Ten Months

Happy double digits to M! She’s ten months old now — wow. The ease with which she gets around makes her seem so much older than just a month ago. She’s not just a little baby anymore; she’s nearly a toddler. It’s hard to believe that she’ll be an entire year old soon! Last August, I had my baby shower, and I still had no idea what M would be like when she finally arrived. Now I get to spend my days playing with the sweetest baby ever!

Size: M is around 19lbs and just over 28” long. Sometimes it seems like she’s got such long legs. But since she now spends a lot of time on her feet, cruising around the furniture, I can see that she’s still just a little shorty, really.

Likes and Dislikes: She LOVES being able to move around! I never thought I’d say that life gets easier once a baby starts crawling, but it’s true for us — just at the moment, at least. She’s so independent and content these days, since she can get to whatever she wants. She loves crawling over to the living room windows to look outside. I think she likes the combination of interesting sights and being able to stand up and move back and forth along the windows.

This isn’t new, but I have to say that she really seems to enjoy her carseat. There are times when that’s not 100% true — she’ll complain if we have to get back in the car after a long ride and not much of a break. But for the most part, she seems really happy to play with toys and practicing talking back there. If she gets sleepy, she easily falls asleep, and when she wakes up again, she goes right back to playing.

It’s hard to think of many dislikes for this month — she’s been EXTRA laid-back and happy. She has a little more stranger danger and definitely doesn’t like for strangers to hold her, but she’s not bothered by much if she’s in my arms. And once she has a chance to warm up to a person, she does fine.

Eating: Nothing has changed with M’s bottles, but she’s eating a bit more solid food these days. I’ve been making sure she eats oatmeal every day to get some extra iron. She’s gotten pretty tired of it now, so it’s a challenge to get that oatmeal into her. She seems to enjoy trying new foods, though, and there’s not much I can think of that she’s had a bad reaction to. She still occasionally has problems swallowing and will bring some food back up, but I’m giving her time to figure things out before assuming that it’s still a problem with the stricture.

Sleeping: The only thing that has changed with sleep is that she goes to bed at 7:00pm now. It seems to have helped the mornings a little — she’ll usually sleep until 5:30-6:00am. That’s not too bad! I rarely hear a peep out of her all night long, and even when she does wake up, she quickly gets herself back to sleep. She is just a dream baby when it comes to sleep these days. Naps are great, too!

Working On / Accomplishments: It’s been another big month! I think she would say that her mobility has been the biggest development. She crawls like a pro now, and she can pull up on furniture and cruise around. I sit on the floor while she plays a lot of the time, and she just does her own thing until she wants some cuddles (or wrestling), and then she comes right over to me. She’s been practicing standing up on her own with nothing to hold onto, and she can move around a room by going from a laundry basket to a dresser, etc. It makes me wonder how far off walking is! Generally, the way she moves her body seems so more controlled now than it did even a month ago. She sat down on her popcorn tin like a stool the other day, while looking at books. She did eventually fall off, but she sat there for quite a while — very cute!

M got three upper teeth this month. The front right one and both lateral incisors. I can’t see any sign of the front left tooth yet, which is funny. She hasn’t seemed too bothered by all the teeth, aside from lots of extra chewing.

Her language comprehension continues to grow. She know the ‘names’ of some of her toys, and she knows where to look when I ask her what’s happening outside or where her books are. She still doesn’t say any words, but she babbles a lot.

Other Stuff: We went to a big swimming pool this month, and we also got a little inflatable pool to play in at home. Just like with baths, she doesn’t do any splashing or specific goofing around, but she always seems to enjoy being in the water.

We did a bit of traveling this month (to Madison, WI right after she turned nine months old, and to St. Cloud last weekend), and she did great both times with the car rides and the change of routine and location. She’s my easy-going baby!

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Weekend Fun

We’ve had a fun weekend! We went to St. Cloud to visit a friend on Saturday, spent the night, and then saw my cousin and her little boy this morning before driving home. And our neighbors hosted a horse show today, and we went over to watch for a little while once we were back. It was rainy and cool, so M had to wear long sleeves and trousers for the first time in a while. She really wears that side-front pigtail well, doesn’t she? Not many people can pull of that sort of look.

