DIY Nursing-Friendly Nightgown

The first few weeks after having a baby are my favorite; it’s the only time you’re allowed to just sit around in pjs all day long, resting, eating whatever you want and snuggling a precious new baby.  Life doesn’t get any better!

Today I’ve got a tutorial for the perfect postpartum nightgown: long, stretchy, lots of coverage and nursing-accessible!  Of course you can make one even if you don’t have a new baby, and if you leave off the placket, it’s a super quick project!

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Supplies:

2 yards very stretchy knit fabric
4 matching buttons (if attaching optional placket)
10″ x 10″ piece of lightweight fusible interfacing
coodinating thread

1. Find the stretch of your fabric and fold in half with the stretch running horizontally (perpendicular to the fold).  Cut out front and back of nightgown according to diagram (the diagram show just the front bodice being cut out on the fold, but you’ll need to cut out a back as well!).  Cut out sleeves and placket also, ensuring that the stretch runs across the width of the sleeves.

2. Lay your front and back pieces on top of each other, right sides together.  Sew along the shoulders and side seams, using a stretch stitch or serger, Press seams well.

3. Sew underarm seams of sleeves by folding sleeve in half lengthwise, RST, and stitching along the long raw edge, using a stretch stitch.  Press well and repeat with second sleeve.

4. Turn bodice inside out and sleeve right side out.  Insert your sleeve into the sleeve opening of bodice (insert narrower opening in first!), matching up raw edges and underarm seam with bodice side seam.  Stitch sleeve to bodice using a stretch stitch; press well.

5.  Fold under raw edges of sleeves and bodice hem and topstitch using a double needle; press well.  You can also choose to leave your sleeves and hem raw since knit doesn’t fray!

6.  Create neck facing: Measure the circumference of your neckline and subtract 1-2″ (you want your facing to be shorter than your neckline so that it pulls the neckline taut when sewn together.  How much shorter depends on the stretch of the fabric…here I cut mine 2″ shorter that the neckline because my fabric was super stretchy; if your fabric is less stretchy, try making it just 1″ shorter.  It’s kind of a trial and error thing!)  Cut out a neck facing measuring 1″ x the length you just calculated (neckline minus 1-2″).  Sew short ends of facing, right sides together, to create a loop.

7.  Pin facing to neckline, right sides together, stretching facing to distribute evenly around neckline.  Stitch facing to neckline using a 1/4″ seam allowance and a stretch stitch, again stretching facing to fit.  Press facing & seam allowance away from bodice, and then press raw edge of facing under 1/4″.  Fold facing to inside of garment, pressing again.  Topstitch facing to bodice, close to folded edge, using a stretch stitch.

This video is a great resource for sewing a knit facing, in case you haven’t done this technique before!

8.  OPTIONAL button placket: Cut a rectangle out of the center front of your your nightgown measuring 10″ x 1″.  Here I’m gonna save you the chore of reading a really wordy explanation that doesn’t make any sense and instead have you watch this video! It’s a great, simple explanation for inserting a placket.  (Note: I used a very lightweight interfacing because I was using a very thin knit fabric…you don’t want to go too much heavier than your fabric!)

And voila!  A perfectly cozy, comfy nightgown perfect for lounging with or without a new baby!

Why your kids need you (and only you)

Doubts about our abilities as mothers are totally normal…but completely unfounded.
Here’s why your kids need you as their mom!

Happy Friday, friends!  Life has been verrrrry interesting lately, what with this new baby around and the stress of figuring out how to manage and balance all of my mothering responsibilities.  Every big transition is like that, don’t you think?  Super crazy and overwhelming for a while, then you gradually settle into a routine and, for better or for worse, this becomes your new normal.

I’ve realized that anytime life throws us curveballs, lots of insecurities and doubts tend to come along with them.  Thoughts about what we’re messing up and about how the rest of our life may be adversely affected by these changes.  Having a new baby means less housework gets done, less time spent with the other kids, fewer opportunities to finish work projects and thoughts about whether or not we’re up for all the new responsibilities and stressors.

Being a mom of a big family means that I struggle with self-doubt and insecurities every. single. day.  I strongly believe that God called me to be a mom, to have all these kids, to homeschool them and to lead the life we live.  But that doesn’t mean that I don’t constantly wonder about all the ways I’m failing every day.

