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Watch Me Grow Onesies (Free Printable)

6 Feb

** Free Printable included at bottom of post **


Here’s a look at the gift I made for Jaimie, Dean and their baby boy.

I know I personally will want to see pictures of this little muffin every day so I came up with a way for them to document his growth each month – custom onesies announcing his age.

They turned out so cute. Here’s how I did it.

Watch Me Grow Onesie Project:

Supplies -
12 white onesies (3 0-3 month, 3 3-6 month, 3 6-9 month, 3 12 month), washed in baby safe detergent
3 sheets of Iron-On Transfer paper (you can buy it at office supply stores and craft stores)
Color ink jet printer
Scissors
Iron

Directions -

1. Wash the onesies in baby-friendly detergent like Ivory or Dreft – or use just baking soda.

1. Using PowerPoint I created 12 graphics depciting every month for the first year of baby’s life - each one with a different color or theme. A few of the onesies are very specific because I know his due date. For example, he will be seven months old in October so the seven month onesie is a pumpkin instead of a circle. This could obviously be done in Photoshop, but I was just using my little slow laptop that doesn’t have it AND since there was nothing fancy needed and no complicated layers, I didn’t see any need to use my Mac Mini.

2. I printed the graphics four per page onto iron-on transfer paper. I had to change the settings on our color ink jet printer to ‘mirror image’ so the text would read properly after I transferred it to the onesies. If you’re going to make these at home, don’t forget to check your printer settings like I did the first time.

Once printed (properly), I cut out and trimmed each individual graphic. Don’t leave too much white space around your graphic. Here’s what mine looked like after I cut and trimmed them.

3. Place the iron-on transfer and get ready to iron. Once you start there’s no correcting it so be sure you love the placement.

4. Very carefully iron them on. It requires constant, even pressure – and quite a bit of it. The cotton onesies are pretty delicate so there is a small amount of yellowing / browning on a few even though I was super careful.

5. Carefully peel backing away from transfer. I don’t have pictures of this step because it requires an even hand. Once you have peeled the backing away, your onesie will look like this:

6. Repeat 11 more times.

So cute and so easy. After I was done, I folded them up and put them into a seagrass basket.

And guess what? I made a pdf so that you print your own! I took out the graphics specific to how old this baby will be during certain months of the year so these will work for any new baby. Remember to make sure your ink jet printer is set to ‘mirror image’ when you print.

Have you made a special gift for a new mom or mom-to-be?  OR have you documented your baby’s growth in some photographic way?

Baby Shower Invitations

5 Feb

When my friends Jaimie and Dean first talked about decorating their nursery, they thought about going with a Winnie the Pooh theme. A few weeks later they decided on a Yankees theme. 

*sigh* I know, there’s no accounting for it. They are both from New York so it can’t be helped I guess. Don keeps alternating between saying he won’t babysit for them at the house because he won’t put the kid down in the Yankees room and saying that he wants to babysit so he can take down all the Yankees gear.

Anyway, when they ruled out the Pooh nursery theme I thought I would make the shower Pooh-themed instead. That’s why when I sent the Save the Date announcements way back in December, I used the little image of Pooh and Piglet and the quote that’s just perfect for a new baby:

Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.

I was actually having a hard time coming up with stuff that really inspired me for a Winne the Pooh themed shower though, and it was not for a lack of pouring over Pinterest and the Interwebs looking for inspiration either. My poor mother-in-law was even dragged around on a fruitless shopping venture over the Christmas holiday.

By that time, Jaimie had mentioned to me that she would love for guests to bring a book to help grow a great children’s library for her little boy. An idea had been wiggling around in my brain, and finally I decided to change the whole shower theme to books.

I was shopping for supplies at Michael’s when I ran into our friend Karla. She’s just as excited about Jaimie and Dean’s bundle of joy as I am, and she very graciously and generously offered to buy the supplies for the invitations. Not only was that just so darn sweet, but it also allowed me to splurge on some fun matching envelopes AND make coordinating thank you cards. So, thank you Karla!

Here’s a look at the invitations and matching thank you cards.

  
The invitation itself is made of two pieces of paper glued together. The piece in the back is blue-, white- and brown-striped scrapbook paper and the piece on the top is white card stock. I printed the invitations on our ink jet printer, three per page. The little bookworm is just made from blue and brown circles – like the ones of the top and bottom of the cards. The text in the large blue circle explains the baby book idea. Here’s what it says:

Greeting cards are nice, but only get read once or twice.
So instead of a card to be put away,
please bring a children’s book to be enjoyed some other day. 

Our friend Katy offered to plan a game with prizes AND put together favor bags. So with those matters in capable hands and the invitations done, I just had to plan the bookworm menu and decor. Yup. I had a couple of fun book themed decor items, too. Stay tuned (I’ll also tell you about the super fun game Katy put together that matched our theme!).