M is funnier every day, I think. She’s been getting three or four teeth up top all at once — the right central incisor and both lateral incisors. The left front one might be coming in, too, but it’s not as far as the others. She’s been a good sport, though, since that’s her way. She’s just excited to be able to crawl to whatever she wants — such freedom! She’s getting pretty good at cruising around furniture, and she can balance for a little while while standing on her own, so I wonder how far off walking is. I don’t know if I’m ready for that!

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Play Tepee

I finished M’s tepee! It’s for her birthday, though, so now it’s sitting in the closet for the next two months and a bit. I’d like to make a coordinating cushion to go inside, along with a small length of bunting to decorate the outside, so my work isn’t done yet. It’s hard to wait to give it to her, though! She likes playing in her Pack ‘n’ Play as long as I put a muslin blanket over the top, to make it feel like a little cave — so I think she’s going to have fun with her tepee.

I used this tutorial, although I did a few small things differently. I made the opening by cutting two separate pieces for the front panel and then seaming them together. Then I could fold and press the edges and hem them under, which gave a nice finish along the entire length without having to fuss with bias tape. I’d also recommend not wrapping the rope around the dowels until you have the fabric on them and you’ve got the tepee all set up. You won’t know exactly how wide the dowels have to be splayed out until you’ve got the fabric on, and the rope will make it hard to adjust them. (If you look at step one of that tutorial, you’ll see how the dowels are held together by threading the rope through drilled holes, but the wrapping it mostly just decorative.

I’m having mixed feelings about whether to attempt a party for M’s birthday. First birthday parties are definitely NOT for the child, but I do think it would be fun to celebrate her awesomeness with other people (no official party will probably mean just my parents and I to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to her). It’s hard to expect people to drive all the way out here, though, especially for something like a first birthday party. What do you think? Did you throw parties for your kids before they were old enough to understand them? I feel like it would be mainly for the photos and, like I said, to celebrate what a cool little girl M is.

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Leaves and Flowers

So, I didn’t get around to making a meal plan for this week, but M and I did drive down to the co-op on Monday. I’d like to make it a weekly trip, even though it’s an hour away. I just feel better about the food I can get there, and as M starts to eat more and more solid food, I’d like for as much of it as possible to be organic. Our local supermarket has made a lot of progress in the last year, with sections for organic produce and vegetarian meals, but it’s still not the same as being able to do all the shopping in one place. I’ve had this salad for dinner three days in a row — not a lot of creativity, but at least it’s healthy. Lettuce, dressing, avocado, tomato, sauteed green beans, olives, tempeh (sauteed with a little soy sauce for flavor), and garlic sesame sticks. I’ve been toasting up some great sourdough that’s made locally, but I guess the co-op doesn’t get any bread on Mondays, so all I have left from last week are the tiny heel pieces.

Anyway, M usually plays on the floor or in her high chair while I get dinner ready, and it makes me feel good that she sees me actually chopping up vegetables instead of just making another grilled cheese (or whatever). She still doesn’t eat a ton of solid food, although she happily tries anything I give her. She just gets bored before she’s eaten very much. I’m making sure she eats at least a full serving of baby oatmeal now, though. I asked her doctor about iron last week, and she prescribed some vitamin drops that are awful. M didn’t want to take them (even in a bottle), and I didn’t want to smell vitamins all day long (I don’t know how/where it lingered for so long!). So she’s just going to HAVE to eat the oatmeal. It usually takes two mealtimes for her to finish an entire serving, but it took her a while to warm up to drinking more than a few ounces at a time, too.

And just because they’re pretty, here are some flowers from outside. The one in the center is a little sunflower that the birds planted, and the rest are (I think) chrysanthemums that are growing alongside the house. I didn’t notice them the first summer, and everything by the house got mowed down when the painters painted the house last year. But they’re huge and full of flowers this year!

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Kitchen Cabinets Are DONE!