Here’s the thing: your kids are your kids on purpose.  It’s no crapshoot that each family ends up together; all parents have personality traits, talents and abilities designed to help prepare their specific kids to become the best people they can be.  I know that sounds like a tall order to fill; personally it seems impossible that I could ever give all my children everything they need.

The important thing to remember is how little our kids actually need to thrive.  Yes, that’s right…how little.  They don’t need Pinterest parties or a mom in runway-worthy looks or even homecooked meals.  I know I’ve talked about this before, but when Luke and I got certified to become foster parents, we walked out of the training thinking about how we, and every single parent we know, are doing a pretty freaking stellar job.  We love our kids, we try to do right by them and we leave the rest up to God.

None of us knows exactly what sorts of trials we (or our children) will encounter in our lives.  But I really believe that we’ll be equipped to handle them because of the families we’ve been given.  Sure, our kids drive us crazy and our parents aren’t perfect – but we’re meant to be right where we are.

While our children don’t need picture perfect moms and dads, they do need parents who  love each other and their kids and who admit and apologize when they make mistakes.  They need parents who realize the blessings of being a parent and at least try to enjoy it now and then!  Parenthood ain’t for sissies…but I know each of us has what it takes to be GREAT at it!

New Mom Essentials GIVEAWAY!

GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED!
Congrats to our winner, Jordan F.!

I am SO excited for today’s giveaway post!  I partnered up with a few of my favorite mom bosses to give away some of the most amazing baby products…over $400 worth of gear!  Read on for all the details, share this post with all your expectant or new mommy friends and be sure to enter via the Rafflecopter widget below!

  1.  KB Cute knotted gown and beanie – I’ve followed KB Cute’s shop forever and have always loved their gorgeous fabrics and baby products.  Recently I got to meet Kerri, the brains and talent behind the operation and she’s as sweet as they come.  Every baby deserves one of her perfectly soft sleeper gowns and hats!
  2. Joonie Car Seat Cover – Not only is this ingenious car seat cover waterproof, windproof and made with ventilation windows, it also comes in 3 cute colorways, folds up into a tiny little carrying pouch AND was designed by my husband’s super talented cousin Danielle.  It’s the perfect way to keep baby comfortable and protected from the elements and curious hands!
  3. Puj Tub – If you’ve ever bathed a newborn before, you know that it can be a harrowing experience!  No matter where I’ve tried it (in a big tub, in the shower, in a sink, in a bulky baby tub) every scenario made me terrified that I would drown my baby or never be able to get her fully clean.  I bought the Puj tub when it came out years ago and have never looked back!  Perfect for bathing a squirmy, slippery baby comfortably and safely in any sink.  Plus, the company’s founder is my darling friend Katie who is both sweet and a powerhouse lady boss.
  4. Nesting Days Baby Carrier – There are a million and one reasons to wear your baby, and about as many ways to do it!  But my favorite way, especially in the early days, is with a soft cotton carrier.  The Nesting Days carrier mimics a traditional fabric wrap carrier, only without all the fabric and all the wrapping!  It’s especially designed to be used for skin-to-skin carrying with your new baby so it actually functions as a tank top, with easy nursing access and a fabric panel around your middle to hold you in and for modesty.  Brilliant!!
  5. Muslin Swaddle Blanket by Loved by Hannah & Eli – I’m in LOVE with this cute shop’s Mama & Baby Bear line…and their muslin swaddle blanket is to die for! Muslin swaddles are the perfect thing for wrapping up a new babe without overheating them (seriously, we have like 10 of them), and maybe wrapping your wee one in a blanket that says “Sleepy Bear” will convince them to actually sleep 🙂
  6. Puj Splash, Newborn Bath Set – Another must-have from Puj, this bath set has everything you need to keep bath essentials organized and ready when you need them.  It includes a travel-sized infant bath, 3 super soft washcloths, a hooded towel (which hooks around your neck so it’s ready to go when you pull baby out!) and 3 hooks for hanging your tub and towel on the bathroom wall or door.  I love having a Puj tub in each of our upstairs bathrooms so I can bathe Alice anywhere without hauling stuff around.
  7. Pair of Freshly Picked moccasins – If you want your baby to have any hope of a stylish future, then he/she will have to have a pair of these iconic baby shoes (did you know they even carry Mary Janes and hard soled shoes now??).  As a mom who has bought (and thrown out) countless pairs of little kid shoes, let me just say…quality matters!  And Freshly Picked’s quality is unparalleled.
    Fine print:
     Only open to USA residents.  Winners of any giveaway which included Freshly Picked moccasins in the past 60 days are not eligible.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The 4th Trimester: Leaving the House

