Sunday, November 28, 2010

Heidi & Finn Urban Unisex Hoodie

One of my online friends made some sweatshirts for her children from the Heidi & Finn Urban Unisex Hoodie pattern and they were so cute I wanted to make some too!   I saw a link on another blog that there was a buy two get one free sale so I bought this pattern plus the Girly Cardigan, and the Chic Everyday Coat patterns, which I haven't tried yet.

This pattern was great.  This was my first time making clothes from an independent pattern maker and I am really impressed.  I have had not too great results using Simplicity, Kwik Sew, McCalls, etc. The directions given aren't always the best way to assemble the garment, and the patterns tend to be ill fitting. But this pattern the fit was perfect.  The sizing was perfect. The instructions are clear and include color photos.  It goes together fairly quickly (considering it is completely lined) and the sewing is fairly simple.  The pattern comes in a pdf file so you have to print it out and assemble it, so the downside is it takes a bit longer, but the upside is quick "shipping" (it took one day for her to email the pattern to me).  The sweatshirt is completely lined so it is warm, and no seams are showing, so the finish is professional looking even if you don't have a serger.

I've made three of these sweatshirts so far.  The first I made was actually Selena's Halloween costume.  I made it with a weird poly minky type fabric for the shell and a dark green non-stretchy cotton knit inner.  I added blue spikes and a tail.  The second I made of some nice 100 Polartec fleece on the inside, and a cheap waffle knit print on the outside.  The third I made from some 200 weight Polartec Fleece on the outside and a gray Joann's cotton knit on the inside.  (I am on a mission to use significant amounts of fabric from my stash.)  I used poly-resin snaps instead of buttons.  The instructions give two options for the sleeve cuffs.  I chose the simpler method of not adding a cuff because sewing cuffs on really tiny sleeves is hard.  My only tips that were not included in the instructions are to machine baste the hood onto the outer shell, and to machine the bottom trim together before attaching to the main body.  In both cases there are lots of layers and it made my life a bit easier.  Also the pattern is not reversible.  I initially thought it was.  When I realized it wasn't I thought I could make it reversible by using the snaps, but you can't.  The overlapping front makes it not work.

Selena loves the sweatshirts and only tells me how snuggly warm they are.  She also brags to people and tells them that I made it for her. 

 If you are wondering, Selena chose to wear shorts with leg warmers that day. :) 

** This recommendation is purely my own opinion.  I  paid for the pattern and am not receiving any compensation for this review.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Christmas Present Recommendations for Young Children

Obviously Christmas is around the corner.  It seems like people are starting a bit earlier this year since we've been listening to Christmas music on the radio since mid November.  I figured I'd post the toys and books that have been a hit in our house and maybe I'll earn a bit of Amazon Affiliate money if someone buys them. ;)  Selena is not a toy person, nor has ever been, so when I find something she likes I feel like I hit the jackpot.

I got Selena one of these when she was about 15 months old.  She has since gotten two more.  She still plays with them often and creates all sorts of amazing drawings.  When she was young she would have me draw our family over, and over, and over for her.  Allie now has us draw Dyna, over and over and over.  It's great that it leaves no mess and no waste.  You can find these at any store (Target, Walmart, Toys R Us, etc).

These blocks are so much fun.  You can make some amazing things with these blocks.  Watch this video to see some of the cool stuff possible.  Selena, Allie and their friends who have come over all enjoy playing with these.  These are nice because the creativity of the children is not limited.  You can use the blocks to build roads, train tracks, a xylophone, doll furniture, as well as buildings, towers, etc.  You can also buy the brands Kapla and Keva, but they are a bit more expensive and from what I've seen the quality of Citiblocs are just as good, maybe even better.  The 200 piece set seems a good amount.  As the kids get older I think I will buy more, or I might just buy more for myself.  You could probably find these at a specialty toy store, but buying from Amazon is probably the best bet.
This is the basic doll Fisher Price sells.  The doll has a hard head, arms, and legs, but a soft body.  I'm not sure why, but both of my children prefer this doll to all others.  Selena carried "Baby doll" around a lot when she was one, and when Allie turned one she started stealing Selena's, so we got her one too.  Now Selena lets her take care of her baby doll as well so Allie gathers all the dolls and takes care of them.  I made quite a bit of clothes for them, and maybe someday I'll post the patterns.  Selena also frequently gave Baby Doll baths, she got kind of stinky from being wet all the time, but if I soaped her up good and wrapped her in a towel for a day, then she seemed fine.  You can get this doll at any big box store and it probably will be cheaper.  It was $10 at Toys R Us when we bought one for Allie.

