Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The last thing I needed was another hobby. Digital Scrapbooking

So I've been trying to finish up Selena's baby book before the new baby comes but it has been kind of hard. I was given a baby book calendar as a shower gift which I really loved. I left it on the table and whenever she reached a milestone I could jot it down on the calendar and each month I made little notes about her. It had pages pre-decorated so that all you needed to do was print out some pictures and tape them to it. When the year was up you could rip out the pages and put them in a 12x12 book.

Unfortunately I wasn't very successful in getting the pictures in the book. Mostly because the pictures I printed didn't fit the shapes of the frames provided. Also after I printed them I put them in a pile and then when I thought about them again I didn't know which ones went to which month so I have to look them up on the computer to figure it out. So I've ended up just taping the pictures to the pages without paying attention to the frames and I still have 6 or 7 that are loose and need to find a home. For other pictures I wanted to include in the book I used Google's free photo program Picasa to create collages and printed them out on 8 x 11.5 prints through Costco and then taped them to scrapbook paper. Also when I tore out the pages from the calendar I discovered that I had to put them in the book sideways because they are printed front and back and if you put them in right side up the next page is upside down. So basically Selena's baby book is not very pretty which is kind of a bummer.

So for the next baby I thought that it would be neat to make some digital scrapbook calendar pages and I could do it all on the computer. I had asked for Adobe Photoshop Elements as a Christmas present over a year ago specifically to make this picture of Selena, but also in hopes to try digital scrapboooking. But Photoshop isn't the easiest program to use and some things that I thought should be simple, I couldn't figure out how to easily do, and I didn't have a lot of free time, so I hadn't gotten around to trying it till now. but I decided to sit down and figure out how to do what I wanted and once I did I have whipped out 9 scrapbook pages pretty quickly and with no mess. :) It is great because I can work on the pages for the short intervals I have some free time and it doesn't require a lot of thinking on my part which I seem to have problems with lately. Also working on the digital scrapbooking helps me work on my design skills which I have needed in the past for work (instead of just writing code I have been frequently asked to design the graphics for software and websites as well), but I usually was unsatisfied with what I created.

So I have made a handful of calendar pages for the new baby's baby book and I am taking the old blog posts of Selena and putting them on scrapbook pages that I can add to her book and at least part of it will be pretty. I'm also going to start a new separate book for after her first birthday. I'm very thankful that I have been doing the blog posts because after I ran out of calendar pages I had stopped writing down milestones etc, except for in my blog posts.

So here are some pictures of what I've done so far, and I think I'll write up a short tutorial on Photoshop and include the hints I figured out. The calendar pages have some pictures of Selena on them at the moment just for testing purposes. I'm still working on the July pages as I'm not completely happy with them.

Friday, March 20, 2009

32 weeks pregnant

Eek. I'm getting close. Could be 5 weeks could be 9 weeks. Trying to think 9 weeks, but it is so hard to not wonder if this baby could be early like Selena. She was so big at 37 weeks (7lbs 6oz), had a full head of hair, long fingernails. I never measured ahead with her, but obviously she was ready to come early. I figured I just baked them quick. But while my stomach is now bigger than it was when Selena was born this baby doesn't feel as big inside me. He or she is still moving around a bit whereas Selena pretty much got in position around 32 weeks and stayed there. With Selena I could feel an obvious head really low in my pelvis, but I haven't felt that yet with this one. It would be more convenient to Floyd's schedule if this baby came closer to the due date. Oh well, the baby will come whenever he or she is ready.

My last appointment the baby's head was down so that was good to hear. The baby was actually exactly how I thought it was facing up with its feet on the top right of my belly head, lower left, so that made me feel confident that I do know what is going on in there. I can feel it flip occasionally so its back is facing out, but it still mostly hangs out on the right side of my belly. Supposedly it makes for an easier labor for the baby to be on your left side, so I'm continuing to do pelvic tilts and am trying to lie on my left side more often, but it is just more comfortable to lie on my right so I often wake up in the middle of the night on my right side.

Finally being done working has made it a lot easier on me. I've been able to take naps and not having any stress of deadlines has made me feel a lot better. The heartburn seems to come and go but hasn't been too bad. I now know not to stretch my legs and point my toes when I wake up in the morning so I can avoid painful cramps. I try to eat some before I go to bed to avoid waking up in the middle of the night hungry, but sometimes this backfires and causes heartburn.