Similar jeans – Gap and Kut from the Kloth (on sale!) || Top – Lush (my favorite and on sale!) || Similar Vest – Levi’s and Max Studio
|| Slip-ons – Caslon (so comfy!!) || Watch – Michael Kors || Sunglasses – Amazon || Similar Tote – Sole Society || Earrings – Nickel & Suede

Our little Miss Alice is 2.5 weeks old now, which means that while my body is still nowhere near normal-looking yet, I’ve had to start leaving the house and wearing something other than pajamas – boo!!  I told Luke this last week that I’ve been feeling so great this recovery, every day I’m torn between getting up and scrubbing my dirty house or just taking one more day to lounge around in sweats and snuggle my babe.  It’s a struggle!

It’s hard to be both patient and forgiving with your postpartum body, especially while trying to look decent.  I’ve collected a few tricks over the years for embracing this fourth trimester, while still feeling confident enough to be seen in public.  Here are a few of my favorite items for flattering those extra lumps and bumps; and remember, a lot of the clothes that worked during the first (and early second) trimester, will work again after baby!

  1.  Mid-rise jeans and high-rise leggings: that soft and squishy post-baby belly is gonna feel much more comfortable tucked into some high-rise pants, rather than spilling over a waistband that stops at your hips.  Leggings are stretchy and forgiving so I like to go with the highest waistband I can find, but with jeans I prefer mid-rise since your waist and hips are kind of disproprotionate right after having a baby.  For example, right now I have about 5-6 inches to lose around my waist but only 2-3 around my hips.  That makes it difficult to find super high rise jeans that fit right. The boyfriend-style I’m wearing in these pics have been a favorite of mine for after the past 2-3 pregnancies (they’re about 2 sizes bigger than what I usually wear).
  2. Long, flowy polyester-blend tops: luckily for us new mamas, loose tops are in right now!  But beware of boxy and cropped varieties which don’t do round tummies and ample bosoms any favors.  And 100% cotton tees, while comfy, tend to cling to belly squish which is less flattering.  The top I’m wearing in these pics has been the BEST for most of pregnancy and now the post-partum period.  I have it in 4 colors!
  3. Vests, cardigans and jackets: these types of outerwear are key for adding an extra element of style, while camoflauging weight around the middle.  If I had more of them, I’d wear a vest every single day!  It helps dress up even the most boring of jean/tee momiforms and helps break up the wide expanse that is a post-partum nursing chest. You all know what I’m talking about.
  4. Good-fitting bra & underwear: do yourself a huge favor and buy new lingerie for this period of life! There’s nothing quite so awful as trying to squeeze a newly post-partum booty into old bikini briefs that you wore 30 pounds ago.  Don’t do that to yourself!  Buy some nice, high-waisted granny panties in an ample size and enjoy life 🙂 Ditto for a good nursing bra.  Nobody will know if you’re wearing panties 4 sizes bigger than you usually do…and the comfort factor is more than worth it!

In the end, just try to enjoy this newborn phase of life as much as possible!  Sure, you’ve got lumps and stretch marks and rolls in places you never did before…but you also have a perfect new baby to feed and cuddle and love on.  So put on your stretchy pants, eat a couple of cookies and relax.  You’ve earned it!!

My (Super Small) Sewing Space

Is a lack of space cramping your creative style?  You can still make awesome stuff without a dedicated sewing room!

In my dream home, I have my very own office/studio, and it’s AMAZING…you ready for it??  It’s about 150 square feet, painted a cool gray with gorgeous white trim and vaulted ceilings.  There are built in bookshelves everywhere, huge windows overlooking my gorgeous green yard and like 4 huge wide tables for cutting out fabric and patterns and collecting miscellaneous crafty crap.