I've decided that this is the best children's book.  Unfortunately it is not considered one of Audrey Wood's most famous books and thus I have never found it in a brick and mortar book store, but you can find it in the library and at Amazon.  Both my children walked around singing the rhyming verse from this book for weeks.  It is a current favorite of Allie's and every time she seems the book she says, "Sally, Sally."  The pictures are cute and both Selena and Allie love to point out Neddy Buttercup, the sheep, the dog, and the loon all hiding in the background, waiting for their entrance into the story.  I have bought this book as a gift many times and frequently the parents will tell me that it has become a favorite of their child's.

If you are looking for other great children's books any books by Eric HillAlexandra Day, Sarah Garland, Jan Ormerod, Mo Willems or Robert Munsch will probably be a hit.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Can We Build It?

Yes we can!  Selena is really into Bob the Builder right now.  Unfortunately we do not get the channel Sprout, so the way she gets to watch it is through Netflix streaming, and unfortunately the videos are all 45 minutes - 2 hrs long, so I have to be diligent and turn it off before she sits in front of the TV, and I sit in front of the computer too long.  So of course she wants to build, and blocks just aren't going to cut it.  I had bought some fence posts at the end of the summer to build a raised garden bed.  (I was inspired by, if you haven't looked at her blog you should.  Of course because I have an aversion to following directions, a lack of an electric saw, and a sloped yard, so we built ours completely different than hers)  I told Selena that we could go and build a raised garden in the garage.  So we got out our goggles, and our drill, and our handsaw and started building.  We would just build a bit each day.  Do some sawing one day and some screwing another day until we finished.  Selena sawed some of the boards almost completely by herself and screwed in lots of the screws all by herself (I drilled the holes for them).  So we built one and now we have at least 5 more to go.  It is a bit tedious, and on one hand I want to get an electric saw so it would go faster, but on the other hand Selena can't use an electric saw and she really enjoys sawing.  Hopefully we'll finish by the spring.

Selena has also completely mastered the computer.  She knows how to open up the websites she likes.  Her papa introduced her to Jigzone, so she's been doing puzzles there.  She figured out how to search all the pictures, how to change the cut and number of pieces on the puzzles, how to have it auto solve.  She knows how to close windows by finding the X in the upper corner.  She has figured out how to do most of these things on her own.

It is also evident from her computer skills that she has some word recognition/reading ability since she is able to navigate the jigzone page and click on the specific links she wants.  Also a popup came up asking me Yes or No, and I wasn't paying attention and she says, "Mom you have to click yes or no."   She also was pointing out every time the word Fox came on the TV while we were watching football.

She really enjoys riding the bus (except for the one day when we ended up riding the bus for about 2 hours).  The bus stop is about a 1/4 mile away and it takes us straight to the shopping center and library, which are about 10 minutes away.  It is a bit stressful for me to take two kids on the bus what with manipulating the stroller and 15 lbs of library books, but we manage.  One day we went to the library and did a bit of grocery shopping so I wanted to call Floyd and have him pick us up, but Selena really wanted to take the bus home.  It was still 40 minutes from coming though, so we watched the crows fly to their crow convention (they do this every evening around dusk) and tried to count them, but there are thousands so it was hard.  Then it started getting dark, and then it started raining (so we huddled under a tree), and then the bus was late.  But eventually we made it home and Selena still likes riding the bus.  One sunny day she said, "It is a nice day to ride the bus.  We just passed a beautiful farm.  Farms always look beautiful on sunny days."

