Category Archives: baby
I had a great time getting Dakota’s photo in roughly the same setup on a monthly basis. For posting the new picture each month I just went with whatever cropping and brightness looked good to me, because I knew if I tried to make them all match as I went along it would drive me crazy. After all 12 months were complete though, I figured I could spend a little time and try to make them match a bit better. Here is the result:
Since the belly stickers were all part of the same set and therefore exactly the same size, I was able to use my photo editing software to crop each photo so that the stickers were roughly the same number of pixels across every time. Just for fun, here’s 1 month old and 12 months old together:
If I were to go back and do it differently there’s really only a few things that I would change. My biggest challenge throughout was getting enough light for a good picture. I had this little hobby photo lighting kit with umbrellas and everything, but having to set it up and take it down was an extra stress and I still generally wasn’t happy with the lighting. I think in hindsight I should have just set Dakota up on the blanket in the middle if the floor. That way she would get good ambient light from both living room windows without the obvious shadow cast by the back of the couch. It also would have made it easier to get up on a stool to get the picture. Dave’s tall enough that he may not have needed a stool at all.
The different colored leg warmers were a bit of a splurge but totally fun. I’ve been a surprised looking back as to which ones actually got the most practical use after they retired from the role of photo prop. The striped ones from the 3-month photo seem to end up matching a surprising number of her outfits, and the solid yellow ones from month 11 are nice and neutral and have been getting a lot of use too.
The belly stickers were a gift, and it was nice to not have to come up with a plan for that aspect of the photo. And again, it was nice to be able to use them after the fact to get all the photos to be roughly the same relative size. But as you can see in the last three photos, it was quite a challenge to keep her from ripping the stickers off towards the end.
I’ve already taken the first of the NEW set of monthly photos, so I’ll have to do another post on that one soon. Spoiler, she’s sitting in front of the fireplace, which is nice and white now. (This time last year it was still brick-colored.) But for now I’m just going to finish this by saying that I love the monthly photo thing, and I’m going to stick with it!
And here are the past even months:
I have decided that I will keep going with the monthly photos, but I will try a different setup for year two!
Oh, and here are the odd numbered months.
I went 10 months straight without forgetting to take a picture on the actual day of Dakota’s monthly birthday, but alas my streak has ended. So yes, sadly this picture was taken a day late. (and the actual blog post is two days late! Horror!) The world didn’t come to an end and I’m not being booed in the streets, so I guess it’s not really a big deal. 😉
Previous odd numbered months:
It’s hard to get a picture of her grinning while holding still, as evidenced by this foot-flailing shot. I wanted to include it to show off her lovely teeth though:
I’ve loved doing this so I definitely plan to continue the monthly photos beyond one year. I’m tossing around a few ideas to hopefully simplify the process and maximize my chance of actually succeeding… I’m definitely not getting any more leg warmers though. 12 is plenty, even for me!
I think I once made an off-handed mention of the idea of a “latch board” for little kids to Dave. I’m pretty sure it was many months ago, but the idea obviously took root because after we got back from the holidays he was suddenly very gung-ho to make one. Maybe because we do so much rough carpentry work that he hardly ever gets to use the router? Whatever the reason, he came home one day from a hardware store trip with a bag full of random latches and hinges and a nice looking scrap of hardwood. Here it is with the handle/hanging hole already cut out:
Then Dave routed the rest of the edges:
And then he slapped on some primer, but was obviously unenthusiastic about painting, so I took over that part, using one of the rejected test paint pots from our kitchen paint decision-making process. I also applied two coats of a non-toxic sealant.
Then it was time to add the latches!
I looove the ropes. When I first saw the bag full of goodies to be attached I wasn’t sure how the ropes figured in to the master plan, but they’re fun and colorful.
So far the biggest hit is probably the springy door stop. The door stops in our house are all wall shields, which is a good thing for my clumsy feet… but clearly we are depriving our baby of much fun by not having spring door stops all over the house for her to play with.
When I first described the project to my dad, his comment was something along the lines of, “so you can teach her how to open kid-proof gates and locks, right?” Yup, that’s right. 😉
Anyway, I’m not sure how long this will actually keep her entertained, but it was really nice to switch gears and work on a smaller, more polished (for us) project. I think we’ll pick a low spot on the wall to hang it so it’ll be pretty secure and stable, but this isn’t really a toy that she’ll be playing with unsupervised… at least for a while.
