Friday, March 27, 2015

Silas' Newborn Photos...

"A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on."
-Carl Sandburg

When the sneak peek of Silas' newborn photos were featured on Erin Drago's blog a few weeks ago, I was thrilled with how beautifully she captured the morning we spent with her at our house (Silas was two weeks old). I kept the webpage open on my phone for days (I think it's still open actually!), and I would scroll through the photos several times a day. And, then when we received the dvd with over three times as many images, I was absolutely head over heels!

It is amazing how much Silas has grown and changed in the few short weeks since the photoshoot, and yet, his features and expressions are just the same. We will treasure these photos and the memories of these moments for the rest of our lives.

Here are some of my favorites...

I chose a few of my favorite photos to send birth announcements to family and friends (look for them on the blog next week!). And in the upcoming weeks, I'm hoping to also design an heirloom photobook and to print some for our walls, but there are so many good ones that it's overwhelming even to begin. Just waiting for that spark of inspiration...

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Silas' Nursery Tour

"People who say they sleep like a baby usually don't have one."
-Leo J. Burke

I have been collecting nursery ideas for years (most recently on Baby B's Room Pinterest board). Although I considered several different options, I decided to go in the direction of bold and graphic, rather than a traditional baby theme. I fell in love with the feather fabric for the window valance first and built the room around that color scheme (dark teal, coral, citron, and gray) with a loose adventure vibe (feathers, arrows, mountains, etc.).

Dancing Commas | Silas' Nursery

Rob took on the big projects like replacing the carpet with wooden laminate flooring and painting the walls dark gray. In the meantime, I focused on creating custom artwork for the walls, and my mom helped us with many of the sewing projects. We love the result and couldn’t wait to bring Baby B home to his new room!!

See other posts about the progress of the nursery: choosing a paint color, curtains and other early sewing projects, choosing fabrics, and nursery inspiration board.

Dancing Commas | Silas' Nursery: bicycle gear art
Dancing Commas | Silas' Nursery: Adventure banner and mobile
Dancing Commas | Silas' Nursery: Name art above crib
Dancing Commas | Silas' Nursery
Dancing Commas | Silas' Nursery: String art photo display
Dancing Commas | Silas' Nursery: Arrow quilt

Source List:
  • Laminate flooring: Style Selections SwiftLock in Chestnut Hickory from Lowes
  • Paint color: Valspar Pewter
  • Crib: Gulliver from IKEA
  • Dresser: Malm 6-drawer dresser from IKEA
  • Bookshelves/window seat: Kallax shelving units with Skubb boxes, both from IKEA
  • Window valance: handmade by my mom; Michael Miller’s Birds of a Feather fabric
  • Windowseat cushion and pillows: handmade by my mom
  • Rocking chair: hand-me-down from Momo and Poppy
  • Side table: Big Lots (top surface painted white, bottom shelf is actually a spray-painted cakestand from Bake and Party Design)
  • Soft ottoman: handmade by my mom, inspired by "Land of Nod-inspired floor cushion" from Living with Punks
  • Rug: Hulsig from IKEA
  • Sheepskin rug: Rens from IKEA
  • Lamp base: Threshold Metal Linear Table Lamp from Target / Lampshade: IKEA (can't find on website)
  • White basket under side table: Hobby Lobby
  • "Greatest Adventure" banner: handmade by me with freezer paper stencils
  • Bicycle gear art: engineer print from Staples mounted on canvas and framed with black washi tape
  • Dream catcher: handmade with feathers from ForCRAFT
  • Mirror: Stave from IKEA
  • String art: handmade (inspired by the DIY Geometric Photo Display at The Caldwell Project)
  • Name art: printed by me, Ribba frames from IKEA
  • Crib sheets/crib skirt/changing pad cover: handmade by my mom
  • Mobile: mechanics from Cocalo, fabric canopy and felt shapes handmade by my mom
  • Arrow quilt: handmade by my mom
  • Balsa wood art on door: Hobby Lobby
Dancing Commas | Silas' Nursery: Windowseat shelves

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

One Month with Silas

"The smile that flickers on baby's lips when he sleeps — does anyone know where it was born? Yes, there is a rumor that a young pale beam of a crescent moon touched the edge of a vanishing autumn cloud, and there the smile was first born in the dream of a dew-washed morning."
-Rabindranath Tagore

This has been the longest, shortest month of my life. I can't believe that four weeks ago, we were still waiting to meet the little guy who had been kicking me from inside for months.

