Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Baby sleep: the new normal is that there is no normal

The most sensible thing I have read on baby sleep in, well, ever...

No point writing my own exposition on the total lies and guilt inducing idiocy that is 'expert opinion' when it comes to baby and sleep when it's already been done so well. 

"It doesn’t make sense and it gets better and then gets worse and the nights seem long and the crying oh god the crying, but the dawn always comes. The sun always rises.

And that, my friends, is the truth."

Check it out at Sweet Madeline. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

10 things… to bump up your incidental exercise!

oops, I think I just exercised. Incidentally.

Isn't that the best kind of calorie burning? When you don't even realise you're doing it?

It's like putting your hand in your pocket and finding $50.

So here's some ways to get more incidental exercise in your day:

Do a few of these and your sneaking in up to an extra 1500 calories without an exercise class in sight!

Monday, October 28, 2013

See how she grows!

It's 1 month until The Bubs' first birthday!?!?!?!

Where does the time go?

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Father's Look Away: a Gift idea that even be put together last minute

If you're a dad, stop reading. Especially if your name is Matt Costin! :)

Here's a thoughtful and even practical Father's Day gift idea that can even be whipped up last minute if you're not organised yet!

1. Super Glue: "you're the glue that sticks us together"

2. Tomato Seeds (we're planning on starting a vege patch): "Thanks for providing for me and helping me grow"

3. Daddy & Me pair of torches: "thanks for guiding our family and lighting up my life"

There are probably many other simple items and gifts you could do something similar with. Happy Father's Day-ing!!

** You could make this 'find-a-word' wrapping paper at home on your computer - or, bit late for Father's Day but good for other occasions, I can make it for you in my etsy store.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Behind-the-couch shelf

I had the idea for a shelf behind the couch when I realised our sharp cornered coffee table was a serious liability now The Bubs is getting mobile, and it's going to have to go. This way there's still somewhere to put cups of coffee.

But even if you don't have to get rid of your coffee table, this is a good idea for small space storage or just to make the most if dead space behind your couch.

Our couch has a hard back behind the cushions and its a big heavy couch and won't accidentally slide, so half the shelf rests on the couch and the other half is supported by three legs.

To make it this way, just measure the length and height of your couch.

Get 2-3 legs cut to height.
Get one plank cut to length.

(We just used ordinary plain old pine and plan to stain/varnish after.)

Screw the legs on to the back half of the plank at even intervals.
(As in the side that will sit against the wall.) Leave enough space to clear the skirting.

Stain, paint or varnish whatever colours you like and just slot your shelf in behind the couch.

Don't have this kind of couch ?

You could always use brackets to fix the shelf to the wall instead of using legs and resting it on the couch.

Or you could put legs on either side - 2-3 pairs of legs - to make it free standing. You might want to still fix it to the wall if your couch isn't heavy enough to keep it in place.

This is a pretty simple project. My husband did most of it for me, but I think I could have managed to do this myself with a bit of patience, especially getting the wood all pre cut to size at the store.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Make Your Own Font

I came across this great app the other day - make your own font!

It's super easy to use, and I found it super fun. Maybe I'm just nerdy like that, but who wouldn't want a font of their own handwriting?

It was almost $8 in the Australian iTunes App Store, but I thought it was worth it. I'm always on the look out for the perfect fonts for so many different applications, and now I can make my own when I can't find the right thing.

And I had another great idea - you could make a font out of your child's handwriting!
On the iPad screen in the app, you can have the outline of another font in the background, and then you just go through the upper and lower case alphabet, numbers and symbols and draw your font with either your finger or a stylus.

Get your child to write the letters, so while they're practising writing & tracing their letters, they can be making a font! (You can go back a redo letters so there's no pressure to get it right first time.)

How cool would that be. The Bubs is a bit young to be writing her letters yet, but I'll definitely be doing this when she is starting to write.

Meanwhile I've made a couple of fonts while I was testing it out.