Ahhh! It’s done, it’s done! It’s — okay, it’s not actually DONE, but it’s close enough that I can post photos and do a little happy dance. I still have to caulk a few seams and then touch them up with a tiny paint brush, and when Rob gets here, I need him to pull the fridge out so I can paint in its little cubby. But other than that — done! Brace yourself for a long post.

Rob and I sometimes imagine what we would change about this house if we won the lottery, and the kitchen has always been fairly high on would-be-nice list. Then I started to think about how I’d lay the kitchen out differently, and I had to admit that it was actually pretty functional the way it was. And there were a few issues with the cabinets, but they were fairly decent quality — the color was just completely not to our taste. So I wound up thinking that the kitchen would be pretty amazing if I just painted the cabinets. A big undertaking with a baby in the house, but (obviously) not impossible. I think if I could have just dedicated myself 100% to the project, it would have taken a solid week (with some down time for drying paint). As it was, it took… a lot longer than that.

I’ve painted a lot of stuff, and I kind of enjoy painting, but the thought of all the prep work involved in painting the cabinets really got me down. Luckily, that was (mostly) stuff I could do while M played nearby, so I removed the doors here and there and got the cabinet boxes taped off when I had the time. I was prepared to paint inside the cupboards, by the way, but I when I started to look closely at them, I realized they were pressed board with a birch-look paper coating. The outsides are oak veneer (the doors are solid oak), so I figured they wouldn’t look any worse with a mismatched inside + outside than they already did. (And the light ‘birch’ color actually wound up looking quite nice with the painted outsides.)

So over the course of a few days, I managed to prep the cabinet boxes after M went to bed at night — I scrubbed them with deglosser and did a little puttying where necessary and then sanding. I didn’t sand everything (just where I’d puttied), and it was hard to tell if the deglosser really did anything, but there was and has been zero bleed-through of the original stain/poly, so whatever I did seems to have worked. After a few more days, I primed and painted everything. Rob and I had started talking about painting the cabinets in mid-April, and by mid-May the kitchen looked like this:

Not bad! Just, you know, no doors on anything. And that’s the way it stayed for… um… almost two and a half months? I kind of got used to being able to grab things and put away dishes without having to open a door first. But I’ve learned that I absolutely don’t want open shelf storage — that look (even if I were more organized) just isn’t for me.

Prepping the doors took a long time. My mom VERY helpfully scrubbed them all down for me, and then I used the deglosser and had to putty the cracks between the faces and edge pieces of all the white doors (eighteen of them — twelve on the bottom, but I figured the gaps wouldn’t show with the dark paint, and they don’t, luckily). Then I had to sand that putty, which was one of my least favorite steps. I know a lot of people caulk cracks like that, but I couldn’t get it as smooth as I wanted, and the stuff I had wasn’t meant to be sanded. Finally, I brought all the prepped doors out to our barn, and that’s where they sat for a long time.

I was really daunted by the paint sprayer we’d got for the doors. Not so much the spraying part, but the clean-up. What I like about using a roller is that you can wrap everything in plastic while you wait for a coat to dry. I didn’t want the paint sprayer to clog up, so I knew I’d have to clean it between coats. Which meant I’d lose almost an entire nap time to painting and cleaning for each coat. It didn’t really take that long, in the end. It was maybe forty minutes to do a coat on the uppers + cleaning, and just twenty minutes for the lower cabinet doors.

Maybe this is a good time to mention that I used Glidden Duo, a paint and primer in one. But I still primed everything with Zinsser 1-2-3. The white for the uppers (Lamb) was much thicker than the darker bottom color (Anvil). That was nice when I was using a little foam roller for the cabinet boxes, but I had a heck of a time getting the sprayer settings to work with the white paint. I finished those by the end of July, right before we went to Madison. So they were nicely cured when we got back, and I was happy to hang them up again. The dark paint for the lower doors sprayed on like a dream and covered them completely in just two coats. I let them dry for a few days and finished hanging them this morning.