*Sigh* But back here on planet earth, I live in a 2300 sq ft house with 8 children.  Finding space for my creative hobbies isn’t always the biggest priority so I’ve had to figure out the best way to make do for the past few years.  Having a dedicated space to do what you love is important; even if it’s just a tiny corner of a dining room table.  So here’s a peek into my creative corner!

My sewing space currently resides in a shadowy corner of my family room in the basement.  This room also functions as a homeschool room, play room and media room…so it is FULL.  One of these days I’ll organize and decorate the whole thing so I can show it all to you.  We’ve got 2 full bookcases, 2 long Ikea tables, 6 chairs, a gigantic sectional, a school supply/toy closet and fabric closet.  It’s a hot mess but it allows me to be close to the little kids while I sew which ensures that I get a lot more creating done than if it was all in a separate room!

When designing this space, I knew I wanted an L-shaped configuration for my sewing machines and ironing board so that I can stay seated and make a sewing project from start to finish (I’m very lazy).  One of these days I think I’ll get a comfy swivel desk chair so that it’s even easier to move around!  I’ve got my regular sewing machine on the left (it’s also an embroidery machine) and my serger on the right.  Behind the machines I installed two metal rods to hang little white storage buckets.  These hold everything from seam rippers to scissors to markers and tape measures.  They’re really roomy and are strong enough to hold several pairs of heavy scissors!  The little clear box to the right of my serger holds all my bias tape and a few odds and ends.

I use the drawers on the right to hold just about everything else I could ever need while sewing: the top drawer holds pins, tape, chalk, etc.  The others store ribbon, elastic, zippers, buckles, snaps…you name it!  The big wide drawers on the left hold my button collection as well as all my really large paper patterns.  My favorite way to keep these patterns together is to take a large piece of cardstock, fold it in half and staple two of the open sides together.  These fit perfectly into the drawers and keep me from having to fold big patterns more than a couple times to store.

Behind my machines, I chose to hang pretty stuff and magazine cut outs of inspiring clothing designs.  While I love the idea of a pegboard to hang all my tools like many sewists use, we’re so tight on space that our “television” is actually a projector screen that pulls down and partially covers this part of the wall.  So the stuff I hang on it has to be fairly flat so that it doesn’t damage the screen.  It’s worked out pretty well!

In the back corner I have my stash of sewing books and smaller paper patterns inside 3-ring binders.  I also keep my big clear rulers here (out of the reach of naughty children who have broken about 3 of them already) and my big cutting mats get stored behind my machines against the wall.  My favorite part of my machine table is the power strip!  I used Command strips to adhere it to the table and plug everything into this strip.  That way, when I want to work, I just have to flip one switch to bring everything to life.  And then when I walk away I switch it off so I never forget to turn off the light or a machine or my iron (totally did that for years before this setup).

You can see a bit more crap stashed under the back corner of the table: I’ve got a bag full of cross-stitching supplies under there, padding for my dress form and more (and more and more) patterns.

Under my thread supply, I keep this pretty metal basket full of fabrics in my “queue”.  Anything that really inspires me or that I’ve bought for a specific purpose goes here so that it doesn’t get lost to die a sad and lonely death in my fabric closet (under the basement stairs).  I love seeing the pretty patterns and dreaming of how I’ll put them to use.  Way above the thread rack, I screwed in two hooks (these big ones are from the hardware store and are designed to hold bikes on a garage wall) to store all my rolls of paper: carbon tracing paper, swedish tracing paper, medical paper, rolls of interfacing, fusible web, etc.

Finally along that left part of the corner, I have my mini ironing board and iron, as well as more pretty storage on the wall.  I love, LOVE this circle shelf because it’s super cute and gives me a place to keep contraband up high.  My kids are pretty good about not getting into my sewing stuff (on penalty of death) but if the littles are being stinkers one day, I’ll stash my pins & needles up here as well as candy (or other sewing treats that are not for children) in that little bowl on the top shelf…what they don’t know won’t hurt them!

And that’s about it!  It’s not the fanciest or the most well organized but it works pretty great for me at this stage of life.  I often use the kids’ school tables for cutting out patterns…or just the floor.  I tend to make a big mess when I sew at night because I can, but it’s nice to have a place to put everything back in order when it’s time to clean up.

Let me know if you have any questions…and I’d love to know if you also have a teeny tiny sewing or crafting space.  Let’s hear any other tips out there for being creative without a full room at your disposal!

