Saturday, 24 May 2014

Alice in Wonderland Baby Dress

A lovely friend of mine had a beautiful baby girl some time ago now and I really wanted to make a little dress for her... but had no time. Now that my own little boy is napping nicely, I've been free to get back to chores and things that I like to do again!

Anyway, the little girl's name is Alice and I thought that it would be fun to make her a little Alice in Wonderland dress. I chose to make the dress for a baby about age 6 months because Spring will have come around by the time Alice is 6 months old, and more importantly, my own baby is the size of a 6 month old... (I needed a model to work out the measurements).

So I drew the pattern up and cut out the fabric, sewing whenever my little boy gave me some moments to myself. The result is so cute. I'm very pleased with the little dress, and even made some little pants to cover her nappy and help puff out the skirt a bit.

The apron is attached to the dress bodice at the front waist and shoulders (under the collar). At the back, the apron tie threads through the back apron straps and can be adjusted to fit nicely on a little body. Yes, I did try it on my son, and it did fit, but I decided that he should be preserved from a photo in a dress! I hope that it will fit little Alice come Spring!

(The blue colour in the photo's is a bit dustier looking than the actual fabric.)

Cute baby bloomers

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

2014 National Budget: A stay at home mum's view

Last night I watched 'Budget Night' on television with my husband. We also sat and watched some of the outraged and critical commentary by Labour and others after the Treasurer had finished his speech. The government plans to make cuts to spending left, right and centre, and increase some taxes. It seems that everyone is effected to some degree or other by the planned changes; students, parents, pensioners, unemployed persons and the list goes on. It also seems that almost everyone is angry about these proposed changes, claiming that the government is stealing their money or making life difficult for them. I can understand the sentiment, but I think that we need to look a little deeper at the issue and think about the broader picture.

My husband and I are in the income bracket that is considered the one which will suffer the most from the proposed changes to the Budget, but as we sat and watched the budget, we could not help but feel that we will not really be effected so very much at all. Of course, we will have to deal with the increase in fuel prices, pay the $7 doctors fee, and should my husband (may God forbid) lose his job, we would be a bit tight until he could find more work. But the proposed changes to the welfare system, especially the changes to the family tax benefit part B make so much sense. I never could understand why the government provides an income supplement to people earning over $100,000 anyway. What on earth are they doing with all that money that they actually NEED to be given more?

The truth is that the government is simply not a bottomless pit full of money to be given to every good and worthwhile venture. In this age of credit cards, I think people have forgotten to live within their means and I applaud the government for making an attempt to reduce national debt and once again spend within their limits. That doesn't mean I like every aspect of the new budget, indeed, I would like to see politicians take a wage cut and big business carry a little more of the burden, I would love gambling, alcohol and cigarettes to be taxed through the roof, as well as many other changes, but I do think it is good to reduce debt. It's not very nice to be a part of the debt solution in our country, but again, there really are no other options. It is time for everyone to make an effort to live within their means, however meagre they may be.

We are a single income family earning well below $100,000 a year, yet we do not have any personal debt, and we do not even need the family income supplements that we receive. We have a baby and we save a considerable sum of money each month. "You aren't paying off a mortgage though," someone might say. True. We are renting, but I imagine our rent payments are not that much less than we would be contributing to a mortgage. It comes down to your perspective on life and personal finances. We believe in living within our means. OUR means. Not what we have plus what we expect to get from the government. For us, those family tax benefits are a lovely little bonus that we are happy to accept while they last. Perhaps we will put that money away for our children's education, or some rainy day expense (like bad health or my husband losing his job). That means we don't buy a car on finance, don't use the credit card and don't go crazy with technology, baby products or other comfort and luxury items. My life is still great without the iPhone 5, new shoes that I'll only wear once in a blue moon and whatever else it is that people spend all their money on.

We have truly lived in an age of entitlement as the Treasurer states. We have been entitled to numerous payments and supplements, virtually free health care, unemployment benefits and much more. Maybe it's time we took a little more responsibility for our own finances instead of expecting the government to cover all the gaps our financial mismanagement has created. Perhaps we should be more willing to care for our elderly parents and content to send our children to schools that do not cost over $10,000 a year. Perhaps we should be happy with a little less and understand that the government shouldn't have to help us unless we are absolutely incapable of helping ourselves. How many other countries have as many welfare options as we do? Almost none. We are and have been very lucky in Australia. Let's be thankful for the support we had while it lasted and get down to the job of living within our means, whatever they may be.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Needlecraft: Smocking

My mum made a very cute romper suit for my baby when he was born. The delicate smocking and blue piping make it a beautifully finished piece of clothing. Just wanted to share her lovely work!

