Monday, July 29, 2013

Return to Work

So today is my first day back at work after 20 weeks of maternity leave.  I am very sad to be leaving my two little girls, but I do like my job so that helps.  I am very fortunate that I work for a very flexible company that allows me to work part time (3 days a week) and still maintain full benefits.  I work with a great team and have a boss that is very supportive of my career and personal choices, so it doesn't really get much better than that!

One of the aspects of returning to work that I do not enjoy is pumping milk for my baby.  I really enjoy nursing her and we have a great nursing relationship, but pumping is not fun!  I am lucky that I actually have 3 different pumps to choose from (I'll get into this later) and in the next few weeks I am planning on doing a trial of each one and reporting the results here, so stay tuned.  Because I pumped at work for 6 months for my older daughter and now I am back at it again, I figured I would provide some tips and tricks that have worked well for me.

1.  One of the most important things to maintain your supply while pumping (because the pump is less efficient than your baby) is to pump frequently.  I am gone from my baby for 10 hours, so I pump 3 times in that period.  Ideally you would pump every 2.5-3 hours.
2.  The law currently requires most employers to provide a desginated room to pump in that is not a bathroom.  Locate this room before you return to work to ensure that you have access and know where it is.  Also make sure that this room has an outlet and check on any other amenities it may have (a sink is the best!)
3.  I really like having a Pumping Bra so that I can do other things while I pump (these never seem to be work related things, but rather playing on Facebook, etc.)
4.  One of my favorite breastfeeding related aps is the Medela iBreastfeed ap.  I use it for when I actually nurse my baby and I also use the pumping function to time how long I have been puming and record how much I pumped.
5. One of the first mistakes I made while pumping at work was that I didn't bring anything with me to wipe up with and I ended up with milk everywhere.  I started brining papertowels in my pump bag so that I had a clean place to lay my pump parts and wipe everything down.  I also like to bring the cloth wipes I use for my daughter for this purpose.
6. Once I am done pumping, I store my milk and pump parts in the fridge until my next session.  One of the most confusing parts for me initially was what to do with all of the pump parts.  Do I wash them?  Where do I store them? The questions went on an on.  What I finally decided to do was get a dark colored bag (the one I use was a waterproof bag that came with a forumla sample) and store my pump parts there.  I wipe them, as mentioned above, first and then put the bag in the refigerator (very discrete).  Sometimes I also rinse them, but it can be uncomfortable to stand at the comunal sink and rinse this stuff.  I figure as any residual milk is refigerated that it is safe to reuse.  At the end of the day I take all of these items home and wash with hot soapy water. 

Good luck and happy pumping :)

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Mommy Mondays Blog Hop

This is my first week joining my friend's Mommy Monday blog hop. Link up yourself and visit the other mommy blogs that are part of the hop.

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Reusable nursing pads

Earlier this week a friend mentioned to me that I should try making some reusable nursing pads for the Naturally Crafty blog.  I will be honest, at the time I put this suggestion way at the bottom of my list.  It wasn't that I didn't want to make them, it was just that I had no use for them personally at the time and I have a very long list :).  My youngest is now 4 months old and my milk supply has regulated enough that I figure I wouldn't need any for a long, long time.  Well, the blog gods intervened because the very next day another friend was talking about ordering some reusable nursing pads!!!  Ding, ding, ding, a perfect opportunity to make some and actually have someone give me feedback on how well they worked, and now I can share it here.

Soft Flannel or cotton material

Each nursing pad is one layer of PUL and three layers of flannel.  I washed all materials beforehand so that they would not shrink after being sewn.  I created a circle template out of paper that was approximately 4.5-5 inches in diameter (I went a little larger since my serger would cut off some of the outside).  I cut all of the  layers and then serged around the edges to sew them together.  If you do not have a serger you can also just zig zag or do an over lock stitch on your sewing machine.  Its as easy as that, they are ready to wear!
They took me approximately 15 minutes to make the two sets shown and I used scrap materials that I had on hand.  If you are buying material, you should be able to get 8-10 sets of nursing pads out of 1/4 yard of PUL and 3/4 yard of flannel.  All in all, this is a super easy project.