Have you been to, planned or been honored with a themed baby shower ? What was it?

Bookworm Food

4 Feb

My friend Jaimie’s baby shower was this afternoon. I am so excited for Jaimie and her husband Dean and I wanted to make sure we had a great event with lots of thoughtful touches.

Jaimie mentioned that she would like for people to bring books for the baby. I decided that sounded like a great theme and I put together plans for a Bookworm Baby Shower. Even the food was themed based on childrens’ books. Here’s what we served:

Green Eggs and Ham
Spinach & Ham Egg Quiche

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Rainy Day Meatballs (Yeah, these I just bought at Ikea – everything else was homemade.)

Madeline
Savory Madeleine Cookies 

Pete’s a Pizza
Petesa Balls

Chicken Little
Little Chicken Pockets

Peter Rabbit
Peter’s Veggie Cup

Blueberries for Sal
Blueberry Ricotta Flatbread

The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Caterpillar’s Fruit Salad

Super Fudge
Fudge Crunch Ice Cream Cake

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Charlie and the Chocolate Cookies

James and the Giant Peach
James and the Giant Peach Bellini 

Lemony Snicket
Lemony’s Lemonade ( just regular low sugar lemonade with lime and orange slices floating)

Red Fish, Blue Fish, One Fish, Two Fish
Just the Red Fish
 
Here are the menu cards (the book cover with the name of the food item below it) if you’d like to host your own book-themed lunch or baby shower. I think the chicken pockets were my favorite.

 

Part Four: Picking an Agency for the Home Study (or The Experience That Nearly Stopped Us in Our Tracks)

17 Jan

Photo courtesy of The Tire Zoo
4 Way Stop Sign
courtesy of The Tire Zoo

Okay, we’ve dragged our feet on this long enough. It’s time to discuss what happened when we went to our third and final agency open house before choosing our home study agency. If you have not been following along, you can read the first three parts here, here and here.

Let me say that it was a good thing it was the third agency we visited or I’m not sure we would have moved forward. Even as an adopted person, actually ESPECIALLY as an adopted person, I found the visit extremely traumatic.

Also – I want to add that we know people who have had very successful and happy experiences with the agency and so I don’t think this is indicative of the services they provide generally. Therefore, we’re not naming names – either of the agency or the social worker. Remember, like everything on this blog, it’s just one couple’s experience.

Now before I begin, remember that 1. I was adopted as an infant and 2. We have not struggled with infertility. These factors are important in understanding how we felt alienated from hello with this particular experience.

The third agency we selected to learn more about hosts their open houses on weeknights and the office is about 30/40 minutes from my office in non-peak traffic so I knew that getting there was going to be a hassle. The two-hour open house was also being held at 7 p.m. so there would be no time to eat. Don stopped and picked up two grilled chicken sandwiches which we scarfed down in the lobby right before the session started forcing us to take the last two seats in the front row.

Here’s more or less how it went down; I’ve compressed a few things but the actual statements are as accurate as I can recall them:

Social Worker: Hello and welcome. Many years ago, I suffered with infertility just like you so I understand the desperation and sadness that have brought you to this point. I adopted my two children in the 1980s and a lot has changed since then.

Me (in my head): Wait. I don’t feel desperate or sad about this decision. In fact, I’m not struggling with infertility. I made a deliberate decision to adopt instead of biological child rearing. And, by the way, even if I did have fertility issues, I still would’t necessarily feel desperate or sad about this. Why are you judging us?

Don (in his head): Actually we struggle with fertility, but thanks for the unnecessary assumption.

Social Worker: The first time I attended an agency open house, we were told we were too old to adopt a domestic infant. And at 32, I was a lot younger than most of you. Today, it’s so much better. Now people are permitted to adopt well into their 40s and 50s.

Me: Oh dear. Why am I here?

Don: A lot younger? Ahem.

Social Worker (after telling us more about adopting her children internationally): That’s why I decided to go into the field of adoption. I wanted to help make this a better experience for others.

Me (in my head): Okay. We’re back on track. This is good.

Social Worker: Especially for birth mothers who suffer a great trauma when they place their children.

Me: [hearts starts to beat faster]

Social Worker: This is something they will never get over.

Me: [an involuntary tear escapes one eye]

Social Worker: They will think of their child every day for years. They will lactate on the child’s first birthday. They will cry every year on the child’s birthday.

Me: [actively crying in front row. looks out adjacent window so she won’t see me]

Social Worker: They will never get over the loss.

Me: Oh my God. Is this what my birth mother deals with every day? Does she hate herself? Does she cry for me? [still crying and looking out window]

Social Worker: So, again, I enjoy working with the birth mothers to make this an easier process for them. I have been in adoption social work for 15 years. In fact I opened this office on behalf of the agency 10 years ago. Back when I ran the office we never had one single state finding. Now things are different. You can see the state findings hanging right there on the wall. This year we had some outdated personnel records. That never would have happened in my day.