While some days this month have felt like we're just surviving, all in all I'd say we're thriving. Silas is learning how to live in the world. I am learning how to be a mother. And, we are just learning to savor each moment!

What Silas is up to...
Silas has met both of his grandmothers and FaceTimed with his Aunt Callie and cousin Luke. Dad was able to take off a good three weeks from work, but it has been the "Mama and Silas Show" for the last week or so. The mornings seem to go smoothly, the afternoons seem to be willy-nilly, and many of the last few evenings have been downright challenging (Silas' witching hour is between 9:00 and 10:00 pm). Because of wintry weather conditions and the fear of germs, we've only taken him out of the house on a few outings, including the pediatrician's office, a weekly moms' breastfeeding meetup, a trip to Target, and a quick trip to mail a package.

Although he lost a bit of weight in his first couple of days, he's been nursing like a champ since my milk came in. I've been pumping a little bit to start a stash in the freezer, and just this week Rob has started giving him a few ounces of pumped milk in a bottle during his nighttime cluster feeds. He's just about to outgrow newborn sizes. Just this morning I set aside a box to store the clothes he's grown too big for. When we found ourselves at the end of our stockpile of newborn diapers, we took a chance on the size 1's, and they seem to fit his growing bum just fine. Daddy has been changing most of the diapers when he's home... he "charges" Silas two kisses for every change.
Since just a few days old, Silas has been able to lift and turn his head while lying on his stomach. And, each day during tummy time, he kicks and kicks, getting so frustrated that he's not going anywhere. We love to watch him make faces and to mimic the noises he makes, even when he bleats like a goat. Sometimes he gets so tired that he can't fall asleep, and those inconsolable cries are heartbreaking for Mama to listen to. As he starts to get worked up, he coughs a few times before actually crying... although sometimes he calms down before the tears actually come. Daddy says the trick to calming him down is to walk him around and around the kitchen table, ssssshing as loud as possible.

Silas had official newborn photos taken midway through the month (post coming soon!), as well as plenty of impromptu photoshoots. Mama and Daddy's iPhone photostream has been completely overrun by baby photos. We're celebrating all of his milestones, big and small: first snow day, first 5K ride in the stroller, first bottle, first school fundraiser (daycare night at Chipotle), etc.

From Mama's perspective...
Before Silas was born, I was most afraid of how a baby would disrupt my sleep routine (this girl needs her sleep!). But, knock on something, he has been sleeping in 3-4 hour cycles at night, which is enough to feel pretty rested in the morning. Although I would say that I'm more tired than I'm used to, I have only hit the exhaustion wall a couple of times over the last couple of weeks.
Even though I had been warned, I've been frustrated with my level of productivity during my day. I love the morning routine we have established, but it means that the day rarely officially begins before 10:30 am. Even on maternity leave from full-time work, I'm trying to keep up with my freelance responsibilities. It seems like nursing every 2-3 hours would give you a decent chunk of time, until you realize that within that cycle you spend 30 minutes nursing, 15-25 minutes playing with baby while he's awake, and at least 10 minutes laying him down for a nap, not to mention transition times. There have been several days that I worked what felt like all day long, only to clock two hours of billable time.

I'm trying to remember to set realistic expectations similar to Elise Cripe's "three things concept" from her days of early motherhood: even if I can accomplish only three things in a day, I call that a success. Most importantly I don't want to wake up on April 13th (when I head back to the office) and realize that I've wasted these precious moments away. 

A few of Silas' favorites...
Although we've been gifted with so much wonderful baby gear from our friends and family, a few items stick out as particularly life-saving during this first month.