I've also started the hypnobabies program and that really helps keep a positive mindset and is so relaxing. But now I am thinking more about the birth and wondering what will happen. While Selena's birth seemed so difficult at the time if I think back it really was relatively easy. It was relatively short being only 6 1/2 hrs of active labor (technically it was 8 hrs but my contractions didn't start till an hour and a half after my water broke). The last hour of pushing was pretty hard, the hour before that was uncomfortable but manageable, and before that it was really easy even though my pressure waves (hypno speak for contractions) were 2-3 minutes apart the entire time. I'm not sure if it was the hypnosis, the tub, being in a relaxing place, or the combination of everything, but they really were easy, they didn't hurt, but they were definitely strong because I dilated pretty fast (2 cm per hour). I missed transition which is supposedly the hardest part. When I reread my birth story I said that I hit transition when I got out of the tub, but by then I was already complete, so transition was before that when I distinctly remember thinking, "I can do this for a few hours, but if it is going to last longer than that I might be in trouble." Even when I was pushing I still wouldn't describe it as painful, it was just exhausting. I found it very similar to hitting the wall at the end of a race but still having a long ways to go before the end of the race. Even the "ring of fire" wasn't bad. It stung, but not horribly.

But I'm wondering what will happen this time. Will my water break again? or will I have pre-labor off and on for a few days or weeks before? Will pushing be easier this time? Will my plan to make it easier really work? Will the first or second stage be harder or longer this time, or shorter and easier? Will I do a water birth this time, or will it feel wrong for some reason? I do believe in the hypnosis more this time which should make it work better, and so far it seems to. Last pregnancy I was pretty conscious during the entire script, this time I check out/fall asleep/go into hypnotic amnesia or whatever you want to call it, but wake up as soon as the script is over and it tells me to get up. I admit last time I was slightly doubtful and maybe even wanted it to not work too well because I wanted the satisfaction of feeling like I accomplished something difficult. Well that was pretty much exactly what I got. It worked really well for 80-90% the time, but there was a tough part. This time I want a completely pain-free birth. Then I can have the satisfaction of being able to say that I was able to put mind over matter. But only time will tell how it ends up.

I've got a list of nesting things I'd like to do before the baby gets here. It is kind of annoying because I really wanted to get these things done before it became a real trial to bend over, but since I ended up working longer than planned that didn't happen. Floyd has spring break in a couple weeks so hopefully he'll be sympathetic to my hormonal impulses and help me out.

Here are some more belly pics. I didn't grow that much in the last four weeks, so maybe I'm evening out now.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

How to Sew Your Own Maternity Shirt by Altering a Non-Maternity Pattern


I am newly entering the realm of sewing clothes for myself and just as I started attempting this new hobby I got pregnant. At first I wasn't going to sew anything maternity, but I had one shirt I really liked and when I tried to find similar style shirts at the stores I couldn't. So then I decided that maybe it wouldn't be so hard to alter a pattern that I had already made and that had turned out well to make the style I liked. Also I figured that since I could only wear the shirt for a few months, if it didn't turn out that great I wouldn't be stuck with it for that long. Well I ended up doing the same alteration to three different patterns and have been pretty happy with the result. The one challenge in sewing maternity clothes is that you are constantly changing sizes and you don't know where it is going to happen. You know your belly is going to grow, but is your chest, your hips, your butt? In my case I have pretty much only changed size in my belly and chest, but my bust size increased 2 inches 2 weeks after I made the first top. Unfortunately I kind of had a sizing problem around my bust anyways and then when I grew it just became more pronounced. But since I can only wear the shirt for a couple months, oh well.

The Style

Most maternity tops feature an empire waist with a lot of fabric in front and a tie in the back. Personally I am not a fan of this style. You feel like your wearing a tent and all the material hangs straight down over your belly and if the top starts getting too short you start feeling a breeze on your underbelly and the tie in back makes me feel kind of school girlish. The other option is usually just a knit shirt that is a little bit wider on bottom and longer. For me that style of top is okay, but if you are just starting to show then that style just kind of just makes you look misshapen or fat. The style I like has a wider and longer front panel that is gathered at the sides, so that from the back you still look like you have a waist. From the front your belly is accentuated so that it is obvious you are pregnant, and the shirt comes in a bit underneath the belly so you don't get the tent look as much. The good thing about sewing your own shirt is that you can make it long enough. I am 7 months pregnant at the moment and over half my shirts are already too short.

