This Time Last Year

…J was 38 weeks pregnant and we were anxiously awaiting Jaxson’s arrival and thinking we still had a little over two weeks left to prepare for his big debut.

A year later, these two moms can’t believe their little man is turning a year old in ONE week. Ahhhh! It seems like the past year has flown by and trudged along all at the same time. The status quo changed to include poopy diapers and baby toys strewn around the house, and if we think about it really hard we can almost remember what it was like before he was here.

It’s amazing to look back at the last year and remember that its only been a year and he’s grown so much (and so have we). And sometimes its overwhelming to look at the present with its struggles with teething woes, naptime fights, and tantrums. There are those wonderful moments too, such as receiving wholehearted snuggles, smiley good mornings, and watching Jaxson find joy in the simplest things like the wind blowing through tree leaves.

It all balances out in the end: the bad moments make the good ones look really good, and the good moments make the bad ones not so bad. But really, I’m just impressed that we’ve almost made it to a year with all three of us still sane.  Well, mostly sane. 😉

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Our Son, the Woodchuck

The other morning, J woke up and went into Jaxson’s room to get him up for the day. When she entered, she found our son standing in his crib chewing the rail, covered in wood pieces and paint. Literally covered – it was all over his arms and hands, in his eyes, around his mouth, all over his neck. Gross. Now we have quite a few sets of matching teeth marks where he’s chewed the paint off to expose the wood underneath. Thankfully this is not 1960 and lead paint is no longer the norm on children’s furniture.

So began our search for a crib rail cover. We’d seen the plastic ones that stick on to the top of the rail, but knowing how insane determined our son is, we knew he’d peel/chew it off in no time.

They had canvas ones that tied on, but they weren’t fitted to the crib (they were made to accommodate rail sizes from 8-18 inches) and were super expensive for all 4 sides ($25 each for the front and back and then another $25 for the pair of sides). We have a baby, not a Swiss bank account, so that option was out.

Besides, nothing we found was carried in our local stores and would have to be ordered online which could take days. Or weeks. Ugh. So in a last-ditch effort to find a solution, I Googled “crib rail covers” and found a plethora of DIY sewn and not-sewn rail covers! Voila! We had our answer.

“I’m crafty,” I said to myself, “I should just MAKE them myself.”

I was raised by my grandmother and she had a close friend when I was growing up (Miss Penny) who taught me how to sew by hand and on a sewing machine, and we used to make Barbie clothes together when I’d spend time at her house. I learned more in Home Ec in high school and made my own Renaissance prom dress, too. Aside from being taught, I have a natural talent for crafting. I can see something and figure out how to make it without even needing a pattern.

So that night, we went to Wal-Mart (yikes) and picked up the supplies I’d need for the rail covers for all sides. All in all it only cost about $25 for fabric, padding, ribbon, and thread. There isn’t a pattern per se, and it didn’t require any “mad skills” at sewing to get it done. Without interruptions, I could have gotten all 4 covers done in about two hours. Anyone with a sewing machine could make them so I’m putting up the instructions in case anyone out there feels inclined to DIY for their little woodchucks.

Materials Needed (for two long and two side rail covers):

  • 3 yards of fabric (we got a pre-made 3 yard pack at Wal-Mart for $14)
  • quilter’s batting (we used Morning Glory low-loft batting – 81″ x 96″ package and had enough to double up)
  • 12 yards of ribbon (you may need more if you wish to tie bows along the middle and not just the ends)
  • thread

Instructions:

  • Measure your crib rails. You have two measurements you’ll need here – the length of the rail from side to side and the length around the rail. Our long rails measured 52″ x 7″ and our side rails measured 27″ x 14″.
  • Cut your fabric, batting, and ribbon. Cut your batting to the actual measurements of your rails. Add two inches to your measurements and cut your fabric to that size, 2 pieces for each cover. So for our crib, we cut four pieces at 54″ x 9″ and four pieces at 29″ x 16″. As for the ribbon, I used 10″ pieces for the end ties (around the part where the crib sides join) and 6″ ribbons for the middle ties (between the slats) since we only tied the ends in bows and knotted the middle ones. You can adjust this as needed for a thicker/thinner rail or if you wish to tie bows instead of knots in the middle section.
  • Pin your hem. Lay one piece of fabric pattern-side down and then center your batting on top. Go ahead and fold the bottom piece of fabric up and pin it in place to the batting. Next take another piece of fabric pattern-side up and place on top of the batting. Fold your edges under and use the pins you already had in place to pin it all together.
  • Check your measurements. Measure the cover you just pinned to see if it matches the actual crib rail measurements and adjust as needed. Take your pinned rail cover, hold it along your crib rail, and make sure it reaches to the edges and around the sides and top of the railing. Adjust as needed. Take this time to place a pin where your ribbons will need to go so they line up between the slats, or you could go ahead and sandwich your ribbons between the fabric and pin them in place.
  • Insert ribbons into hem. If you haven’t already done so, place the ribbons where they need to be and secure with a pin. The ribbons should be sandwiched between the two pieces of fabric to give it a cleaner look when finished. For the end ribbons, place them at a 45 degree angle so they will tie neatly.
  • Sew! Stitch a small hem (about 1/4″ from the edge) all the way around your rail cover. Back-stitch at the end to secure, trim any loose thread ends, and voila! You now have a custom crib rail cover that will protect your crib from your baby and vice versa.

