Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Maggie has been scooting around and doing a little "army crawl" for about a month now. She also got up on hands and knees to rock back and forth.  But until last night, she hadn't put two and two together.

Yesterday, I had a furlough day at work, so Maggie and I visited a friend in Tracy (hi Kelly!). Miss Margaret seemed a bit fussy, like she wanted something, but we couldn't figure out what it was.

Then, last night, she suddenly gets up on her hands and knees and cross-crawls! Like she's been doing it all her life!

She is so pleased with herself!

And Steve and I are looking around at our totally not babyproofed house ...

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Greetings from Joe.

So, first of all, who let me cut Joe's hair? That was a really bad idea.

Joe wanted to show y'all his wooden snake thingy.

Joe being a goof.

It can flex to many different shapes!

Joe being a goof.

It can also rest on Joe's face!

Joe being a goof.

And Joe can stick out his tongue!!

Joe being a goof.

We got a little foam pad to put down on the hardwood while Maggie is learning to crawl. (It's also great for doing crunches on, not that I know anything about that.) One of Joe's and my favorite games on a weekend day (during Maggie's nap) is to pull out my button stash and sort it by color. We call this "rainbow buttons," of course!

Rainbow buttons - a game we play with my button stash.

I have a lot of red buttons, apparently. And a shortage of orange and purple buttons. Good to know.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


It's true: We give Maggie solids primarily so that we can enjoy the funny expressions she makes.
It never gets old!

Ah. The simple pleasures.

(She actually liked the broccoli pretty well as these things go. You should see her face when she doesn't like something.)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Ice Cream Top for Maggie.

Whoa. A giant meteor exploded over Russia! That's not something you hear about every day!

How is the new job going, you ask? Well, I'm currently negotiating an agreement that has an initial term of fifty years. If it's not perfect, I'm going to hear about it - repeatedly, for the next thirty years or more. But you know, no pressure or anything!

Oh right, I made an Ice Cream top for Maggie!

Ice Cream Top, showing lining.

It has been a while since I sewed up this pattern. It's so easy and cute! I was inspired by the many adorable solid-color versions of the dress I've been seeing on Flickr and in the blog world, and decided to make a simple chambray version that would go with everything. The chambray was a little heavy, so I lined the yoke in a striped shirting fabric to reduce bulk and used a little bit of ribbon for the button loop instead of self-fabric.

Ice Cream Top, back.

I decided it needed a little pop of color, so I used a yellow button.

Chambray Ice Cream top, back.

It is too chilly to wear it by itself, but it looks so cute over a long sleeved top!

Chambray Ice Cream Top, smile.

Maggie is sitting up really well these days, but when she's sitting on the hardwood floor, I try to put cushions and blankets around her in case she topples over. While I was sewing this dress, she was sitting surrounded by cushions and blankets, but managed to fall over in the one direction I hadn't padded, and split her lip on her little tooth! Ouch! I briefly considered just not letting her sit up anymore (I figured when the pediatrician asked about it, I would just say, "Oh, no, she's not allowed to sit up.") But on further reflection, I just decided to put even more cushioning around her when she sits! And I stay close, hoping to anticipate the topple. (We don't have any rugs in our house. It's just easier with the dogs.)

Lots of cushions for safety!

This is the face that Maggie makes when she's done with this activity and she's ready for the next fun thing. I'm reminded of my mother, who always used to tell us kids: "I'm not your entertainment committee!" This baby girl gets bored easily. She does not want to sit in my lap while I, say, write a blog post. Well, not if I'm not going to let her type on the keyboard or knock over my coffee, anyway. No way. She wants to be carried around and shown new things. Is that too much to ask?

But even her demanding face is so cute, am I right?


Sunday, February 10, 2013

I did it! The Tiramisu Dress.

Well, I did it! I finished The Perfect Nursing Dress, aka the Tiramisu Dress, yesterday!

Tiramisu Dress

And it turned out pretty great, if I may say so!

As you've probably heard if you are a follower of sewing blogs like I am, the Tiramisu Dress does not have conventional sizes. Instead, you choose your size based on your high bust measurement, cup size, and waist measurement. And the size range is wide - the pattern accommodates high bust measurements of 30" to 50" and going up to a D cup. This is genius. I don't think I'm alone in saying that I don't enjoy conventional sizes, which seem really arbitrary and, especially when one's size is fluctuating after having a baby, often a bit depressing. It is so liberating to cut out a pattern size based on measurements without a ton of societal baggage and body-image crap associated with it. Love. It.

So I measured myself and cut the dress out in my size, which was a 35D. As recommended, I put the bodice together first and tried it on.

One problem with knit patterns, I'm learning, is that knit fabrics vary so much in their drape, weight, and stretchiness. This rayon knit is lovely and drapey. It's also heavy and really stretchy.