After a few days of wear I checked back in with my friend/guinea pig and got her assessment.  Some of the things she liked the best is that they are very comfortable and that they do no show through clothing.  Her husband was surprised that he didn't notice them when she was just wearing a sports bra!  She also said that they wash and dry nice and that they are plenty absorbent.

Washing and wearing instructions:
1. Pads should be warn with the flannel touching your skin and the PUL facing outwards.
2. Be sure to change pads as soon as they feel wet.
3. Once pads have been used, let air dry before placing in the hamper to prevent mildew.
4. Wash on delicate cycle with warm or cold water, dry on medium
5. Be sure to use detergent that does not contain fabric softeners so that absorbency is not compromised.

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

New Look, Same Great Crafts!

A big thank you to my friend Rachel of You Just Can't Google Everything for customizing my blog design.  She did an amazing job with the design of my blog and I am very excited about the new look.

Rachel and I are friends from our sorority days at the University of Florida, go Gators!

(Just in time for Throwback Thursday)
I love to craft but technology is not my strong area, I even sew on a 40 year old sewing machine...

(Don't get me wrong, this baby will sew through anything and will last forever.  I love my machine and I would not trade it for anything), so thank you Rachel for making me look good :)
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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

My Cloth Diaper Wash Routine

Something that is always a hot topic in the cloth diapering community is how to wash your diapers and how to trouble shoot any issues.  In the first month that we cloth diapered I did a lot of research to try and determine the best wash routine for me.  A wash routine is very personalized based on your water, washing machine and diapers.  Here I will detail out what my wash routine is as well as provide links to sites that I have found helpful.

I have a whirlpool high efficiency front loading machine, the duet steam.  One of the issues with high efficiency machines is that you don't have as much control about how much water is added to the machine because it is programed to be efficient and therefore not use as much water.  People have many techniques that they use to trick their machine (e.g. adding wet towels or pouring water over their diapers before starting) but what works well for me is to run a rinse/spin cycle and set the spin to none.  This makes it so that the machine saturates my diapers and then doesn't spin out the extra water making them heavier and therefore increasing the water my machine uses in the next cycle.  The next cycle I run is a delicate cycle on warm (see Bummis link below for reasons I use warm instead of cold), the cycle runs about 40 minutes.  I follow this rinse type cycle with my hot wash.  I was on "whitest whites", hot water and set the rinse to the maximum setting (I have the options: normal, extra and max).  I only use detergent in the last cycle and I have a strong preference for Tide original powder.  This last cycle lasts about an hour and a half.  After the hot wash I put all of my wipes and inserts into the dryer on medium and I hang dry all of my shells.  Hang drying your shells will make the PUL and elastic last longer.

Note that when developing your wash cycle you should consider your diaper manufacturers recommendations and what may void your diaper warranty.  Because I have a dozen or more brands, it is difficult for me to make all of the different recommendations jive and still get clean diapers.

Here are some links that I have found helpful in my research:

Your wash routine may change based on if you have hard or soft water, therefore checking out the U.S. Geological Survey Water Quality Information site will be helpful in determining your routine.

Bummis has released a Laundry Science study that I think has a lot of great information.

Padded tush stats has a great chart for solving stink issues.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Zippered Car seat Canopy Tutorial

One of the gifts that I received for my first daughter was a car seat canopy from my Aunt Jodee.  I loved it and I used it all of the time to shade my daughter from rain, bugs, strangers and the sun.  One day while on a walk I was thinking how it would be nice to be able to adjust how much of the canopy was open or closed rather than having it be all or nothing.  I considered the various ways to make a slit down the front and to close it (buttons, ties, zipper, etc.) and decided on using a zipper.  Making my first car seat canopy was all trial and error but I loved having the zipper.  While walking my daughter I could zip it all the way or unzip it partially and move the flaps around to block the sun.  My second attempt was for a friend that was expecting her second baby.  She loved it so much that she asked me to make one for her friend that is expecting.  I have received numerous requests for a pattern or tutorial, so I was glad she asked me to make this one and therefore I could use it to document my process. 