  1. Elephant Baby Mat : A coworker of mine gave us this floor mat as a baby gift... I had never seen one before. Although we joked about it looking like a dog bed, Silas loves it. He often naps on it when we're downstairs in the living room. It's so sweet to watch him rest his hand under the elephant's trunk while he sleeps.
  2. Graco Pack 'N Play with Napper and Changer : Although I try to have him nap several times a day in his crib in his nursery, Silas sleeps in the Pack 'N Play bassinet in our bedroom at night. For the first couple of nights at home, the foot of our bed never seemed so far away (in fact, the first night, Rob slept upside down so that his head would be nearest to him). But right now we're in a pretty good routine... when Silas wakes in the middle of the night, Rob gets up and brings him to me. I nurse one side, and then Rob changes his diaper on the Pack 'N Play changer. I nurse the other side, and then I swaddle him back up and lay him back down in the bassinet.
  3. myBaby SoundSpa Portable : It took us a few nights to learn the magic of this one (we thought the box fan in our room would be sufficient). But after seeing how effective it was during his naps in the nursery, we are now toting it back and forth between our room and his room throughout the day. It has several different noise settings (I personally think the "white noise" setting is least irritating), as well as 15-, 30-, and 45-minute time settings (we use the AC adapter instead of batteries, so we just let it play all night or nap long).
  4. Just One You Made by Carter's Swaddle Blanket Set : Another bit of magic!! Although these look discontinued now, they were an impulse buy at Target in the weeks before Silas was born. They have just the right amount of stretch to swaddle him tightly at night. At 2:00 in the morning, we don't need his hands escaping and hitting himself in the face. 
  5. aden + anais Burpy Bib : We've got a spitter on our hands. Silas seems to spit up a little bit after every meal and during every nap, so we've got burp cloths stashed all over the house (although that doesn't seem to prevent me from having to change my shirt at least once a day). We have received two of these aden + adais bibs as gifts which I love, and my mom even copied the shape to make us a few more. 
  6. Carter's Sleeper Gowns : Silas has been sleeping in these little gowns from his first night at home. They're perfect for middle of the night diaper changes, and the fold-over mittens have saved his face from many a scratch when his hands do manage to escape the swaddle. 
  7. Fisher-Price Infant to Toddler Rocker : A friend gifted us with a hand-me-down rocker chair similar to this (our exact model has been discontinued), and it has become the best babysitter. It is the perfect place to sit Silas down when I don't want to lay him on the floor. We move it around downstairs, so that he can watch us cook and eat dinner, etc. The vibration seems to calm him down, and if all else fails, we fold in the front stand and rock him back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. 
  8. Baby K'Tan Baby Carrier : Before Silas was born, I most looked forward to carrying him around in a carrier like the Baby K'Tan. Although it has taken a few tries to get the hang of it, wearing him around in the morning while I eat breakfast is one of my favorite parts of the day. It's also been our favorite mode of transportation as we've started venturing out of the house on errands (much easier than pulling out the stroller every time!).

Monday, March 02, 2015

A Day in the Life of Silas' Socks...

“Photography can only represent the present. Once photographed, the subject becomes part of the past.”
-Berenice Abbott 

I've wanted to learn to effectively use the manual settings on our dSLR camera since we first purchased it (only 5.5 years ago!). But, no matter how many tutorials I read, I couldn't keep it all straight in my head: shutter speeds, apertures, and f-stops, oh my!

Knowing how much I want to capture some great photos of Silas' early days, Rob gifted me with an online photography class for Valentine's Day. The timing of the next Photo 101 class at Nicole's Classes [website | blog | facebook] coincided perfectly with my maternity leave, giving me plenty of daylight hours at home to practice over the next couple of weeks.

I started last week, and I already consider it a success as I was forced to pull out my camera manual and learn what each of the dials and buttons control. I still have to think really hard about the theory in order to predict what the adjustments will do, but with time and lots of practice, I know it will come.

For the final exercise of last week's assignment, I chose to document "A Day in the Life of Silas' Socks." While I realize not every photo is spot-on in terms of exposure, I'm super proud that I captured the whole series with manual settings!!! Couldn't have done that a week ago!

12:26 pm

1:10 pm

3:25 pm

3:35 pm

4:04 pm

4:46 pm

4:46 pm

Mama Says: Hospital Packing List

Many times throughout the last ten months, I wondered how mothers managed to get through pregnancy before the internet. Every new sensation or curiosity sent me scurrying to ask the advice of the all-knowing Google.

Usually I was met with search results galore, from WebMD to the BabyCenter forums, from individual blog posts to checklists pinned to Pinterest. However, in some instances my searches didn't locate the exact resource that I needed... especially from the perspective that I was looking for.

Over the next couple of weeks in a series that I'm calling "Mama Says...," I hope to write a few of the posts that I wish I had been able to find during my own pregnancy journey... in hopes that someone like me runs across them in their own web searches and finds them to be exactly what they need.