Feel free to download them if you'd like :)

1. Jessie's Font  - creative name I know - I'd saved it before I knew how to name it properly!
2. Specialty Bunny - I'm a Killer Bunnies game fan.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The paradox of exercise

Went walking around the golf course with the Mr this morning. Just three holes, mind you. That's about all I can handle.

And about all the bubs could handle too. She was getting restless by then, so while Mr kept playing I walked home.

It only took 10 minutes, but the bubs screamed the whole way. So instead of going by the road, I decided to take the short cut which is straight up the slope over the empty blocks that back on to ours. We'd done it before. The difference however was, one, last time Mr was pushing the pram, and two, that was before we had so much rain and the grass was not as long...

In short, lugging the pram containing a screaming baby up the hill through shin deep grass and sour sobs was the toughest work out I've done in a looong time.

Bubs was fine as soon as I got her out of the pram. The pram stayed in our back garden while I carried her up the steps to our back verandah. And that's where I collapsed into a chair to recover enough to get up the rest of the slope to our front door, the only way I could get in.

And as I sat there dying and seething that I'd even agreed to go walking around the golf course, I decided that was tge worst thing I'd ever done and I would never do it again...

Not happy...

But then, the funny thing about exercise is, that after you recover and that feeling of intense hatred for the strenuous activity you just did and the pain you endured... Once the feeling that you're dying fades, you discover you've never felt so alive.

Those exercise endorphins work so much better than eating a piece of chocolate. (It's just not as easy as eating a piece of chocolate to get there!)

I guess that's the lesson in life, isn't it. You can take the easy way for instant gratification and short lived pleasure, but it's fleeting and too often leaves us feeling dissatisfied (like eating chocolate). Or we can push through the hard stuff, do things the long way but the right way, and gain the real rewards and lasting benefits (like climbing a hill).

And like my favourite Pinterest quite recently says, 'A baby is a reason, not an excuse.' I don't want her to have to take care of me later, because I didn't take care of me now.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

My Advice for First Time Mums

Normally I'd stay right away from advice given. You'll get more than enough of the unsolicited stuff on this voyage into motherhood.

But this advice I want to give is of a different sort than the best way to raise the baby, thoughts on feeding, sleeping, dressing, soothing... and all those other things that every man and their dog becomes and expert on when they see you're a new mum. Because, in the end, you realise all those things don't matter half as much as we thought they did.

The problem for a first time mum, of course, is that by the time you've figured out what's really important, those precious, fleeting days have passed you by already.

So here's my 2 cents worth for focusing on what really matters.

1. Do as much baby gazing as you can.

When you look back at this time, you aren't going to remember or care whether your washing was done or not. Wouldn't much rather be full of memories of that tiny little precious bundle? And it goes by so fast. 4 months in and I already could barely remember her at her newborn floppy size.

Absorb it. Imprint on your brain. Spend hours just breathing her in.

It will make all the hard stuff and sleeplessness worth it, if you just focus on absorbing the memories.

2. Don't let anyone devalue playing with your baby (not even yourself!)

If you spend the whole day just entertaining your baby and get absolutely nothing else done, well, good!

Maybe others will think you're lazy. Maybe you'll even think it of yourself from time to time.

But, for one, keeping a baby entertained all day is not as easy as it sounds.

And, two, you are doing immeasurable good for the foundations of that child's self worth, security and confidence by giving them that engagement. Will your child, when she is old and secure and happy, look back and say "Mum, why didn't you spend more time washing clothes and sweeping the floor, and less time playing with me? Why didn't you clean the house more, and have less of a relationship with me?"

I doubt it.

Don't let anyone make you feel that this is less than vital.

3. Find some switch off time

With all that baby loving, of course, there is the bare fact that it is exhausting. Being 'on call' 24/7 to that little person can take it's toll.

I was finding that even when I got a 'break' from the caring and nappy changing merry-go-round, I wasn't able to switch off because I was still being called on for advice, answers and attention; "Where are the wipes?" "Which cream should I put on?""Do you think she's tired?" and even the "Look at how cute she's being!"

