Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Christmas Surprise!

As you may have already read, my husband and I have been discussing whether or not to find out the sex of our new baby. Well... our ultrasound was last week and since it was so close to Christmas, we decided to have the ultrasound technician put the gender - along with a photo - in an envelope to be opened Christmas morning!

It was a wonderful surprise! We're having a BOY, and couldn't be more thrilled!!

I hope you all had a blessed and exciting day as well! Merry Christmas and wishes for peace, love, and joy from my family to yours!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Toddler Activities: 16 Months Old

One of the challenges of being a stay at home mom is finding activities for your little one to keep them entertained throughout the day. These are a few of our current favorite activities:

Stair Climber: Whether you have stairs in your own home or not, it is important to teach your child stair safety! Whenever you have the opportunity, spend time going up and down stairs with your toddler. Stay near your toddler or hold their hand. Stair climbing is also a great time to practice counting!

Hat Dress Up: Emma is still a little too young to really enjoy playing dress-up (although she does like to wear a pink tutu over her clothes) but every once in a while, we like to play dress-up with hats. I gather up a few of Derek's baseball caps, my big floppy sun hat, an old Halloween pirate hat, and a couple of thick winter stocking caps, and let Emma try each on. Emma gets a good look in the mirror as I describe the hat or cap.

Color Scavenger Hunt: Emma has been working on learning colors. One great activity to explore colors is a scavenger hunt! We simply take our laundry basket from room to room in the house and collect items of a certain color. This past week, we found a jumble of BLUE items, including the laundry basket!

And, of course...

Read: Reading is one of the best activities you can do with your child at any age!

A few of Emma's current favorites are:
My 3 good things for today are:
  1. All of the Christmas shopping is done!
  2. Presents are wrapped and under the tree!
  3. Even if I forgot something, I have a good excuse. (I have baby brain!) 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Homemade Christmas

Since we are preparing for our upcoming arrival in the spring, my little family has been doing our best to stick to a budget this Christmas. But sticking to a budget doesn't necessarily mean skimping. To me, it means getting creative and crafty! 

I also subscribe to the Four Gift Rule for children (with a little rule stretching). Emma's gifts this year include:
  1. Something she wants. (A nice little tea set, which was a Black Friday bargain, and also a Mrs. Potato Head from a garage sale which I snagged for a dollar - more on Ms. Head later.)
  2. Something she needs. (New bath soap and lotion, along with a couple new tub toys.)
  3. Something to wear. (Emma's closet is more packed than mine, so she doesn't need a new outfit, but I made her a pair of Christmas pajamas - a tradition in my family.)
  4. Something to read. (This one we stretched a little, but she loves books and we got each of these for 50 cents each at our local library book sale.)
The other item in the picture below is a glass tree ornament that I got at a garage sale for ten cents. I filled it with some sand from our 2012 family vacation to California (Emma's first beach) and applied some vinyl stickers to commemorate the year and the place. 

As I mentioned above, I found a like-new Mrs. Potato Head at a garage sale this fall for only one dollar. While it was in great shape, all the parts came inside a plastic suitcase that, in my humble opinion, is about half the size it should be.

 I know that if the case is too small, the parts will never get put away, so I decided to make a little fabric bag, or POTATO SACK, if you will.

After using an iron-on adhesive on some brown scrap fabric, I cut the letters out on my Cricut Expression using my George and Basic Shapes cartridge. 

Then I simply cut out a potato shape, and arranged all of the letters along with the potato onto some scrap burlap that I also had on hand, and ironed everything down. I sewed a drawstring into the bag, and everything fits perfectly!

For Emma's Christmas pajamas, I found a fantastic pattern and tutorial over at Noodles and Milk. Her directions are very clear and easy to follow! The only difference I made for Emma's was to reduce the size to about 60% of the original pattern, since Emma is still wearing a 12-18 month onesie. The white onesie was from Goodwill, and the felt for the reindeer was "stolen" from my mom's stash.

The pajama pants were very easy as well. I actually used an existing pair of Emma's "lounge pants" as a pattern to cut out and sew. I had the giraffe print fabric left over from a baby blanket, so this whole outfit was basically free. One note on the pajamas - Emma will be wearing this outfit for Christmas morning, and hopefully for everyday use for a few months but these are not true infant pajamas being they are not flame retardant.

I have to confess that I was a little over-eager to finish everything and get it wrapped this week before Christmas, and I realize that I don't have good final pictures of the potato sack and Emma's ornament, and not a single picture of the tea set, so I will have to update this post after Christmas when they've been unwrapped!

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Monday, December 17, 2012

To Know or Not to Know?

That is the question. Girl or Boy — or a surprise?

We're trying to decide whether or not to find out the sex of our baby. When I was pregnant with Emma, we decided (at the last minute) that we wanted to find out, but Emma didn't cooperate! She had her legs crossed during the ultrasound, so she was a surprise until birth! We're leaning toward trying to find out again, but there are definitely benefits to both sides!

Benefits of finding out:
  • Many women say they feel a deeper bond with the baby once they know the sex and can picture a little boy or girl.
  • You can prepare an older sibling for the arrival of a new little brother or sister.
  • You can narrow down your list of baby names.
  • You can pick out a gender-specific nursery theme or baby clothes, if you want to.
Benefits of waiting:
  • You and your family will have a delightful surprise on the day you give birth.
  • Your desire to know whether your baby is a boy or a girl might motivate you during the toughest parts of labor.
  • You'll be following in the tradition of your parents, your parents' parents, and so on.
  • There will be no mistakes — what you see is what you get!

Did you find out, or did you wait? Would you do the same again?