SOURCES

Table top, skinny drawer unit, wide drawer unit, chair, pendant light, white storage buckets & rods, and white magnet boards – Ikea || Sewing/Embroidery machine – Bernina Artista 180 (bought used on eBay)|| Serger – Brother 1034D || Thread rack, iron  – Amazon || Circular shelving unit, clock, gold cup, similar decorative bowl, metal basket & plastic (bias tape) basket, ironing board, gold baskets & mounting rail behind ironing board – Target || Instax camera – Amazon || abstract art on circle shelf – Candy Kirby Designs ||other handmade art – Pen and Paint || snowy barn art – painted by yours truly

Welcome Baby Alice!

Alice Jayne Wiscombe
February 21, 2017; 12:13am
7lbs, 7oz; 21.5″

It’s been a week now since baby Alice joined our family and this 8 kids thing is no joke!  I think it’ll take a few weeks before I start figuring out how to balance the basics of mothering this brood, getting essential homeschool stuff done, digging my house out from under the mess and blogging.

With each baby comes the necessity of streamlining tasks, rebalancing priorities and relegating the unessential to the sideline.  It’s HARD, I already know this.  In my perfectly controlled world, I’d give my housework as much attention as my own self care but sometimes you just have to focus on the very essentials: feeding yourself and your kids, giving them love and making sure you stay sane.  Everything else can learn to wait.

If you caught my FB Live video about Alice’s birth then you already know the drama behind her big world entry!  Birth never ceases to amaze me, and as much as I’ve loved my peaceful, uncomplicated home births, I can very acutely see God’s hand in the others as well, and this birth was no exception.

My technical “due date” was February 9th, but I always go late so I wasn’t terribly surprised when 41 weeks came and went.  The whole weekend before she was born, I was in really easy early labor and even went to bed with some strong regular contractions once or twice, but they always went away sometime during the night.  By Monday (President’s Day) I was getting really frustrated and was tired of being pregnant.  It was also Luke’s last day home before the start of a new week and I just didn’t have the energy to take care of kids by myself the next day.

I decided to take castor oil that morning (despite hating it the last time I took it!  Desperate times…) and it started working several hours after that.  At about 4pm, Luke and I decided to go for a walk around the neighborhood to get things moving.  I only made it about 100 yards from my front door, however, before I felt a gush of fluid.  I was hoping it was amniotic fluid but when I looked down, I realized it was bright red blood.

My midwife suggested we go to OB triage at the hospital to get checked out and after hours of waiting around (and a reassuring peek at a healthy, happy baby), we finally got to see a doctor.  I’d never seen this OB before but I immediately liked him.  Even after I experienced more bleeding in traige, he said that they still weren’t sure what it was but that he’d work with me on getting the birth I wanted.

At this point I really didn’t feel good about going home (and neither did my midwife who assured me that if the bleeding continued, we’d just end up right back at the hospital) and so I chose to stay and be gently induced in order to keep an eye on the bleeding and the baby.

We used a combination of a foley bulb and breaking my bag of waters to get things going. All this time, we continued to see bleeding and finally surmised that there was probably a placental abruption going on (in other words, the placenta was starting to pull away from the uterine wall).  The dangers of this are twofold: excessive bleeding for mom and the potential loss of oxygen to the baby.  We talked briefly about a c-section, but given my history of a past cesarean and all those VBACS, we decided to try everything we could to avoid surgery.  The OB said that as long as baby’s heartbeat looked good, we’d be OK in continuing with a vaginal delivery.

Once my water broke, however, things started moving fast.  The bleeding kept coming and my contractions got really hard.  Within about a half hour I was really working through labor, and during one particularly intense contraction, things got really weird.  My midwife said the baby’s heartrate dropped really low and they moved me onto my side.  Right then there was a HUGE gush of blood, I started to feel weak, and my vision went snowy…I didn’t even really have the mental capacity to work out what was happening, but my blood pressure had plummeted (at one point it was down to 55/25!).  I lost consciousness briefly but they gave me some O2 and I came back pretty quickly.  I clung to that oxygen like crazy, because it was the only thing that made me feel like I wasn’t going to die!