If you're breast feeding, feed the little munchkin, and then palm her off to Daddy or Grandma for a few hours of switch off time, where you are not on call at all. If you have to, leave the house and switch off your phone so no-one can ask you questions. Don't feel guilty about it. They will cope for a couple of hours, and your brain will get to reset and refresh from the constant pressure of being 'on'.

4. Take videos

A lot of us are lucky enough to iPhones and all sorts with us at any given moment these days. Take videos. Photos too of course. I'm sure you're already doing a lot of that. But take as long a video as your phone's memory will allow.

You might think it's just mundane footage - and maybe others will think it is - but in a few months, years, decades time, you'll cherish these glimpses into the past.

That sums it up really. Cherish the mundane as much as you can. One day they will be your most precious memories.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Monthly baby pictures

The best way to capture the growth of your new baby is by taking a photo at regular intervals with something consistently static to give perspective.

I chose a washing basket, something that stays the same size and is easy to get at the same angle every time. You could also use a certain toy, a box, or even a long wooden ruler or something similar. Ive seen one where they put the baby in the same outfit every month, so it started off a bit to big on a newborn and then got progressively tighter until it pretty much wouldn't do up. That was cute but eventually it would just get too small to be practical.

I haven't thought of an idea that works better than the washing basket for ease and
longevity yet, but comment below if you have.

In the sleep deprived haze that is the first few weeks (years?) of a baby's life I forgot to take a newborn photo like I meant to so I only started at 1 month. And I tend to take them late every month so rather than 6 months she's actually 6 and a half.... I figure it's a photo of her 'within her 6th month' rather than strictly on the dot ;)
The idea is still there and you can see the growth.

Once she gets to 12 months I'll finish with the monthly photos. But - banking on my daughter being fun loving and cooperative ;) - I'd like to continue with a yearly photo on her birthday right up until she is 18 or 21... Depends how long I can convince her to do it for. (Or if we've broken that washing basket by then!)

Can you imagine a 15 year old in that basket? Haha. Will make a great display at her 21st. :)

Friday, May 17, 2013

How I make a card

1. Start with the card base. You can cut and fold your own out of thick card stock - so you can choose any colour you like - or you can buy ready to go card bases that often come with envelopes.

2. Choose your main colours and textures for the card in complementing base papers.

Your aim is for not too much plain space. The plainer your base papers are, the more texture and pattern you'll need to add with embellishments. If you have highly patterned or textured base papers, you can sometimes get away with nothing else.

I chose a strong pattern in the chevron black and white with a pink paper with a subtle shiny texture. This is in he middle, so I need a bit of embellishment, but not heaps.

Layer or overlap your papers.

3. Start adding layers of embellishments.

Words, like Thank You, Happy Birthday etc, depending on the theme of your card.

If you don't want words, add simple shapes in complementing paper or colour - eg I could replace the L O V E in my card with circles or rectangles made from plain paper with another smaller shape from patterned paper inside each.

4. Add depth and interest.

Look for places that are bare or too plain - you don't need to crowd every available inch of card, but you want to balance it all so there are different layers, levels and elements of interest.

The top left corner of my card was bare so I added a strip of the pink textured paper with pink diamantes stuck on for a raised element.

5. Keep adding elements to balance your design.

Eg add another colour or pattern.
I thought the pink black and white was a bit too monochrome and stark, so added an aqua element to soften it.

Everything else was corners and straight lines, so adding the flower softens it also, and adds interest.

6. Look for finishing touches.

Sometimes there are just little details you can add to finalise your design.

Eg. I added black lines to the top corner if each of the letters in the word 'love'. This just anchors them a little better into the design.

And then STOP. Eventually you have to! It's about finding the balance between too much detail and too little.

Playing around
Before you stick it all down, with these few elements, you can play around with all sorts of arrangements first to find the best one.

This was an alternative I liked, but there's just a bit too much blank space in the middle.

I moved the flower element up, but then all the parts just looked like they were floating, disconnected from the rest of the design.

