Tutorial: How to Make a Backpack from a T Shirt

I completed a UFO (unfinished object) that has been hanging around my life for the past 10 months. It took about 30 minutes to assemble so I have no clue why it took me so long to finish. It was supposed to be a present for my sisters birthday...in February. Oh well, shes going to be a student of Shorewood High School for at least two more years so theres plenty of time to enjoy it.

On with the tute.

1) Get a tshirt you love and cut a rectangle through front and back. I didnt take exact measurements, but use most of the shirt. It depends how big or small you want the backpack. Also cut two peices the same size from some kind of a lining fabric (jersey knit will stretch like nuts if you put anything of substantial weight in there - ultimately looking wonky and being uncomfortable). I went with the classic stability of cotton.
Save your scraps! You will need them later!

2) With right sides together, sew up the two long sides and one short side of the lining, then do the same for the tshirt.

3) Now you have two "bags". Put them right sides together, one inside the other, and sew along the top edge. But leave a little hole in the hem for turning.

5) Turn the whole deal right side out, stuffing the lining into the bag. Close up the turning hole using a little zigzag stitch or whatever works. Now sew a straight stitch through both the bag and the lining about 1.5 inches from the top.

6) Using the same shirt you cut the rectangles from, lay the scraps out so you can see where the side of the shirt is. Cut two long strips (these should end up twice the length of the shirt because the shoulder seam will keep the front and back connected).

7) either cut a hole near each side seam or just rip the seams on the bag between the top edge and the stitching with a seam ripper- making the holes for your straps. Using a safety pin clipped to the end of one of the strips, thread the strips through the top of the bag - entering and exiting from the same hole. Do the same on the opposite side.
(I put a pocket on the front of this bag - but thats optional)

8) Take the two strings on the left and sew them to the bottom left corner of the bag, leaving about 2 inches of length. Repeat for the right side.

9) tie the two lengths into a nice 'n' pretty bow

10) Pack your bag full of stuff and enjoy!!!


Tsunami in Samoa, All is Well in Hawaii

There was an deadly earthquake and tsunami this morning in Samoa, but here everything seems to be normal. The islands were under tsunami advisory but Hawaii Civil Defense recently lifted it and it seems that things are going to be alright in our corner of the Pacific.  I have seen numerous tsunami PSAs on the television since I moved here.  Mostly its just telling Hawaii residents what the warning signs of a tsunami are and that Hawaii is long overdue for some major ecological disaster.  Yikes.

This hits closer to home, so to speak, than most other news stories because I know that we know familes from Samoa who were most likely affected by this tragety.  Prayers out.


Moldy General Mills Toaster Pastry Products!

I already had this problem once. I called General Mills to report it and they sent me a coupon for another box of Fiber One Toaster Pastries.

Well, heres the new box! HOW GROSS!!!

I actually think that Fiber One are a little too sweet, even though we only eat these for dessert. I prefer the Natures Path Organic Toaster Pastries (the kind they sell at Costco) but they are just too darn expensive right now. So Fiber One was doing alright until this fiasco. It is unlikely that I will ever buy these again.

I commend General Mills for so generously replacing the box, but I must point out that when Earths Best sold me a package of defective diapers (the tabs were all screwed up) they not only sent me a coupon for a free pack of dipes, they also sent several additional coupons for other products they carry. I never used them because Mr A recycled the envelope before I had a chance, but its the thought that counts.


Blackout Curtains to Help the Baby Sleep Through the Night

Although the baby has been sleeping through the night more regularly, recently he began waking up around 4am and fussing loudly before falling back asleep. I appreciated the 6 plus hours of continuous sleep (it had been months since I had enjoyed such a luxury) but was annoyed at the interruptions, especially since I read somewhere that babies are supposed to sleep upwards of 12 hours a night!

Wheres that baby and how do I get one?!

I suspected that the problem was light. Ickeys window faces the east and every morning as the sunlight crept over the top of Mauna Kea, my son would wake up to greet it. He took naps during the day without much hassle irregardless of the light situation, but I still suspected that curtains would do some good.

Im not exactly in a position to invest in the untested blackout curtain theory right now (they are about 30 bucks a panel) but I did rig up the next best thing, I hung a quilt in front of his window. It does let in some cracks of light through the top and sides, but its a whole lot darker.

Hallelujah, its 8am and the boy is still asleep! Not only has he been sleeping in longer in the morning since the quilt went up, he also has been going to bed much earlier. Long gone are the nights where we all went to bed at the same time. Now Ickey is out at 830 so Mr A and I have time to watch a movie, play cards, or do whatever before we go to sleep around 10! Its like a whole new lease on life around here.

