Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Diaper Cake - A Tutorial

As promised here is the tutorial for how I made my diaper cake. This cake is a little different from the first, but the process was the same.

Things you will need:

  • Diapers - whatever size you choose, ~75 for 3 layers  or ~100 for 4 layers. You may want to ask ahead if your mom/dad to-be have a diaper preference. If not, use something you like, or is affordable. In this case, I used Target brand Up&Up diapers. It's what we put on Baby and I think they are wonderful.
  • Receiving Blankets - 40"x40" work best, but smaller will work too. You need 1-2 per layer.
  • Ribbon - 1.5" to 2" wide in a coordinating design.
  • Decorations - On the previous cake I used slippers and hair clips. On this cake I used an assortment of toys.

I also started with supplies I didn't use, such as burp cloths and the cow/blanket. I like to buy things I think might work, so I have options when I'm decorating the cake. I just return any unused items after the cake is finished.

Other supplies:
  • Cardboard base - I cut mine out of my used diaper boxes, although other cakes I have seen use actual cake board from a craft/hobby store. I'm just cheap, so I don't want to pay for cardboard. I also cut mine to 12"x12". You can make whatever size you want, just be sure the cake will fit. :)
  • Hot glue gun
  • Curling ribbon
  • Rubber bands. Lots and lots and lots of rubber bands. You need some really large ones, so it's best to have the pack of mixed sizes. In my opinion.
  • Baby wrapping paper
  • An empty wrapping paper tube - you could probably substitute paper towel rolls if necessary...
  • Cellophane bags - I like to buy the biggest one and make it work. I had these on hand from other crafting adventures.

Now, on to the good stuff.

Step 1: Construct the support for the cake.
  • Start by making sure your base is sturdy. Because I cut mine from a box it has weak places/folds, so I cut two squares of the same size and glued them together to start.
  • Once you have a sturdy base, cover it with the baby wrapping paper. **If you chose to buy a decorative base of some kind, you can skip covering it...
  • Take the empty wrapping paper tube and cut about 3" slits in one end. It should look vaguely like a fan.
  •  Hot clue the tube to the center of the base. Be sure to measure to find the exact center so your cake isn't offset when it is finished. Apply the glue to the flaps you made in the wrapping paper roll and press down securely.

Step 2: Roll your diapers. - This step is a little tedious, so I recommend a good Spotify playlist, or something from the DVR to help get you through it. 
  • Stretch the diaper out. Starting from the back (where the tabs are) roll the diaper into a roll. Try to make the rolls the same size, whether you roll the diapers super tightly or a little bit more loose. They just need to be uniform.
  • Secure the rolled diaper with a rubber band. You want the rubber band to be snug, but not overly tight.
  • Roll on. And on. And on. And on....

This was only the first half...
Step 3: Build the layers of your cake.
  • Take a large rubber band and put it over the tube. 
  • Make a ring of diapers around the tube, and secure it with the rubber band.
  • Once the first ring is secure, repeat the process to make a larger ring around the first. Secure with another rubber band.
  • And another larger ring...

  • Keep going until the layer is as large around as you like. I like to make the base layer have one ring for each layer in the finished cake.
  •  Repeat step 3 to create a new layer on top of the previous one. I subtract one circle of diapers from each layer. Continue until your cake is as tall as desired.  
  • Each round should have some amount of diapers less than the one below it to give your cake tapered tiers. But whether you remove one or two rings is up to you! 

Step 4: Trim the wrapping paper tube.
  • When your layers are finished you need to trim the wrapping paper tube so that it supports all of the layers but doesn't stick out the top of the cake. 
  • Remove one diaper from the top layer, and cut the tube just below the top of the cake. Once the tube is cut, replace the final diaper.

Step 5: Cover the cake layers.
  • When you have as many rounds as you like, take the first receiving blanket, and fold it to be the same height (or just slightly taller) then the rolled diapers. I like to iron mine, but that's probably not really necessary...
  • Wrap the blanket around the cake layer, and secure it with curling ribbon tied in a knot.

