things like toys and objects that can be admired and played with.  As a former art teacher and artist, I'd love to include prints and artworks by artists and craftspeople in the space too, and hopefully convey a sense of both calm and whimsy in the decor.

I'm really looking forward to sharing the experience with you, both with outfitting the nursery and using the Slate card with Blueprint.  The Blueprint Baby Challenge nursery makeover is also a contest, where I’m competing with two other bloggers, Trisha of MomDot and Sarah of Minnesota Mama’s Must Haves, for additional prizes.  The blogger whose nursery is deemed the most creative by voters will win the top prize, $3000 while the second and third place bloggers will each win $1500 and $500, respectively.  Starting July 15, you’ll be able to vote for your favorite nursery (hopefully mine!) so stay tuned for updates.

This is such a special time in my family's life, and I'm happy and grateful to be marking the occasion of my child's birth with the Blueprint Baby Challenge.  I hope you enjoy following my progress and seeing the results of my nursery makeover.  Head on over to the Blueprint Baby Challenge website for more information, as well as to check out the other two bloggers' nursery ideas.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post from Chase. All opinions are my own.

June 17, 2023

Weekend Musings: Father's Day

O, to try and put into words the enormous amount of gratitude, respect, and awe that I have for my husband as I've watched him grow as a father over the last few years.
Parenting our son, as I've written before, often takes great feats of strength (literally, especially when S is climbing us like a rock wall) and plenty of patience and counting to ten.  But somehow, Chris manages to manage it much better than I do most days.

I love that he includes our son in real-life lessons, like the garage renovation project, and allows him to participate by using real tools and doing real tasks, despite slowing down his own work.
His dedication to his yoga and mindfulness practice is astounding, awaking every day at 4:45am for asanas, just so he can get an hour in before Soren wakes up.  I credit this practice to giving him more patience and clarity in dealing with the daily challenges of being a parent.
Being pregnant has certainly been more challenging the second time around, but Chris is always there to make it easier for me by buckling car seats, cleaning up the pee all over the toilet seat (not mine!!), and endlessly tying Soren's shoes over and over again.
Plus he adores my cooking, and tells me so all the time, along with how lucky he is to have me as a partner.  I can't imagine wanting anything more from a husband and father, and I really hope Soren and I can give him a really nice Father's Day on Sunday.  Probably a picnic lunch, maybe a long, long nap for him to savor.  But definitely lots of hugs and kisses.

Any plans for the fathers in your life this weekend?

June 15, 2023

Farm Animals, Carnival Rides and Car Crashes

It was Soren's and my first demolition derby last night, which we watched from a hill during a local fair.  It was pretty cool!
It's funny the things that having a child exposes one to.  I mean, spending an evening watching beat-up cars smash each other in a mud pit was never really on my to-do list.  Same goes for  getting excited about having to stop at a crossing to watch a train and yelling for my son to hurry up and look out the window when a bulldozer goes by.
So after taking a walk around the fair grounds, petting animals
and riding the cheesy, possibly dangerous rides
We sat down for an All-American evening of waffles and ice cream and car crashes.
And it was great!

June 14, 2023

Countdown to Baby: 20 Days!

I can't believe I'm nearly done cooking this baby.  I'm both eager to meet him/her, but also nervous about labor, and of course how I'm going to parent 2 young children.  Mothers have been doing it since the beginnings of civilization, so I'm guessing soon enough it will become second nature.  However doesn't it just seem wrong in this culture how isolated we are from each other, family and otherwise?  I wish there was more help available for families, and not of the kind that requires the transaction of money.

Despite the late pregnancy tiredness, I'm making extra efforts to do some fun things with Soren before the baby comes.  Yesterday we tagged along with friends to the Philadelphia Zoo, and had a great time.
It was a perfectly breezy and pleasant day to visit, and I was surprisingly able to keep up with all the walking and standing.  I did sleep exceptionally well last night though.

