Monday, December 30, 2013

Battlegrounds, Christmas & Teething Necklaces (or, what I've been up to for the last month)


I may or may not have been neglecting my blog because life has been full of diapers and washing diapers and nursing and snuggles and nature walks and snowmen and gift buying and present wrapping and present opening and tree burning (outside, of course, and in a fire pit). Also filled with breakfast making and dinner eating and infected wisdom teeth (mine, what hell that's been...). I've perfected my homemade organic ultra moisturizing body scrub, which is only 3-4 ingredients depending on the scent. I also made a pretty stellar night-time relaxing oil for Bugman that we also use when he gets overstimulated during the day.
I learned that white vanilla frosting has red dye #40 and yellow dye #6 the hard way - via my suddenly mean, hand happy child, shortly after consuming said frosting. Checked the ingredients, and sure enough, those evil dyes were right there. Why do you need colored dyes in WHITE frosting? Weird.
So, I mean, I'm sure I could have found time to blog... but my free time, aside from the above mentioned activities, may or may not have been spent leveling and doing battlegrounds with my brother on WoW. Well, you can't introduce someone to the dark side and then not accompany them on their journey, right?



Chunk got his Inspired by Finn baltic amber teething necklace about a week ago, and the difference has been monumental. Any doubt I had in these necklaces is long gone! He's been teething since he was 6 weeks old, got the necklace around 11 weeks old, and has not been fussy since! Unfortunately though, no tooth has poked through just yet. Even his dad, who doubted them and thought they wouldn't work, noticed the difference. I definitely recommend them to anyone with babies! Raw amber works better than polished, and lighter colored amber works better than dark. Make sure you order from a reputable shop though, such as Inspired by Finn or Hazelaid to avoid buying a fake!
(Unfortunately I'm not getting paid for this recommendation - boo!)
We're using mainly Alvas for cloth diapering, with a few Baby City and KerrBear Kids diapers thrown into the mix. I love pocket diapers. They don't leak and he's a pretty heavy wetter, but we use Econobums prefolds and covers overnight and they'll hold a solid 10 hours (not that I recommend waiting that long!)
He's outgrown the NB and is in One-Size now. He's 10 weeks old and he weighs 12lbs6oz already! He smiles and giggles now and he loves to babble. He's also a major snuggle butt and falls asleep to Safe by Taylor Swift & the Civil Wars, and to You're Gonna Be by Reba McEntire.
He's super rad.


Noah had a great Christmas, and despite my last entry, we actually ended up getting them tons of presents. Books and dinosaurs and trains and swords and a brand new baby doll, among many things! And that super nifty blue hoodie he's got on. The orange tablet and tracks are both gifts from grandma and papa.
He also got a super nifty haircut:


He gets his hair cut by this awesome guy named Boris in Wappingers Falls, NY. He will not let any other barber near his hair. He adores him! He's having a blast being in NY again and he was so happy with his Christmas, I wish I could show you all, but I was so wrapped up in it all that I didn't get a great deal of pictures.
Oh, and today he learned how to give people the finger. Only he doesn't see it as "fuck you", but rather the number one. So you can picture my face when he walks up to me today and says, "mommy, can I have ONE piece of candy?" whilst flipping me the bird. Perfect.
Motherhood is a funny thing, I'll tell ya. And it's great and wonderful and amazing and sometimes I think I'm learning more than they are.

Happy holidays!



Saturday, November 30, 2013

Tis the season...



Bugman and the Dragon aren't getting a ton of stuff for Christmas this year.
No, it's not due to finances. It's not because the did or didn't make Santa's "nice" list. It's not a punishment.
It's about the meaning of the holiday season. That isn't gifts and food and toys, it's about spending time with family, it's about being kind and appreciative and giving (just like the rest of the year should be).
We don't want to spoil our kids.
So, what's on the list this year?
We'll be spending $20-30 on books, so we can spend time together, reading and learning. It's also got the added bonus of being a present you can open again and again.
We're buying Bug a play kitchen with food, because he loves to cook and he's wanted one for a year. He's definitely earned it!
We're getting Dragon two brand new cloth diapers, as he's too little to really want anything and that's all he really needs right now.
We're getting Bug a bunch of arts and crafts supplies because he loves to make things. Some for us, some for himself, some for aunts and uncles and grandparents and friends.
We're getting Dragon some wooden toys because they're great for development and some can even be customizable!
And lastly we'll get some stocking stuffers - candies, coins for their piggie banks, hot cocoa, candy canes.

But our Christmas doesn't end there. We really want to instill the spirit of giving in our children, and we took a couple of ideas from this blog.
I particularly like the drive thru idea, to pay for the person behind you in line. I also like the coin drop one, but to avoid a potential choking hazard with smaller children I've been thinking of just letting Bug hand them to kids at the playground. If we have the extra cash, I'd also like to get a few $5-$10 gift cards and drop them anonymously in mailboxes, along with a note explaining that yes, the card is for them, how much is on it, and happy holidays.

Bug is also super excited about the gluten free, dairy free hot cocoa mix that we're making and giving to close family and friends - even though I think he's pretty excited to have some himself as well. Hey, so am I!

We're already in the Christmas spirit here, are you? What are you plans for this holiday season? :)


Monday, November 25, 2013

Life moves too fast.
I'm realizing this as I nurse my now 6 week old squish, his hand holding my shirt and the other on my side, looking up at me like he's as grateful for this bonding time as I am.
My soon to be three year old is napping next to me and I can remember him being so small. The sleepless nights made so worth it as I rocked him and felt him relax and fall back asleep, feeling safe and secure.
They really do grow up so fast - and my oldest isn't even three yet.
My pregnancy lasted forever, but it's been 6 weeks since the baby Dragon arrived and time is flying. His first Thanksgiving will be here in a few short days, his first Yule in a month.
In two months my Bug will be three - where has the time gone?
It feels like I was 16 yesterday, without a care in the world and no intentions of having kids before 24.
And the came the positive pregnancy test on April 27th when I was 17.
I can remember feeling terrified, a little upset, worried, but at the same time there was a bit of happiness in there. Scared as I was, I was thankful, because many women don't even get that opportunity. I remember sitting in the car that night, my mom was driving me home from my then-boyfriend's house. She looked at me in the dark and said, "it's been a while since I bought you pads, do you have something to tell me?" I remember struggling for a moment with the thought of lying and saying I was just stressed, but figured it was better to just come out with it. So I did - in the most blunt, smartass way ever.
"Yeah, I won't need them for about nine months."
She looked at me for a minute and I felt awkward, so I tried to remedy the situation by saying, "Well, I guess eight since this month already passed..."
She wasn't thrilled - who would be when their 17 year old came home, still in high school, and said she was having a baby of her own?
I stayed in school, and I worked my ass off to ensure there was no chance of being held back. That meant taking on extra classes because my guidance counselor had screwed up my schedule in the beginning of the year and didn't give me enough courses. I was originally going to take distance courses, but now I had to save up for the baby, so I worked my ass off and didn't leave early like the other seniors.
That June, I graduated. Class of 2010, 17 years old, and with great grades to boot. No one but my mom, close friends, boyfriend and midwife knew I was pregnant.
In August, I finally announced my pregnancy.


