Our current two-bedroom rental is big on living space but small on sleeping space so Smith, being child number three, has been allocated a corner of our bedroom until further notice. It's a bit compact but we co-sleep so all he needs for the next few months is somewhere to store his clothes and blankets.
The pine storage unit we had set aside for his gear wasn't proving to be as efficient as I'd hoped on it's own and Brett was having a hard time using our platform bed as a changing table so we went to IKEA and found a dresser that was deep enough to double as a changing table. It's so nice having the extra drawer space to hide the surplus diapers and wipes and clothes that don't fit yet. Also, our changing pad covers were in the mail when I took these photos. I wouldn't dare lay his unexposed southern end on top of sheepskin!
I wasn't going to let the lack of a nursery discourage me from making this space special so I did what I always do when restrictions are involved and took it as a personal challenge to make it work. Not only was I working on a small scale but we needed to keep it gender neutral and keep things feeling cohesive with our bedroom. I didn't want to invest too much money in this space since I knew we'd likely be switching things up in a few months so I shopped my closets for smaller frames and used craft supplies I had on hand to make a few things.
I was then sent some really special handmade pieces including the embroidery above from my dear friend, Ruthie, of My Trash and Treasure and the charming cloud wall hanging from the sweet Jahje of Baby Jives. Those girls helped bring this whole space together with their handiwork and I'm so thankful.
Since we wanted this baby's gender reveal to take place the old fashioned way, I decided to keep most of what I made or bought within a simple black and white color scheme with shades of minty blue and yellow-green. This felt really restrictive at first but now most things in Smith's wardrobe can easily be mixed and matched and even look good together sitting in clean piles on my couch/bed/dresser. Oh, the piles of clean laundry.
Since it's still chilly here in Colorado Springs I have a lot of blankets and swaddlers easily at hand in the pine shelf as well as the darling handmade booties gifted to us by Katrina of Calikatrina and the moccasins gifted to us by Susan of Freshly Picked. We got Ruby a pair when she was first walking and they were one of the only pairs of shoes that always stayed on her little feet so I'm so thankful Smith will have some as well. The bottom of that shelf has a basket that holds more blankets and nursing covers, etc.
Our dresser/changing table has three drawers that contain most of the rest. The top drawer has diapers, wipes, burp cloths, nursing pads, socks, pacifiers, grooming supplies, toys that he's too little to enjoy just yet, etc. The second drawer is full of clothes that fit or will fit in the next few weeks and the bottom drawer we use for stashing the diapers and wipes we ordered in bulk before he was born as well as the rest of his clothes that will fit this summer and beyond.
I must say diaper changes have become much less traumatic since I hung everything on Smith's wall. He's so attracted to the high contrast of the black and white (I'm assuming) that he will stop fussing when I lay him down to change him. What started out as a scream fest that had me racing through wipes and trying not to get peed on has become a much more pleasant experience for both of us.
Also, night time diaper changing has become much easier with the assistance of this little LED light from IKEA that is battery operated. I attached it to the pine shelf and it lights up all the necessary parts that need changed in the dark without waking up my sleepy husband!
Whether this sweet boy moves into his big brother's and sister's shared room in the fall or gets his own room in our next house I have a feeling all or most of the pieces we're using right now will transition with him.
Having limited resources shouldn't mean you have to miss out on the fun of nesting. I'd love to hear how you've made a small space work for your needs. How did you do it? Double-duty furniture? Hiding clutter with cute baskets? Do tell.
Details: Moccasins c/o Freshly Picked. Crocheted booties c/o Calikatrina. Baby pants and hats, handmade by me. Cream swaddle blankets with black serging, AGraffDesigns. Baby onesie c/o Hello, Apparel. Nightlight, dresser, sheepskin, black frames, ikea. Yellow shoes, gifted and from BabyGap. Afghans, thrifted. Crib quilts, handmade by me. Striped swaddle blanket c/o BusySpinningThread. Grey striped wrap c/o SollyBaby. Wooden and cloth teether c/o Baubles & Bits.
It's not hard to forget how small a newborn is upon arrival. My first two came out big enough to bypass newborn clothing after about three weeks of healthy nursing but Smith was a whopping pound-and-a-half smaller than both of them. His features were so much more petite. I never really saw the value of documenting their size in the form of a clay mold or paper cut out as a first time mom but standing on this end-knee deep in chapter books, school crushes, and feet almost as big as mine-I'm so much more sensitive to how fleeting these tiny days are.