Now back to storage benches and chicken coops and such!
Even though Dakota is technically a 49ers fan, she gets to wear the colors for Dave’s favorite team (Denver Broncos) in honor of them making it to the Super Bowl.
Dakota was feeling extra energetic today, so getting a good picture was a bit of a challenge. I’ve included some outtakes at the bottom, but first here are the past even-numbered months:
Dakota was fascinated with the tummy sticker this month, and no amount of distraction or redirection would deter her. Really I know I’ve been lucky to have made it this long with her being so cooperative. I’m just glad that the next two month’s photos will fall on Saturdays so I will have help.
I almost just used one of these as the “official” monthly photo. So cute:
But then we came to the part where she tore the sticker in half and started to eat it:
And so the photo shoot ended. 🙂
This month Dakota figured out how to pull up on things, though she hasn’t quite figured out how to move her feet once she’s standing. Her first two teeth finally popped through, and her babbling has gotten a bit more varied and word-like. Oh, and we had a blast visiting family for the holidays.
With regards to the photo shoot, I got a bigger onesie, (who knows how long it will fit) but I’ve given up on pulling the leg warmers all the way up her thighs. The legwarmers are pretty stretchy, but it was beginning to just look silly. 🙂
Previous odd-numbered months:
She’s getting really good at crawling (still no teeth though!) but she is still content to stare bemusedly up at the camera when we whip it out for these monthly updates.
I really need to buy a bigger onesie before next month’s photo though…
Previous even numbered months:
Here’s last month’s photo, in case you’re interested…
It’s hard to blog about projects that aren’t already exactly how I want them to end up, but then I think that baby-friendlifying (I’m calling it that rather than “baby proofing”, because I doubt I’ll be able to make anything completely baby proof) the house is going to be a continually evolving project anyway. So, keeping in mind that I’m watching baby closely and improving/altering things as needed, here’s how things stand currently.
The TV console (aka Expedit unit from Ikea) needed the most immediate work since the floor in front of the TV is the primary play zone. Here is a picture from an old post that shows pretty much how it’s looked for the past year or so:
Across the top we had board games, the PS3, and the media computer taking up two cubbies, so we left out the vertical divider on that side when we assembled the unit. Across the bottom there are two storage cubes holding various extra controllers and blankets, and then a whole bunch of DVDs. So far Dakota has been ignoring the upper cubbies and mostly just playing with the DVDs, but in preparation for more vertical interest, here is how the unit looks now:
The bins along the bottom all hold baby stuff now, some of it is baby blankets and jackets, but I imagine that we’ll continue to accumulate more toys and these will be overflowing soon enough. The DVDs and board games have all been moved to the bookshelves between the living room and dining room. The new doors on the top left two cubbies are an add-on accessory for the Expedit that we picked up on our last Ikea trip. They come with an insert (I believe made of pressboard) that covers the left, back and right sides of the cubby and gets screwed into the sides of the main unit. you need the added pressboard on the sides so the door fits evenly and opens/closes correctly, but since I’m hoping we can stuff most of our electronics behind these doors I cut off the back of the inserts so there will be a lot more ventilation. Also, since I wanted the doors to close towards each other, I didn’t finish screwing in the sides of the pressboard insert on the right. I’m pretty sure the screws from the two inserts would run into each other, so I’m going to need to offset the screws on the right-hand insert. sigh. I’m not sure any of that made sense, but I’ve already spent too much time describing what I hope will be a small and quickly fixed setback, so I’m not going to try and clarify any more. 🙂
The media computer is still there taking up two cubbies on the right, but it will be going away soon. We’re just waiting the arrival of a newly ordered single-board computer that can hopefully handle our non-PS3 video streaming needs. The PS3 itself still fits behind the door even with the inserts, I just had to stand it up on its side. I also have the power strip that’s full of exciting electrical plugs tucked behind the doors. Once we have everything finalized I plan to tie up the cables that are currently hanging loose but clearly visible behind the console, and that double-cubby space can hold stuffed animals or something.
To complicate things, we finally have our sound system most of the way set up. The receiver is for now sitting on top of a shelf in the right-hand corner, over the subwoofer. (Partially visible behind the cat scratching post in the picture above) So far baby has ignored it, but I haven’t decided exactly what my plan is if she starts trying to fiddle with it. Sigh.