  •  Trim the ends of the curling ribbon close to the knot.
  • Cover with the decorative ribbon. You can tie the decorative ribbon in a bow, or simply tape the ends together with scotch tape.

  •  Repeat step 5 until all layers are covered.

 **A few tips/variations of step 5 are: if the blanket doesn't completely cover the layer, you can use two blankets, so that you won't have diapers showing on the back of the cake. Also, on smaller layers you can use burp cloths/cloth diapers/towels to add another item to the cake. On this one I layered baby hats over the blanket on the top layer.**

Step 6: Decorate the cake!
  • This is the fun part! Add your toys/accessories as you see fit! Just have fun and make the cake look however you like!
 **I added a baby toy blanket, rattle, rubber duckies, hand-made pacifier holders, and the stuffed monkey.**
 **I also used plain white satin ribbon, jungle themed ribbon, and yellow baby ribbon to keep it interesting.**

Step 7: Package up your cake. There is obviously no rule for how to package/deliver your cake. If you are hosting a baby shower you can even use it as a centerpiece. For ease of transport I like to use a large cellophane bag.
  •   Open the cellophane bag, and fold from the top down until the bag is resting on the table (or floor) with the sides folded to a manageable height.
  • Set the cake in the bag, as flat as possible.
  • Unfold the sides of the bag up over the cake.
  • Twist the top and tie tightly with curling ribbon.
  • Trim any excess bag, leaving a cute little topper.
  • Add ribbon or bows to your liking.
  • If you have excess bag sticking out from the sides of your cake at the bottom you can just fold the bag over itself and tape it together. I do this, to give the bag the same shape as the cake. 
 ** I added one last piece of jungle ribbon to tie it all together. Well, really because I had already cut the ribbon but it was too short to use on the cake. Oops!**

Tada! You're done!

All in all I think I spent about $70 on this cake, which included everything, even the ribbon (which I have some leftover) and the supplies for the pacifier holders (which I also have some leftover). The cake includes: 100 size 1 diapers, 4 receiving blankets, 2 newborn hats, 2 pairs of newborn mittens, 2 pacifier holders, 3 rubber ducky bath toys, a frog rattle, a lion baby blanket, and a monkey stuffed animal.

I hope you take a shot at making a cake like this. It is fun, and I find it to be a great combination of practical baby gifts and pizazz!


Friday, April 19, 2013


NIP. For anyone who isn't a breastfeeding mother, these three letters are probably meaningless. But let me enlighten you. NIP is appropriately an acronym for Nursing In Public. Ironic, don't you think that breastfeeding activists everywhere have managed to make a boob-a-licious acronym for a boob-a-licious activity. Personally I smile at the wit of it. :)

Lately I've been seeing a lot of publicity on the internet on the topic of NIP. It seems to be somewhat of a hot topic. So since it seems to be the hip thing to do I think I'll weigh in with my two cents...

**WARNING: If you are easily offended, stop reading now.**

I am a breastfeeding mother. And I am more of a NIPer everyday. I don't nurse in public because I'm trying to make a political statement, or because it is my life's work to make everyone around me uncomfortable. It is my right and all that, but the long and short of it is I nurse in public because I would much rather nurse in public than listen to my baby cry when I am in complete control of making it stop.

Let me explain something about parenting a small baby. Babies cry. A lot. My Little Man is quite possibly one of the easiest, most mellow, calm, non-crying babies ever, and he still cries. A lot. Nobody wants to just sit and listen to a crying baby, especially the mother who is with said baby 24/7. Or at least that's how I feel. So, when my baby cries out of hunger I'm going to feed him. And I don't really care if it offends someone else.

