Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
1 Corinthians 3:17

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Weekend Fun at Wagon Hill

I meant to write this post sometime during the week.
After fifty snowstorms, okay, maybe four, we have had snowbanks and snowdrifts and just plain big piles of snow everywhere. Plus, it has been really, really cold. And windy. Definitely not my favorite combination, especially with a baby.
But last weekend, the temperatures started to rise considerably, so much so that we were shedding layers by mid-morning. It felt fabulous! 
We started off, like usual, at the library to load up for the week. Isn't our little library adorable?

I can hardly believe that Caleb was as little as Levi when we first visited this library.

Levi had been sick all week with a bad cold, and then his first ear infection, that he picked up from one of my nieces at a birthday party. My PSA for the day: postpone the party, or at least tell the other attendees prior to walking in the door that a child is sick. Which doesn't mean saying that she's "getting over" a cold. Ugh. Such is life. It has passed through four of us. Wish we'd known and had just stayed home.
After lunch, we loaded up the van with sleds and stuff and headed out for adventure at Wagon Hill (it's a NH historical landmark). I have had this particular place on My List for so long. I have no idea why we've never gone because we pass by it many times throughout the year when we're en route to other places. It didn't disappoint- it was beautiful up there! We all agreed that we want to come back in the summer for a picnic.
It was crowded! Lots of sunshine and kids laughing was the best!

 I didn't sled because I slipped on black ice two nights before and my knees, elbow and wrist were still so tender and sore. I didn't even walk to the bottom of the hill, so you can't see how big the hill is, but you can see how wide open it is. It was so much fun!
Here go Isabelle and Daddy!

 Levi had his own personal sled chauffeur most of the afternoon :)
 I don't know why, but I just love this picture so much. He looks like he is really enjoying soaking up those rays!
 That little sled works great! My in-laws gave it to us, I think it's from Target.
 I turn around and witness this scene straight out of The Lion King. It made my heart lurch but at the same exact time, I heard Levi laughing and laughing. Little thrill seeker. Stinker.
Missing Ethan. He has a new job at a local grocery store, and he was working. :(
 Looking a bit perplexed, ha ha
There was a wide river in the distance, and what looks like tons of trails all around. Can't wait to come back!

Bill and I had been thinking that all the fresh air would be so good for Levi, but it didn't pan out quite the way we'd hoped. Saturday night was awful. I stayed home with him Sunday morning while everyone else went to the new church, and he was miserable for several more days. The older boys all felt sick, too, but not for as long, thankfully.

So even though we were dealing with germs, there were several days we had the windows wide open and hung out on the back deck. The snow has melted so much that there are bare spots all over the yard, and we can finally see the outline of the pool under the cover. That's an exciting sight for sure! I think I will cry if we get more snow now, but we probably will, so... at least we're getting closer to Spring!

ps: I am so discouraged at the amount of inappropriate traffic I've seen lately, and I'm wondering if it's because of the "super cute..." part of the blog title, one of the reasons I had switched names previously.
Maybe I'll be back to Celebrate the Everyday Things again.
I hate this part of social media. It makes my heart sick.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

What's Up Wednesday // February 2017

Well this Wednesday certainly snuck up on me. February feel extra short this year - it doesn't feel like the 22nd should be the last Wednesday of the month! I thought it would be fun to link up with Mel, Sheaffer and Shay today for What's Up Wednesday. Thanks, ladies!

 What We're Eating This Week...

This Tangy Pork Loin is so fast and easy to make! It's perfect for rushed nights.

 Homemade Chili and this amazing Parmesan Bread

The perfect weekend breakfast or brunch coffeecake

No one can get enough of these chocolatey cookies lately!

What I'm Reminiscing About...
One year ago when we were preparing to meet our little guy, AND...

 ...our big trip to Florida with my parents.
It was fantastic!!!
I can't tell you how excited I was to be able to wear flip flops again, basically the only things I could get on my swollen feet at the time.
Much more forgiving in Florida than in New Hampshire in the middle of winter, ha!

 I turned 34 weeks there.
My doctors were nervous about me traveling that far, especially since we were driving, but we took several breaks and it was totally fine.

 my little gymnast :)

 I had dreamed of having outdoor "beachy" maternity pictures, kind of hard in the Northeast in winter, so I bought this dress just for a little portrait session in Florida.
I never did get to take them at the beach because of a hurricane that swept through, but I cherish the ones I got.

