Friday, March 29, 2013

Self imposed maternity leave! Modern women, hear me roar!

I just put the shop on maternity leave about twenty minutes ago! And, of course, immediately had 3-4 ideas for the shop, including a painting. Isn't that ALWAYS the way? No, seriously, WHY is that always the way? Noon on a Monday? I got nothing. 3am on any given night or 5 minutes after putting my Etsy shop on vacation mode? The ideas won't stop flowing. Sigh.

I am telling myself to cool it though and relax. The baby is due on April 16, and we've already had three good signs that we're on track for labor. I won't go into them, because every sign for labor is kinda icky, but trust me, we're on our way sometime in the next 2 two weeks. And hey, if he stalls and it turns out we're not, they'll induce me five days after the due date. Am I still talking to you guys, or just reassuring myself? It's a little of both right now.

Even when I'm supposed to rest, I'm already planning one or two sewing projects, and hoping to get a little ahead in my Swan Eaters strips. I really, really don't want to put Swan Eaters on a break when I have the baby, but I am torn between knowing I don't have enough drawn right now and being just as sure that I will not be able to keep up with it the first few weeks he is here. It doesn't help that the comic is actually at a really crucial point plot-wise. I'd really rather not hit the pause button anytime soon. So, right now I'm trying to write and draw until I hit whatever wall is going to decide whether the comic goes on break or not (be it baby, exhaustion, or--most likely--baby exhaustion). Wish me luck!

As the next couple of months go by, if you really need one of my prints they can still be found in my Society6 shop here. Since they do all of their own printing and shipping, that shop can continue to run without me during my maternity leave. And rest assured, I will be updating this blog with sketches, thoughts, fears, joys, baby news, and the exact date my Etsy shop will re-open once I figure it out!

Now I am off to the post office to mail out the last of my print orders for a couple of months! That feels weird!

The Nursery!

For the past month we've been stitching, painting, assembling furniture, doing tiny laundry (so many socks, so cute), and scouring secondhand shops to prepare the nursery for the baby's arrival. On Wednesday we arranged the furniture, set up the diaper station, filled the walls and shelves, and we finally have some photos to share!

Like this one, for starters.

The nesting instinct is no joke. Aside from morning sickness, I haven't experienced a lot of the typical pregnancy symptoms. I've had very few food cravings, no weird change in tastes, no itchy skin, no swollen feet or hands, sleeping like a pro--I'm not even really peeing more than usual. (Full disclosure: I've peed 12-45 times a day my entire life). I consider myself really lucky. Aside from 9 months of almost daily throwing up and some pretty righteous pains in the ligaments I've mastered pulling every 3-4 weeks, I've escaped a lot of typical pregnancy changes.

Until 2-3 weeks ago I didn't even have stretch marks, but now...
Well, hey, can't win them all.

But the nesting instinct, that bit of pregnancy folklore hit me hard. A couple of months ago I began to worry about what would happen if we didn't have everything ready in time. Would our baby have to sleep in a drawer? Would we have to change him with paper towels and scotch tape? Would he start teething on wires and rusty forks? I needed to start getting things in order, quick.

As Ron Swanson says in this awesome speech, making something is usually better than buying it. With a little care, effort, and patience you can create something meaningful and even better--you can design it yourself. We didn't like any of the woodland decor we were finding online and in stores, and we especially disliked the price tags. Ryan and I decided to create as much of the nursery ourselves as possible. I started with the baby's mobile.

Photos of drawing and cutting the patterns, stitching them together,
painting spots, embroidering pine cones, and hanging it all
from a stained embroidery hoop. 

Toadstools, pine cones, and rain clouds! Perfect for a Northwest baby.

I love making dolls and toys, and I've always looked forward to creating them for my own children. So, next I made patterns for woodland critter toys. I started with a fox and a raccoon. I hope to add an owl, beaver, and wolf before long.

Fox and raccoon patterns.

Hello, Fox!

Hello Raccoon!

Hanging out

While I took to stitching and planning out embroidery hoops to hang on the wall, Ryan put the baby's crib together!