Apparently, no one else saw it coming either. Everyone was pretty shocked when I announced it.
A few months later, I told my dad. Yeah, I probably should have told him sooner, but what teenager wants to tell their dad that they're pregnant? I sure as hell didn't.
Le sigh.
It didn't go over too great, but he accepted it, and he does love Noah to death. He was there the day after I got out of the hospital to meet my little Bugman.
We had our baby shower November 6th, 2010. Lots of friends and family showed up, including my best friend of (now) 10 years and her family - who I consider a second family to me. Lots of pictures were taken, and it was a lot of fun. My brother had an abscess in his mouth and my mom had to take him to the hospital, so she missed some of it, but she was there for most of it. We had soy ice cream cake, and no one knew, but everyone loved it. I felt so smug when I told them it wasn't dairy ice cream and they liked it!
In December I decided that there was no more doubt about a home birth - it was definitely what I wanted. I talked to my midwife, we made a birth plan, I put my birth kit together - and that was that. I was ready for my home birth.
There weren't really many preterm labor scares. I went into labor at 38 weeks, and they gave me fluids to stop it. Again at 39 weeks, but my contractions stopped and I was progressing and I got sent home, dilated to a 4. After that, there was no indication of labor coming soon. I was okay with this. I was entirely content to go to 42 weeks and beyond as long as Noah and I were okay. January 25th came and went, still with no sign of oncoming labor. So he surely wasn't coming on his due date.
I started having contractions at 2am on January 26th. I sterilized bottles and pacifiers, I washed all of his clothes, I made sure I had everything packed neatly into my laundry basket for my home birth. I watched documentaries and took a bath. I made some tea. I had a lot of time to focus inward, on my contractions and on my baby. During the day on the 26th I played Monopoly with my cousin, her boyfriend and my boyfriend at the time. We watched a movie. I told them I was in labor and I distinctly remember her boyfriend telling me, "You're not in labor. You couldn't handle labor without meds. My mother had me with no epidural and she wasn't as calm as you."
A bit angered and hurt by the statement because he had implied (in my eyes, at least) that I wasn't strong enough to endure something many women endure daily with no drugs, I excused myself and went downstairs to make myself another cup of tea.
I called my midwife to let her know I was in labor.
Around 2am on the 27th, my contractions seemed to stop entirely. I called my midwife and told her they'd disappeared and that I would call back if anything happened. See, back then I had never heard of a rest period, and that's just what that was - a rest period, because the hard part was coming. The past two times I'd gone into labor due to snowstorms, and we were in the midst of another. I had a second due date of February 9th, so it seemed likely that my labor could have just stopped again. Anyway, the correct due date was January 25th because I got a positive test on April 27th and by my second due date I couldn't have conceived until May 5th.
My water broke at 2:30ish. The roads were closed except to emergency personnel and I didn't want to put my midwife in a dangerous situation, and I didn't think she'd be able to make it in time with the weather anyway. So we called an ambulance and yada yada yada, Noah's birth story is already on my blog haha. I had him 3 hours later, 2 days after his due date.

Well, you guys have been here since I got pregnant with Gage so you all know that story in lots of detail.
Ah, the point of this whole thing was just to hold your kids a little closer tonight, remember that time flies and you'll miss this moment years from now.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Well-Baby & Signing


So today we had the Dragon Baby's one-month well baby check up!
He's now 21.5 inches long (his older brother's length at birth) and 9lbs, 15oz (just an ounce away from 10lbs!). His check-up went pretty well.
So anyway, Dragon is doing great. We need to get his newborn screening redone because we did it too early, so probably Friday, when we're also taking Noah to get his bloodwork done because in my state it's necessary to test their blood for lead before age 3. I think it's because so many buildings and structures here are so old... so lots of lead paint and such.

Noah knows how to sign milk, eat, drink, hungry, please, cat, dog, fish, moose, thank you, baby, hot, and more. Today he also learned how to say where, mommy, daddy, and brother :)



Thursday, November 7, 2013


I know, I know, I keep updating so sporadically. It's a lot busier with two! All I do is clean and nurse, haha. I finally straightened my hair and put on a little makeup today and I feel a bit better, a bit less stressed. The house is clean, and we're relaxing watching Law and Order while the kids nap.
I feel like my life consists of laundry, diapers, nursing, pumping, cooking and cleaning lately. I don't mind too much. Both kids love Sublime and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and even Rebelution and lots of country music. So our morning rundown looks like this:

-Get woken up by Bugman
-Change Dragon Baby
-Nurse Dragon Baby while watching cartoons with Bug
-Make Bug's breakfast
-Make coffee
-Turn on music, sing and dance

We do that for a while, until it's time to make lunch around noon. So we make lunch, then I do a load of laundry or a load of diapers, depending on the day. We wash diapers one day, laundry the next, and continue that pattern. While whatever is in the washer I try to do dishes and straighten up the kitchen and living room. There's a lot of nursing and diaper changing and tickling in between all of this. Then  I either finish laundry or today I blog. The washer is currently being used so I can't really get any diapers in until close to 7 or 8. I cleaned the hell out of everything yesterday - two sink fulls of dishes, a couple loads of laundry, vacuumed all the rooms, made all the beds, put away some laundry, cleaned my disaster of a room, cleaned the counters and the table and the stove. Tons of cleaning, so now it's just maintenance, mostly. Later I'll nurse the baby, make a cup of tea and pump to freeze it.
Tomorrow I have to sage the room to rid it of (my) negative energy. I've been so stressed adjusting to two kids, and snappy and irritable and I can feel the negative energy piling up and filling every corner of my room. Maybe I'll sage it tonight. Just depends because I can't sage it while the kids are in here.
The cloth diapers are going great! I love, love, love my Alvababy diapers. They're cheap, but the quality is incredible, and they have super cute colors and prints. My favorite is probably his camo diaper. KerrBear Kids diapers are great, too. I keep hearing that they're rebranded Alvas - wouldn't be surprised, because they have some of the same prints, but who cares haha. They do work a bit better than Alvas, but that's to be expected. Most of my Alvas were $4.79 each and the KBK diapers are $8 a piece. My KBKs are both Spiderman though, and that's pretty rad. I also made cloth wipes and wipe solution to go with them.
For the wipes I just cut up old receiving blankets, and the wipe solution is water with 1 squirt of organic lavender baby wash and 1 drop of lavender essential oil. Works great, smells great, doesn't irritate skin! And it's conveniently stored in my peri bottle that I had no other use for anymore.