I am also petite. Not in the "tiny all over" sense but in the "somewhat short of torso" sense.
At this point, I tried to fool myself into thinking the bodice fit pretty well, even though, in hindsight, I can see that the bust is a bit too low. But any self-delusion had to come to an end when I sewed on the skirt and tried it on again. The weight of the skirt pulled the bust down even further, with a most unflattering (droopy boobs, anyone?) effect. Clearly, I needed a shorter bodice piece, and a narrower waistband.

The problem was, the obvious place to take out torso length was the shoulders, which I had reinforced with interfacing, sewn, serged, and topstitched, with neck and arm bindings serged on as well. No way I was going to be able to unpick that!

I put it aside for a few days. Sometimes when I hit a sewing snag (hehe), it helps to take a break to brainstorm for a day or two.

Yesterday I got brave, and just hacked the bodice off of the waistband.  Then I used the pattern piece to recut the bust gather line. Then I sewed the pieces back together with regular seam allowances. This is called "totally flying by the seat of your pants" and it is not a precise way to alter a pattern. I would guess that I removed about an inch and a quarter from the bodice length? (ETA: It turns out that what I did was what the pattern designer refers to as an "underbust tune up" and is actually a recommended and fully sanctioned procedure, rather than me being wild and crazy, as I had previously thought. And I thought I was so edgy! Haha!)

Then I shortened the back torso in the same haphazard, nonprecise way. But you gotta love knits. They are so forgiving!

I did up the side seams and practically held my breath ... success! The bodice shortening worked great! All of the bust gathers are in the right place now and the waistband is just the right length for my frame. (I did end up taking it in on the sides a little bit - as the patterns instructions mention, this is drafted as a relatively loose fitting dress, and my fabric is extra stretchy to boot, so I took an inch or so off the waist.)

I thought I might have to shorten the length of the dress a bit, but with the changes I made to the upper part of the dress, the length is pretty perfect. Since this is such a drapey jersey, I just left the hem raw, and it looks great.

Tiramisu Dress

I love this dress. I am so happy with how it turned out. It is soft and super comfortable. The neckline is flattering but not too low-cut. The half-circle skirt is so soft and swishy. I feel reasonably polished and put-together in it, but it is still great for nursing and totally machine washable. And it has pockets!

Next time I make this dress (and I think there will be a next time) in a super stretchy knit, I will probably cut a smaller cup size, knowing that it will stretch to accommodate my shape. In a less stretchy knit, I actually think the 35D would be the perfect size. I will definitely shorten the waistband regardless so that it hits me in the right place.

This was also my first major project with my serger, and I used it throughout. Since this was my first time making the dress, I was afraid of cutting off my seam allowances, so I did most of the seams on my sewing machine and used the serger to finish the edges. I sewed the bindings on directly with the serger though - what a breeze! (Until you're considering ripping out the seams - then it's not a breeze anymore.)

Maggie tested out its nurse-ability yesterday, and found the dress to be satisfactory, but the sound of the Photobooth program on my computer to be SUPER ANNOYING. This is her "what the heck is that sound?" face. And that's my "I'm about to crack up at my baby's annoyed face" face.

It really is the Perfect Nursing Dress, people! (And I'm thinking it's pretty great even if you're not currently nursing.)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Seven months!

Right on time this month: Maggie Joy is seven months old today!

Seven months!

Baby girl is growing right off of her quilt!

Seven months!

Sweet, toothy, rashy-faced (teething! more teeth! she's up to six now) little girl.

Maggie is a very busy girl these days. She loves to people-watch, dog-watch, and everything-watch. She's super distractible, and nursing her is practically a contact sport now. Gone are the days when I could put her down to sleep in the living room while we watched television or played a game of Catan. Now that's way too exciting. Maggie just doesn't want to miss anything!

But Maggie's latest really big thing is ...  mobility! She's army-crawling around now, and spends time every day working on her core strength - doing push-ups, getting on all fours, rocking back and forth, and practicing her yoga ("plank pose"). I'm guessing it's only a matter of weeks before she's crawling all over the place. Watch out world! Here comes Maggie! (More to the point, watch out Joe!)

Seven months!

Seven months!

Seven months!

Seven months!

Now she can sit up (mostly) unassisted, but who cares about sitting when you could be moving?

She can also eat more foods now, but she's mostly pretty "meh" about solids. She desperately wants to try everything we are eating, but when she actually tastes it, she's like: How can you guys eat this vile stuff? WTF.

What are those pants, you ask?

Seven months!

Big Butt Baby Pants, of course! In baby wale green cord with a psychadelic canvas bottom.

Seven months!

How many of these pants have I made? For some reason, this pair gave me so much trouble. There are a bunch of hopefully not-too-noticeable puckers in the crotch of these pants. I redid that area like three times but the problem only seemed to get worse. So they are "Big Pucker Butt Baby Pants." Well, luckily, with such a fetching model, who would ever notice a few puckers, right?