Another 15 minutes or so of contractions and I started feeling “pushy”.   I got on my hands and knees and let myself start pushing her down; then once I felt baby’s head crowning I just went crazy pushing because I knew I didn’t have the energy for more than one push!  After just a few moments, out she came, bright red and wailing like crazy.

They started cleaning me up and handed me the baby and she was so beautiful!  But I wasn’t out of the woods yet.  I was so, SO tired that it was hard to even hold her.  The doctor went to town trying to get my placenta out because I was still bleeding heavily and that was almost as painful as labor!  Once that was out, they gave me something to stop the bleeding and made sure I was getting plenty of fluids.

At one point, while I was holding the baby, all of a sudden everyone was calling my name.  I opened my eyes and everyone was staring at me and the nurse was holding my baby.  I was really confused about that since I didn’t remember handing Alice over, but then I realized I’d passed out again and almost dropped her!  Other than low BP and exhaustion, the other side effect of the hemorrhaging was cold.  I was so, SO cold.  As they were cleaning me up, I just started shivering so hard I could barely talk.  At that point they decided I needed blood and put in an order for 2 units.

Once I had the first unit in me, I felt like a new person.  I had energy to talk and hold the baby and generally be so glad that everything worked out as well as it did!  I’m so grateful that we didn’t end up with a cesarean (I’m not sure how anyone recovers from surgery with a whole passel of little ones at home!) but even more grateful that Alice tolerated labor, that it was a quick labor and most of all that I followed my intuition and didn’t go back home to have her.

A lot of people think it’s strange and even dangerous to have a baby at home…but my decision to do so is always accompanied by lots of prayer and listening.  The interesting thing about this birth is that even though I originally felt good about a homebirth, as the time got closer and closer, I started to feel some vague misgivings.  Every time I’d look over at the birth tub in my living room I’d get anxious.  I thought it was because of Marilyn’s birth (the pushing part of her labor was HARD!) and so I did more hypnobirthing and meditation and prayer…and yet the nervousness didn’t go away.  I didn’t feel fully at ease until we checked into the hospital.  At that point, even though there was a chance my baby could be in danger, I felt totally comfortable with the resources there and knew that the outcome would be a good one.

Birth is usually the first important experience we undergo as mothers and we are completely entitled to receiving revelation (or intuition or whatever you want to call it) for ourselves and our babies.  Being a mom is often a scary road, but we’re never completely alone!  The moment when a new life comes into the world is truly a special one, and I’m so grateful I’ve been able to experience it over and over again.

Black and White and Red

Dress – H&M old (similar herehere; maternity version here) || Bag – J. Crew (other cute color-blocked option!) ||
Heels – Payless (similar here)

There’s no way around it  – it’s hard to feel cute at the tail end of pregnancy.  But if anything will help, it’s a fun pair of red high heels! Fitted dresses are also about the only thing I wear anymore and I give any comfy, knit version two thumbs up.  If you’re dressing a bump like me, then knit tunics and dresses are the one thing you can almost always get away with buying non-maternity because they’re so stretchy!

Here’s hoping there are only a few more days of dressing a bump instead of a baby!

If You Love Them, Leave Them

Getting away from the kids and house can do wonders for any mom’s soul.
If you need a recharge, chances are good maybe you need an escape!


If you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw that I recently spent a few days in sunny, colorful Palm Springs for Altitude Summit (also known as Alt), a conference for creative entrepreneurs and bloggers.  I’d been looking forward to mixing, mingling and learning from other amazing creatives at this conference for almost a year…but it was only a couple months ago that I realized I’d be 38+ weeks pregnant at the time!

I decided to take the risk and make the four hour drive with some friends (including another very pregnant blogger) and I’m so glad I did!  You all know how passionate I am about taking time for yourself as a mom and homemaker and even though this was technically a “business” trip, it was just what I needed to recharge.

Moms spend their days pouring their hearts and souls into their children’s lives and their homes, it’s only right that we take time for ourselves sometimes.  Whether that comes in the form of a weekly art class, a lunch date with friends or a weekend away with the hubs, the important thing is that we never forget to take care of ourselves first and foremost.

I’ve found that I love being productive during my alone time by working on my blog or creating something of beauty.  At Alt, I met and saw women (and a couple brave men!) who were sheer powerhouses in their businesses and creative ventures.  Stylish fashion bloggers, savvy PR and marketing managers, creative Instagram moguls, you name it!  They were all in the business of kicking butt and taking names.