Aren't they cute? Personally I like the blue ones better, they're a different material, but I think the print ones are frickin' adorable.
I always thought cloth wipes would be a hassle, but it's the exact opposite. See, Curtis has a thing for wrapping the disposable wipes in the cloth diaper and then tossing it into the diaper pail, as if it's a disposable diaper. The washer tears the wipes apart and they get stuck in the velcro on the NB diapers. So I made cloth wipes. No extra work, really. Squirt a little wipe solution on the wipe, use it, wrap it in the diaper, toss it in the pail. They get washed together anyway, and these don't get torn up and stuck in the diapers.
Added bonus - I can wrap the wipe solution in a small blanket or towel and keep it warm instead of buying a wipe warmer for disposable wipes. Booyah! Happy mama, happy baby butt.
Dragon Baby is getting antsy and probably wants to nurse soon, so I'll leave you guys with this super adorable picture of the kids cuddled together on my bed last night:




Saturday, October 26, 2013

Update **Warning - Placenta Picture!**



So my placenta is currently in the dehydrator.
I had fun rinsing it off, getting rid of the blood and teaching Bug about it while -- rocked Dragon to sleep. I showed him the "tree of life" in it and explained to him that this is what helped his little brother grow big and strong, and that this is what let him breathe and gave him food. I showed him what side was attached to the inside of my belly and what side was next to his brother. Then I showed him the umbilical cord and explained that it was attached to Dragon's belly button and that it's what brings the food and air and nutrients from the placenta to Dragon.
He thought it was awesome. He still calls blood "baby juice," though. Yeah, tired, exhausted me told him it was baby juice when he asked what the blood was after delivery. I only barely remember saying this in between apologies to -- for getting blood everywhere, and no, I don't know why I thought it was a good idea. Blah. He knows it's really called blood, he just prefers baby juice. Weird kid, definitely mine.
Moving on!
I eyed the knife I had put on the newspaper. I knew I had to get down to business, no more blood was coming off, and we had to start slicing it.
I'm not going to lie to you guys. My stomach turned at the thought of it. I don't know why, though.
I called for -- and asked if he could lay Dragon down in the chair and help me start cutting things. He put on his gloves and grabbed the knife and started cutting off the cord.
Dragon started whimpering, then full out crying to be held. I took off my gloves and picked him up. --  told me to just walk him through it and he'd do it so I could take care of Dragon Baby. So I stood next to him, swaying and rocking the baby, and showed him where to cut to remove the membranes. He did all this without flinching or grimacing or even saying "ew". So after removing the cord and membranes, he moved the placenta to the cutting board and went to work. He sliced it up and then cut the slices in half to fit them in the dehydrator properly.
After he sliced it, his eyes lit up like he had an epiphany or something. Turns out it wasn't an epiphany, but it was a super cute, kind of gross and pretty awesome idea. He glanced at me, the placenta, the cord, and repeated this, still looking super happy. He pushed the placenta pieces together and took the cord (which I guess was really long, whether or not it's longer than normal I don't really know) and wrapped it into a heart on top of my placenta.
Yep, despite being a little bit gross to most people, I think it's really cute and it made me smile and run for my camera to snap a picture or two.
And now my placenta pieces are in the dehydrator, and so is the umbilical cord that he shaped into a semi-smaller version of that heart. I'll update more tomorrow after it's done dehydrating.

And I just wanted to share this picture:



I was 119lbs when I got pregnant, 131lbs the week before giving birth, and 114lbs a few days ago.
Thank you breastfeeding! :)
(Excuse the messy makeup and obvious exhaustion, Dragon's been cluster feeding for two days now. He's up a lot at night to eat lately and Bug talks in his sleep and -- snores and I look at my ceiling haha)

Just a short post


I'm ten kinds of excited, despite having to explain - in full detail - my hippie ways to everyone.
I got my placenta from -- freezer today because I finally got my gel caps yesterday and it's currently defrosting on my counter.
After a short argument about how this one article my brother read claims consumption of the placenta "is bad for you and makes you feel like shit" and my retort that went something like "I kill myself with hours of research about everything every day, and it has many health benefits despite how 'gross' you think it is", he decided it would be super cool to gross his friends out with it. It was a success, for him anyway. He got one of them to gag. Not so much a "success" by my terms because this is a normal thing for any other animal and I hate that it's considered gross, but whatever - they're 14.
So I have the dehydrator I'm borrowing (she knows it's for my placenta) all set up, I have my placenta defrosting, I have my gloves for working with it, I have a sealed container to store them in. I'm excited!
I may or may not post pictures of the process later - we'll see. I'm off to see how to make a placenta print, though. Check back tomorrow for updates :)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Things I forgot about babies...

^The rearfacing duo!^

Having a self-proclaimed "big kid", I forgot a LOT about babies. I mean really, a lot.

*They spit up sometimes. Thanks to being exclusively breastfed, it smells like nothing.
*They actually really are content to lie around and take in the world around them.
*They don't eat real food. I remember this obviously, but I feel guilty when we eat out & I don't get Dragon anything. Is that weird?
*They need to be burped! I didn't burp him the first two days. At all. Thankfully I remembered.
*They poop as soon as you put a new diaper on. Take that, mom!
*I need to change diapers again. At least I got a few blissful months without that!
*Umbilical cord stumps smell bad, and gross me out to no end. Yet I still save them... hm.
*They hate being bathed.
*They go through lots of outfits.
*My boobs are more than just natural, human bottles... they're natural, human pacifiers. Damn.
*It HURTS when your milk "comes in". Okay, that's something I forgot about me, not babies.
*They don't feel heavy until you've been holding them for an hour straight.
*They don't really care for being strapped into the car seat.
*They don't sleep through the night.
*They will sleep through the day to make up for that. Y'know, when you can't sleep.
*They're harder than toddlers, plain and simple.

