Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Silas' Birth Announcements

"Don't ever tell the mother of a newborn that her baby's smile is just gas."
-Jill Woodhull

Some of the best parts about having a new baby... decorating a nursery and designing birth announcements!! Thanks to the inspiration from my "Welcome to the World" Pinterest board, my imagination ran wild as I brainstormed ideas for Silas' birth announcements. 

I wanted to design something unique and special, just for him. I wanted to use some of the great shots from his newborn photoshoot by Erin Drago Photography. I also wanted something affordable with relatively quick turnaround. And, of course, I was willing to DIY, but wanted something that still looked polished and professional.

Jamaica Edgell's post about her Love Cards on Paislee Press showed up in my blog reader right on time. I loved the idea of a vellum overlay of text! It was just the inspiration I needed to get serious about making this project come to life.

Now that the cards should have arrived at their destinations, let me show you what I came up with...

Source list (if you're curious...):

I read online that you can send a birth announcement to the White House, using this address:
President Barack Obama
Greetings Office Room 39
1600 Pennsylvania Ave
Washington, DC 20500

Hopefully we'll receive a "signed" greeting back... what a cool memento for his baby book!
You don't want to know how many tries it took to get this photo...
Sorry for any slobber on your envelope, Mr. President!

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

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