Every one of these women had taken something they were passionate about and turned it into a a fulfilling career that they were pursuing regardless of all the other obligations hanging over their heads.

While I’ll always consider the time invested in my children and husband the best use of my time, I remind myself regularly that by developing my own talents, hobbies and interests, I’m becoming a better mother and wife to those I love.  And I’m confident that our eventual transition into the “empty nester” phase of life will be a lot less jarring if we’re already pursuing some of our own passions.

What do you do to make yourself feel recharged and ready to take on the tasks of motherhood?

Nursery & Toddler Room Reveal!

Get all the details on this fun gender neutral kids’ room redo…plus my unsponsored review of an online decorating service!

Bunk Beds – Wayfair (awesome quality and a GREAT deal!)|| Crib – Babyletto || Dresser – Craigslist || Rolling Cart – Ikea ||
Black Shelves – Target || Rocking Chair – Amazon ||Black & White pillows – handmade from this curtain || Curtain Rod – Wayfair ||
Pink Fleece Blanket – Wayfair (SO cozy!!) || Gold Task Lamp – Target || Hanging Pendant – Home Goods (similar) || Curtains – Wayfair || Crib Sheet – Target || White comforters – Walmart || Rug – Urban Outfitters || White Faceted Vase – Lulu & Georgia ||
White Frames – Target || Artificial Plant & stand – Target || Ribbon Mobile – Etsy || Art prints – All from this Rifle Paper Co. calendar ||
Quilt – Handmade (details here) || Clock – Target

I’ll be honest: home decor is not my strongest suit.  I know what I like, and I’m fairly picky at that, but I just can’t seem to recreate what I see on Pinterest in real life!  I’ve wanted our home to look put together for years, but since we’re on the track to moving in the next year or so, I’ve sadly stopped putting forth too much effort.

That is, until I got pregnant with this baby and we realized that we needed to do some rearranging in order to make this 4 bedroom house fit 10 bodies!  The big boys are settled and happy in our basement bedroom, while the 3 big girls share a full-twin bunk bed in their room and Mimi has her own room (perks of being a baby).

Poor Finn, however had simply been relegated to a crib mattress on the floor of the girls’ room…but let’s be honest, he ended up in our bed more often than not!  I knew that he needed to move in with Mimi, but that it needed to be a special place where he could feel grown up and important.

I also began reading reviews of Decorist late last year and thought an online decorating service sounded fantastic, especially if I could snag it on sale.  I stalked their site for Black Friday deals and grabbed a room re-do for just $150!  That was all the motivation I needed to get started.

The pre-design process was very simple and pretty fun!  I submitted measurements and pictures of the room, as well as a pinterest board full of ideas.  I also included a list of what furnishings I wanted to keep for the room (Mimi’s crib, a light fixture, basket and dresser), and submitted my (very low) budget of $1-2K.

My designer, Becky, was super nice, friendly and down to earth and assured me she could totally work with my budget.  We discussed how the room needed to be gender neutral and include a set of bunk beds so that Mimi would have a big bed to grow into.  She also created a private Pinterest board for us to collaborate on and toss ideas back and forth.  That was my favorite part!

After a few weeks, she came back with 2 initial digital designs that I then weighed in on and told her what I did and didn’t love…this was my favorite of the two! (I really wanted to go with that pink on the walls, but alas, my 3 year old boy would’ve had something to say about that.)


About 1 week later she came back with the final design, which I again tweaked just a bit.  The cool thing is that she sourced and linked to all the products she used in the design, and you can even order the products through Decorist instead of shopping all over the internet, which I did for a few things.

As you can see, I ended up doing a few things differently from the final design, due to budget & practicality’s sake, but I absolutely LOVE how it turned out.  Finn also loves his new top bunk (complete with Star Wars sheets conveniently hidden under a pretty white comforter) and he and Mimi have been getting along swimmingly in the same room!  It makes me SO happy to have at least one room that’s totally done and fun to look at.

All in all, I would definitely use Decorist and Becky again, especially at that sale price! Although I probably wouldn’t order directly through Decorist again…I found out the hard way that most items ordered through them are final sale and even if you can return something, you only have 14 days.  I didn’t love the colors of the Lulu & Georgia rug in the final design once I got it, but after we got through Christmas and I decided to return, it was too late.  Kind of a bummer to get stuck with an expensive rug I didn’t want!