What I'm Loving...
We've had some warm, sunny days and I am soaking up every last bit of Vitamin D!
I've been able to get outside for a walk with Levi nearly every day this week!

What We've Been Up To...
Trying to get everyone healthy again!
Poor baby had his first ear infection and a bad cold.
It has been rough rough rough.
Then Ethan and Jonah started to get I've been spraying my weight in Lysol around here and trying to kick these germs to the curb.
And after dinner reading. Which is great and all that, but I am SO looking forward to after dinner walks and bike rides and playing catch and tag... It's coming, I know it is!

This fun night was a highlight of our week!
I posted about the Father-Daughter Dance here.

What I'm Dreading...
Umm, basically every single night.
When the baby won't sleep, you start to get in panic mode every time it gets closer to "bedtime."
I wonder if he is ever going to sleep more than three hours at a time again.

What I'm Working On...
Still painting the trim and doors white. I'm getting closer!!!!
And a few other DIY projects...I'll blog about them when I'm finished.
I also am finally writing up some tutorials for my fellow sewing enthusiasts. :)
 I just posted this one the other day. Look at that tiny baby. Aaaaaahhhhh!

What I'm Watching/Reading...
24 Legacy on Fox
The boys put this on last weekend after Isabelle and Levi went to bed (back when he was at least sleeping a little at night, argh) and I was completely hooked. I never saw the original Jack Bauer 24, so I have nothing to compare it to, but I like it.

I'm reading Pulse, by Patrick Carman - it's pretty good so far.
Next up is Bag of Bones, by Stephen King.

What I'm listening to...
ha ha ha, lots of crying. And whining. 
We have cabin fever, bad. 
Spring, I am DESPERATE for you!

What I'm Wearing...
Jeans, basic knit tops and a cardigan. Like every single day. #imsoboring

What I'm Doing This Weekend...
This weekend starts off our February vacation week, so I'm planning out a few fun little surprises for everyone. In the past, I've written out specific things, like going out to breakfast, or to the zoo or ice skating, etc... on a small piece of paper and had our kids take turns drawing one from the basket for our special activity that day. I think I might do that again. :)
I'd say I'd be sleeping in... but I know better. Insert all the sad faces!
 I'm sure we'll be taking advantage of more warmish weather, too!

What I'm Looking Forward to Next Month...
Jonah's 16th Birthday! I still haven't finalized all our plans, yikes! I'd better get moving!

What Else is New...
Drawing a blank so I'm guessing that means not much, ha ha!

Bonus Question: Beauty Must Have I can't Live Without...
I have a confession.
I rarely wear make up.
I know, I know. I just can't get it right. Ever. Normally on Sundays for church, I wear a light foundation, mascara and lip gloss.
So my one must-have? Classic Chap Stick. #dork
And NOT one of those weirdo flavors, either. Has to be the classic original. #majordork

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

DIY Tufted Baby Sleeper-Swaddle Pillow Tutorial

 We're nearing little Levi's first birthday as I'm writing this post, so of course I'm sitting here in a puddle of tears looking at all these teeny tiny Levi pictures. Kidding. Almost.
Right now, poor baby is struggling with an ear infection and a bad cold, so while he's actually napping and the rest of the crew is off at church, I thought I'd finally share this tutorial. =)

 I think it's funny that I had never even heard of or seen one of those popular DockATot when the idea for this little baby pillow entered my mind. I was thinking primarily of having something that would nestle in between my husband and I on our bed to keep baby elevated, and possibly swaddled, and out of harm's way (is, us rolling over on him, which never even remotely happened, but still...). 

 Levi looooved his baby sleeper pillow. He had us all fooled into thinking that he was going to be such a great sleeper.
It was the pillow.
I would actually see his little body completely relax and sink into that pillow, and he looked so content. He slept on his pillow for at least the first six weeks, but around two months, he was showing signs of rolling over and pulling things toward his face, which meant bye-bye baby pillow. It clearly was no longer safe for him to use.
The day he outgrew it will remain one of the saddest days of our lives. We haven't had more than a handful of decent nights since.

Okay, so here are the directions for making your own. It was simple and straightforward, my kind of project. 
If you have zero interest in reading this tutorial, feel free to scroll to the end and ooh and aah over adorable newborn photos. :)
Also, I apologize in advance for both wonky angles and weird lighting. I was very pregnant when I made this thing...maybe that had something to do with it? ? ?

