8.25.2014

A Skater Dress, School Days, and Hazy Days

Tomorrow I will officially have a kindergartener.  This girl right here.

playing dress up
  Tia, playing dress up

Late last spring, we made the decision to enroll Tia in an art-based, play-based half-day (morning) kindergarten program.  Iris will be joining her two mornings a week, too for their young 3s program.  They have an outdoor classroom, a vegetable garden, and Tia will only have nine other kids in her class.  It's perfectly our philosophy.  It will give her something fun to do while I work on homeschooling with the older two kids.  And I won't be as stretched at home.  Jude and Indigo came to homeschooling knowing how to read and write, having been in school, and that worked so beautifully for us.

tia

 Tia is absolutely obsessed with art and after we toured the school she asked, "Can I started tomorrow?!"  She's so excited.

tia the artiste


Of course, such a big occasion as starting school for the very first time called for a special dress.  I chose the Skater Dress (highly modified).  I shortened the bodice, added width to the skirt and gathered it, and left off the sleeves.

skater dress 

I bought the fox fabric here.  I had planned to use it to make something for Iris last spring, but the moment Tia laid eyes on it, she fell in love and asked me, ever so sweetly, if it could become hers.  How could I refuse?  I love when my girls share in my enthusiasm for fabric.

skater dress

 Tia was so excited to try on her new dress for the first time.  But when we got outside to take photos, she said, "Mom, how about this?  You give me a treat or in every picture, I will make this face."

skater dress


I said, "Ummm, no.  How about this?  All dresses received with grumpiness will be returned to me."  :)  And with that, I lucked out and she cooperated.

skater dress


Hazel is doing so well and we are soaking in all things newborn.  She's such a sweet, sweet baby.  It's been hard to come up with a suitable nickname for her.  Indigo calls her Swazel, a combination of Sweet Hazel.   I've found myself calling her Hazy. I've been kind of obsessed with taking photos of her.  Newborns change so quickly and I'm astonished at how hard it is for me to remember the details of my other newborns.  Maybe it's because newborn days are kind of hazy in their own way.   Here are some photos of our Hazy days.

hazy days 
  hazy days 

hazy days 
hazy days  
hazy days  

  hazy days 
 
hazy days hazy days
hazy days

8.20.2014

Settling in with Hazel... and a little about her name

Hazel is 9 days old already and settling in so well.  She is such a sweet baby and seems to have an easy going temperament.  She loves to be held during the day, mostly by me.  When I'm holding her, she's happy as a clam.  When Dan or the kids hold her, she usually starts to get fussy and sometimes just plain mad.  She's not content out-of-arms for long.  But considering that while I was pregnant I was 'holding' her 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, even holding her 12 hours a day is 50% less than she was used to.  I am loving my Boba wrap even more than my Moby.  It makes carrying her so easy.  The truth is, I'm pretty much addicted to my newborns!  I love having her snuggled up next to me.

newborn hazel

So far, she's sleeping well.  She doesn't have her days and night confused, which feels like a miracle. That's a first for us.  (I feel like I'm tempting fate by even putting that out there!).

newborn hazel

The kids are adjusting so well.  We were most concerned about Iris.  Iris had been the 'baby' for almost 3 years.  I wondered how she would do, but so far, she's been sweet and loving toward the baby.  It's been such a relief and a joy to see all of the kids interacting so beautifully with their new baby sister.

newborn hazel 

After we had Iris, we weren't sure if she would be our last.  We wanted to wait to make any decisions and see how life unfolded.  I lived as though she would be.  I was in such a sentimental place after I had her and that made everything so intense.

newborn details 

By the time Iris turned 2, Dan and I thought we wanted to have another baby, but we also thought we wanted to wait awhile to decide.  I said a prayer, releasing it and asking that if we were meant to have another child, that Dan would have a strong feeling about it when the time was right.

newborn hazel 

The very next day, Dan said he felt there was another soul meant to be raised in our family and that if we got pregnant then, in the fall, he would have time off over the holidays to help me more during my first trimester.  (As it turned out, I did have very bad morning sickness and his help meant the world to me.)

newborn hazel 

It was all rather spontaneous and yet so right.  And so we named her Hazel, which comes from the Hebrew word Haza'el: God sees.

newborn hazel 

Hazel's middle name, Theodora, is a Greek word that means 'gift of God'.