One evening, after Smith was well fed, I got out the acrylic craft paint and a sketch pad and enlisted the help of my husband. I did a few test runs on one sheet of paper to see which angle was most effective and then ripped off a few new sheets to get down to business. I reapplied fresh paint and after about five takes had a footprint with all five toes that wasn't smeared. My professional foot stamping opinion is to set the paper on a table or counter and gently press your child's foot down like he/she is taking a step. It will likely take two people. Safety first!
As soon as I had the print I was happy with we washed the paint off of his foot. I suggest using something non-toxic. Then I took apart a frame from ikea and centered my footprint in my mat with room for some handwritten details. I added his first and middle name and his birthdate and then adhered the mat to my page. Then I trimmed off the edges with my paper cutter and framed it before adding it to the gallery wall arrangement.
I love that it's bold and adds to the graphic look of this wall but is also sentimental. The Denbow men tend to be on the taller side with big feet. It's hard to believe my little men could one day be wearing a size 13 shoe!
For more ways to add handmade touches to a baby space or customize something for yourself check out my Alpha Sticker Art, Mini Banner, and God's Eye tutorials. They're cheap, easy, and can be finished in two episodes of The Mindy Project.
I've taken a photo of him almost every day since he was born but Instagram is so much easier than blogging - especially when you can only count on spare moments at a time instead of hours. I didn't want to scroll through my blog a year from now trying to recall these early, precious days and not see anything to help me remember so a photo heavy post of his first month(ish) of life via my IG feed it is.
We had Brett home for four days after his birth and my mom was able to come out for a few days but then it was just me holding down the fort until dinner time each day for his second week. Then my parents were able to come again for a few days and soon after that Brett was finally able to take his paternity leave. It happened to also be Sebastian's spring break so we all got to stay home for ten whole days to enjoy being lazy, catching up on shows, putting together ikea furniture, changing all the diapers, doing all the laundry, and trying to do our best on limited sleep.
Smith slept so much his first two weeks but has since become so much more alert and awake for long stretches. He's a fan of being worn in our Solly Baby Wrap and will stay asleep in his bassinet only after he's fallen asleep on me for at least twenty minutes. He cosleeps with us at night for easier nursing and has gained over two pounds since he was born. He is always frowning or gazing around with that wide-eyed look on his face and might be our second blue-eyed boy from the looks of things.
We've had some tummy troubles so I'm cutting coffee again as well as dairy to see if either of those might be the issue. Gripe water and DigestZen and lavender essential oils have helped ease his pain but it's made for some long nights this week. Sebastian and Ruby love holding their little brother and smother him with kisses whenever they come check on him. Sebastian's suddenly taken ownership of new responsibilities and has been so helpful with chores Brett's given him to help make things easier on me. Ruby's an adoring sister and is always available to grab something while I'm nursing or changing a diaper but has also had a harder time remembering boundaries now that I'm not as available to her as I was before Smith came along. We're working through all the new things, though. We're all figuring out our new family dynamics.
Most days I'm feeling great but there are short periods every few days when I can feel myself feeling all the feelings or getting overwhelmed by the state of our house or the inability to accomplish anything. This time around it's much easier to recognize those feelings and realize hormones are mostly to blame and to remind myself to enjoy these long days because this is likely the last round of baby yawns and newborn smells for us. I'm also eager to start exercising again. I know that will help things on all kinds of levels.
We've had hints of spring this week although we're sure to get more snow this month and maybe next before it's officially okay to pack away the hats and gloves. I can't wait for bare feet and sundresses and hours spent in the yard.
It's almost been a month and yet I still have to remind myself that we're a family of five now. It's starting to feel like it fits.
p.s. I'm @smileandwave on Instagram if you're interested in regular peeks into these early days.
We had ourselves a little photo shoot last Sunday. I wanted to get a few photos of the kids together while Smith was still a fresh addition to capture their new relationships. I also knew family members would appreciate photos of all three in one spot.
As with most family photos there was some coercing, a few pouty faces, one stern warning, fart jokes, and tickling in between shots. It's always worth the effort in the end.
Still feeling so thankful for this new life that has joined our family.
Never have seven days been so enchanting and such a string of hours rather than an obvious split into day and night. Smith spent his first two nights testing out his new hobby of nursing instead of sleeping but has finally decided to sleep almost all of the day AND night away. He is alert for 2-3 hours every morning and then it's nurse/nap/poop/frown for twenty minutes before starting it all over again. It's kind of my favorite that he sleeps on me all day. I know this won't be practical forever since there are three other people and a dog that depend on my attention as well but babies don't keep, right? So, all day cuddling sessions are going to happen a little while longer.