Halloween was fun.  Selena was a monster/dragon/dinosaur, depending on the mood.  I made her costume and she liked it.  Especially the tail.  Unfortunately I didn't get a very good picture of her costume.  She keeps asking when the next Halloween is.  My brother, sister-in-law and nephew came and visited.  My nephew is about 6 months old and Selena loves dancing and tickling him.  He seems to enjoy it too and it is pretty cute.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Looking at the Bright Side

So there hasn't been much good from this mess, but there has been a bit.  For instance:

-  My family has been super helpful and babysitting the girls more often.  I've gotten more kid free hours and even some kid free nights, which has been wonderful.  Floyd and I probably have gone out on more dates in the last month than we had in the last year.

- While psychologically I'm really missing ice cream, I did kind of wanted to quit eating sugar as it is pretty stressful for your body to deal with all the blood sugar swings, and it is damaging to your immune system.  Well whether I wanted to or not I've pretty much quit sugar.  I had considerably reduced the amount I ate, but now I'm pretty much not eating any sweeteners (I do eat a lot of fruit though).  Some days I might have a bite or two of a cookie or ice cream, but any more than that makes me feel horrible.

- I have learned to ride the bus.  However I must say trying to take two small children on public transportation is not that easy.

- I've been walking more places.  While I try to walk instead of drive anyways, now I've been forced to.

- Though weaning was sad, it has allowed Allie to spend the night at her Nana's without me feeling like I am going to explode from milk overload.

- I got really cool pictures of my brain.  Kind of gross but cool at the same time.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Make Your Own Tortillas Without a Tortillas Press

The ingredient list on most tortillas isn't pretty and I've been on a quest to remove processed foods from my diets.  I read quite a few books that pointed out the health benefits of nixtamalization and how the discovery of nixtamalization coincided with the rise of the Mayan and Aztec civilizations and I put it on my list of things I should try, but from what I read it didn't seem like a very simple process.  Then I discovered I could buy corn flour that was already nixtamalized.  Perfect!  Granted the likelihood is that the corn used is GMO corn-- you can never win. :(  

Anyway I bought a bag of Maseca, which you probably can find at most Mexican grocers, but I was lucky to find it at Central Market, the fancy shmancy grocery store that not only is wonderful, but is close to my home.  Once you have nixtamalized corn flour making tortillas becomes as simple as adding salt and water to create a dough.  Rolling out the tortillas and frying it in a pan with butter, like a pancake.  It took a bit of practice in getting them rolled out correctly and onto the frying pan without breaking, but once I did they take a couple minutes per tortillas and they taste delicious!  

Recipe - (Makes 4 taco sized tortillas)
1 cup Maseca
2/3 cup of water
1/2tsp - 1 tsp of salt (depending on preference)
1-2 tbsp of butter (depending on preference)

  • Mix Maseca, salt and water into a dough ball
  • Split dough into 4 balls
  • Roll dough between two pieces of wax paper, or silicone baking sheet, or silicone baking sheet and waxed paper (If I was cool I would have a tortilla press and then it would make the tortillas the perfect shape, but I don't and it is kind of cool to have the organically formed shape)
  • Warm skillet to med heat
  • Put butter on skillet
  • Use spatula to move dough to skillet
  • Wait until golden (about 1 min)
  • Flip like a pancake
  • Wait until golden
  • Fill with yummy stuff and eat

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Update on My Seizure Ordeal

It has been almost two months since I had my seizure incident.  It has been a hard time for me, but the last week couple weeks have provided me with more optimism.

I was struggling with medications.  I do not like medications.  I only use them when I am in dire need.  I would rather suffer with a headache then take some Tylenol.  Maybe some of my aversion to medications comes from the fact that I am very sensitive to them.  I started off taking the generic for Tegretol as that was deemed safe for nursing.  I took it for a week, but I don't have any memories from that week.  I was very lethargic and felt like I was walking through Jello.  I obviously couldn't function in that state so I had the doctor prescribe me something else.  Because of this decision I had to wean Allie.  That was really hard and depressing for me.