2 yards of fabric (I normally choose one pattern and one solid)
20-22 inch zipper (I generally choose a longer one and then just cut off the excess)
2 inch wide grosgrain ribbon
3/8 inch grosgrain ribbon (optional)
Corresponding thread

To start you need to cut you material into 3 different pieces each.  You want one piece that is 21x36 inches and two pieces that are 21x18 inches.  The easiest way to do this is to fold the material in half so that you have a piece that is 22x36 (this assumes your fabric is 44 inches wide) and then fold it in half and half again so that you piece is 22x9.  Cut off the inch or two on the end so that you piece is 21 inches folded.  Then cut along the seam so that you have 2 pieces that are 21x36 and cut one of those pieces in half so that you have two 21x81 inch pieces.  Repeat with second piece of fabric.

After you have your fabric cut you want to start by putting in the zipper.  Take your pattern piece (from here on out I am assuming the pattern is on the outside) and lay it right side up on your table with the 21 inch side at the top.  Place your zipper face down along the top of the fabric.  You want the bottom of the zipper up with the end of the fabric and any excess should be at the top of the zipper.
Then lay your solid fabric right side down on top of the zipper and line up the edge of the fabric with the eds of the zipper, pin in place.

After you have it pinned in place, using a zipper foot, sew as close to the zipper as possible.  Turn the fabric right side out and top stitch the material onto the zipper. (I the tops stitching on the inside below as the brown thread blends in with the pattern)

Repeat with the other side of the zipper.

Once you have the zipper sewn in, move the zipper down below the material line and cut off the excess, if you cut the excess off before moving the zipper you will remove the zipper pull from the zipper and be in trouble, so be sure to move it first!

Now turn the pieces attached to the zipper so that they are right sides together again.  Sew along the bottom edge (the side where you cut the zipper) and along the side.  Leave the top open (where the zipper stop is) as this will be the open edge at the center seam.  After sewing the two sides, snip your corners and turn right side out.  It should look like the picture below.

Next take your two 21x36 inch pieces and pin them right sides together.  Sew down both sides and along one of the 36 inch edges for about 12-15 inches on either side, leaving about a 6 inch portion of the edge open to turn it right side out later on.  Also leave one of the long edges open as this is where the center seam will be. 

Leaving this piece inside out, place the piece with the zipper inside of the non zipper piece with the patterned fabric touching the patterned fabric and the solid touching the solid.  Match up and pin the raw edges. 

Now it is time to start the ribbon loops that will be used to hang the canopy from the car seat handle.  When it comes to this part you have a few different options, you can include Velcro loops only on the patterned side, you can include Velcro loops on both sides so that it is reversible or you can include Velcro loops on one side and also include plain loops on the other side to hang toys from.  For this canopy I choose to do Velcro on one side and ribbon loops on the inside for toys.

For the Velcro loops cut your 2 inch ribbon into four 10 inch long strips (8 if you want it to be reversible).  For each cut, fold the ribbon back on itself and sew along the long edges and the folded edge.

To insert the ribbon, I measure about 2.5 inches from the zipper and mark it, that is where I want the inside edge of the ribbon to be.  Insert two pieces of ribbon at the marked place so that the sew edge is inside and the raw edge lines up with the material raw edges.  You want the ribbon to be in between the two pieces of patterned material.  Pin in place.
If you want the canopy to be reversible repeat this step and place the ribbon between the solid fabrics.  Because I was doing toy loops (which toys can hang from the Velcro loops too, FYI :)) I cut two 6 inch pieces of grosgrain ribbon (I used 5/8ths because that is what I had but 3/8ths would probably be better).  I folded each piece of ribbon in half and inserted it between the solid pieces of fabric so that the raw edges line up with the raw fabric edges and the loop is inside. 
Sew along the edge ensuring that you catch all pieces of ribbon.  I also like to serge this edge for added strength.  After you have the edge sewn, you can turn the whole thing right side out through the 6 inch opening you left in the fabric.
To close the opening, fold right sides together and top stitch.  I like to start my top stitch at one end of the zipper and go all the way around finishing at the other end.
Now its time to add Velcro to the ribbon.  I like for my loop to have the edge facing away from me so I attach the Velcro so that its a clean loop from the front of the car seat perspective.  Note that the Velcro will be facing the same way on both strips of ribbon so that it makes a clean loop.