Yep. I guess I may have been spoiled by having a big boy toddler. I could barely stay awake to do schoolwork with him tonight - though, if I can brag a little - he's doing kindergarten level work. He makes his mama proud! It's all worth it though. I love this little dragon baby. We all do! Even through sleepless nights and what feels like sometimes constant nursing, and tons of poopy diapers and 5 or 6 days of umbilical cord stink, we love this little guy. He fits right into our family (and why wouldn't he?). I'm so glad we have him, despite him being unplanned. He's our awesome little surprise! :)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Karma


Karma isn't a hard concept to grasp. What goes around comes around, easy, right?
Treat others the way you'd like to be treated. It's all the same general idea. So why is it so hard to get?
Do we blame society? Our friends? Our teachers? Our parents?
No, that can't be right. Because these are our thoughts. They are our actions. We are old enough to choose our own paths, to think our own thoughts, to know right from wrong and to know how to act. Therefore we cannot blame others for our wrongs, we can only blame ourselves.
So I guess that's the first step to changing your karma. Take responsibility for your actions.

Old habits die hard. I used to make a point to be, well, an asshole, for lack of a better word. I literally, at one point in my life, went out of my way to make other people feel bad. It made me feel better, if only temporarily. Was it worth it? No. Not at all. For one, I still to this day feel guilty for the things I said and did to other people. This was 6, 7, 8 years ago and I still feel awful. And these were people I barely knew, people I will never see again, people I will never have the chance to apologize to. 
These people did nothing wrong to me. I was just, frankly, an asshole.
Now I could give you every excuse in the book for why I acted the way I did, but that doesn't justify my actions. It doesn't make them right or okay or any less horrible. I honestly think I am still getting my karma for what I did, and that's okay. It sucks, yeah, but it's going to happen. I'm responsible for what I said and what I did, no one else. Not the people who made me feel badly, because even though they made me feel that way they didn't make me treat others badly. That was my choice.
That said, I've completely changed since then. I made bad decisions then, but I try to do better now, and I think that's largely due to becoming a mother. When I had Noah, I never wanted to see him treated that way. I never wanted anyone to say to him the things I said to people I hardly knew. That's when I decided to change who I was trying to be.
I don't think anyone deserves to be mistreated. I don't think anyone deserves to be judged. I don't think anyone deserves to be made to feel badly about themselves.
I guess I've become a hippie of sorts. I'm okay with that.
But I believe these are basic human rights. Everyone deserves to love who they are, to be treated fairly and to be treated well, and to live the life they want to live without being judged for doing so.
I guess I'm straying from the topic, though.

Basically, you get what you give.
If you're putting out bad energy, you're going to receive bad energy. If you're putting out good energy, you'll receive good energy. It's a simple concept. However, that's not to say that every single bad thing that happens to you is a result of you doing something wrong.
Bad experiences can be learning experiences. Something like a break up, for instance. That's not necessarily you receiving bad karma, it could be for the greater good. Maybe it happened to teach you to love yourself and that you deserve better than what you had!
Still, you're going to have much more good energy if that's what you're putting out. Many more good experiences and people in your life. Likewise with bad energy. And if you're treating people badly, people will treat you badly. Maybe not until much later, but it will happen.
It's so strange to me that people can't grasp the concept of karma. Do I still put out bad energy? Sometimes. I'm not going to sit here and pretend that I'm some sort of saint. Sometimes I lose my cool. Sometimes I say things I don't mean. Sometimes I yell. Sometimes (very rarely) I say things to people with the intent to hurt them. And, sometimes I even judge people.
These things still happen - sometimes. And I always, always feel bad afterward. I'm still trying to change all that, but I'm not perfect and occasionally these things slip. Apologizing makes a difference, if you mean it, and if you try to change. I'm getting there.
I've gotten much better, but there's always room for improvement, no matter who you are.

Ahhhhh...


Both boys are sleeping and mommy has a cup of hot cocoa and some time to update her blog. Woohoo! Bug's out after a sugar crash because he got to have junk food today, and Dragon Baby is totally milk drunk and out cold sucking his thumb. I don't have a picture of them right now, but I do have this super cute picture of them napping together yesterday!


They've been so good together. I was really worried about Bug being jealous when Gage got here, but we include him in everything we do with the baby and I think it's helping a lot. He loves him! He picks out what color cloth diaper he wants Dragon Baby to wear, and he puts the old one in the diaper pail for me. He helps pick out his outfits and he gives him his pacifier. The only thing he can't really help with is breastfeeding (obviously) but he does sit right next to us and snuggle while I nurse. He picks out what blanket to swaddle him in and he holds him - with help, of course. It's so stinkin' cute!
He's worn lots of outfits since being home, but I think my favorite so far was when we put him in his daddy's coming home outfit. Of course I got a picture of that:


He was still pretty red, he was only a day old!
I can't believe he's a week old today :( I feel like I had him this morning. Is that weird? I mean, he's only a week old. I feel like time is already flying by too fast. I guess that's the one fear I had that actually happened.
It's been busy around here, as expected. Trying to squeeze in showers, or even just peeing.
Friday was my first day alone with the kids because -- went back to work and I didn't realize how... well, it's not that it was hard, just kind of slow, and a bit to adjust to. It took me 40 minutes to make a bagel, a cup of tea, change Dragon and pee. So for each task that should have been two minutes, it took at least ten minutes. My mom stopped by to drop off a coffee and donuts for me and Bug, and that was really nice. I love me some Dunkin, especially the caramel turtle iced coffee. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! 
Dragon sleeps really well for a newb. He also makes all these really cute dragon noises all the time, when he's sleeping, when he's eating, when he's pooping, when he's just looking around. This has led to me calling him Dragon or Dragon Baby more often than I call him Gage, haha.
He's nursing like a champ. My nipples hurt for the first couple of days while he perfected his latch, but now we're all good! He's pretty much constantly attached to the boob, but I don't really mind. I expected it and I love the bonding that comes from breastfeeding, so it's kind of nice in a way. And hey, breastfeeding has it's superficial perks too - I have boobs now, and I'm already below my pre-pregnancy weight!
His umbilical cord stump fell off when he was five days old. I, being the weirdo I am (just kidding - this is fairly common) kept it. I don't have a nice little box for it yet, so it's totally sitting in a plastic Q-tip box.
Noah's is still in an empty pill bottle from the hospital. I need to get on these boxes.
Babywearing in the DIY jersey knit wrap is going great. Dragon absolutely loves it, and it must be full of sleepy dust because he's out like a light once he's in it. I don't have pictures of me wearing him just yet, but there will be some soon!
Here's a couple of pictures of proud big brother with his baby brother! :)



Life doesn't get any better than this.
Peace & Love!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

We had an interesting day today...