The next medication I was given was the generic for Keppra.  As soon as I started taking Keppra I felt much better in that I came out of the haze of lethargy, but I entered the realm of anxiety, depression, a constant feeling like my blood sugar was low, weak muscles, an aversion to sugar, and panic attacks.  The panic attacks were the most debilitating.  I would be sleeping when all of a sudden I would wake up with a racing heart, completely jittery, uncoordinated and positive I was about to have a seizure.  I felt if I could just keep moving and not sleep I could avoid it.  I also had to pee every five minutes and also was having frequent bowel movements.  It would take me a couple hours before I calmed down and was somewhat able to go back to sleep.  I tried to push through for about a week and see if my body got used to the medication, but the lack of sleep was making me feel really horrible and made me even more prone to anxiety and poor sleep.

At my next neurology appointment I asked to be put on a different drug.  I did not feel like the doctor was listening to me.  She rushed me through my appointment, didn't answer my questions well, got uncomfortable when I cried, and didn't seem to care about my side-effects, and also insinuated that the side-effects were psychological and not because of the medication.   She said my EEG was normal, as well as my MRI.  I told her that I only wanted to be medicated at night because I felt I was only at risk for seizures while sleeping since both of my incidents first occurred at night.  She gave me the impression that she might recommend being medicated for the rest of my life.  She gave me a new prescription for Zonisimide which I would only take once, right before bed.  I'm pretty sure she told me she wanted to start me at 25mg, but the prescription ended up being for 50mg capsules.

I took the Zonsimide capsule right before bed and woke up at 5am having another panic attack, by this time I had somewhat gotten used to Keppra and hadn't had one for a week.  I was also throwing up and having tons of bowel movements.    I was a complete mess the next day.  Crying, distraught, super jittery.  I also experienced my only panic attack during the day.  We spent the night at my parents, but I was absolutely terrified of falling asleep.  I look on the internet and find that Zonisimide has a half life of 2-3 days, so this was not a medicine designed for just medicating me while I was sleeping.  I called the doctor and the nurse was unhelpful besides telling me not to take it again, but to stay on Keppra.

I went to see a family doctor to get someone to listen to me, and she was wonderful and caring, but really couldn't do much as treatment goes.  But she listened to my theories about my blood sugar being low.  She recommended getting a glucometer and testing my blood sugar.  My tests show that despite feeling like my blood sugar is super low, it was normal.  I did discover that if I ate every 2 hours I felt ok, so I guess I could handle the medicine better on a full stomach.   I also discovered that if I woke up and ate an apple in the middle of the night I slept a bit better.   I continued taking Keppra and was too scared to try anything new.  It took about a week before I felt like the Zonisimide was out of my system.  But then I had two panic attacks in one night, and another one a couple days later. I was constantly feeling fearful.  I had waves of depression.  I felt like I couldn't make it.  Make it to what I'm not sure, but my quality of life was very low.  Outwardly I think I was still ok.  I snapped and yelled at the girls often, and cried frequently, but I didn't look as completely out-of-control as I felt.  I had lost nursing Allie.  I lost feeling happy and energetic.  I lost the ability to drive.  I lost the ability to run (too dizzy and weak). I lost the great running shape I was in (the best I had been in since having kids).  I lost the ability to sleep.  I lost my patience with my children.  I lost the ability to eat ice cream.  I didn't want to be left alone with the kids at night because I was scared, which meant I either had to spend the night at my parents when Floyd went to play poker or I had to ask Floyd to stay home.  Usually I am a person who researches everything, but every time I started researching epilepsy I got freaked out.  I was scared all the time. It sucked.

So I called the neurologist and had her refer me to the Swedish Epilepsy center in Seattle.  They couldn't get me in for 2 1/2 weeks, but I wasn't sure if I could last that long.  I called repeatedly and finally got an earlier appointment.  The doctor was fabulous.  The appointment was over an hour long.  He went over every detail.   He explained stuff to me.  He didn't get uncomfortable when I cried.  He gave me a hug when I left.  He wasn't opposed to me not being medicated.  He was interested in my sleep problems.  I have always had weird sleep walking/hallucination episodes and apparently these may have been small seizures all along.  Alternatively the major seizures I had could have actually been weird a sleep disorder and not epileptic seizures (although this isn't really likely).  Or the sleep disorder is totally separate from the seizures, but these are things we are going to investigate.