Choosing a pattern
The best patterns are ones that are pretty fitted around the waist and are designed for four way stretch knits. Four way stretch knits give you the most leeway in the sizing so that if your bust increases you have a greater chance of the top still fitting. So far I have done this alteration on Jalie 2682, Burda World of Fashion 11-2008 Style 103,2682 and Burda World of Fashion 2-2009 Style 103.

Altering the Pattern

- First you will have to choose a size. Which is kind of hard to decide. Basically your choices are to go with your pre-pregnancy size and possibly/probably do a full bust alteration, or do you go with your pregnancy bust measurement. The first shirt I made I went with my pre-pregnancy size and as I mentioned before my bust grew and then it didn't fit very well. The second top I made I still went with my pre-pregnancy size but added extra length to the piece that went over the bust to make sure the below-the-bust seam didn't ride up. That worked well, but because I didn't do a muslin it has some other fit problems. The third shirt I did I cut the pattern based on my bust size, but then did a muslin and radically altered the pattern around the armscye and neckline so much I'm not exactly sure what size it ended up being.

- If the shirt isn't that long you will want to lengthen the back pattern piece so that the hem will be around your hip. This will help ensure that the shirt won't become too short the last month or so.

- Here is the real alteration. Basically all you need to do is grade the pattern wider starting just under the bust and getting to the widest point at the waist. You will add approximately 1 1/2" - 2" of width at the side seam. The curve will be pretty sharp because there are only about 3-5" from below the bust to the waist.

- Then you will want to add enough length so that the front piece is 4" longer than the back piece. So if you added 2" to the back piece, you will need to add 6" to the front piece. If you didn't add any length to the back piece then you will just need to add 4" to the front piece. This is so you can have 4 half inch gathers on the side.


- Sew the shirt following the normal instructions or however you wish to sew it. When you go to sew the side seams you will need to place the gathers. I mark the fabric 3" from the below the bust mark and fold the fabric up at that point 1/2" then fold the fabric back down and pin it. Then I mark 2" below the top of the first gather and fold the fabric up 1/2" and then back down. I do this for four1 gathers. I do both sides and then baste the gather's with my sewing machine, before I serge the side seams. This should leave you with 1 1/2" between the tops of the gathers.


If you use this technique please leave a comment and hopefully a link to a picture. :)  Thanks!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Precocious Puzzling Birthday Girl

Selena's second birthday was a couple days ago. It doesn't seem like it has already been two years. I had a midwife appointment at the birth center where she was born on her birth day. It was kind of fun being there exactly two years later and remembering the excitement of that day.

Selena is doing great. She is a great kid and is so fun to be around. I am really starting to like this age. The stuff she comes up with is just so dang cute.

Puzzles are definitely the in thing right now. A few months ago it was drawing, but now it is "more puzzles" and "I do puzzles all day long." We can easily spend 1-2 hours doing puzzles (and sometimes do) and because she has spent so much time doing them she is getting super good at them. The hard puzzles that a month ago she liked watching me do she can now do by herself, or with just the bare minimum of help. I'm wondering if it is genetic because apparently Floyd was also a precocious puzzler. His mom wrote in his baby book. "He can do puzzles for 4 year olds at 2 years old". I teased her about that, but what do you know, so can Selena. :)

Of course books are still cool as well and I ended up getting Selena her own library
card so now we can check out a 100 books at a time though we still tend to stay around 50. Right now she really likes the early reader books. Which is kind of funny because the stories are pretty boring, but she seems enjoys them. Her favorites right now are Word Bird and Spot books. The Spot books have the peekaboo flaps which apparently are still enjoyable. Peekaboo books were the first books she really would pay attention to.

She has also started talking in the first person. For instance "I need a yellow bus story now!" Kind of demanding, but I guess that's a two year old thing. It is also very sweet because she will say "I love mama so much." She loves other people and things too, but my favorite is when she says she loves me.

The birthday girl making brownies.

The puzzler.