See other "Mama Says" posts here.


Giving birth was my first time to stay in the hospital (besides a quick stay when I was a baby), and I was almost as nervous about that experience as I was about the birth itself.

For some reason, I was really intimidated by packing a bag for the hospital... how could I possibly know what I would want/need?? I searched online for packing lists written by experienced and wiser mothers, but I struggled to find a perspective that felt similar my own. Luckily my sister who gave birth six months earlier also shared her list with me, which gave me a good starting place.

So while another hospital packing list may be the last thing the internet needs, I'm going to add my voice to the mix, so you can see what I packed, as well as what we used, didn't use, and what we wished we had brought (some surprised me!).

Unfortunately I don't have a fancy, styled photo of all the things we packed, or even a photo of our bags waiting by the door. I considered it a success just to have them ready to go before we needed them. [As a consolation prize though, enjoy a few photos from our hospital stay.] 


In the list below, a strike-through means we didn't use it. Things we wished we'd brought are typed in green. Tips and personal notes are noted with asterisks (*). 

In car
  • Infant carseat installed*
  • Garbage sack and old towels**

*Should have installed it in the middle seat for safety reasons, but also so that I could lean the passenger seat back all the way on the way to the hospital!

**My water had not yet broken when we left home, so we didn't even think to put these down in the car. And, luckily it held off until we made it into Labor & Delivery. However, we probably should have laid these on the car seat just in case!

Labor outfit (Ready to change into before leaving for the hospital)
  • Gray knit maternity skirt*
  • Cute, warm socks*
  • Granny panties
  • Hot pink maternity tank top**
  • Black zip-up maternity athletic jacket**
  • Gray polka dot nursing sports bra***
  • Gray Bondi headband***
  • Slip-on tennis shoes

*This surprised me the most... once in labor at the house, I didn't want anything tight around my belly, including the stretchy band of a knit maternity skirt. My ankles were also pretty swollen, so there was no way my cute socks were going to fit comfortably. Instead I ended up looking "super cute" in a pair of Rob's drawstring pajama pants and a pair of his thick ankle socks.

**During hard labor at the house, I alternated regularly between hot and cold. I wrapped up in a blanket when I was shivering and threw it off when I was sweating. I wore the jacket as planned while we drove to the hospital.

***Once I arrived in the L&D triage area, I changed into a hospital gown, but kept on my bra, headband, and socks. I gave birth just over an hour later, so there was no need for a super versatile labor outfit.

For labor (We carried this bag in as we arrived. Although because I didn't labor long at the hospital, some of the things were not used until after delivery.)

  • Purse (driver's license, insurance card, and most importantly, directions from our hospital tour reminding us on what floor to check in!)
  • Plastic envelope (copies of birth plan, blank cards for extra baby footprints, place to store hospital paperwork)
  • Birth Boot Camp workbook
  • Bamboo socks
  • iPhone playlist*
  • iPhone charger (didn't use until after delivery)
  • Tennis balls for massage*
  • Rice and lavender hot pack*
  • Bathing suit for dad*
  • dSLR camera/charger
  • Chapstick
  • Headband/hairties/barrettes (I was already wearing a headband, so I didn't use these until after delivery)
  • Snack bag**
  • Cookies for nurses/staff***

*I had a "push playlist" created and ready to go. But, in the moment I didn't even think to turn it on. Same with the other comfort measures I had ready, like the massager and hot pack. And, although I definitely used the shower while laboring at home, I didn't need Rob in the water with me, so we never needed his swimsuit.

**I packed a snack bag full of junky treats that I had denied myself during pregnancy, including Pringles, candied pecans, goldfish crackers, and Coca-Cola. These were, of course, saved for afterwards. However, Rob dug into the stash (beef jerky, LifeSaver mints, and bottles of SmartWater) right after delivery as we were waiting for our room assignment.

***Funny story... per my sister's recommendation, a few weeks before my due date, I mixed up and froze some cookie dough (using this recipe for blue and white swirled sugar cookies), so that I could bake cookies to pass the time during early labor. However, once in real labor, Rob asked me if it was time to bake the cookies; I looked at him like he was crazy, responding, "Hell no. I couldn't care less about the cookies!" We did, however, bake the cookies after we came home from the hospital and delivered them to the hospital a few days later.