I think the boys spent more time climbing the bronze animals throughout the park instead of gazing at the real ones!
The Philly Zoo is such a kid-friendly place, lots of things to climb on, a carousel, interactive kiosks with puppet shows, and even a train and swan boats to ride.  I definitely see us returning again; maybe we can convince one of S's uncles to buy a family membership for us as a Christmas present this year, since they're often stumped for ideas.
Soren's favorite thing was the children's petting zoo, where he got to brush and pet goats and sheep.  It was so sweet to see, and unfortunately I left my camera outside the pen with the stroller.  The funniest part was when he got wedged between 2 goats and the fence and was a little concerned.  My friend Amy got a picture of it, so it will give us a laugh later on.

Now if only I can get that Simon and Garfunkel song out of my head: "someone told me it's all happenin' at the zoo. I do believe it, I do believe it's true."

Other than being tired, things are going well with me physically.  The nursery is 99% done, I have a stash of diapers waiting for a baby butt, and have ordered some more cloth ones.  I still haven't packed my hospital bag, but I'm not too concerned as I'll be packing light this time. I just hope I don't forget the camera!  And I do apologize for not being as speedy with returning emails and responding to comments.  It's been tough finding much time to be online lately, especially with being exhausted come evening.

I'm also considering a gift for the new big brother, maybe a sand table, since he loves the one at our friends' house.
I think that might keep him busy while adjusting to the new baby.  Did you get your older child a gift from the new baby if you have more than one child? What did you buy? 

Creativity for Kids Classic Wood Craft Kit {Giveaway}

Now that school's out for most kids, parents are probably scrambling around figuring out how to keep them busy.  I know when I was school-aged, we often had lots of art materials and activity books to occupy us, and I'm sure that I would have begged my mom to buy me activity kits from Creativity for Kids.
I've worked as an Ambassador for the company previously on my blog as well as on the Creativity for Kids blog, and as a former art teacher, I adore their products.  I recently had the chance to try out the Classic Wood Crafts Kit, which would be really engaging for kids of all ages.
Like other kits from Creativity for Kids, Classic Wood Crafts comes with everything you need to create imaginative items out of your own design.  There's a variety of wooden pieces, paint, pipe cleaners, glue--nearly everything you could want to make some creative sculptures, jewelry and other items.
There's even a muslin bag to store all of the 400 (!) pieces, which parents will appreciate since it keeps them contained and not all over the house.
While my son is a little young for this kit (recommended for ages 5+), I think it will be a great source of inspiration for making trucks, cars and little play scenarios with the cut-out wooden people included.  The kit is also eco-friendly, with green paints, a box that can become a display your creations, and a lid that can be used to contain items when crafting.
As usual with Creativity for Kids products, I highly recommend this kit for your own children or for other wee ones in your life.  It will keep idle hands quite busy this summer!
Two lucky readers will each win
A Classic Wood Crafts Kit! ($29.99)
To Enter
Visit Creativity for Kids and leave a comment about your favorite item
Extra Entries (you must complete the first mandatory entry before doing the extras.  Also, leave a separate comment for each one):
  • Blog about this giveaway and leave me the link (2 entries)
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  • Share this post on your Facebook page and leave the link (I'd love it if you tagged me or the sponsor in your post)
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  • Follow @katydidandkid and tweet this giveaway, leaving a link to your tweet in the comments. You can tweet once per day (leave a comment each day). You can copy and paste my tweet if you'd like:  Kids bored this summer? #Win a Classic Wood Craft Kit from @Creativity4Kids (2 winners) http://goo.gl/fb/Lc9V5 @KatydidandKid #Giveaway
US mailing addresses only.
You must do the first entry in order to enter ("I want to win, thanks!" comments will NOT be considered). You will have until Monday June 27th at 11:59pmEST to enter. The winner will be chosen via random number generator the next day and notified by email.I'll also post the winners on my blog HERE. If I don't hear back from the winner within 72 hours, I'll pick another. 
Disclosure: I received a Classic Wood Craft Kit for review.
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