We had to let Brett go back to work this week as his paternity leave can't start until the end of the month due to a few other soldiers in his shop being on leave already. I was anxious about having to transition to the regular week without him around to help but we've made it work and with the generosity of some lovely friends, both local and long-distance, we've not had to sit down to cereal for dinner and there have only been two hormonally induced crying sessions on my part. We've had a few moments throughout the week where we can see the kids trying to figure out their new roles with a baby around and letting us know when they're needing more attention but they're pretty smitten with him, too.
The biggest concern we had all week was keeping an eye on his jaundice. Both Sebastian and Ruby had it and the pediatrician and midwife we used for each of them both suggested sunlight and breast milk to clear things up and neither needed to go under the lights at a hospital. We decided to treat Smith with lots of sunlight and milk as well and then two days in added in lavender, lemon, and geranium essential oils after realizing there was probably an oil (or three) for that. Within about 14 hours after applying those to his feet and on his belly near his liver we noticed a big change in his coloring and his eyes. A full day and a half later and he was back to his healthy looking self.
Disclaimer: Although essential oils helped us with his jaundice it's always important to take into consideration the professional opinion of your pediatrician or midwife on the severity of your baby's jaundice. Sunlight, milk, and oils were a reasonable option for us but may not be for all babies.
We're so thankful my mom was able to fly out soon after Smith was born to help keep the big kids occupied that Brett and I could have some special bonding time focusing mainly on this new baby and getting some rest ourselves.
I've been sharing daily pictures on Instagram and will continue to under @smileandwave although blogging may be spontaneous for a bit. Thank you again for all of the congratulatory comments, texts, and e-mails. We're enjoying this new baby boy and this special time in our lives so much.
P.S. For those who may be interested, there's a tutorial for making the black and white abstract quilt here, the pants and hat were handmade and based loosely off of another pattern I already had. His shirt is from Mabo Kids and was a gift. It's my favorite because it's organic cotton and so, so soft. The moses basket and stand can be found on Amazon, the Goodnight pillow is from Juniper Wilde, the bunny was gifted, and the white swaddling blanket is from AGraffDesigns.
Born at 39 weeks on 3/5/14 at 7 lbs 8.5 oz. Turns out my big baby wasn't so big after all!
We are so thankful for the way this little man made his way into the world and that we get to be his parents. We have been smitten with the name Smith since Brett got home from Kuwait but Brett has wanted to name all of our kids Frances/Francis since we first found out about baby Sebastian. When I'm not accidentally calling him Ruby or Sebastian it sounds pretty fitting to be calling him Smith.
So much has happened in the last week and a half surrounding the lead up to his birth and how he showed up that I almost don't know where to start. For now we're enjoying this little newborn's sounds and the sweet smell of his bald little head. Thank you for all the congratulations and for helping us celebrate this new little life.
In an effort to fill up a small and temporary space in our room that we're designating as the baby's space, I've been working on little handmade pieces that I can finish in one sitting and that don't require a lot of running around town for supplies. I kept with our gender neutral color scheme of black and white and reused a frame from IKEA and a small clipboard from Staples that I already had on hand to display my two projects.
1. Supplies: For this first project I used a small clipboard, cardstock that I cut down to fit the clipboard, flat alpha stickers (similar stickers are usually found in the scrapbooking section of most hobby stores but you could also use vinyl stickers from a hardware store), a smooth rolling pen, a straight cut of cardboard to help me line up my text (you can use a ruler). I do want to mention it's good to test this out before you commit. If your stickers are too sticky they may rip your paper when you pull them off. If your pen isn't smooth enough it can ruin your lines. 2. Once you've cut your paper to fit your clipboard or frame, carefully place your alpha stickers so that you've got things centered. I like to start with the outter two letters of each word and then space things evenly in between with each line. It's helpful when you have words that are similar in length. I used my ruler to make sure I was evenly lining up my text as I placed each letter.
3. Once I was happy with my layout I pressed my stickers down to be sure they weren't going to lift up as I started drawing lines. Then I started from the center of the page and carefully drew lines over the letters and out to the edges. It can get a bit tricky drawing one continuous line with the bumps from the stickers so just do your best to line things up as you go. This is also something you may want to practice doing before committing. 4. After finishing all the diagonal lines on one side I started in on the diagonal lines in the other direction. They don't need to be perfectly straight but you could probably use a ruler. I like this security envelope pattern it creates as lines slightly bend and curve. 5. Finally, carefully remove your alpha stickers to reveal your negative white space. Trim the edges of your cardstock if you need to to make sure your text is centered. Attach to a clipboard or frame.