I tried anchoring the letters with a coloured strip, but it was too bright and unbalanced the card with too much focus at the bottom.

In the middle with no flower it was too monochromatic and too much bare space at the bottom.

(The chevron pattern is too basic to fill that space on its own in this card - a more detailed pattern might hold its own depending on the rest of your design.)

Still too unbalanced - the hot pink is too strong and draws too much attention. Still too bare.

Same problems with the hot pink. Everything floating in space.

So this was my favourite design in the end - I'm never perfectly happy with any design but I thought this one was the best.

The different elements overlap, and so connect the whole card together (ie the flower flows from the chevron to the pink, the L O V E joins the two rectangles, the pink and diamanté strip fills a blank spot and adds depth).

It is simple, but has enough depth and layers with raised bits and texture & pattern to be interesting, and to let the papers be featured rather than crowded out.

Hope that run through helps you a bit when you're designing your own cards!!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Keep thank you cards on hand

I want to try and keep thank you cards and blank, generic just-because cards on hand - you never know when you might come across someone who just needs their day brightened with a little note, or when someone does something unexpected for you and you want to say thanks.

I've hand made some of my own because I felt inspired with some pretty new papers I'd bought with a gift card I received for Christmas. It makes a nice personal touch to give hand made cards.

But it's really the gesture, thoughts and kinds words you write inside that matter so a pack of inexpensive blank cards and envelopes kept in your handbag would work just as well.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

App Roundup: Language Learning

Hablo Español. (I speak spanish). Well sort of. But I'm learning thanks to two awesome apps!

Mind Snacks is the first one - I've got it on my iPhone and iPad in Spanish, but there a few different languages, and even vocabulary building for kids and the SATs.

I love this app because it pretty much completely teaches you through games. This is perfect for me, because it makes me want to keep going, to unlock more lessons and more games, to fulfil quests and go up levels.

You sign up for an account so it saves your progress and syncs across your devices.

It's free to download the app, but you only get one lesson. That was enough for me though, and I was hooked already so I happily paid the $5ish (AUD) to buy the complete app.  Totally worth it to me, when I've considered paying $20+ for computer language software before.

So this is great - but wouldn't get you fluent in a language. So far I've just mainly been learning vocab, but it says there is some grammar once you unlock more lessons. But I think the best use for this app is a supplementary learning tool.

The second app is Duolingo.

This one is completely free! And you can download an app, and use it online on their website.

This one doesn't have games, but you do unlock new lessons and levels as you progress. And this one is a bit more comprehensive, teaching you grammar and vocal combined right from the start.

I've used some flashcard type language learning programs before, and while they are good, the way Duolingo does it is even better. Every lesson combines translating Spanish (or your chosen language) to English by typing, listening and writing the Spanish, speaking the Spanish into a microphone, picking from multiple choice, translating English to Spanish etc.

One, you don't get bored, just looking at flashcards. And two, it really tests your all round knowledge of the words because you don't have just recognise them by sight, but you've got to know how to say them and spell them and hear them too.

You get three hearts, or 'lives' each lesson. If you make too many mistakes,
you have to repeat the lesson. And you make the little owl sad :(
I can't believe this one is free! On their website it talks about your help in 'translating the web', which is why it is free. But I can't see myself being good enough at Spanish to translate anything for a while yet, so I'm not sure why it's free for me? But, hey! I'm not complaining.

So I recommend giving these apps a go.

I reckon even kids could use the MindSnacks one for the early lessons and a couple of the games.

Now I just need someone to have conversations with, to really practice what I'm learning.

The Bubs is a bit young to talk back just yet, but in a meagre attempt at introducing some 'bilingual-ness' to our home, I've been pointing out her body parts in Spanish and singing a song about elefantes!

Happy Language Learning!

Do you know of any other programs or apps for language learning that you love?
Have you tried teaching your baby or young children a second language? How is it going?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Daily life in photos...

Chillin at the nursery... Obviously disappointed there are no babies in this one. #lovejc

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...