And after all that work? I am so, SO, so-so-so happy with the way everything looks! The kitchen is just as I imagined it. The only thing that isn’t is that you can see the wood grain texture under the paint, and I’ve wound up loving that — it makes them feel much higher end than smooth, laminated board. It’s amazing how much more I love the unchanged elements of the kitchen now. I had been feeling like maybe we made the wrong choice with the Corian counters, but they look fantastic with the new colors. The slate behind the stove also matches well. And the maple floors really shine now that they aren’t competing with the reddish wood of the cabinets. The only thing left to do (besides the aforementioned caulking and touching up) is to trim out the tops of the cabinets. I’m guessing we’ll probably just put some crown molding up there, but I love the idea of having a little extra storage like this.

Other little bits to mention include switching the old drawer pulls for bin pulls (we reused the ‘old’ — 2012 — door pulls, though). I took down the decorative shelf that used to be to the right of the window, since I knew it would look a bit old fashioned even painted white. I hung up a couple photos of M instead. I also painted that window, since it would have look strange to have stained oak in the middle of all that painted wood. Both Rob and I love white trim, so it’s hard to resist replacing/painting more of it right now. Rob installed under-cabinet lights on both side of the oven (I turned them on for the photos!), and he did a great job with them. Oh, and I have to mention that roll-up door of the appliance garage (in the corner). I painted that thing with a teeny brush, slat by slat. Inside every groove. It was the very first thing I did because I knew it would be a pain in my butt, but it’s holding up well so far.

Anyway, kitchen cupboards = done. (Nearly done. Mostly done. Done enough.) Totally worth it! It really feels like having a whole new kitchen. To end with, here are three photos from the same angle. The first is from January 2012, when we did our initial walk-through. The second is from June 2012, after the new counters had gone in (the cabinets were the only original element in the kitchen by that point). And then the last photo is from today. Hooray!

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I wish I could have a couple of extra days a week to dedicate to various projects. I finally finished painting the kitchen cupboards doors (!!!), so there are only a few small tasks to take care of before that big project is done. Then I’ll be able to refocus on some other stuff with my free time instead of feeling guilty about not working on the kitchen. I have managed to sew another Geranium dress in the 12-18mos size and then eked out enough fabric from the same single yard to sew a shirt in the 6-12mos size.

I also took the skirt off that Oliver + S dress I made and replaced it with a simple gathered skirt (in the photo above). I just didn’t like the shape of the old one, and as pretty as the Cath Kidston fabric was, I wasn’t feeling it. So after I cut out pieces for ANOTHER Geranium dress, I used the leftover fabric to make the new skirt. It’s a lot better, but there’s still something off — I think the bodice is just too big. It looks much more like it should be 12-18mos instead of 6-12mos, so I’m hoping it’ll start to fit better as M gets closer to a year old.

I’m looking forward to getting back to my Fezziwig knitting. I have the sleeves and collar left to do, and it would be nice to have it ready to go by the time it gets cooler outside. But then I feel like I will be the same size for a pretty long time, whereas if I want to knit a cardigan for M, I should probably get cracking on that. Hmmm, choices. I also really want to make her a pair of knitted boots for the winter. Basically some garter-stitch booties, but taller, and with something on the sole to make them a little more durable.

AND I’m definitely making one of these for M’s first birthday. I bought the fabric yesterday and have the dowels ordered from Home Depot. I might have to make little cushions or a quilt to go inside. I just moved the family room bookcases back along the wall (I did this back in January, but I never thought of a good way to secure them, and I didn’t particularly want Maris to get squashed now that she’s crawling), so now there’s plenty of room for a TEPEE! I think she’ll love it!

Any other awesome projects or patterns I should add to my list?

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Food Stuff

Remember when I used to get really excited about food and cooking? Probably not, because it was so long ago. Blah. I’ve said a few times that I really have to make a better effort now that M is eating solid food (in theory — she doesn’t eat much, quantity-wise, although she’s quite open to trying everything). I’ve just felt so unimaginative when meal times roll around, so I made a meal plan for this week. Nothing to live and die by, but I do find that I stick to the meals more often than not (especially since I can shop for them in advance instead of realizing I’m missing several key ingredients). It also helps that M has been quite a little buddy lately, crawling around on the kitchen floor and happily going through the contents of the recycling cupboard while I cook.