Finished canopy!!  I have mine on a Chicco Key Fit 30 and the fit is perfect!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Hadley's Birth Story

My second daughter was born 4 months ago and I am just getting around to completing her birth story with the help of my memory, my husband memory and our doula's notes.  I figured this blog is the perfect place to share it.  With our first daughter we planned an unmedicated birth but ended up being induced at 37 weeks, 6 days due to expected IUGR.  Our second daughter arrived on her due date of 3/13/13.  We were very fortunate to have an amazing uncomplicated, unmedicated birth that lasted just over 5 hours. 

Dunlop birth story
Florida Hospital Tampa - Women's Center
4:13 am
Hadley Lauren
6 lbs, 15 ozs, 19 in

Around 9:30pm on March 12, 2013 I was working on a sewing project in my craft room when I felt a sudden pop.  It felt like my pants were suddenly very wet and because I was afraid to stand up I started calling for Ryan out in the family room.  After a few shouts he came into the room and I told him that I was pretty sure that my water had broken.  He helped me get into the bathroom and into the shower.  I decided to take a shower while he called our Doula, Tara.  I continued to feel my waters leaking and noticed that they were clear but the leaking was frequent. 

Ryan left a message for our Doula and she called back shortly.  After discussing our options she encouraged us to stay home for a bit and rest.  She told us to sleep for 2 hours and then give her a call.

After getting off the phone with our Doula, I put in a call for my Doctor.  Dr. Jones was on call that evening and he returned my call after a few minutes.  I notified him that my water had broken but that I was not having any contractions (this was around 10pm).  He said that because my water had broken they would want to check me and that I should get to the hospital when I reasonably could. 

After getting off the phone with my doctor I began to pack our hospital bags so that after we got up we would be ready to leave.

I laid down in bed with towels and puppy pads underneath me and tried to rest but of course my mind was racing.  Around 11pm I started to experience what I thought was a contraction, so I started using an application on my phone to time them.  At 11pm my contractions were about 10-12 minutes apart and about 40 seconds long.  By 11:30 I had progressed to 8 minutes apart and also about 40 seconds.  At this point I did not feel that I could stay in bed any longer but that I needed to get up and move.  I went out to the family room so that I could walk around and breathe without disturbing my husband who was still sleeping.  I put on the Keeping up with the Kardashians marathon to take my mind off of the contractions.  I would sit on the couch and relax in-between but then stand up and walk while vocalizing, circling my arms and taking deep breaths during the contraction.

By midnight my contractions were 5-6 minutes apart and they stayed that way until about 1:30 in the morning.  Ryan had called Tara around midnight or 12:30 and she was going to feed her son and then be on her way.  At 1:30 she had still not arrived and I knew that it was time to go to the hospital.  I ate a part of a banana quickly because I knew it was the last time I would eat for a while.  At this point my contractions were about 4-5 minutes apart.  I had Ryan call Tara and let her know to meet us at the hospital.

We arrived at the hospital around 2am.  I was answering questions at the desk and providing my insurance information all while experiencing contractions about 3 minutes apart.  They got us to a room and Tara joined us shortly afterwards.
After arriving I did not track my contractions anymore but Tara noted that at 1:35 am, they were 5 minutes apart.
The nurse did the first check at 2:15 am and I was 6-7 cm.  I felt a little discouraged at this, but Tara assured me that I was making super progress and didn't have very far to go.