Suitcase (Carried up after we were settled on the mother/baby ward. Included both mom and dad's stuff.)
  • Dad's toiletries
  • Dad's change of clothes
  • Dad's change of shoes... he had forgotten a pair of sneakers
  • Toiletries (toothbrush/toothpaste, shower supplies, deodorant, lotion)
  • Hairbrushes
  • Makeup
  • Shower shoes
  • Hair towel
  • Nursing bras
  • Nipple cream
  • Nursing pads
  • Granny panties*
  • Always incontinence pads* 
  • Witch hazel pads/hemorrhoid treatment
  • Robe
  • Several pairs of socks
  • Maternity tank top**
  • T-shirt 
  • Yoga pants***
  • Long-sleeve henley shirt***
  • Going home outfit: maxi skirt, long-sleeve shirt, leggings, and infinity scarf***

*I wore the glorified mesh panties for the first day/night, but they were really too big for me and seemed to shift a lot, so by Morning #2, I was ready for my own underwear. The hospital also provided a large stash of giant pads, which I used exclusively in the hospital and even brought home. But once those ran out, I used the incontinence pads from Always that seemed to be more absorbent than regular pads.

**This maternity tank top was the single-most important item that I brought with me to the hospital!! In the middle of the second night, I stuffed Silas inside this stretchy shirt for some skin-to-skin time (his head sticking out of the collar). Not only was it the most memorable bonding moment we had in the hospital, but because he was contained in the shirt, I didn't worry about dozing while holding him.

***Again, to hell with the cute clothes that I thought would be comfortable. I spent the first day and night in the hospital gown, mesh panties, and nursing bra. In the morning of the second day, I was ready to feel somewhat like a normal person again, so I opted for cropped yoga pants and the long-sleeve shirt. When we were discharged later that afternoon, I was anxious to get home and decided not to waste time changing into my planned "going home outfit."

****I opted not to bring the Boppy nursing pillow (or maybe we just left it in the car?) as well as a pillow for myself. Less things to carry. Didn't really miss them.

    Diaper bag (supplies for baby)
    • Notebook for recording birth and breastfeeding notes*
    • Pen
    • Going home outfits: gown, hat, leggings, bunting, socks
    • Receiving blanket**
    • Baby no-scratch mittens
    • Baby nail clippers***
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Baggu reusable shopping bags for dirty clothes

    *In the middle of the night at Silas' first feeding I opted to download an iPhone app (Baby Tracker) to document feedings/diapers, rather than the pen/paper version.

    **Should have brought several blankets with us. Because of a rash on Silas' face, the pediatrician recommended that we use our own blankets to wrap him in. A close call with spit-up meant it would have been nice to have another blanket on hand.

    ***Silas arrived with claws. We tried to used the no-scratch mittens, but they were really too big for his newborn hands. Clipping his nails was the first thing on our agenda once we arrived home.

    ****The hospital provided diapers, wipes, and first bath supplies... enough to take home with us. I was glad that I didn't waste space in the diaper bag with these.

    Disclaimer: This is what worked for us (and a few things that didn't). It is not guaranteed to be the end-all, be-all packing list. Although I hope that it inspires you as you write your own list.

    Sunday, March 01, 2015

    Nursing in the Night...

    "...a little child, born yesterday,
    A thing on mother's milk and kisses fed..."
    -"Hymn to Mercury," translated from ancient Greek by Percy Bysshe Shelley

    The light from my phone shines through your ugly duckling hair, recording the minutes and tracking the data.
    Your daddy dozes nearby, waiting to carry you back to your crib.
    Your little body wraps around mine, staying warm and close.
    My forearm cradles your head, holding you to my breast.
    My right hand grasps your little fingers, keeping them out of the way.
    My left hand rests on your back, gently rocking you back and forth to remind you what you're doing.
    My thumb rubs your shoulder, and my fingers tickle your chin, waking you from your doze.
    Your lips suckle to my breast, nourishing your little body.
    My other breast aches and leaks, waiting its turn.
    A cloth rests on my shoulder, waiting for your burps.
    Even in the dark, our eyes lock onto each other's, until yours drift closed once again.
    Our hearts connect in this moment, wishing you would stay little like this forever, yet wondering who you will grow up to be.

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