Moving along… not super exciting visually, but here’s the dog bed:
I need to secure the antenna cable behind it to the wall, but more importantly this is the dog-priority zone. Loki is getting a bit uncomfortable with Dakota becoming more mobile and grabby, so we’re focusing on rewarding him when he responds to a stressful situation by moving away from her. I could probably write a whole separate blog post on this, but basically if he growls or barks at her we call him to his dog bed and give him treats. If Dakota approaches him in his dog bed, we pick her up and move her away, so it’s a space where he can feel comfortable. I wish we could put it in a more out of the way spot, but he still wants to be in on the social scene even when he doesn’t necessarily want a baby up in his face. So tucking it behind the chair means Dakota doesn’t notice it too much, but Loki still has a pretty good view of everything.
The fireplace was a bit of a problem, the side facing the living room had this freestanding screen:
Pretty heavy so there’s no way to knock it over accidentally, but I imagine a determined and fairly heavy baby might manage to pull it over on herself. I debated just screwing it into the facade directly, but honestly I’m not very fond of the thing, and the big metal curlicues aren’t particularly baby-friendly in there own right. I shopped around a bit for a replacement, but everything was either ugly or really expensive, so I have this temporary solution for now:
Yeah we just had an extra plastic baby gate that made a pretty good tight fit in the opening. The fireplace is non functional right now anyway, so it’s not like I need something fire-safe. Dakota finds the weird wooden owl thing pretty entertaining, and I got it on clearance, with a coupon stacked on top of the clearance price, so I don’t mind if she scuffs it up a bit.
The other side of the fireplace has a frame with glass doors that’s permanently installed, with the doors glued shut even. Not very elegant looking, but not something we need to rush to change at the moment. Here’s the problem, as Dakota decided to demonstrate while I was typing this post up:
This is where we keep the dog’s water dish. The food dish isn’t a problem because we feed him after Dakota goes to bed and pick the dish up first thing in the morning. For now I’m picking the dish up when I notice her going for it and trying to remember to put it back down if we’re going out. I think I’m mostly just going to resign myself to a certain amount of water mess here though.
Another problem area is the dining table, where I work on the laptops:
I found that outlet cover in the baby-proofing section, and the little clear cable clip attached right under the window sill seems relatively sturdy. So I figure if baby starts tugging on the electrical cords at least they won’t come out of the socket, and the clip will break first before she can pull the adapters on her head. With any luck this will be enough of a delay for me to realize what she’s up to and swoop in to save the day. Long-term we hope to build a banquette along this wall, so maybe we can figure out some way to keep the outlet accessible for adults but less obvious for little ones? Hopefully we will also someday have a somewhat functional work space for computers and such in the cat room (which already has a baby gate in the doorway) but the dining room has the best table space AND the best view in the house, so I imagine there will frequently be a laptop there no matter what…
Moving to the kitchen, most of our lower cabinets have pots and tupperware, so we just added these catches to the cabinet under the sink.
Right in the front of that cabinet there’s the compost pail, the dishwasher detergent, the all-purpose cleaning spray, and the bucket that holds dirty rags/cloths, so it definitely needed locks/catches. These are working great, I can still open them one-handed and they close and lock without any extra effort. Dakota hasn’t tried opening any doors yet (we’ll have to decide how we want to secure the doors of the TV console and the bookshelves when she does) but it’s good to know that these catches work well.
There’s also this set of drawers:
The top one holds the silverware, the middle holds all the random kitchen tools (some of which aren’t baby-friendly, like the vegetable peeler) and the bottom drawer holds random rarely used stuff like a roasting pan and some salad serving utensils. I’m thinking I’ll reorganize so the bottom drawer holds baby-friendly tools like measuring cups and such. The upper two drawers will need to stay off-limits, but they aren’t super easy to open, and I can always transfer everything to a bin on top of the counter for a few days if Dakota takes an interest and we don’t instantly have a baby-proofing solution.
To finish up, we keep our shoes in these thingies:
They tip out like so:
Dakota loves chewing on shoes. Mmmm delicious shoes. I try to get them put away, and I can only hope that she outgrows her shoe-chewing ways by the time she figures out how to open these guys.
Dave managed to sit and observe one of our baby
swimming water learning classes, and he brought the camera along. Taking pictures from a distance of an indoor pool is not the easiest, but he did his best. I combined most of the photos into little action sequences, so it’s hopefully not too big of a deal that they’re a bit fuzzy. Anyway, here we are, ready to go:
One of the main things we work on is supported back floats. I think the blue foam thing is to give the babies something to look at as they’re floating around:
Another thing that we worked up to and now do every week is quick, but complete, submersions. We taught them a cue (“Ready, down!”) so they knew they are about to get water in their faces. It’s pretty cute and also amazing to see how quickly she learned to prep when she heard the cue.