And by interesting I mean I gave birth in the backseat of a car today.
Yep, that's today in a nutshell!


So on October 12th, around 8:30pm I lost a nice chunk of mucous plug streaked with blood. I told -- it could definitely mean labor was near, and I was noticeably more freaked than he was, because he didn't think I would be going into labor. Hell, neither did I, I wasn't even 40 weeks yet and I thought he'd come late like his big brother did.
So at 8:42 I had my first contraction. They ranged from 7-13 minutes apart, very irregular - so I didn't think it was the real thing. I figured it was the same "labor" I'd had with Noah - twice - before actually going into labor. I relaxed, ate, drank tons of water and tried to watch TV. At some point I tried to go to sleep, but contractions kept waking me up. When I had 4 contractions that were 6 minutes apart, I decided it was finally enough of a pattern and regular enough to get going to our midwife's house. I handed the phone to -- between contractions and told him I couldn't wait any longer, that I thought it was finally the real thing and not practice labor. He called his mom and I walked to the bathroom to lean on the washer (it's the perfect height) so I could sway my hips through contractions that were suddenly very, very intense. He brought the phone in because his mom wanted to talk to me, and I had to have him wait through the contraction before I could take it. Like I said, they were suddenly very intense, and I couldn't really talk through them. That probably should have been my first clue that I wasn't going to make it to the house before having him. I talked to her, she let me know she was on her way. I hung up the phone just in time for another contraction. I put my head on my arms, swayed my hips, I counted and I let the contraction do it's job instead of fighting it. It hurts less that way. After the contraction I went back into the kitchen and had a random contraction that didn't wait 6 minutes like the rest, so I breathed and counted through it leaning on the kitchen table. They went back to 6 minutes after that. I went back to our bedroom with -- to try to relax a little while he brought our clothes and birth supplies downstairs, and swayed through contractions on my headboard and kneeling against my bed.
And then it hit me, I forgot pads. I thought I'd bought some but they were either missing or I'd forgotten them because as I watched -- bring everything down, I didn't see a single package. I went to my brother's room to ask to borrow $10 until I got home so I could get more water and some pads on the way up, had a contraction that I got through on his dresser, and freaked him out a bit - unintentionally, of course. I borrowed the money and let my mom know we were leaving to go to VT because Sparrow had decided it was time to come out now. She freaked out a bit, she told me she didn't think I was going to make it up there before he decided it was time to come into the world. I assured her I would make it, not knowing I would only be halfway there when he was born. -- helped me through a few more contractions and then his mom was there.
I felt bad not helping him carry everything down even though I was in labor, so I decided to carry Noah downstairs. I didn't tell him because I knew he would have told me no and gotten him himself.
Bad idea. I got a hellish contraction the second I picked him up, and he was sleeping so I couldn't just put him down! Word to the wise, it's not easy to hold a 28lb two year old through an intense contraction. I rocked back and forth with Noah in my arms, and somehow made it through a 60 second contraction from hell. Yeah, that one was fun.
I got him down to the car and the first thing -- (--' mom) said was "What are you doing, why are you carrying him? You're in labor!" Right then I had another contraction and handed him to --, who tried to calm him down while I leaned on the car. Noah had no idea what was going on and was pretty upset, but they got him calmed down and into the car. With my next contraction she rubbed my back and helped me through it while -- finished loading the car and buckling Noah.
We got into the car, everything loaded into the back, and got on our way. -- asked his mom to stop at the 24 hour CVS for water and pads because he remembered me asking him to run in and get them, and I said "no no no it's okay we'll do it after I have him we need to go!" Just like that, no punctuation, no pause, just all in one panicky breath. I didn't want to give birth in the backseat of a car, even though -- lined it with those chucks pads or whatever they're called just in case. I really thought we were going to make it, though. Until we hit a super bumpy road and contractions started coming one after another. Every two minutes I was leaning over the seat, counting to 60... then to 70... then to 80... then 90?! 90 second contractions every two minutes, and I knew this was it. I wasn't going to make it. I kept trying to focus on the music in the car, -- was playing something very similar to my birth playlist and I was so thankful. It helped me to relax, even if just a little. But then I felt it, that unmistakable pressure, the urge to push, and I fought it for a good twenty minutes. I kept trying to hold off on pushing, I really did, but when you need to push - you need to push!
Despite not wanting to give birth in the back of a car, I pushed and broke my water. I tried not to, but at this point I didn't have any control over it. I gave in and I let my body do what it had to - after all, it knows best. My body knows how to labor, how to get the baby out, my body knows what it needs to do. And so I pushed, all while screaming "Fuck shit fuck fuck fuck I can't do this, fuuuuuck!"
This is exactly how I was when I was in transition with Noah, so I knew I was close. Even though I had this overwhelming feeling I couldn't do it, I kept reminding myself in my head, "You've done this before, you can do it again!" I had encouragement from -- and --, who tried to assure me that yes, I could do this, and reminded me that I didn't really have another option at the point seeing as we were on the side of the road, somewhere in MA, and closer to my midwife than to a hospital anyway.
Anyway, I reached down right after my water broke and I felt his head. I didn't feel his hair but I wasn't too concerned with his hair at this point, I just wanted him out so I would stop hurting.
-- pulled over and came around to the back seat of the car to help me. I told her my water broke even though I'm like 99.99999% positive she already knew and that that's why she pulled over...
I pushed again and his head was out, and he was posterior, and I had to try to stop pushing so -- could unwrap the cord from around his neck. Then out came his arms (like Superman, I'm told!) and then the rest of him shortly after! He had a good, strong cry, and I wasn't incredibly worried anymore - but still a little worried. I've never given birth in a car before.
I didn't even cry because I was in total shock, I gave birth in the backseat of a car, next to my 2 year old, somewhere on the side of the road in who knows what town!
I asked if he was okay probably thirty times in five minutes, even though they kept telling me he was fine. 
-- cut the cord and handed him to --, who wrapped him in a receiving blanket from the basket with our birth supplies. I kind of just stared at the umbilical cord still attached to me and the blood on those pads - and on the seat and even a little on the door. Yeah, skills I guess, I got blood everywhere! I apologized and -- kept telling me it was okay, but I literally got blood on everything.
Noah asked what it was and without thinking I told him it was baby juice. I don't know why that even made sense to me, but apparently it did. I also don't know why he asked because he knows what blood is.
The whole time I was pushing he was sitting in his seat, a lot calmer than I expected but still panicky. He kept asking if I was okay and what was happening and -- kept telling him I was okay and that the baby was coming. I think it clicked for him after -- told him the baby was coming, because Noah's watched plenty of birth videos with me and he knows it's common for laboring women to yell and growl and moan in labor. He still kept asking if I was okay though, because he worries about me.
We continued on to VT to my midwife's house, stopping once more along the way to deliver the placenta - which is sitting in the fridge currently. As soon as we were on our way up again -- asked what the baby's name was, and I remembered that we hadn't told anyone the name yet. We told her his name and then I sent my parents a text saying "He's here, Gage Orion Richards was born at 5:26am, in the back seat, somewhere on the side of the road in MA. We're okay!" My dad didn't even know I was in labor - no one really did because we didn't think it was real labor! And yeah, Facebook addicted me sent a text to make my status announcing his arrival.
When we got there, my midwife checked us out and got his stats (7lbs 6oz like his brother and 20 inches long), our blood pressure and pulses were great, I have a minor surface tear. By the way, that's worse than stitches because it's like a damn perineal paper cut. We talked and enjoyed our new baby and relaxed. She kept an eye on us for a few hours because I was positive for group B strep a week earlier. After doing my research I'd decided against antibiotics in labor (not like I'd have had a chance for them anyway, haha!) and I'd been treating it at home with Vitamin C, echinacea, and bee propolis. We're both doing great with all that. He's very alert and talkative, he actually makes all these ridiculously cute dragon noises and we've taken to calling him Dragon or "the dragon baby" more often than Gage. Noah absolutely adores him. My midwife gave us the footprint kit and gave me some extra stuff to help with PP healing and all that, and helped me to shower and made sure I felt alright. -- and his mom made a Dunkin run and brought back hot apple cider (CT doesn't have it but VT and MA do!) and we just sat around for a few hours chatting and enjoying our new baby/dragon. I'm not sure how long we actually stayed, but I know we had the okay to go after four hours, just like a birthing center, because there were no complications. My midwife and her family are like a second family to me, our families have been close for over a decade, so it's like my home away from home and it was really nice to be there and relax.
I got to see my best friend and her boyfriend and meet her daughter, Fayelinn (we were due 4 weeks apart but she had her daughter on October 5th (due September 26th) and I had Gage October 13th (due October 23rd)). All in all it was a chaotic, messy, incredible, memorable, and chaotically beautiful experience.
We're home now and doing great. He's breastfeeding like a champ, and actually sleeping right next to his big brother next to me right now. I might join them soon, I'm exhausted!