I believe the blackout panels are a worthwhile investment (they would eliminate the light seeping in around the window and, unlike the quilt nailed to the wall, they could be opened during the day). I know that I had read this information somewhere before even giving birth so why didnt I think of this sooner? A pitch dark, quiet room is what a baby needs to get the proper amount of sleep.


Thoughts About Growing Up

Yesterday, as I was putting Baby Ickey down for a nap, I caught a glimpse of myself in the full length mirror. There I was, standing in the darkness, gently rocking back and forth, holding my baby in my arms. He was all cuddled up into my chest and had lay his head on my shoulder, staring out blankly at nothing in particular. I stoked his forehead hypnotically with my thumb.

It occurred to me in that moment that someday, a day that is coming sooner than I realize, my baby is going to be too big for me to hold. In fact, I imagine he will be bigger than his father, which is way too big for such an encompassing embrace. I know how good it feels to be encased in a protective parents arms (I remember all too well my own experience), how can I possibly continue to provide that when hes just too darn big to snuggle?

When I saw myself in the mirror yesterday I was overwhelmed by sadness at the realization that these moments are going to come to an end. Although, usually we emotionally outgrow the need for that protective parental cocoon right around the time that we physically outgrow our parents arms. Or is it right around the time when we start to find that cocoon in someone elses arms (girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse).

Anyone read that childrens book I Love You Forever?


Mr A is studying for the PRAXIS and now we are both feeling dumber

The red line is my common sense/practical intelligence in the time since college

The blue line is my academic intelligence in the time since college

Its a wonder I can even type these words...


30 Days of Aloha

This weekend we went to the 30 Days of Aloha: Waimea Paniolo Parade and Ho'olaulei'a (say that 10 times fast!)

Ickey dug the live music and ran around like crazy, not seeming to care if he ended up with a group of strangers or his parents.  We insistantly smothered him with embarrassing public displays of affection, so maybe thats why he kept trying to get away!  He loved the horses in the parade but seemed to prefer all the dogs on the sidewalk. 

This picture reminds me of a Simpsons episode when Homer says "only two kinds of people wear Hawaiian shirts, gay guys and big fat party animals..."

(Beth, was that acurate?)


The Perfect Thing to Say to Your Wife in the Morning

There are certain moments that remind me why I got married and why I love being in a close relationship with another person. Even though sometimes it seems like we have insurmountable problems, small instances like these make every struggle worth while.

This morning, in the middle of a dead sleep, I heard the baby rustling around somewhere in the house. I shot straight up in bed, looking like an extra in Army of Darkness.

Mr A, who was apparently already awake, leaned down and kissed my forehead, "Its okay Honey, Ive got him."

I muttered incoherent, sleepy expressions of gratitude and quickly sunk my face back into my pillow.

"Would you like me to wake you up once I have breakfast ready?"

I smiled and purred. Peeking out from under one heavy eyelid, I cooed teasingly, "ooooo...youre good."

Mr A chuckled, smiled, and walked out into the kitchen, shutting the bedroom door behind him.


The Joy of Buying Toys for My Child

This football is the first toy we bought for Ikaika.

Its not that he doesnt have an impressive collection of toys. We have so many toys for him that I tend to rotate them in and out of the closet so Im not swimming through primary colored plastic all day long. If he cant find something to play with he just pulls stuff out of the cupboards like every other kid.

I suppose this is the reason why I never gave much thought to buying playthings. With all the gifts, homemades, and hand-me-downs, spending our precious paper money on toys is a waste.

But the other day Mr A (QB) ran into this little football and couldnt resist. He gave it to Ikaika and the kid threw an overhand pass! That was it. We had to get it.

ICKEY LOVES HIS FOOTBALL! He spent the better part of an hour throwing and chasing it around the store, screaming laughing the entire time. When we got home, I was worried that this thing I just spent money on (albeit very little money, but still money) was going to get lost in the massive toy shuffle, but we play pass in the living room, tackle/tickle, play "fetch", pretty much any game imaginable and Ickey cant get enough. Its football season so we are always at a game or watching one on tv and its nice for the baby to have something that involves him in what he sees the adults doing.

The best part about this football is the strange satisfaction it gives me. When I see him happy and laughing, enjoying something I have provided for him...oooohhhh, its the best! I mean, I love giving gifts, but this is a whole 'nother level! Its just one of those wacky parts of parenting that you would probably have to experience to understand. Seeing my kid enjoying that ball - I would have paid any price for it! All my consideration based on whether it was $5 or $3.50 with the coupon went right out the window. I would have taken out another student loan just to get smiles like those!