Going into this class I knew I wouldn’t push anything if Dakota looked unhappy, but thus far she’s seemed pretty unperturbed by the dunkings. She sputters a little when she comes back up, but then she goes right back to looking around and/or chewing on whatever toy is in her hand.
Something new and exciting for this class was a little foam slide! I’m glad Dave was there to document the experience. The babies in the class range in age from Dakota (7 months) up to I believe an almost 2 year old. It’s pretty neat to see how much the older and more experienced kids love the slide. Dakota gets a lot of teacher assistance until she’s old enough to control herself:
I’m really enjoying the classes. Based on what I’ve heard from other moms, the experience is vastly improved by having a very knowledgeable and engaged instructor and a nice facility like the one we’re at. I think Dakota has the right disposition for it too, and I think since she was sitting up unassisted so early it worked out really well to have her start as early as she did. We’ve already signed up for the next session!
I blogged earlier this month about how I was in the midst of sewing a Halloween costume for Dakota. To recap: I decided on making a pikachu costume by modifying a Simplicity costume sewing pattern. I was able to sew the body of the costume out of yellow fleece by just following the pattern instructions, so what was left was to modify the ears and add a face, tail, and back stripes. Modifying the ears was pretty straightforward:
I just drew right on the tissue paper to extend the original ears a bit. The red lines are for where I wanted to switch from yellow fabric to black.
I needed to move the ears farther back on the hood to make room for Pikachu’s face, so I pinned them on and then spent a while shifting little tissue paper circles around on the hood until I had everthing more or less where I wanted. George the stuffed animal served as my costume model:
I used the exact same fleece fabric in different colors for the eyes and cheeks, and just left the edges raw since fleece doesn’t fray. I hand sewed them (and the brown stripes for the back of the costume) in place using a running stitch in a matching color thread. This actually worked amazingly well and went pretty fast, even with my sloppy hand-sewing. You have to get your nose up close to even really see the individual stitches, and even then the unevenness doesn’t really detract in any way. And as advertised, no fraying! I may just use fleece instead of felt for future craft projects, since I’ve had bad experiences with felt coming apart when I try to sew with it. And actually I probably could have machine sewed the pieces directly on, but the pieces were so small it probably would have taken me longer to wind the bobbins and thread the machine than just sewing it by hand.
Finished pictures in a moment, but first I want to talk about the tail. After much waffling I decided to add a pipe cleaner inside for support and make it detachable from the costume. Here’s my free handed sketch that I used as a pattern:
I machine sewed the two sides together inside out along the top, turned it right-side out and inserted the pipe cleaner and bent it in the right spots, and then hand sewed the bottom closed. In hindsight I probably should have machine sewn the whole thing right-side out and left the raw edges visible, because trying to get all those sharp corners to turn right-side out cleanly was a pain in the butt. I attached two yellow buttons to the tail, one at the top corner and one at the base, and attached two loops of yellow cord to the body of the costume.
Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, the tail was a bit of a flop, literally it just flopped over to one side while attached. Ah well, I did get a few cute pictures with it on, after detaching the top button:
Oh, for the mouth I just hand-sewed using a back stitch, and then I sewed another line of back stitches right next to it to make it thicker. Anyway, here you can see the back of the costume:
And then I took the tail off and we went to various Halloween parties. 🙂
Here’s a close-up of Dakota sitting. The costume is a little large on her, especially since it was warm enough that she didn’t need to wear much underneath it:
And here she is still not quite crawling, but at least demonstrating that she has decent mobility in this thing:
In that picture you can see the little yellow cord loop where the tail was attached to her butt.
The fleece was a little warm during the day since the temperatures got up into the 70s, but she was able to wear the costume pretty comfortably for pretty long periods without complaint. I liked the way the elastic along the top of the hood worked out, it kept the hood mostly in place without really getting in her way. And in case it wasn’t already obvious, I really loved working with fleece, and I definitely plan to use it again in future projects. The tail was a little bit of a bummer, but this isn’t my first time dealing with floppy costume appendages, so I wasn’t at all surprised by the failure and I don’t think the missing tail really detracted from the overall costume much at all. Now I can’t wait for next year!