Tuesday, December 16, 2008

DIY baby announcements

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Last time around (as in, when Elizabeth was born,) I created my own baby announcements. I saw lots of cute announcements at places like tinyprints.com. I liked the style, but honestly, I wasn't willing to pay the price per announcement. So, I did a lot of looking around and experimenting to see if I could do something similar, but a little less expensively. I wanted a professional look, without the price.

This was my solution: I have some skill with Adobe Illustrator, and some experience with designing things. I'll make my own announcements from my desktop printer!

My next challenge - what to print on?

I didn't want to go with a smaller announcement, like a quarter-sheet of regular paper. I didn't feel like there was sufficient space for a good sized photo, and lettering that people could read without a microscope. My printer is picky about paper size and borders, so that cut even more into the space available for the actual design.

I fiddled with printing on 4x6 photo paper, but I had trouble finding envelopes that would properly fit the size, without leftover space in the envelope. I wanted something with some thickness and weight to the card. I wanted something fun, like colorful envelopes.

Finally, I found a place that sold what I was looking for: mountaincow.com All kinds of colors, sizes, and accessories. And, it seemed reasonably priced: $.40 per announcement (card and envelope) plus shipping. The ink for my printer would be less than $40, even printing 75 announcements. I spent about a dollar per announcement (not including postage), and I got some nice extras that you have to pay for on online announcement sites(such as $.50 per announcement to get your return address printed on the envelope).

My one disappointment was that I couldn't trick my printer into printing borderless on my A6 size card (4.5x6.25). I really wanted a borderless card, but I dealt with having a white margin all around my design.

In the end, I got the style of announcement I wanted - a simple, modern design, a colored envelope, a photo on the announcement of the newborn, printed return address, and no waiting for a printing company to take the baby's info, print, and ship to me.

I was able to get all the envelopes addressed and stamped before Elizabeth was born. All that was left for me to do was insert the photo I took, enter in the correct information, and pop the cardstock into the printer. I think I had the announcements out within 2 weeks of Elizabeth's birth.

I intend to do something similar this time around, although I may go with a different card size. And, I wish that I could get a cool new printer that would let me do borderless printing (something like the Epson R1900 would be so fun!) Unfortunately, I think that is not in my future.

Monday, December 15, 2008

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I encountered this:

I giggled when I saw it. That's not typical for me. Usually, I'll just snort a little when I see something funny online. But this tickled my brain.

I saw this and thought immediately of my brother-in-law. You know who you are. And probably so do some others. Actually, I think I've read something remarkably similar to this on your Facebook...

See This Place for more inspirational Star Trek posters.

(insert that song title about cold here)

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It's been mighty cold.

Elizabeth was slip-sliding around the driveway, and although she didn't care for the first time she fell down, she thought it was pretty fun to hold my hand and slide.

We've been staying snug inside. We're supposed to get a coupld of inches of snow tomorrow, so perhaps this week we'll go sledding. I don't think Elizabeth has been sledding before, so it would certainly be a first! Maybe I'll send her out with a couple of the older kids I know from church, or my neighbor, and treat them all to homemade hot chocolate and popcorn when they come in to warm up.

For my part, I'm wondering how in the world I fit into the winter coat I have when I was 39 weeks with E. I feel like I'm pretty close to maxing out my fit, and I still have many weeks yet to go. Maybe I didn't zip the coat much in the last few weeks last time. Whatever the situation, I surely feel like I'm bigger, sooner!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

photo update

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Another four weeks have flown by. I'm nearing the end of the second trimester at the time this photo was taken.

Things have been well for me. Generally I feel good, although I've been less and less motivated to get things done. A surge is in the making, though. Not much time left for more things than I have time for!

I've been doing lots of reading about homebirth and pregnancy. I'm thankful that I have family with large collections of books from which I can borrow. I have about 20 different books sitting around my house.

I personally own the following titles:

Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin
The Pregnancy Book by Dr. Sears
The Birth Book by Dr. Sears
Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn by Penny Simkin

I always go back to Spiritual Midwifery as a general reference. The more books I read, the more I find my self skimming through, because (for obvious reasons!) much of the information is the same. Even considering that, there are several books that I would like to add to my personal collection. Good thing I can borrow them for now!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

first hair cut

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Elizabeth had her first hair cut yesterday. She had just woken from her nap, so she was quiet and subdued. Which is good, because she just sat on the chair and watched in the mirror as her hair was cut.

I was pretty hesitant to get her hair cut. For a while, I could keep her hair out of her eyes with hair bows and elastics. Then, she started pulling those out just minutes after I would put them in her hair. And then, she would constantly push the hair out of her eyes. So, here are the photos...