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Sleep Training

Life has gone on since my last post and my tiny baby is no longer so tiny. In fact he is 4 months old and had sadly learned some terrible sleep habits. The longer I am a mother, the more I notice that the first question people ask me about my baby is, "Does he sleep well?" At first, I guess he did sleep well for a newborn, and I never minded answering that question, but as the months have passed I began to see a change for the worse. Then when people asked me how he slept, I would say "Oh, like a baby," meaning that he didn't sleep well, but I assumed that this was a normal state of affairs. Well, it is a normal state of affairs for most parents, but not a healthy one or satisfactory one either. At 4 months, my son would no longer go to sleep and stay asleep for his naps during the day. I was still feeding him multiple times during the night and he was getting more and more miserable to live with. Finally, I reached the end of my patience with his terrible sleep and sought a cure.

After speaking to numerous relatives, health professionals and combing the Internet for advice, I half heartedly tried numerous methods to achieve some good sleep. But the advice was too random and inconsistent and I was unable to persevere for more than a day. After many frustrated attempts at new sleep methods, my mum called to say she had found a great sleep website and a great sleep program for babies. It was called "The Sleep Sense Program", run by an American lady named Dana Obleman. After a quick read of the reviews and testimonies, I decided that it was worth a go and we signed up for just over $100 AU.

For our money we received an e-book outlining the program, a personal workbook to chart our son's progress, email support, several telephone conference times, and most helpfully, daily coaching videos to walk us step by step through the first two weeks. The program begins at night, but I was keen to get started and so I began during the day with naps. Possibly I made things hard for myself by doing that as my poor baby protested rather violently and spent over an hour screaming at every nap time. He refused to sleep for more than about 10 minutes in his cot all morning. After sitting through that amount of screaming, I started to feel very crazy and my mum came to my rescue with some moral support. Her support certainly proved invaluable as I waited out the crying at nap times through the day and when I felt ready to give in (which was pretty much every time my baby cried).

So, you may ask, what does it involve? Many people have questioned me about crying, did I let my baby "cry it out"? I know that many mums cannot stand the thought of their baby screaming without picking them up to provide comfort, I am very much one of those mums. But I have searched for 'gentle' alternatives and they are few and often very slow to work, if they work at all. Most experts will say that some crying is not harmful to infants. I did believe this with my head, but not my heart. It took seeing my baby cry, refusing to be comforted even in my arms before I gave up and thought that if he wanted to scream while I held him, he may as well scream in his cot while I sat there beside him. The two scenarios are not all that different. Thus began sleep training.

I won't outline the day by day progress, but it is enough to say that my son, who had never before slept through the night, began sleeping from 7pm to after 6am on the 3rd night with no night feeds. If that isn't convincing enough, he has done that for the last 5 nights in a row. I don't even hear him cry out in the night any more. He also is going down for 3 naps a day without being fed or rocked to sleep. Sure, he still protests at most of those naps and sometimes they are only 30 mins in length, but we are getting there! Only 2 weeks ago, we would be lucky if our baby slept a broken 11 hours in a 24 hour period. Now he sleeps up to 15 hours in a 24 hour period, with 11 of those in a solid stretch at night.

These are still early days for us in our sleep journey, but I can truly see the light at the end of our long sleep deprived tunnel. There are side benefits too, in this sleep training process...

 I have learned to rely more on my husband's less emotional strength while waiting for my baby to help himself learn to sleep.
I have become a more confident mother with a clearer understanding of my baby's sleep needs.
I have seen a dramatic change in the temperament of my son, going from a baby who was grumpy all the time to one who smiles and actually laughs regularly now!
My baby no longer takes up to 10 snacking feeds through the day and night. He now has 5 good, large feeds through the day and even enjoys one little meal of pureed vegetables in the late afternoon.
I have actually had more than 8 hours sleep in a row for a couple nights now!
I have my evenings back to enjoy down time with my husband,and I have been able to eat my dinner like a civilised person, no more indigestion from rushing the meal to deal with a cranky baby!

I am so thankful for this process. It is a joy to have a happier baby who sleeps well. If your baby struggles to sleep, check out the Sleep Sense Program, it may well be the answer to many of your struggles!