Welcome to the world, Gage Orion Richards. :)
7lbs, 6oz and 20in long
5:26am
October 13th, 2013
38w4d gestation
<3

I couldn't ask for more.






Thursday, October 10, 2013

Can we talk about breastfeeding?


Can we talk about breastfeeding without getting crazy defensive?
To start, this post is not bashing formula feeding moms, no matter what your reason is - nor is it to say that breastfeeding moms are better or worse than formula feeding moms.
Feed your baby. As long as you're feeding your baby something age appropriate, I don't care. Like, don't feed your 2 week old hot sauce or a Big Mac and we're cool, pretty much.

Anyway, it breaks my heart to see mamas fail at breastfeeding because they're misinformed, they're listening to other mothers around them tell them how much easier and less stressful it is to just give up and switch to formula. They're giving these mamas false information, that they themselves sometimes believe - and convincing the mama who had her heart set on breastfeeding that she is not capable.
That her body, her breasts are not good enough to fulfill the purpose they were made for.
That she's failing as a mother and is better off just giving up and switching.
This is awful and appalling to me. These mamas need support! They need reassurance that they are doing well, they want tips so they can do better, they want advice so they know they're doing this right!
If I can help one, just one mama have a successful breastfeeding relationship with this post, that makes it worth it.

Tip 1: Don't judge your supply by what you pump.
I can tell you from experience, I produced enough milk to feed triplets. And I only had one baby. If I judged my supply by what I pumped, I'd have quit in the first week. I could pump for two hours and not get more than an ounce! A baby is infinitely more efficient at getting milk than a pump is, point blank.
Side note, keeping a blankie that smells like your baby and a picture of your baby closeby while you pump can help you pump more at a time.

Tip 2: Just because he's always eating, doesn't mean you're not making enough.
Cluster feeding is healthy and normal. As long as you're feeding on demand, baby is generally getting enough milk. He should have 1 wet diaper per day of life until 5 days old, and past that should stay about 5-6 wet diapers a day.
1 day old = 1 wet diaper
2 days old = 2 wet diapers
3 days old = 3 wet diapers
4 days old = 4 wet diapers
5 days old = 5 wet diapers
6+ days old = 5-6 wet diapers
They'll eat more often around certain times of day, as well as when they're teething, going through a growth spurt, or not feeling well. Let them feed as often as they want to. It will build your supply!

Tip 3: It hurts your nipples.
Many, many mamas don't realize that a bad latch will only equal pain for her and frustration for both parties. A good latch means the baby is latched on to more than just the nipple. Make sure baby's mouth is open wide and she gets most of the areola in her mouth as well.
It may help to look up lactation consultants in your area.
For already sore nipples, you can hand express a bit of breastmilk, rub onto the nipple and allow to air dry. This will promote healing and will soothe sore nipples.
Lanolin cream also helps many mamas, but in my experience made it worse. I recommend Earth Mama Angel Baby nipple butter! Always, always allow to air dry after a feeding to prevent sore, cracked nipples.
It may also help to break the seal after a feeding by sliding your finger between baby's gums rather than letting her slide off the nipple when she's done.
It will hurt in the beginning. Don't give up.
There is no way to "toughen up" nipple skin. Attempting to do so will only hurt and frustrate you for nothing!

Tip 4: Drink water.
Tons of it. Drink water all day long and take in an extra 500 calories to keep your supply up! If it's been established that you do in fact have a low supply, oatmeal, mother's milk tea, lactation cookies and fenugreek will all help to increase your supply.

Tip 5: Do NOT supplement.
Supplementing will do nothing but hurt your supply. Only supplement if baby isn't gaining weight or making enough wet diapers! Supplementing means baby is at the breast less, which signals your body to produce less. If you do have to supplement, put baby to the breast before doing so to stimulate your body to increase its supply, and pump while giving a supplemented feeding!

Tip 5: Wait to introduce bottles or pacifiers.
Introducing too early can cause nipple confusion and negatively impact your breastfeeding relationship and your supply. It's generally recommended to wait 2-4 months before introducing either item.
When/if you do introduce, Soothie pacifiers are best for breastfed babies, and Breastflow bottles are also really great in my experience.