This, dear friends, is why we go broke buying a bunch of dumb shit that our kids dont really need. It now makes perfect sense to me. Making our kids happy is like a drug and we as parents will pay any price for that kind of high. Unfortunately we cant all afford to feed our habit (myself specifically), so I need to be careful not to lose sight of the fact that hes done just fine thus far with hand-me-down clothes, toys and other thrift store finds or homemade goods. A special gift every once-in-a-great-while is fine, but an ounce of discretion is worth a pound of savings. Ickeys birthday is coming up next month so if I do wrap up a gift (which I highly doubt I will since hes too young to get the whole "birthday gift" concept anyway) it will most likely be this incredible football that I already know he loves.
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A New Place for New Beginnings

We have moved again!  This is now the FOURTH (4th!!!) place we have lived in the last 6 months.  Thankfully, this time we signed a lease so no more moving for at least 6 months.  I dont think my body could handle hauling that king matress up stairs again any time soon!

So far this new place is fantastic.  Its big and spacious and there are actual rooms with doors...meaning the baby now sleeps in the evening!  Baby Ickey has been going nuts running all over and exploring every nook and cranny (much to my dismay since that means I have to clean every nook and cranny).  I knew he could walk but I guess I never noticed how much he walks!  Its within walking distance to all the parks and grocery stores.  Theres enough room to accomodate all our stuff plus visitors, which is really what living in Hawaii is all about!

I can hang my laundry in the sunshine, I can start eating more raw foods, I can sew when Ikaika takes a nap, I can walk up to the school and help Mr A coach volleyball, I can do it all! 
And...the previous owner left me a sweet couch.  Now I just have to hunt for some classy fabric and make a slip cover for it.


Weaning the Baby - When to Stop Breastfeeding

When Ikaika was born I was completely committed to breastfeeding for the natural-mom-norm of 2 years. I stuck it out through the first 6 weeks, which were the hardest considering how frequently a newborn nurses and how painful it is (I distinctly remember feeding him while watching a football game with Mr A, looking up at him and whimpering "I have to do this again in 3 hours..."). 6 months were the glory days of breastfeeding. He wasnt nursing ALL THE TIME anymore and, physically, it was a breeze. I also didnt need to feed him right away so there was no need to deal with nursing while out and about. As he started eating more solids I got ready for the next year of breastfeeding once or twice a day...easy as pie.

Surprise, surprise, Ikaika seems to have weaned himself. I realized earlier this week that he didnt really want to nurse, he got distracted after 3-5 minutes and would just squirm away. He went to sleep without nursing and woke up ready for some real food. I finally decided two days ago to completely stop breastfeeding him and he seems totally content.

Im a little disappointed because...you know...its "healthy". But I dont see why I should be forcing him to do it if he honestly doesnt want to. Now I need to figure out where to go from here. So far the hardest part has been remembering that he needs more liquids. He need water constantly now (before when he was nursing he got most of his water from the breastmilk but now I have to remember to give him a cup).

Ive also been debating what to do about milk. I havent been giving him any dairy except for the occasional yoghurt due to the fact that I was very prone to ear infections as a child and Mr A has a history of allergies. I give him soymilk every once in a while but I need to find something that will essentially replace breastmilk. Right now Im leaning towards goat milk. Im also planning on giving him a supplement, like Shakleebaby Multivitamin Multimineral.

At 10.5 months, the end has come to breastfeeding Ikaika. Hes plenty big so Im not too concerned about him being undernourished. My chest is returning to its normal size, which means my clothes fit again! Even though the plan has changed, Im still looking forward to the next year of feeding fun! I followed his cues and weaning was a dream.


A New Approach to the Baby Book - the Instant Scrapbook Calendar

I have to admit that when I found out I was pregnant, the first thing I did was run out and look at baby books. Im not entirely sure why, perhaps I like the feeling of writing in the correct information and then pasting the correct picture in its intended space because it reminds me of doing homework.

Eventually my mom gave me a book I liked and I began writing every last detail of my pregnancy on the corresponding pages. I pasted cards from the baby shower and even went outside the box with some freestyle decorations. Turns out baby booking is a large load of time-consuming work! I started to suspect that Ikaika was going to end up with a detailed account of his infancy while his sibling would end up with a few reciepts from the doctor taped into a spiral notebook.

And then along came the baby calendar.

This is an amazing product that takes all the craziness out of baby booking.