Me: [still crying. barely register this.]

Don: Are you really badmouthing your employer as part of your “you should use our agency” spiel? I don’t think this is convincing in the way you think it is.

Social Worker: But adoption is hard for everyone. My daughter, for example, refused to bond. I used to turn on the vacuum cleaner and leave it outside the nursery so I didn’t have to hear her cry.

Me: [stops  crying. whips head around to look at social worker] Did you just say you turned the vacuum cleaner on because your baby cried? Are you insane? The state authorizes you to be the person to pass judgment on whether or not I will be a good mother?

Don: I’m beginning to understand why the baby didn’t bond.

It was at this point that Don and I look at each other in shock and surprise, my lips pursed tightly shut. I didn’t think I had telepathy, but at that moment I knew very clearly that we were both asking if there was any possible way we could stand up and leave.

[Aside from Don: if you need proof that Susan does NOT have telepathy, this would be it. I'd been thinking how much I wanted to get out of this room for several minutes at this point and would have been delighted to avoid the slow-motion train wreck that was continuing.]

Social Worker: And we’ve all heard stories about bad adoptive parents.

And then she went on to list them. The mother who tried to put her kid on a plane to his native Russia with a note that said the adoption didn’t work out.  A tragic story about an abusive mother in DC with a mix of foster and adoptive kids who was responsible for the deaths of two children in her care. The story of a Fairfax man who forgot his baby was in the backseat and went into his office building on a hot day.

Now let me say that the story of the man who left the baby in the car was devastating and, like all the other cases she mentioned, I heard about it on the news. But at no time in the coverage had I heard that the child was adopted. It was a crazy and sad situation where the mom usually did the morning drop offs and the dad was tasked with it one day. Once in the car, he was on auto-pilot and drove off to work, forgetting that his child was in the back seat. As Gene Weingarten’s feature on the phenomenon discussed, it’s more prevalent than we realize and cuts across pretty much every demographic – it had NOTHING to do with the fact that he was a bad adoptive parent. He made a careless mistake that ended in the worst way possible but there is no chance a “better” home study would have spotted it ahead of time or allowed the family to prevent it.

Oh no, wait. I’m sorry. Super Social Worker has the solution.

Social Worker: Now that family’s home study was not done by our agency, but if it had been and if I had been the case worker, I would have taught the man to put one of his child’s stuff animals on the front seat so that he couldn’t forget the child was in the car.

Don (the Weingarten article fresh in his head since it had just won the Pulitzer a month prior): You have to be kidding me. You’re really going to just dismiss this horrible tragedy as something that you could have told someone how to prevent with a stuffed toy?

Susan: I really want to leave. I really want to leave. I really want to leave.

And thus it went for two hours. We got to hear all about this woman, her children, their adoptions, how she rocks as a social worker and how she is far superior to, well, her superiors … but we didn’t get a single question answered.

We beat feet as fast as we could at the end of the open house and never looked back. To re-iterate, we’ve heard nothing but good things from others about this agency and we probably could have called the office manager and arranged a one on one meeting with someone more suited to our needs… but we had already found an agency that we liked better and there didn’t seem to be much point.

It’s been well over a year and I still feel raw thinking about that meeting – especially the part about the birth families. I have heard many people say that the grief in placing a child, even when you know it’s the best decision, is real and palpable. I get that. And it’s something that everyone involved in adoptions – the biological families, the adoptive families and the case workers – all have to cope with … but I don’t think one’s first look at an agency is the place to drop that bomb and to present it as a wound that will never heal?

Has anyone else had any experiences like this during the adoption process?

A Rose by Any Other Name

2 Dec

In my other life, I work in the field of public relations. Yesterday I logged in to PR Newswire to upload a press release and notice a headline that caught my eye:

THE WAIT IS OVER … BABYCENTER® UNVEILS TOP BABY NAMES OF 2011

From the Jersey Shore to the Royal Palace, Pop Culture and Celebrities Offer Inspiration While Sophia and Aiden Still Reign Supreme

Truthfully, I hadn’t been waiting … but I couldn’t help but take a peek. The list of the top names for baby girls and baby boys was interesting enough - lots of Sophias and Aidens out there this year, but the follow up commentary was even more interesting.

The rise in popularity of the name Mason (#3) is attributed to Kourtney Kardashian’s son. *sigh*

Also, Briella (what?) and other names inspired by New Jersey-based reality shows including – and I am not making this up – the first name Jersey. Really? *double sigh*

I also noted with interest the rise in royal name like William, Harry, Kate and Pippa because if Don and I have a son our top contender for his name is Harris, after Don’s grandfather. Baby Harry. It’s so cute right? Except, it seems, he might be in school with a lot of other Harrys. Oh well – we’d probably call him Harris anyway.