newborn hazel 

It wasn't until we adopted Tia that I was able to slow down and really appreciate the beauty of the day-to-day with my kids.  Don't get me wrong - I enjoyed Jude and Indigo so much.  Yet I was more inclined to think ahead to the next thing rather than fully appreciating the moments right in front of me. While I was pregnant, I looked ahead to their births.  When they were newborns, I looked ahead to their first smiles.  When they were smiling, I looked ahead to hearing their laughter for the first time, and on it went.

newborn details 

But by the time Tia came into our family, I had finally learned not to rush it.  The time by goes quickly enough already.  I started to enjoy the moments for what they are - gifts.  Beautiful, amazing gifts.

newborn hazel

And so is she.  Hazel Theodora, our precious gift.

8.13.2014

Introducing Hazel Theodora

On Monday evening, August 11th, Hazel Theodora made her grand entrance into this world at 8:13 pm.  She was our latest baby, arriving 11 days after her due date, as well as our lightest, weighing in at 7 lbs 12 oz.  Everything went so well. She's healthy and happy and just perfect!  An angel, really.  We're home and couldn't be happier.

Hazel Theodora Hazel Theodora Hazel Theodora Hazel Theodora hazel theodora Hazel Theodora Hazel Theodora hazel theodora

We're so happy you're here! We love you so much, Hazel! All of us!

8.06.2014

Some Throw Pillows and a Sneak Peek

We got a peek at our baby today.  Since I'll be 41 weeks tomorrow, my midwives wanted me to have a non-stress test and ultrasound to be sure the baby was doing well and that my fluid levels were normal.  The kids have been so excited to meet their new sister, so we invited them along to the ultrasound.  Poor Iris was so confused by what her older sisters meant by "see the baby".  While we were waiting to be called back, Iris went with Dan to pick up something from the hospital convenience store.   As she walked away, she looked at me with nervous eyes and said, "Bye, Mama!  Have a nice baby!"

Thankfully everything looked great on our scan, so we continue to wait.  Like her siblings, this baby is taking her sweet time.   While Dan and I were waiting to see the midwives, we saw an advertisement for a hospital infant care class.  We started reminiscing about the baby class we took before Jude was born.  We were a rapt audience, jotting down notes in hopes that we wouldn't mess things up too badly.   "No drinking coffee while holding baby!  Baby could get burned!"  "Get on hands and knees and crawl through entire house to be sure it's adequately baby-proofed!"   Dan and I were laughing so much remembering how fervent (and terrified) we were about it all.  We were pretty terrified.  We took every class they offered back then.

A couple of weeks ago I made some new throw pillows.  I used my tutorial here.  I actually referred to it, too, which was funny given I wrote it.  The pillows are pretty much exactly like the first set I made, except this time I serged the seams to make them more durable and I used Anna Maria Horner's velveteen in saffron instead of quilting cotton. That velveteen is so luxurious and amazing.  I also used the 16" pillow size for this project, but discovered I really prefer the 20".  Next time, I'd use the 20".

throw pillows

Our first set got pretty worn out after years of being hauled around to build forts and the like.  When actually on the couch, I really love how the colors coordinate with our paintings from Ethiopia.

  ethiopian art - mixed media
 mixed-media Ethiopian art

I thought I'd get some photos of my four kids together before we become a family of 7.

my four loves

A lot of people talk/write/blog about the importance of enjoying, even 'savoring', the baby days.  I completely agree with that advice, but with one caveat.   I say - enjoy your kids at every age!  

my crazy kids

Tia and Iris say the cutest, most innocent things, which are adorable.  Today Iris was repeatedly lecturing her siblings (less adorable). :)  Half the time, we can't even understand what she's saying exactly, but we can tell by the tone - she's definitely lecturing.  I asked, "Why do you lecture them so much, Iris?  Is it because it makes you feel big while you are still so small?"  She sadly and seriously responded, "Yes!  Because I sooo small."

my crazy kids

Jude and Indigo make me laugh every day by being intentionally funny and clever.  They come up with the most witty things...  and encouraging things... and sometimes profound things.  It's so fun to witness them become their own people, with their own ideas and insights, even.

'serious'
Here's their version of 'serious'... Jude and Indigo's prompting.