But I didn't always feel this way. Before Baby was born I was a giant nervous wreck about breastfeeding in general. And I definitely had my very conservative very vocal opinions about NIP. But I'm secure enough to admit that I had no &^%$*#^ idea what I was talking about. Breastfeeding is so many things. It is a gift, and a privilege, and a chore and an art. And before I did it I had no understanding of it, and no respect for it. Most women work extremely hard to breastfeed their babies. And not all are successful. It is a selfless commitment that generally means more work and less sleep.

Now, after 4 months I see in myself how the ease of breastfeeding is developing. **Note I said developing, as in still in process** Baby knows what he's doing now, and it isn't a painful struggle to get going every time he needs a snack. But I still don't have the knack for phantom nipple. It still hangs out, sometimes for a few seconds, before Baby decides he's actually going to eat. And that's after 4 months of nursing. Let's do the math. I nurse roughly 6-8 times/day and those 4 months had 31, 31, 28, and 31 days. So that's...calculating...calculating...between 726 and 968 latches of practice. Seriously!! I've done this nearly 1,000 times and it still isn't perfect.

And how does this pertain to NIP you might ask. I'm getting there...

I'm not going to argue if a woman has a right to breastfeed in a restaurant/park/mall. And I'm not going to address whether it's sanitary, or necessary, or why breastfeeding mothers can't "just use a bottle". Those battles are for a different arena. I'm going to tell both sides of the NIP debate how I feel about their stance.

I HATE, I mean H-A-T-E HATE! how both sides of the NIP fence end up shaming the breastfeeding mother. The pro-NIP extremists shame the modest mother because she isn't blatant enough about her nursing. And the anti-NIP idiots...I mean conservatives...shame any mother, modest or not, who dares do something so inappropriate/disgusting/vulgar in public. Either way the breastfeeding mother loses.

To all of the extremists out there, who think everyone should whip their boob out because they have a right, or just to prove they can I say this: NIP is not for everyone. Obviously it is not for men, or grandmothers *shiver*, or women who choose formula over breastfeeding. But NIP is also not for every breastfeeding mother. Some women will never be comfortable popping their ta-tas out for the world to see while they get their little angel latched on. And definitely not once that angel is a little older, and likes to nurse in staccato fashion, looking around every two mouthfuls... Some women are more comfortable nursing if they are covered (this would be generally where I fit in), but that's not an absolute solution. If a woman is nervous about being exposed in public there is still a risk, even under a cover. So if you're one of those people who thinks a woman nursing in a corner or under a cover should instead stand on a table and make a public announcement maybe you could just applaud her commitment and be supportive instead of shaming her for not being more conspicuous.

**I think it's important here for me to note that I don't think a woman should ever be ashamed of nursing her baby, wherever she is. But there is surely a difference between feeling ashamed/embarrassed and being modest. I do not feel ashamed of breastfeeding, but I also don't want to be flaunting my breasts around to half the free world. They are mine, and part of the allure is only sharing them with people who are worthy, and will truly appreciate them. That has nothing to do with my commitment to breastfeed.**

To all of the prudish conservatives out there who think anything negative about women who breastfeed when and where their baby is hungry I say this: GET. OVER. YOURSELF. First of all, if you feel that way it's fairly obvious that you either have never breastfed a baby yourself, have some perverted delusion about the true function of breasts, or are a self-centered overly conservative moron. Well, I guess it's possible that you could be all of the above. Remember how I said earlier that breastfeeding isn't easy? And how I mentioned that the women who do it have made a commitment that most often means more work and less sleep. Yeah, so how about you consider that it probably takes that mom more effort to keep her eyes open than it would take you to close yours. And just imagine how much more energy you would have to avert your eyes if you kept your mouth shut! Amazing! That breastfeeding woman is doing more good for her baby in that moment than most people do for another person in a lifetime. If you're so offended leave. And if you refuse to leave, turn your head away. And if you can't manage that, and you feel the need to glare, at least keep your trap shut.