Basically its a blank calendar and you just fill in the days with something that happened. But its cute because it is pre-decorated like a scrapbook.

It comes with stickers like "doctor visit", "plays peekaboo" or "first tooth" that you can stick onto the appropriate day.

It also comes with beautiful backgrounds to paste your pictures too and a sheet of stickers to decorate the pictures, making the scrapbooking part of it a breeze. You can even use things like their hospital bracelet or a plane ticket to decorate the photos.

There is even a pocket in the back to put special things (like a baptism certificate) so you dont lose them. You can also store things you want to use for the pages. How I wish I had put his ticket from the Brewers game into that pocket right away instead of letting it be swallowed by the diaper bag...

When the baby is a year old and the calendar is finished then you just tear the pages out and they fit perfectly into a 12x12 scrapbook album!

This satisfies all the major requirements of a baby book (except it only goes to one year) and its so much easier to remember to update. Mr A and I love going back through the calendar and seeing Ikaika grow month to month. The only hard part is picking which pictures to use!

This is definitely something I will do again. These scrapbook calendars come in all different styles and for all different occasions. There are wedding, new baby, school year, and generic family templates. Mine is from Hallmark (it was a gift) but I couldnt find it on their website. Ebay has a generous selection - just search for "instant scrapbook calendar".


Pretty Modest: Swimsuits for the Modern Moms of Hawaii!

Finally!  Someone has designed a swim suit that is modern, pretty, and modest!   Best of all, they are made from vintage Aloha wear - I AM IN LOVE!!!

Although I am a vibrant 20 something year old, its just weird hanging out on the beach in the same bathing suit as a 13 year old.  Since graduating college I have made a consorted effort to not shop in the juniors department, but it seems like swimwear transcends the boundaries of age.  Why do I always feel like I have to chose between way too skimpy or downright matronly?

I dont want to be that mom-of-many boppin down the beach in a Roxy two-piece!  Sure, theres a time and place for a sporty, spandex/nylon creation (while surfing, body boarding or diving, for example) but what about when Im just chillin on the sand with my little man?  I have long yearned for a style that is mature without being "old", modern without being revealing, and pretty without being "cutesey".

HELLO 1979!!! 

I found this line through Hapa Hale, one of my favorite Hawaii fashion/shopping blogs.  Of course, I dont live on Oahu so I cant actually shop these places, but I love the eye candy.


Must Have Items for an 8-10 Month Old Baby

Heres the things I just can not live without right now. Honestly, parenting without these items is unimaginable. Im sure this list will change as he gets older and his needs change (its certainly changed since he was a newborn) but seriously, these are some awesome products!

Mini Food Chopper

Mine is a Black & Decker but I dont think it really matters what brand you get. Whatever is cheap will do the trick. In fact, I think my B&D isnt as efficient as some others brands (I used one at a friends house the other day and it practically liquified the pork and peas we were eating for dinner) but it works for me. Because I dont buy jarred baby food, this item is completely indispensible for feeding my little monster. Case in point, tonight we ate brown rice and chicken with green papaya, and so did our baby because I was able to sufficiently puree it with the help of my chopper. The clean up took about 20 seconds as compared to the five minutes it takes me to properly wash my full size food processor. Yum yum, fresh and healthy!

Ergo Baby Carrier

I swear to the Lord that without the Ergo I wouldnt get a thing done on a daily basis. For chores like dishes and laundry that are hard to do with a whining baby climbing your leg, there is nothing easier than simply throwing him in the backpack and going about your business. Browsing the typically small, crowded stores common to Hawaii is a breeze without a bulky, annoying stroller to cramp my style. Can I even count the number of times he has fallen asleep in the front-load position? Its comfortable enough to wear while hiking, my husband will actually use it, and its stylish enough that I wore it with a nice dress at my sisters wedding.

Big Homemade Hooded Towels

Amazingly, I didnt even make these - I got them as a gift from my aunt. Someone had made these for her and she insisted I would love them and be able to use them well into toddlerhood. She was right! Those stupid, rinky-dinky hooded baby towels they sell at Babies-R-Us are just lame. They dont absorb anything and your baby will surely grow out of using it within the first month. These towels are made from a plush and cushy adult-sized Ralph Lauren towel and a washcloth, which has been made into a hood using the most basic of techniques. I believe that even the most craft challenged among us could accomplish this project easily and would benefit greatly from having done so. These towels are not only softer, more absorbent, and of higher quality than their "baby" counterparts, they are also so awesome that I occasionally catch my husband using them in lieu of his own towel. Homemade hooded towels are now my go-to, no-fail baby shower gift.