I had looked at some of the free recipes on the Cook Smarts site — you can switch to a vegetarian version on most (all?) of the recipes, but it’s still not a meal-planning service I’d ever use regularly. I thought their tofu ‘fish’ tacos sounded interesting, though, so I gave them a shot. Not so great. The slaw seemed off (too much oil, not enough vinegar, hardly any flavor, overall), and this was a time when simply subbing in tofu for a meat (fish) didn’t quite work — again, not enough flavor. But the sprouted corn tortillas I found at the co-op were great, and sour cream, salsa, and cilantro go a long way toward making anything delicious.

I also made one of my favorites: Krunchy Kale Salad. I don’t know what it is about that combination — roasted veggies, crispy kale, chickpeas, and a balsamic reduction — but it’s just perfect. And once everything is chopped up, it’s easy to prepare a second time. What sorts of meals are you really loving right now?

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We’re currently in a lull between Minnesota plagues (the flies seem to be gone, and the grasshoppers are still only tiny), so we were able to enjoy some outside time yesterday evening. The mosquitoes have been so bad this year that we really haven’t been able to be out much in the yard — very disappointing. I only saw one yesterday, though; unfortunately, it had landed right on the end of M’s nose, so now she has a little red dot there. M had a nice time sitting on a blanket (not very interested in crawling on that grass), watching Nova chase sticks. Henny made sure everything had been sniffed. I saw the tiniest green frog, but he wouldn’t hold still long enough for a photo.

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Little Toad

Here’s a little guy who hopped out of the grass when I was mowing the dogs’ area with the push mower. There are so many frogs and toads this year! This one was about as big as the end of my thumb.

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Geranium Dress

Another new dress for M! I love how quick and easy it is to sew such small clothes. I had gone off sewing clothes for M when I realized that the knit-fabric items I’d made for her held up less well than store-bought clothes. Not the stitching, but the fabric itself — it got more pilly and worn looking after a few washes, and baby clothes get washed a lot. But regular woven fabric seems to hold up better for me. I’ve got a lot of fabric in my stash that I’ve been using up, too! This time around, I bought Rae’s Geranium dress pattern and tried it out. I made it with the faux-cap sleeves and pleats in the skirt. I like it!

I used a light-weight corduroy from Liberty (years old, now) and made it in the 12-18mos size, so it’ll fit in winter. That didn’t stop me from trying it on M right now, though! She’s usually game for some goofing around. It’s big, of course, but I can see that it’ll fit nicely in a few months.

My small changes to the pattern/instructions were to top-stitch around the collar and arm holes (I’ve noticed some patterns call for this, some not, but I think it keeps things lying nice and flat) and to take 2.25″ off the length of the skirt. I just don’t like really long skirts on dresses, and M will be wearing it with leggings in the winter, anyway. The instructions say to finish the skirt seams as you like, so I actually did French seams, which means there are no raw edges inside the dress. That’s particularly great because the corduroy was fray-crazy!

I’m not in love with this fabric, color-wise, but it’s not too bad. It was great to work with, at least, holding creases well when I ironed it, and the pleats came out wonderfully. Like I mentioned, I’ve been using fabric from my existing stash, but I’ve actually ordered a couple of new (to me) prints from Crafty Planet to make more iterations of this pattern. They’re pretty different from this fabric!

Here’s M in her too-big dress, along with her too-big new cardigan. I bought it on sale from Nordstrom, in a moment of I-could-make-this-but-will-I-really?-ness. You can still get it here. The hood is so pointy and cute. And now that I’m thinking about winter clothes for M, I’m tempted to make this cardigan for her — I’ve got yarn already that would be perfect. I have to finish my own sweater, first, though. It’s my new rule. But before I go back to working on that, I have to finish painting the kitchen cabinets. At least I got all the white (upper) doors painted and hung back up — just have to do the grey lower doors, now!

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