Putting the crib together

The only new piece of furniture we bought was the baby's crib. Regulations require that cribs be new, and we did not want to risk safety. However, we managed to find other furniture for the room secondhand. Each piece is sturdy, well made, and was cleaned and repainted with non-toxic paint before we added it to the nursery.

Bookcase $6.99

Weird metallic-painted shelf, $2.99

We wanted plenty of storage bins for the changing table we found, but again, the price tag is silly. You're paying for cardboard and fabric, and it's not like any of the bins at Target are exactly heirloom quality anyway.

Fabric we already had + free post office shipping boxes
+ a glue gun = storage bins. THANK YOU, PINTEREST!

As I wrote before, we decided to design our own fabric for a throw pillow and swaddling blanket for the baby as keepsakes. The pillow has arrived from Society6, and we're just waiting for the Spoonflower fabric now.

The throw pillow

Swaddling blankets are usually just a swatch of flannel with hemmed sides. Once again, heck, we can do that! Ryan and I found a couple of cute patterns, for $2.50 each

One even matched a toy our friend Mike got the baby!
Cute, right?

Next it was time for wall art. I quilted and embroidered a series of differently sized embroidery hoops for the baby's walls, all nature themed.


A hedgehog

Heart and a flower vine

An owl


A detail of the stitching

Cardinal on a birch

A bear

A rain cloud (we do live outside Seattle, after all).

The rain drops are leftover faux pearl strands
from my wedding bouquet.

A fox

An acorn

A rainbow

A grove of pines

A few more toadstools

Personally, I've always liked bright and cheery nurseries. To me, a nursery should be a room a baby can enjoy when they're a toddler and easily change as they grow into a child with their own tastes and interests. In the very beginning, I feel like most of all a nursery is a safe haven for sleep deprived, stressed parents. Early in the pregnancy, well meaning folks advised me to decorate the baby's room in black and white, with abstract designs. Splatters of red... Long, thin, spidery black lines... I know studies say babies like this, but I'm sorry, it sounds like a mental patient's nightmare. If I had to sit surrounded by that with a crying infant in my arms every night at 3am, I would most definitely go full tilt Yellow Wallpaper. So Heaven forgive us, we went with hedgehogs and acorns. Hopefully this won't turn him into a serial killer!

Now that you've seen all of the pieces, here are photos of the nursery all set up:

The hoops, mobile, and changing table.


The baby changing station

The storage bins we made

Ryan loves this bib we found at a store :)

We found this adorable fox basket at Target. It's filled with diapers :)
Weird metallic-painted $2.99 shelf, repainted!

The crib

Bunting I stitched hanging over the crib with
 a lovely alphabet blanket Reese's Mom made for the baby!

Rabbit waiting for baby :)

Bunting I stitched from leftover fabric from the wall hoops

A rocker we found at Good Will for $25

The $6.99 painted bookcase, filled with toys and books.

Reading/nursing corner

The throw pillow, in place

The fox and raccoon resting below a few hoops

Though it's ready and waiting, we don't plan on using the nursery at night right away. SIDs studies, our classes, our doctor, and our pediatrician all recommend that babies sleep in their own bassinet/cradle in the parent's room for the first six months. Ryan and I are both on board, and since I plan to nurse it will be easier to have the baby sleeping during the night in our room anyway. So, why put so much effort into the nursery right now?

It's a good feeling to have everything in place. And nice to have a clean room for naps, playtime, afternoon nursing, and daytime changings. We chose the sunniest, warmest, most quiet room in the house for the baby. Making a space and putting the room together had a very symbolic feel to it; it's carving out a small spot in the world for our child that will be just his.

As we prepared the nursery for the baby, the rest of the house fell into place.

Clothes hanging in the nursery closet, washed and ready for baby
(Yes, with the special dye free, perfume free baby detergent).

Ready for bath time!

Lupin and Ryan playing with the rat puppet Francela
sent us, as we put the nursery together.

Ryan and Elvis putting the swing Gracie sent us together.

Elvis has taken it upon himself to test all of the baby's equipment.
Here he is checking out the Pack N' Play

And the hospital bag.

And the changing table. Can't be too safe.

Lupin's turn to test out the changing table.

And there you have it! The nursery, and beyond!

Now, like Elvis, we wait....