Our crib rail covers are working out great so far! Jaxson has already tested them out and I’m glad we doubled up on the padding inside of each cover to keep his little teeth safe. I’m also glad that we chose a mellow pattern so that it would blend in instead of demanding your focus when you walk into Jaxson’s room.

J was pretty impressed with me and I’m proud of my craftiness and the money we saved! It would have cost us $75 to buy the one-size-fits-all crib covers and I made all 4 for the price of ONE store-bought one. J kept asking questions about what I was doing and saying how amazed she was that I could do this. After almost 6 years together, I guess there are still some things to learn about each other. She had no idea I could sew “for real”, just because the opportunity has never presented itself. Now, we’ve started a laundry list of sewing projects for the house…decorative couch pillows, patio chair cushions, you name it. And I’ve now been elected the Kids’ Halloween Costume Creator. I wonder if I could put that on my résumé?

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11 Month Pictures

As promised, here are Jaxson’s 11 month pictures. Happy New Year everybody! 🙂

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11 Months

What. A. Year.

On this last day of 2013, Jaxson Bennett turned 11 months old. J and I are both shocked that his first birthday is just around the corner. You would think after nearly a year of adjusting to life with Jaxson, each month wouldn’t come as such a surprise when he gets just that much older, but it still does.

For Christmas, we got a photo frame for his monthly pictures during his first year, so I worked on printing out the pictures and filling it in this weekend. There are only two spots left for his 11 and 12 month pictures and even then, looking at this nearly-completed frame, I still couldn’t believe he’s almost a year old. It feels like he’s always been here, and I think that’s part of the reason for the amazement. Jaxson filled a void in our hearts that we never knew existed until it wasn’t there anymore.

Life has a totally different meaning once you have a child and we are no exception. Each day, each moment, with Jaxson makes me strive to be a better person and to appreciate life – yes, even those moments when he’s spilling his juice all over the floor, chasing our senile cat, and screaming bloody murder because he’s just that upset about getting a fresh diaper. There are new joys, new frustrations, new hopes and fears each and every day, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

As a parent, you learn to take the bad with the good. You learn to let the little things go because that’s just what they are – little things. You wipe the juice up off the floor, rescue the cat by putting him behind the baby gate, and figure out how to make Jaxson laugh on the changing table instead of screaming. Parenthood, like life, is about adjusting, adapting, breathing, and enjoying.

When I was filling in the photo frame, I had to go back through all of my pictures from 2013. At the beginning, there were only pictures of J, super pregnant and ready to pop! Next came the pictures from Jaxson’s birth day: the tears, the smiles, the happy grandparents. Somewhere in the chaos was my wife and I – quietly realizing that it wasn’t just the two of us anymore, we had the responsibility of raising a person now. Being pregnant gave J 9 months to become a mother from the inside out. I had to learn how to become a mother during the next 9 months. There were tough times and learning curves, but we finally got the hang of it. The months flew by, bringing their own milestones. One, two, three months and he’s rolling over. Four, five, six months and he’s sitting up on his own and eating baby food. Seven, eight months and he’s crawling. Nine, ten months and he’s starting to pull up and cruise and say “mom”.

And now at eleven months he’s starting to figure out this walking thing. He’ll walk with you holding one of his hands and jets across the living room while holding onto his rolling toy. He tries to lure Bubba over to him by dropping food from his high chair. He loves big people food and “begs” now until you share your food with him. He blows spit bubbles and knows how to shake his head “no” (and he knows what it means). He pats your face to comfort you if you’re crying and he loves to be scared (like when you face away from him then turn back and yell BOO! or when we pretend like we are losing our grip and “drop” him). He loves animals, real and stuffed, and enjoys going shopping. Disney Jr. is on in our house 24/7 because they have all his favorite shows. He actually watches TV now and laughs at what’s happening. He laughs at himself randomly, too, and likes to “sing” along to the radio in the car. He is smart, kind, and handsome, too – the full package. We are so very lucky to have this little boy in our lives!

As we’re saying goodbye to 2013 and heading into 2014, I’m reflecting on the past year and how great 2013 really was. Jaxson was born. We bought our first home. I finished college. J is back to her pre-pregnancy weight. We have a healthy savings account and good credit. And I’m proud to say we accomplished all of our goals for 2013 and are looking forward to what we can do in 2014.

We’re doing Jaxson’s 11 month pictures tonight, so I’ll put them up as soon as I can. Happy New Year everyone!