When choosing alpha stickers, keep in mind the size and font that will work best for these projects. I have some black alpha stickers that I love but there isn't a lot of defined room for lines to be drawn in the middle of e's and a's, etc. Other fonts might not fill a page to the right proportions. If you're a scrapbooker you probably already have a stash of alpha you're not excited about anymore. This may be the perfect project to use them up!
The second project was just a late night experiment. I got out some chipboard and some raised alpha stickers (Thickers from American Craft, available at most hobby stores) and just centered them and cut the chipboard to fit my frame. It probably took 15 minutes.
I like the graphic nature of the two of them and how they coordinate with each other and the other projects I've been working on for this baby's space. You can find the God's Eye here and the Mini Banner here. The cross afghan is still a work in progress but you can get the full tutorial for making your own Abstract Crib Quilt here.
These two are great ways to fill up that last space or two in your gallery wall or just add a little fun to your space. I think I may have just one more project up my sleeve if I can get it finished before this baby shows up and then I'll be ready to share how it's all coming together.
I remember making God's Eyes when I was in a Brownie troop as a little girl. They may carry more meaning for some but I just have fond memories of making them in bright colors and feeling pretty accomplished with my new skill set. I decided I wanted to add one to the tiny little corner of our bedroom that this baby will be claiming until it's old enough to move into the kids' shared room. I used some of the same citron yarn that I've been making my cross blanket from as well as some more textured cream yarn and leftover binding from the abstract crib quilt. They have all been sitting in a pile together so it was an easy choice to combine them again.
1. I bought a dowel rod from a craft store and cut it down so that I had two equal lengths of about 8". As mentioned I used two different cream yarns, a citron yarn, and some leftover binding from a quilt. I've tried this technique out with torn strips of fabric sheets and it's a good way to add some variety as long as you fold your fabric in half so the frayed edges get overlapped with each new layer. 2. I tied a snug knot around the center of my two rods so that they could twist and be perpendicular without sliding out. 3. Then I wrapped my binding around one rod and then the next in a counter-clockwise fashion so that I made about four complete rounds. 4. Since the binding was so bulky I stitched it down to itself on the back.
5. Next, I added my first layer of yarn by tying a knot around one of the rods so that it was on the back and then wrapping the yarn gently around each rod in a counter-clockwise fashion again. You can adjust your pattern to make each layer as thin or thick as you like. Once I was done I tied off another knot on the back side of the same rod I started on and trimmed the ends. 6. Next I added my citron and did the same. 7. I continued with different thicknesses until I was happy with the size of things and trimmed my ends again. Once I'm done I'll add another knot around one of the rods with a loop long enough to hang it on the wall.
I'm waiting on a few things before I put any holes in the wall but things finally feel like they're transforming from a dumping ground of miscellaneous baby things into something special.
Did you make God's Eyes growing up or are they a part of your cultural heritage? I've seen them with tassels and beads attached as well as some pretty large conceptual ones used in store displays. I think my fourth grade self would be proud to know she hasn't lost her touch.
I had the privilege of having Rachel of Busy Spinning Thread as a sponsor recently and after looking through her Etsy shop I was sold on the idea of using a nursing cover that looks more like a roomy scarf when not in use. She offered to send me some to welcome this new baby and I quickly sent her my favorite patterns.
They came in the mail this week on one of the coldest days we've had this winter so I wrapped myself up in the striped cover, tied the two corners together to turn it into an infinity scarf and kept myself cozy for the rest of the day!
In the past I've used swaddle blankets or the kind of nursing cover that ties around your neck and looks like a huge bib but got tired of always keeping up with them on outings. The bibs would get pulled aside by curious hands and the blankets would usually get shoved into the top of the diaper bag and eventually fall out. What I love about this nursing cover above is how soft and light it is so that baby will be able to breathe easily and that when it's untied it is like a large poncho so that it can't be raised up by busy little hands and feet without a lot of work. Plus, I know have another really fantastic scarf to add to my wardrobe both now and post-baby when I may want to distract from my shrinking mid-section!
Rachel and Molly's brand offers a variety of lovely things for mamas and kids alike such as swaddling blankets, infinity and fringe scarves, nursing necklaces, teething rings, pocket tanks, etc. using on trend prints and soft jersey fabrics. I
After doing this baby thing twice already it's become more apparent to me what's going to be useful and what's going to sit on a shelf. I can't wait for this baby to get here so I can put these pieces to work!