Once we got to the room, my contractions were very intense.  I got through them by leaning on Ryan, having him assist and support me to squat and vocalizing.  Tara was great and was able to help me with breathing, vocalizing properly, and reminding me to sway my hips.  She also used the rebozo to squeeze my hips, do belly lifts and counter pressure which brought significant relief. At this time I was feeling a lot of pressure and starting to feel the urge to push
The nurse checked me again at 2:55 am and I was 8 cm almost fully effaced and the baby's head was at 0 station!
I wanted to lie down and rest for a little while as I had not been able to earlier. Tara gave me some ice chips and Ryan soothed and encouraged me. Tara reports that I was feeling a bit fatigued and concerned how much longer I would be able to go on. I had made it through transition!
After transition I remember that during contractions it changed from pain to just a weird pressure sensation.  I still felt like I wanted to do squats with Ryan to relieve this feeling.

The nurse checked me while I was resting at 3:15am and at 3:28 am I was 9 1/2 cm and the baby was at +1 station.  Even though I was having serious urges to push the nurse stated that I should try not to as there was still a tiny bit of my cervix present and it would be dangerous to push.  Of course my body took over and I couldn’t help but push a little; pushing definitely relieved the strange pressure.
At this time I really felt like I wanted to deliver in a squatting position so Tara set out to find the squat bar while the nurse paged Dr. Jones. While waiting for the doctor we continued squatting next to the bed and resting in-between.
When the nurse checked a final time at 3:57 am, I was 10 cm fully effaced and +2 station!
We had to wait for the doctor to get in and situated, the doctor would not allow me to squat like I wanted.  Tara did angle up the bed so that I was in a semi leaned squat.
At this point my contractions were very far apart and I was able to rest.  I remarked how it was funny that we had been waiting for the doctor while I wanted to push but then as soon as he arrived I was in-between contractions so we all ended up sitting around and looking at each other for a few minutes.
Finally I could feel that contraction coming and started pushing at 4:08 am, 5 minutes with one good long contraction and Hadley was born at 4:13am! We didn't know the sex of the baby, and really thought we were having a boy, so it was a giant surprise! :)  They took the Hadley to the isolette to take her temp, ap gar, etc., her ap gar’s were 9/9.  I kept asking to have her so that I could try and nurse and she was finally given to me around 4:34 am. She latched right on and continued to try and nurse until around 5 am at which point they started to transfer us to our room.  I felt really good after the birth, the rush of the endorphins and the excitement of the baby left me feeling amazing.  I felt like I could have walked to the post-partum unit, but I allowed them to wheel me and Hadley in a wheelchair instead.  Upon arrival in our room I stood next to Hadley in the warmer.  The nurse was very surprised to come into the room and find the mom next to the warmer and shouted to the other nurses, “this is the patient, she’s standing right here and not in bed?!”  After a few minutes we were all settled and able to rest for a bit.  We were discharged the next morning, only 32 hours after arriving at the hospital. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Ring Sling Tutorial Review

For my two girls I have both a Moby wrap and an Ergo carrier.  I like both and they both serve a purpose but I was really wanting a ring sling.  A friend recomended the tutorial by Deriving Mommyhood so I decided to try it out.  ETA: The Deriving Mommyhood link no longer works but this tutorial is exactly the same).

*my sister and 4 month old loving the new wrap
Cost: Approximately $25 with the rings and fabric half price off
Time to Complete: About an hour and a half (this is an estimate since I forgot to start my timer)
Difficulty: Easy - if you can sew a straight line then you can sew this
Notes:  Overall I love my new ring sling.  I did follow the suggestion to use and they are perfect for this project.  The only things I changed is that after sewing the right sides together I serged the edges before turning and topstitiching.  I also only added one pocket and I added it after the sling was finished.  I wasn't sure about the length and I didn't want to add the pocket too early, so I just sewed it though both layers of the sling. Also I followed the placement of the solid v.s the pattern and if you follow the tutorial the solid will be on the oustide like shown with my sling.
I have found the instructions for threading the sling and using the sling at Sweet Pea Slings to be helpful in using my sling (but can not speak to their actual slings).