'serious'

I took some photos of the kids all stacked up, an organized monkey pile of sorts.

monkey pile monkey pile

I thought the photos were cute and fun.  That is, until I eagerly showed them to  Dan.  He said they looked like they belonged on Awkward Family Photos.  I could-not-stop laughing. Nor can I look at these photos the same... ever again.

In the birth documentary, The Business of Being Born, the midwife says most pregnant women eventually find themselves between a rock and a hard place.  The rock is knowing they have to get the baby out.  The alternative, the hard place, is staying uncomfortably pregnant forever.  And that's kind of where I am right now.  I'm uncomfortably pregnant with some trepidation, though of course a whole lot of excitement, about how this is all going to go.  I'm trying to trust and be present, enjoying what is, while knowing there's only one place to go : onward.

8.05.2014

A Postpartum Wellness Kit : For Mama and Baby

I'm still pregnant over here.  40 weeks and 5 days... but who's counting?  ;)

In the past month or so, I've been pretty intense in my nesting.  We did a month of homeschooling, we froze meals, we organized, I sewed.  I finally feel pretty well 'nested' -  if not done with nesting- and ready for our baby to be born.

As I wait, it seemed like a good time to share what I've put together in my postpartum wellness kit. I may have procrastinated on packing my hospital bag, but I made this kit weeks ago.  After Jude was born (9 1/2 years ago already!), I became interested in herbs and making my own remedies, salves and lotions.  My favorite herbalist and now Yale-trained physician practicing integrative medicine is Aviva Romm.  I've enjoyed her books on pregnancy, postpartum, and childcare and have listened to hours of her lectures.  I'm not a trained herbalist and most of what I use is influenced by her work.



I buy my herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs.  They're high quality, pure, inexpensive and last forever.  Because the herbs are purchased raw and in bulk, I store them in glass mason jars.  I like to give different herbal preparations as gifts.   Even though this is a postpartum kit, most of the items can be used outside of the postpartum period.  In fact, I like to have most on hand for everyday use.

1.  Herbal Bath

label by Indigo

These herbs are great for making a postpartum healing herbal bath, sitz bath or for use in a peri bottle.  It's prepared like a tea.  I wrote a tutorial on how I make mine here.

2.  Calendula Oil and Diaper Salve (Ointment)



I love having calendula oil on hand as an after-bath oil or an infant massage oil.  Calendula has healing properties, making it great from rashy newborn skin.  The oil is perfect for sensitive skin because it's so gentle.

While working through the coursework to become a lactation counselor, I learned that a baby's sense of smell is so acute that they can distinguish the smell of their mother's milk from that other mothers' milk.  For this reason, I choose to leave my calendula oil (and all baby products) completely fragrance-free, including free of essential oils.

The calendula diaper salve worked wonders when Iris had a diaper rash.  The rash cleared almost immediately.  For us, it worked better than the store-bought versions.   Also, unlike many of the store-bought creams, this salve is compatible with cloth diapers.  It's so easy to make, too!

The salve also takes the itch out of mosquito bites and heals eczema patches and dry skin.  It's a great all-purpose ointment.

I wrote a tutorial on how I make my calendula and diaper salve here.

3.  Arnica Oil and Arnica Oil Blend


I used this arnica oil (undiluted) during my pregnancy when my ankles were swollen.  Between the Texas heat, being on my feet most of the day and exercising, by the end of the day I often had some swelling.  On really bad days, Dan would give me a foot massage with arnica oil and the difference in the swelling was dramatic.  It's great for kids' bumps, bruises, and sprains, too.

Arnica oil mixed with sweet almond oil makes a nice massage oil for sore muscles, perfect for after giving birth - or anytime.  I used 6 parts sweet almond oil to 1 part arnica oil in this massage oil blend.

4.  Astragalus root

Astragalus is a root used in traditional Chinese medicine.  It's also used in Asian cooking- in rice, soups, and stews.  I add it to my soups and stews (then remove when the soup is done cooking).  I also drink it like a tea.  I 'decoct' it by taking 4 roots that look like tongue depressors and simmering them in a pint of water until it reduces by half - 20 minutes(ish).  Astragalus is said to build energy and support the immune system.  I like to use it when I feel run down.  I'm pretty sensitive to herbs and don't use many internally, but astragalus root, ginger and chamomile are amongst my favorites.