Before the Cut

The final result

With her hair cut she looks so much more like a big girl!

Monday, December 01, 2008

car seats for kids

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I've been spending a lot of time over the past few weeks looking at infant and toddler car seats.
I've sought recommendations, looked at safety ratings, and lurked in car seat forums.

Infant Seats

We had borrowed an infant seat from a friend for Elizabeth, but that seat is expired (and disposed of) and we now know more about the features that matter to us. So, it's time to acquire a seat for baby #2.

I've had 3 Infant seats in particular recommended as great seats - the Graco Snugride, the Graco Infant SafeSeat (Step 1), and the Chicco Keyfit 30. These three offer an range of prices to suit your finances or your feature preferences. Things that mattered to me when choosing a seat - safety and ease of use. Now, I understand that all car seats on the market are supposed to pass national safety standards, so I can be reasonably assured that any seat I purchase will offer my child protection in the event of a crash. So considering that, I had to go with the ease of use. I knew that I wanted a higher weight seat, so I could keep my baby rear facing longer in a secure infant seat. I knew I wanted front adjust. And I knew it had to be absolutely easy to install, as it will be moved on a regular basis, and by some individuals who might not be as particular as I am about having a tight fit for my infant seat. The Snugride only goes to 22 pounds, while both the Safeseat and the Keyfit o to 30 pounds, and unless you're very careful you might not get some of the good features, like a front adjust harness tightener. So, that was out.

Jude and I went to check out the Safeseat and the Keyfit in person at a Babies R Us. Although the Safeseat comes in more patterns than the Keyfit, The Keyfit definitely won out. The price difference isn't so great that it makes it worth getting the less expensive Safeseat. The Keyfit had a bubble leveler, spring button recline adjustment, was narrower and shorter from front to back, and was a lighter weight seat (Although why this really matters stumps me - I wear my babies instead of carting them around in an infant carrier. Exception - maybe in a restaurant.) There were other things, but really, I just liked how the Keyfit works better than the Safeseat. Unfortunately, I'm not a huge fan of any of the patterns currently out, or of the anticipated patterns coming out in 2009. I'll probably go with the Cubes pattern, as the most neutral.

Toddler Seats

We'll be taking a trip with 24 hours worth of driving one way. We currently have a Cosco Scenera, but that seat has no comfort padding to speak of, and we're hoping that a more padded seat will help Elizabeth stay happier for longer in the car. This choice however is far more challenging for me.

With an infant seat, you expect that you'll have to get additional seats for a child as they grow. When you get out of the infant seats, you'll find some seats the advertise that it'll be the last seat your child will need. You could buy seats that you think will last you all the way through seat/booster years, or get seats that are somewhat more specialized, and perhaps buy 2-3 different seats after the infant seat. Now there are all kinds of options in the toddler and older sized seats. I don't need a convertible seat for Elizabeth, as she is no longer rear facing. So, I could get one of those 3 in 1 seats that have a higher weight limit, but are forward facing only. Honestly, there are so many variations on what we could do that I am undecided.

And, although Elizabeth is currently forward facing, I've been reading more and more research that suggests that it would be far safer for her, in the event of an accident, to be rear facing for as long as possible. Convertible seats would allow me that safety feature, but a forward facing only seat would eliminate the possibility ot turning Elizabeth back to rear facing.

Seats that have been recommended to me: the Britax Marathon, and the Graco Nautilus. Further investigation has led me to add the Britax Boulevard to the list, as it is essentially similar to the Marathon (same frame, even) but with a couple more features that look worthwhile. I'm inclined to go for a Britax seat - even though I can't use it as a booster, I anticipate that I could pass this seat on to another child before it expires. I could use it to keep a child rear facing up to 35 pounds. It looks like it has more padding, so for the sake of a long car ride, maybe a better option. However, the frugal part of me definitely likes the Much-Less-Expensive forward-facing only Nautilus (it's a 3 in 1 seat - harnessed, then high back booster, then no back booster), and that I should reasonably be able to use the seat until E hits the state law of having a child in a harnessed seat until age 4 and 40 pounds, and in a booster until age 8 or 80 pounds, or 4'9" tall.

I think the Nautilus patterns are not so hot. And, I'm not fond of the lack of variety in the Boulevard covers. The Marathon definitely has the best best selection of covers. Jude likes the extra padding in the Boulevard, and the fact that the harness height can be adjusted without removing the seat from install. Unfortunately, the price on the Boulevard is twice that of the Nautilus. Yeowch.

I only have a couple of weeks to decide, and no more opportunities to see these seats in person again before making a decision. Oh, Choices!
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