Seven months!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Signs of readiness.

Remember how I said we were encouraging Joe to potty train last May? 


Yeah, that went nowhere.

We have been encouraging Joe to wear undies or try sitting on the potty since he started talking (which was admittedly a bit late), so well over a year now. But most of the time, he adamantly refused to do either. And I don't know about other three-year-olds, but mine is amazingly stubborn. And emphatic. The conversation would go like this:

Me: "Joe, would you like to wear big boy undies? Look, these ones have Thomas on them! Yay!"
Joe: "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! NO UNDIES! I DON'T LIKE UNDIES!" (Dissolves into incoherent shrieking.)
Me: Sigh.

Other conversations went like this:

Me: "Joe, would you like to sit on the potty?
Joe: Incoherent shrieking.

This might have been sort of okay, except that Joe also resisted diaper changes with similar vehemence.  It has been a long year.

I'm not going to try to pretend that Steve and I were just totally cool with this. That we were just going with the flow, "trusting" that he would one day be ready, and letting him do this on his own time. That just wouldn't be true. The truth is that we have been pretty frustrated with Joe's resistance to the potty. Over the past year, we have tried: talking to Joe about it, reward systems, bribing, guilt-tripping, telling him that only babies use diapers and big boys use the potty, telling him that we were running out of diapers (he went into the back room and found some extras we had forgotten about), exposing him to other kids who use the potty, and just plain old begging. I'm ashamed to admit that in our frustration, we have occasionally gotten a little angry with him for his refusal to even try. I mean, you try changing a shrieking, kicking, violent three-year-old with a poopy diaper and see whether you can keep your cool. You held it together? Good for you. Okay, now do that for a whole year.

But it probably won't shock other parents of stubborn three-year-olds to hear that none of these tactics worked. Rewards and bribes? This kid is "untouchable, like Eliot Ness." Shaming? He's completely impervious. Anger? It turns out that incoherent shrieking wins all arguments.

(Thank goodness Joe's awesome preschool was 100% okay with Joe wearing a diaper to school. We love Joe's school so much.)

So we tried everything. And nothing worked. So we pretty much gave up and resigned ourselves to having to force-change Joe's diapers forever. I joked that when Joe turns 18, he would have to change his own damn diapers.

Joe hit three and a half years.

Suddenly, there were small indications of change. Measurable only with very sensitive instruments.

A couple months ago, Joe was upstairs, stalling bedtime, and asked for undies. Um, okay ... ? So we put him in undies, and prepared to wake up to a mess. But it didn't happen. He woke up dry. And then requested a diaper in the morning, which he proceeded to do his morning business into.

This became a pattern. We were baffled. What kid night trains before they day train? Our kid, apparently. But hey, undies! Without incoherent shrieking! And he was keeping them dry!

Then Joe tried the potty, once or twice. Successfully!

I calculated that at this rate, Joe would be potty trained in approximately forty million years.

He put a few stickers on his "potty chart." (This is the only reward system I retained. Potty attempts, successes, or good faith efforts  - as defined by me - get a sticker. Joe puts the sticker on his "chart" - see below. When the paper is full - as defined by me - Joe gets a toy. This is a highly formal system.)

But he still preferred diapers 98% of the time.

Nonetheless, after a couple of months, his chart filled up! We went to the toy store. Joe got a bag of marbles for his marble run and a little car.

The fire hydrant and fireman are my favorites.

The gears really started turning then. Potty equals sticker. Stickers equal toy!

He thought about this for a while.

Then last week, Steve and I were making dinner when Joe wandered into the bathroom, asked for help with the potty seat, closed the door, pulled down his drawers (we were peeking), and did his business, to the great astonishment of his parents. Then came into the kitchen and said, ever so casually, "I peed on the potty. I get two stickers."

You could have knocked us down with a feather. Our mouths were hanging open. I fell all over myself getting the kid his stickers.

And here's the really crazy part. Since that day last week, Joe has been pretty much dry. He just goes into the bathroom and does his thing like he's been doing this all his life. He has filled up a second chart in just a few days. I owe this kid a toy! I'm going to have to make some bigger charts ...

And so, at just a few months shy of four years, Joe just made up his mind to use the toilet, and he did it.

We are flabbergasted! And delighted! And cracking up about how very Joe it all is. He's still our stubborn, untouchable Joe who refuses to do anything unless he wants to do it. At that point, if he can fleece us for some toys, great. But he makes it so very clear that it will be on his own terms, not because we asked him to.

This child! He is so much his own person. Different than me. Different than his dad. So very self-possessed and determined. Patient. Impervious to parental or peer pressures. So very Joe.

All of my friends, who have been saying, "He'll do it when he's ready," for the past year, are now saying, "Oh ye of little faith! I told you so!"

I like being right about as much as the next person. And I generally don't love to be wrong. But I'm so, so tickled to be able to say, "Yes, you did! You were right."