Sunday, July 7, 2013

SoftBums Customer Service Review

As I have only been cloth diaper for a relatively short time I have not had an instance where I needed to contact a cloth diaper's customer service yet.  With the introduction of Chev-worm by SoftBums as the June Calendar Bum I knew I had to have one and ordered one as soon as they were available.  Based on my previous review, you might remember how much I love my SoftBums anyways.  When I received the diaper I noticed that the toggles that are used to adjust the elastic and therefore the size were not holding the way my other SoftBums did.  When I would pull the elastic into the casing to set the size they would move and therefore the size I set it at did not hold.  I e-mailed SoftBums customer service immediately.  I was very pleasantly surprised when a representative from SoftBums got back to me right away.  We exchanged multiple e-mails trying to trouble shoot my issue and when nothing worked they offered to send me new toggles. 

I sent them my addresses and received a shipping confirmation almost immediately.  They shipped so fast that I had them in hand less than a week before sending the original e-mail!!!  I put the new toggles on my elastic and they work great!! 

For me customer is very important and I appreciate a company that truly stands behind their product. SoftBums are amazing diapers and now I can add amazing customer service to my assessment.

And now for the obligatory diaper picture modled by my almost 4 month old (approximately 13.5 pounds) daughter in her new Chev-Worm :)


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Busy Book/Quiet Activity Book

Over the past year I have been working on pages for a Busy Book for my daughter.  People also call them quiet activity books but I have too much Velcro for it to be quiet.  I used an 8x10 piece of white muslin as the front and back of each page and sandwiched a piece of white felt in between to make it more sturdy.  I had my mom embroider a cover and I used ring binders and rivets in each page so that I could take pages in and out of each book.  Although I love to sew, I found it easier to use felt (non-fray) and hot glue for most pages.  Now that I have two daughters I think this will work great because I can mix up the pages based on their development level and also mix them up to keep it interesting. 
I have been working with a few friends on some of these pages so some are from our group think, some from ideas on the Internet and some are my own.  Overall I think I have had the most success with simple pages (my daughter is only 21 months) that have a basic task.

Shapes:  This is my daughters favorite page and it has been great to teach her shapes and colors. 

Dog collar: This is one of my newest pages.  At 21 months she doesn't have the dexterity to buckle the collar yet but she likes playing with it.  I just used a cheap collar from Wal-mart and cut off the buckle.

Zipper: These zippers were short zippers handed down from my grandma (who upcycled before the term had even been coined).  The were a little rough, so I just covered them with felt which made them more bold looking as well.

Clock: My clock is a little crooked, and of course my 21 month old can't tell time, but I think this will be a good one for later as well. 

Apple Tree: A friend found these apples with the clothes pins on the back of them so we thought an apple tree would be fun.  We all did it a little differently, but I just left it so that they could be pined to branches made of twine.  This is another one that my daughter hasn't yet mastered but she likes to play with it.

Abacus: We are working on counting so this is a fun one.  Mostly though she just likes to slide the beads and look at the colors.

Pizza: The pizza one is a lot of fun, but with my type A personality I don't like the possibility of pieces getting lost.  We left the top part of the crust unattached so that the toppings can be stored inside the pizza.

Ice cream: Each scoop can be removed and placed on the silver holding spot or Velcroed on top of the cone.

Pie: This one is to be able to weave the pie crust.  Mostly my daughter just pulls on the strips of crust and pokes the balls ("cherries").

Button Flowers:  This also requires a little bit more dexterity, my daughter is good at pulling all the flowers off but not as good at buttoning them back on.  I also left the ribbon unsecured so that we can practice tying a bow later on.
Here is the outside of the book, I love the rings and that the pages can be removed and changed.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Baby doll diapers and wipes

To go with the Baby Doll diaper bag I posted about previously I made a few diapers and wipes.  I used the pattern from One Little Project.

Cost: free - I used material scraps that I already had as well as Velcro that I had
Time to complete: 20 minutes for each diaper plus any time for ruffles, etc.
Difficulty: Easy

Notes: I used a pretty cotton material for the outsides and white fleece for the inside.  I stitched them right sides together and then turned and top stitched.  I liked using felt for the decorative heart since felt won't fray.  The "wipes" are just serged 4x5 pieces of fleece. 

Overall I am really please with how they turned out.  They really fit a variety sizes of dolls and were very easy to make.  I hope my daughter's friends enjoy them!