Tip 6: Don't give up.
I promise, you'll be thankful you didn't. It's heartbreaking how many mamas give up because they think they can't do it, and who regret it infinitely afterward.

Anyone with questions, feel free to message me and I will do my best to help you out. You can contact me by e-mail at birthingpeacefully@gmail.com

Happy Breastfeeding :)



Wednesday, October 9, 2013

I love being a SAHM.


I just want to take some time to make it known how much I appreciate being able to be a stay at home mom. I can't picture any job more rewarding than this, to stay home with my kids all day.
I'm so lucky and so grateful to have my father, who wants to provide for us and who wants the best for us. Thanks to him I get to live my dream - I get to be a stay at home mom, who's also a birth doula, and who has the opportunity to go through with schooling for midwifery.
Tonight, and every night, I get to sit with my son while he falls asleep. I can make sure he feels safe, secure, and comfortable while he's falling asleep. He knows I'm right here and that I'll keep him safe, and he knows he's never alone, because I don't need to be asleep at a certain time to get up for work. He IS my "work".
I love having the free time to sit down with him and do arts and crafts. I love being able to be the one who teaches him to draw his letters and numbers and circles and "planes". I love being the one who teaches him his ABCs and how to count, I love being able to teach him sign language and Italian and the sounds of the animals. I love showing him new music and dances and teaching him new things.
I love being able to breastfeed without worries, because with Noah I had a lot of trouble pumping, and just never pumped because the thought alone was anxiety provoking. He'd have expressed milk maybe once every two or three months, the rest of the time I was there to nurse him.
I love not having to leave him for eight hours a day while I paid someone else to take care of him while I work. I did that for about a year, and every day that goes by that he falls asleep in my arms or in his bed while I sit in our rocking chair singing or reading to him is another day that I am eternally grateful to be able to do this.
It can get stressful. It can be demanding. It can be chaotic. To say that it's always rainbows and butterflies would be as believable as telling you guys that I have a leprechaun on my shoulder that commands dragons and poops gold. However, no matter how trying it can be, it is always, always worth it. I would never trade it for anything.
This kid is my everything. He's nearly three and I only worked outside of the home for 1/3 of his life, only for a year, and I still can't believe how big he is, how old he's getting. When you're a stay at home mom for the majority of your kid's life, how does the time pass by so fast? How can it feel like I brought him home yesterday when I've been here every single day? 
I can't wait to welcome Sparrow to the family and spend every single day with both of my littles. Only fourteen short days until he's "due" to arrive earthbound, but I think he might be here a little earlier than that. But who knows? Only time will tell. :)

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Birth Bag

*at home!*

I had contractions for three straight hours last night. Yep. That was fun!
Not.
Anyway, it got me thinking that it might be nice to make a post about what's in my birth bag. For me, not for my clients. Keep in mind, I'm having a home birth, so it's a bit different from a hospital bag!

Must Haves:

1. Black garbage bags.
You know, for getting rid of tissues and other bloody things, like paper towels and whatnot.
2. Gallon-size zip-loc bags.
For putting the placenta in to transport home, where I've decided to encapsulate it myself.
3. Arnica.
For bruising and muscle soreness.
4. Tylenol and Motrin.
For post-partum cramping.
5. Three large bowls that can be thrown out.
One is for the placenta, one is for puking, and one for warm compresses.
6. Honey.
For energy during labor if I don't feel like eating.
7. Two sets of sheets.
One will get bloody. I'll want clean ones afterward.
8. Plastic mattress cover.
For obvious reasons. Don't want a bloody, placenta-y, amniotic fluid filled mattress haha!
9. Six receiving blankets and six washcloths.
For the baby and for my face, respectively.
10. One unopened roll of soft paper towels.
These will be on my vagina at some point.
11. Four bottles of Gatorade, Smart Water or juice.
It'll probably be Gatorade, gotta replenish those electrolytes and whatnot!
12. Clothes and diapers for me and Sparrow (& Bug & Curtis!)
I hope that's self explanatory guys!
13. Sanitary pads.
To catch my uterus while it's fallin' out and junk.
14. Thermometer.
In case we need it.
15. Two bottles of peroxide.
To get blood out of stuff, like the carpet.
16. Laundry basket.
I'm actually not entirely sure what purpose this is meant to serve, but it's what I'm taking everything in.

Nice To Haves:

*Hair ties
*Toothbrushes
*Toothpaste
*Hairbrush
*My pillow
*My blanket
*Hair stuff
*Vitamins
*Nursing bras
*Camera & cord
*Laptop & cord
*Lotion
*Books

To Entertain The Little:

*Bear & Monkey
*Books
*Paper
*Crayons
*Craft stuff
*School work (no, really, he loves this stuff!)

And that's about what I'll be bringing with me to Vermont. The must-haves, nice-to-haves, and entertainment for the midget!


Friday, October 4, 2013

"37 weeks" is how you spell "miserable"


I am. I quit. I'm miserable. And I'm miserably typing this knowing my keystrokes are driving Curtis crazy, who's trying to sleep next to me, but I can't sleep and I'm late for an update.
I'm 37 weeks. More specifically, 37 weeks and 2 days along. Or by my new due date (the 22nd, but y'all know I go by the 23rd) I'm 37 weeks and 3 days along. Yeah, liking that one better right now for sure. Nineteen days to go! Ugh. Still going by the 23rd though.
So we're officially term. Not full term. Delivering at this point is safe, he'd make it, most likely wouldn't need the NICU. His lungs are nearly mature and he's practicing breathing, but I'd rather keep him in until at least the 20th, despite the pain. Preferably the 23rd. He's the size of a winter melon, about 18.5in long and about 6 or 7 pounds. He's practicing breathing, sucking, gripping, blinking and continuing to pack on the cute little chubby baby fat. At this point he'll gain about 1/2 an ounce every day until his birth day. Everything's packed and ready to go to VT for our homebirth, all I have left is my birth kit which is 1 day shipping the day I get my check. Yep, starting to get anxious now. I'll be headed up there on the 16th, the day I turn 39 weeks, with Noah. 
I can't wait to be comfortable again. I can't wait to not have heartburn, to be able to lie on my back or my belly or hell, lie down at all without acid reflux returning with a vengeance. I can't wait to be able to sleep. I can't wait to be able to eat and to walk without waddling, to be able to have spicy food again, to have my belly back, to wear clothes that fit me. I can't wait to be able to get comfortable or to go in a hot tub. I can't wait for nosy strangers to forget I exist sans belly, like they always will. I hate people who pretend they care because they feel obligated, I'd prefer to be left alone, especially at this crabby, moody stage of pregnancy.
Most of all, and probably most obviously, I can't wait to meet and hold my baby, to nurse him and snuggle him and tell him how much I love him and how all of this was worth it, every discomfort, every struggle, every doubt was worth it because it resulted in a happy, healthy baby.