He gave me a prescription for Klonopin to take while I wean off Keppra and onto Lyrica.  Klonopin has been wonderful.  All the anxiety, depression, fear has disappeared.  I have never slept so well.  The sleep hallucinations have gone too.  Even the feelings of low blood sugar have diminished though I still can't eat sugar.  I'm not sure if its because of the medications, or because it had been over a month since I had any.  I have been able to run a little bit.  So hopefully once I get on the new medication and discontinue the Klonopin I will continue to be good.

I have a sleep EEG scheduled in a few weeks and another appointment with the neurologist.  I just can't say how comforting it is to have a doctor who listens and cares.  After having my midwife with Allie I realized the level of care that is possible to receive, and I am no longer willing to receive substandard care--it just costs way too much money and I deserve better.

So we'll see where I go from here, but at the moment I feel pretty good.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Refusing to Wear a Diaper

Allie is 17 months old and refusing to wear a diaper.  After cleaning up Selena's accidents for a year I decided that I was not going to do any potty training with Allie till she was absolutely ready and was refusing to wear a diaper.  I did not expect that to happen at 16-17 months.  I was assuming 2.5-3.5 years old.  She has been asking to sit on the potty for a while now, but she would just sit on it, use some toilet paper and that was about it.  If I noticed she was pooping in her diaper I would say, "Are you pooping?" just to let her know what she was doing was called.  Well one day she was sitting on the potty and she peed.  I smiled and said, "You peed on the potty."  When she was done I said, "If you pee and poop on the potty all the time you can wear undies."  She said, "Cool!"  After that she started telling me, "Potty, potty, poop, pee" and I would take her to the bathroom and she would go.  I didn't make too big a deal about it (some stuff I've read said that overly enthusiastic reactions to common activities can make a child lose interest and from my experience it does seem to be true). I just stated with a smile, "You went poop on the potty."  However I did brag about it to Floyd and family with her in ear shot.  Then she started taking off her diaper and throwing a fit if I tried to put one on her.  Now she runs around naked.  She has been telling me when she needs to go, or going at the same time as me or Selena, but has had quite a few accidents as well.  If she is excessively reminded she seems to have more accidents.  She really seems to hate cloth diapers. :(  But likes the 1-2-tree (the decorations on the diaper) Seventh Generation training pants I got for Selena at night time, so she has been wearing those out and at night and then I've been making her wear cloth during nap and she's been running around naked at home.  I'm kind of at a loss where to go from here.

She is talking a bunch mostly about all the things she wants.  "I want mama, I want Seenuh, I want dyna, I want daddy, I want cup, I want water, etc).  She loves going through books and pointing at all the pictures and naming what they are.  She can give you a real adamant "NO" too, when you ask her to do something she doesn't want to.

She is definitely in a messy stage.  She enjoys pulling every single book off the shelf and piling them up in various locations.  She enjoys pulling all the blocks out and dumping them all over the floor.  Taking all the puzzle pieces out of all the puzzles and leaving them there.  I love this age, but I am excited for this phase to be over.

Since she weaned we have lost the easy nursing to sleep option so I've reintroduced back to the wonderful SSC (for a while she stopped liking it because I kind of used it as a way of confining her so I hadn't been using it a whole lot).  I cozy her up in it and walk around the house for a few minutes and she's out.  For naps I like using the stroller.  I bundle her up, put on my boots, and take a quick stroll on the nature trails around our house.  I get some fresh air and it seems to be the easiest way to get her to sleep.

Halloween was fun.  I was pretty sure she would like it.  At first she was a little unsure what was going on, but after going to a handful of houses she learned to say trick or treat and grab as much candy as she could.  She wore the monster costume Selena wore when she was one, and Selena was a monster too.  They were pretty cute.

She's into baby dolls right now and she collects all the babies in the house and puts them in the stroller and pushes them around.  She likes to have Floyd or I dress and undress them repeatedly.  She also argues with Selena over the TV.  She wants to watch Super Why while Selena wants Bob the Builder.  Since her attention span is only about 1 minute Selena usually wins.  She also asks for "Dyna" on the computer.  Which means she wants to play the Word World games on the PBS website.