Choosing your material
I opted for a soft minky fabric (I used a coupon on JoAnn's) for the top side, and a lightweight terrycloth for the back of the main pillow. For the built-in swaddle, I used the the chevron minky fabric for both the top and back. One word of caution when using minky: there is an obvious nap, so be careful to sew pieces with the "smooth" finish going in the correct direction.
If you don't want to use minky fabric, you could certainly opt for a quality cotton or knit, maybe even use a knitted sheet to cut up- whatever you prefer, as it does not need to stretch. I would avoid flannel or other heavier materials, as that might make baby a bit too hot.

The basic shape of the pillow
I used a standard pillow to outline the baby pillow. I knew I wanted rounded corners and some type of built-in swaddle, but one that could be pushed to the side or back if I didn't want to use it.

Cut out your top and backing fabric the same shape. Do not sew these pieces together just yet.

The swaddle piece
I designed mine to be long enough to loop around a button on the underside when it was being used as a swaddle. The straight edge on the right will be sewn into the side of the baby pillow; the curved edge will have a piece of elastic loop sewn in to fasten to the button on the back.
This piece is cut with the two minky fabrics. 
**It measures approximately 25 inches long by 13 inches high, but if I were to make this again, I would shorten the height to about 11 inches, sew it closer to the bottom edge, and possibly not gather the curved end- more about that in a bit.
Pin right sides together and sew together, leaving straight edge open. Turn right side out.

 The lighting is way off and this photo isn't necessary for the tutorial, but I have to include it because that's my little baby in there!
I was not one of those women who ever enjoyed being pregnant because I had difficult, complicated pregnancies, but it was very different this time. Even though I had morning sickness well into the sixth month, I think my perspective was completely different and I was just so humbled and thankful.

The swaddle piece is turned right sides out and pinned to the top piece of the pillow. I let it hang over the edge quite a bit because I didn't want any chance of it weakening and loosening up in the seam.
You could choose either side to attach it to, mine is obviously on the left.
The swaddle piece is not centered, either- I didn't want it to be too close to baby's face or mouth.
Now stitch the swaddle piece to the pillow to keep it in place. Remember the nap.

Now you're ready to form the sewing "sandwich"
Terrycloth doesn't have a wrong or right side, so it didn't matter, but you're going to pin right sides of the pillow pieces together. I folded up the swaddle piece on the inside to keep it out of the way when sewing. You want that curved edge to remain free and not be sewn into any part of the pillow. 
Leave an opening in the pillow on the opposite edge from where the swaddle piece is sewn in order to turn it right sides out.

 You can see the bulkiness of the swaddle piece, which was sewn into the side on the right
The opening is on the left of this photo.

It wasn't necessary to clip corners before turning right sides out, but you can if you want.
Here you can get a better sense of what it's going to look like.

Now you're ready to stuff the pillow. I overstuffed it the first time, so you may need to play around with it in order to get the right amount of "fluff."
Stitch the opening closed by hand, like I did, or with the sewing machine.

You could choose to omit the tufts, but I felt they were necessary in allowing baby to nestle into the pillow rather than just resting on the top, if that makes any sense.
I will add that it was a slight challenge pulling up the needle in the exact spot where I wanted to form the tufts, and this was by far the most labor intensive part of the whole project.

I used a long needle and doubled the thread to make sure everything was very secure.
Each tuft probably has ten or more needle "pull-throughs"
**The swaddle piece felt a bit too wide for me- I wished I had sewn it farther down the side, too.
I gathered the rounded edge by hand and tacked it in place, and then attached a loop of elastic.
Here is a close-up of the gathered rounded edge with the elastic loop.
Ignore the discoloration on the chevron pillow - the cats have decided that they like this baby pillow, ha ha

I attached this solid wood button on the underside - see the wayward terrycloth pulls? Yeah, thanks kitties.

Here are those adorable newborn pictures I promised. :)
Levi loved his sleeper pillow.
And so did his Mama.

I shared a tutorial for a little girl's nightgown several years ago, and it just so happened to be the BEST maternity nightgown ever. I loved it! It was great post-partum as well, and perfect for nursing.
The tutorial is HERE.

 Here is my little guy's baby quilt that I started the day before we left for Florida last year.
I remember having a hard time laying out the pieces on the floor and bending over them to move them around, ha! I love his quilt so much. I'll share a tutorial for it soon.
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