We got a new dresser from a friend of mine, which is awesome. It's so big that I have one drawer that fits all of Sparrow's clothes, one drawer that fits all of Noah's clothes (and believe me, they have a LOT) and even an entire drawer dedicated to my cloth stash.
Which I was so proud of and happy about that I took a picture.



This isn't all of it, obviously, but it's what we're starting with and I'm SO excited. I love fluffy cloth butts!
I'm so happy for this new dresser too. Our old one was mine from when I was a kid and the drawers were broken beyond repair. It was bittersweet to toss it over the porch - watching childhood memories go, but I can't deny my love for watching things smash into a buzmillion pieces. I'm still a kid at heart. Watching things smash makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.








Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Let's talk about cord burning


I've recently (and by recently I mean yesterday) decided that rather than cut the cord and clamp it, I'd like to burn it.
Burning the cord rather than cutting it reduces the risk of infection (not that there's much risk at all in Western civilization) and to me is a much more peaceful, beautiful method of separating the baby from the placenta.
One way I saw it worded was, "your baby was growing inside you for nine months, it only seems right that you would take your time separating the cord!" To me, it makes a lot of sense. To be cozy, comfortable and growing inside you for so long, it does seem sort of absurd to just snip it and be done with it, doesn't it?
It seems more peaceful, more pleasant to burn it and slowly separate it, just like you slowly grew and nourished your baby inside of you. It just seems right!
I did look into lotus birthing for a while, but we decided that it wouldn't be very practical for us and I like this as an alternative. I feel like it ties into the birth experience I want very well, and I feel it's representative of both me and my baby.
There are a few ways to do this. You do need two tapered candles, and something to collect the wax.
You can find beautiful hand painted cord burning boxes here, but I think we're gonna make ours ourselves. We'll see!
Two people will burn the cord, so you need two tapered candles to hold beneath it.

I'm really into looking into things too much and I can't decide on what color candles to use. I'm stuck between white, black, purple, blue and orange.
White represents health, cleansing, purity and truth.
Black represents spellbreaking, separation and the banishment of evil.
Purple represents power, protection and keeping evil away.
Orange represents friendship, stimulation and dreams.
Blue represents peace and wisdom.

Since there are two candles used to burn the cord, I suppose we could pick one of each color. This makes the decision slightly easier, but I can still only choose 2/5!
I'm trying to think of something we could use to collect the wax, and trying to decide whether to use it for all my babies or to have a different one for each of them... Hmm. Decisions, decisions.
Anyway, the process takes 5-10 minutes on average. It's very peaceful and relaxing (have I mentioned this enough yet?). The candles may need to be re-lit, because the little bits of fluid that come out of the cord can put them out. There is also usually a pop while burning as the cord blood gases release, but this generally only happens once during the process.
You'll want to keep the cord away from the baby, wrapped in gauze, as it will be very hot to the touch. You're generally left with about 6in of cord, and when cooled you can tie a knot in it or just leave it as is. Within 24 hours it dries and shrivels up against the baby's skin, and generally will fall off 1-3 days later - as opposed to up to 10-12 days later when you simply cut it.

You can find great little bags to save the umbilical cord stump here for about $30 each. They're handmade and very beautiful! I still haven't decided if we're going to buy one or make our own, but again - we'll see!



Friday, September 27, 2013

Nature bags!


So, we're going on a hike with a friend of mine on Sunday. As many of you probably know, nature hikes are Bug's favorite thing, so of course he's as excited as I am!
I know, how can someone who's 36 weeks pregnant and waddles be excited to go walk waddle through the wilderness? It's still fun to me, and something new to do. I love hiking!
I know Bug is going to want to collect pinecones and acorns and sticks and leaves like always, he loves bringing this stuff home! So we decided to make nature bags and I thought it'd be nice to document so you guys can, too! :)

*Side Note: You can also use this tutorial to make re-usable trick-or-treat bags for Halloween, since that's coming up pretty fast!*

Materials:
*An old t-shirt you no longer wear/use
*Sharp scissors/fabric scissors
*(Optional) Fabric glue
*(Optional) Fabric paint


Riley is my sister, who also wanted a nature bag haha. Bug had two of those shirts, so it was perfect to cut up since he had another. Plus, what better theme for a nature bag?!
Anyway, you'll want a decent sized flat surface to work on. We used the kitchen table.


Now you're going to take those scissors and start cutting up your shirt!
First, cut off the sleeves. Cut inside the seam (so you're cutting the seam off).
Second, do the same around the neckline. If you don't want a scoop neckline, you can make a triangle or whatever floats your boat. I don't care, s'long as you like it!
Third, cut off the bottom of the shirt, where it's hemmed. Cut right above the seam, just like with the sleeves and neckline. Keep that bottom strip handy!


Now cut some strips through both layers of fabric all along the bottom. I'd suggest about 1/2in-1in wide and 1in-2in long. Longer strips will be easier to tie! I found that out the hard way with Bug's shirt, but it's a 2T shirt so I only had so much to work with haha.


Remember that strip from the bottom of the shirt? Cut that into 4 strips of equal length. I took the picture at an angle so they don't look too even, but trust me, they're pretty even haha.


Now, back to those strips! Tie the front strip to the back one, directly behind it. Repeat with all the strips all the way across the bottom. This is closing the bottom of the bag. If you plan on putting smaller objects in the bag, or heavier objects, you can reinforce the ties by dabbing the knots with fabric glue. Since we're just using ours for pinecones, acorns, leaves, sticks, etc. we didn't reinforce the knots, but who knows - maybe we'll do that when we make Halloween ones!


Now take those 4 equal-sized strips you cut and tie one on the front of each handle and on the back of each handle. This step is totally optional, but I thought it looked cuter and just better in general. Less plain, I guess. The kids liked how it looked, too. If you want to, you can also reinforce these knots with fabric glue. I don't see much of a point, honestly, but I guess with older toddlers/children there's the "risk" (for lack of a better word) of them untying and losing those strips? I dunno. Do what you want with them haha, it's your bag!


And now your nature bag is all finished! If you have fabric paint, you can paint your own designs or whatever, even iron ons if you have them! Decorate your bag however you like!
Now we're all set for Sunday's nature walk :)