Sometimes the Smallest Things Take Up the Most Room

22 Nov

My best friend is pregnant! She’s due in May and I am so excited to be an auntie.

Her shower is in early February and even though I am going to send formal invitations in the mail I decided a little advance notice would be appreciated by everyone – especially with the holidays approaching.

Here’s the quick Save the Date invitation I created. I saved it as a JPEG and sent it out via e-mail.

I chose Winnie the Pooh because Jaimie and her husband discussed a Winnie the Pooh-themed nursery before they decided on a Yankees-themed nursery instead. I’m going with classic Pooh, because the modern Pooh wearing a shirt and no pants is troublesome to me. I’m mostly kidding, but I do prefer the old-fashioned bear.

Plus, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the quote I found written  by A.A. Milne for Winnie the Pooh and it’s certainly true for anyone expecting a baby.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who loves the quote for new little babies. Here’s a wall decal you can buy on Amazon for your own nursery.

Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart
Winnie the Pooh quote (jandle) 36×14

This is sort-of what it will look like, though this is obviously Photoshopped onto a blank wall:

Baby Baking Dishes

27 Oct

Last weekend at the grocery store I found tons of different single serve aluminum baking pans. I used the single serve pot pie dishes when I made New Baby Casserole for my friend, Katy. Remember her new little man? Let’s see him again (I just can’t get enough of this tiny guy):

Photo by Snips and Snails. http://www.snipsandsnailsphotography.com/

I also found very small loaf pans, baby loaf pans if you will, that called out to me. I decided I would make Katy some stuffed shells, too.

So, you’re probably asking yourself why so many posts about taking food over to new moms all of a sudden? Well it seems there’s a sudden baby boom in our lives and this is a good way to remember what I need to do when all other babies arrive. Katy is a test case for the months to come.

Also, we have that deep freeze I mentioned in the New Baby Casserole post so I’m gathering ideas of what I can do when our own little bird joins the nest.

So back to those stuffed shells.

Use can use any ole’ recipe – the one on the back of the pasta box is fine or use your own recipe.

First, make the sauce. I used turkey sausage, onion, spinach and jarred tomato and basil pasta sauce (I added a little water, too).

Turkey sausage pasta sauce

 

Then, stuff the cooked shells with some mixture that you like. I had planned on ricotta and mozerella, but I turned out to be light on the mozerella so I used some parmesan.  I also added salt, pepper and parsley.

Stuff the Shells

Then, place the shells in the mini tins. These tins would accomodate about three shells per tin. Cover the shells with sauce (I also put a little bit of sauce into the bottom of the tins first so my shells wouldn’t stick).

Cover with Sauce

Finally wrap the loaf pans with tin foil on which you write the cooking instructions.

Write the cooking instructions on the tin foil BEFORE you wrap them.

Deliver to the new parents and save some for yourself. Enjoy!

New Baby Casserole

23 Oct

My dear friend Katy just had her first baby a week ago. He’s a precious little man. Just look this teeny guy:

 Photo by Snips and Snails – http://www.snipsandsnailsphotography.com/
 

Don loves it when our friends give birth because it means that I will make what we call New Baby Casserole and that I will make two of them – one for us and one for the new mom or parents.

It’s super easy to make (you start with the valuable time saver known as the rotisserie chicken), freeze and re-heat. Plus, it’s tasty and appeals to just about everyone (even kids for those parents who already have a toddler at home).

Today at the grocery store I even found single-serving, aluminum pot pie containers. That makes it even easier to pop them out of the fridge or freezer and re-heat.

Don and I have a deep freeze so hopefully I can make lots of these mini casseroles in the weeks leading up to our placement.

New Baby Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 of a yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 bag of frozen peas and carrots
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, picked and slightly shredded (into manageable pieces)
  • 1 can reduced fat cream of chicken soup
  • 1 1/2 cups 2% (reduced fat) cheddar cheese
  • 1 can refrigerated busicuits 

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees, coat large casserole pan with cooking spray
  • Heat olive oil in a large pan, add onions and saute
  • When onions are clear, add bag of frozen peas and carrots, cook through
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Add can of cream of chicken soup, mix well
  • Stir in shredded chicken
  • Add 1 cup of cheese and mix until melted
  • Place mixture in casserole dish, spread evenly
  • Bake for 20 minutes
  • Remove from oven and place biscuits on top
  • Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 of cheese and bake for an additional 10 minutes (or until brown)

Makes 6 – 8 servings

This is a very forgiving recipe. Use green beans instead of peas if you like. Make single serve containers.  Cook partially and freeze before the step that calls for the biscuits. Whatever you want. It’s really hard to go wrong.