*Update: Decorist did end up working with me on returning the rug –  but I still think a 2 week return window is crazy short!

So, what do you guys think of the final product?  Have you ever considered using an online designer?

Check out this collection of amazing boy-friendly rooms (including my design) to see more darling ideas!

DIY Girl’s Leotard

Make your little girl her own unique leotard, and save a ton of money while you’re at it, with this free pattern & tutorial!


I’m so excited about today’s DIY because it’s so cute, fun and functional!  My girls LOVE leotards, whether they’re jumping on the trampoline, doing gymnastics & dance classes or just dressing up.  The only problem is, if you want anything other than plain black, they’re ridiculously expensive!

After making swimsuits for the girls last year, I decided it couldn’t be all that hard to make my own leotards.  And turns out, it isn’t!  Really!  The best part is that you can give your little girl as much coverage as you’d like.
Read on for the full tutorial and free pattern!

NOTE: the pattern fits about a size 6, but scaling it up or down is not too difficult.  It’s designed for a little girl with a crotch-shoulder measurement of about 36″ (loop a measuring tape from one shoulder, down your model’s front, between her legs and up the back to the same shoulder).  You’ll just need to add or subtract inches from the center of the leotard in order to go up or down a few sizes.

If going up or down more than 2 sizes, you’ll also need to add/subtract a bit of length in the shoulder straps.  Performance fabric is super stretchy though, so it’s very forgiving!  You might try laying a swimsuit that fits your little girl on top of the pattern and seeing where you need to make adjustments.

You’ll need:

*Printed copy of the free pattern (download here – make sure your printer’s set to “do not scale” or “print at 100%” before printing! Overlap short edge of each page with the next without trimming & tape together)
*1/2 – 1 yard of performance lycra or spandex blend (i.e. swimsuit fabric) My favorite source for cute prints is The Fabric Fairy!
*1.5 – 2 yards clear elastic (like this kind)
*coordinating thread

STEP 1: Cut out the paper pattern and decide whether you want to do any color blocking or stripes.  For Kira’s leotard here, I  decided I wanted two diagonal stripes (black and pink) running across the front.  I drew the stripes where I wanted them on the pattern, then cut out a center panel of the pattern piece.

I cut out the top and bottom of the leotard front out of the floral fabric, and then used the center strips I cut out from the pattern to cut black and pink strips.  NOTE: you’ll always need to add a seam allowance (I used 1 cm) where you’ll be sewing these pieces together.  For example, I added an extra 1 cm to the top and bottom of both the pink and black stripes before cutting and sewing them to each other and then to the top and bottom floral pieces.

Also cut 1 leotard back and 1 gusset out of matching or coordinating fabric.

STEP 2: Sew front and back pieces, right sides together, along the shoulders and side seams, leaving the crotch unsewn for now.

STEP 3:  Sew gusset to inside front of leotard (wrong sides together), matching up one short end of gusset with raw edge of leotard front.  Sew along this short edge and both sides of gusset (leaving the other short end loose).  Then match up the leotard back and front crotch and sew, right sides together.

STEP 4: Here comes the only tricky part! Measure your model around her shoulders and upper thigh, where you want the edge of the leotard to sit.  Keep the measuring tape taut, but not too tight.  Then cut a piece of elastic about 2 cm SHORTER than this measurement, for all 4 openings (2 arms and 2 legs).  Do the same for the neckline, for a total of 5 pieces of elastic. Be sure to not mix them up!

STEP 5: Stitch the elastic to the edge of each opening using a zig zag stitch, stretching slightly as you go so that the elastic fits the opening.  I overlap it a teensy bit where the elastic edges meet.  (This is a good time to try leotard on your model and adjust opening if necessary!)
Then fold the raw edge under to hide the elastic and topstitch close to the fold, again using a zig zag stitch.  Repeat for all openings.

**If you have trouble getting any of the openings to fit correctly, you can also try basting the elastic in place and then trying it on your little one.  After you do it a couple times you’ll get the hang of it!

Voila!  Aren’t you so proud of your mad skills??  Now go whip up 3 more and make all the little girls in your life squeal with joy! (and save yourselve oodles of dough.)

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