I'm all ready with my kit and so ready to meet our new baby.  I hope she's ready soon, too!




7.31.2014

I'm still pregnant (and Dana's Basic Shorts)

Today is officially my due date.  Having gone past my due date with all three of my previous pregnancies, I had no expectations of going early this time.  With Jude and Indigo, I tried everything short of castor oil to get myself into labor.  And it made me totally crazy.  With Iris and this pregnancy, I let the idea of going early, well, go.  It's so liberating.


40 weeks!
40 weeks!

Dan's sister, Becky, and her daughter, Charis, spent a long weekend with us this past weekend and they joked that we were in denial.  Baby?  What baby?  We haven't so much as packed a hospital bag.   Becky was most certainly not in denial and loaded our freezer with the most amazing meals.  She also cooked dinner every night and did a lot of baking, too.  It was unbelievable, really - and so delicious.   We felt so loved.   Jude and Indigo commented, "Becky is an awesome cook.  And she's so fast!"  It's true.  She whipped up cinnamon rolls from scratch, without a recipe, in what seemed like a matter of minutes.  When she wasn't cooking or baking, she was playing card games with the kids.  She taught them several new card games which they spent hours playing with her.  We had such a wonderful time with them.  They live in Cambodia and we won't see them again for a couple of years.  We were all so sad to see them go.

On Monday I was checking Feedly while waiting to see my midwife and was completely surprised to see that Victoria from As-It-Seams had organized the most amazing thing for me.  She had asked several sewing bloggers from around the world to each create a mobile ornament for our new baby!  The idea is just so me.  It meant so much to me that these bloggers who I admire so much would take the time to make something so special for us.  I'm normally not a crier, but I totally got teary right there in the waiting room!  There was a fish by Victoria, a bird by Suz, a dress by Gail, an Ethiopian star by Kristin, a moon by An, a boat and a sheep by Sanae, and a cloud by Natalie.  Not to be excessively gushy about it, but I can't even say how much it means to me - it was just so thoughtful.  And at home, I was absolutely excessively gushy about it.  My kids admired each ornament with me, too!

While we wait for our girl to arrive, I've been sewing small projects here and there.  Among them is Dana's Basic Shorts pattern.  This is the flat front version.  They take about 45 minutes to sew, from start to finish.

Dana's Basic Shorts in Chambrey

I made the first pair for Vintage May and was surprised by how frequently Iris reaches for them.  She's not much for dresses lately, except for this one (the Caroline Party Dress).  She loves that dress!  But otherwise these shorts are her go-to choice!

Dana's Basic Shorts in Chambray 

I made the Vintage May pair in a size 2, based on her measurements, I believe.  But Iris will turn 3 in a couple of months and those shorts were getting a little snug.  So I went with the size 3 this time.  I love the fit.

Dana's Basic Shorts in Chambray 

These shorts require very little fabric.  I made this pair from a scrap of chambray that I almost tossed when I went through my stash recently.  It was so small I wondered what I'd do with it.  It turns out it was big enough for a pair of size 3 shorts!

Dana's Basic Shorts in Linen

For my second pair, I used this linen/cotton blend.  I really love this fabric!  I want to use it on everything right now.  It's a little darker than natural linen and the hand is so soft.  Linen can sometimes be scratchy but this isn't at all.

Dana's Basic Shorts in Linen

For this pair, I stitched through the elastic in the back, like Tara suggested here, to prevent my elastic from rolling.

Dana's Basic Shorts in Linen

Iris is such an exuberant, affectionate kid and she's so expressive, too.  Always.

Dana's Basic Shorts in Linen

For the longest time, whenever I'd ask her if she wanted a baby sister she'd respond with, "Ummmm... nope!"  I asked Dan, "Do you think she knows what we're asking?"  He said, "I'm pretty sure she knows what a baby is."  I showed her YouTube videos of newborns nursing and she would turn my phone face down and look away!  But recently she seems to be warming up to the idea, talking about how the baby's coming soon, that she wants the baby to come and her favorite saying of all: "Baby no eat food!  Only nurse!  Because baby no have teeth!"  

dana's basic shorts in linen

I guess we'll have to wait and see but for now, I'm cautiously optimistic that she might be okay with her new baby sister.  And with that, I should probably go pack my hospital bag now.