And finally, to all of the breastfeeding women out there: NIP, don't NIP it doesn't really matter. What matters most is the commitment that you have made to your baby. If that commitment means you only leave the house between feedings, and rush back praying you are in the privacy of your own home before the baby gets hungry, that's wonderful. If it means you find a quiet corner of a noisy cafe, or nestle your nursing baby under a blanket or cover, that's wonderful. And if you are the woman pushing a shopping cart through a grocery store with a boob in the babies mouth, that's wonderful (and can you teach me to be that coordinated). What you are doing is wonderful, no matter when, where, or how you do it. Try to remember to let the world drift away when you nurse your baby. Those moments are precious and fleeting.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Baby Leg Warmers

So anyone out there with a baby has probably seen Babylegs leg warmers for babies. They are super cute! And super expensive! I mean $12 for 1/2 a pair of pants?!?! I appreciate the benefits of leg warmers over pants. They don't need to be removed for every diaper change. And when baby starts to be mobile they don't crawl right out of the leg warmers. Not to mention they are soooo stinking cute. But I just couldn't get my mind around $12 for one pair. I mean, we are on a budget here.

Speaking of budgets, you know what the downfall of my budget is: the "CLEARANCE" signs at Target. They get me every time.

On a recent trip I saw that ladies knee-high socks were on clearance, for a hot $1.25/pair, so I stopped to take a look. While a lot of the designs were really girly (which isn't a good match for Baby what with him being a boy and all) but there were a few that were somewhat gender neutral, and completely 80's. So I picked up a few pairs and headed home to make my own baby leg warmers.

After sacrificing the first pair to the sewing machine gods, I finally figured out a method that worked! And it translated into several pairs of leg warmers, with the most expensive ones setting me back a harsh $2.50/pair :)

Here's how I did it.

What you will need:

1 pair of women's knee high socks - the taller the better

coordinating thread
sewing machine

First, thread the sewing machine. This was what cost me my first pair. Stupid tension wheel...

Now, turn the socks inside out.

Take the inside-out sock, and fold it down, from the top towards the toes. Stop when you get to the length you want for your leg warmer, or when you get to the heel of the sock.

Top stitch along the crease, being careful NOT to stretch the sock as you sew. Be sure to start/stop with a few reverse stitches to make sure your thread is secure. This makes the new hem for the leg warmer. **Note, if you want to add some extra elasticity to the bottom you can stretch the sock a bit, but I personally think the finished product fits cuter on the baby if it hasn't been stretched :)**

After you sew in the new hem turn the sock completely inside out again.Trim off the foot of the sock, cutting between your stitches and the heel. Do this carefully, so you can trim in close but you don't clip the stitches.   

Turn your new leg warmer right side out! Tada! Done.

Just repeat the steps until you have a pair

Here's another pair I made. It's not the best picture, because they are seriously neon orange.

And another pair! See how cute they look on Baby!

I made about 5 pairs, and now I'm just scouring sock aisles everywhere for clearance items. I think I might have a problem!!


Monday, April 8, 2013

The Birth of a Birth Nerd

Yesterday Baby and I went to a monthly gathering of our fellow birth nerds to watch the second DVD of More Business of Being Born. If you don't know about The Business of Being Born you should check it out. It's a pretty sweet movie.

Anyway, I realized that I have totally become a birth nerd.

When Boo and I started this whole pregnancy/birth/parenting roller coaster I was a typical girl. I knew enough about pregnancy and birth to roughly fill a thimble, I thought that meant I knew everything, and I was not really interested in anything else. I got myself a copy of "What to Expect When You're Expecting". I read it chapter by chapter relishing the tidbits about my baby's size and development each week, and was perfectly okay with the fact that the book doesn't really offer any useful information about birth, although I didn't know it was devoid of useful information at the time.

As I was reading ahead, and got to the chapter on birthing classes I realized that we were going to have to birth the baby. It wasn't like I didn't know before, it was more like I hadn't realized just exactly what that meant. So, in a near panic I started searching and searching for a birth class. Enter J. She is not only a Doula, but an independent birth instructor certified in several curriculum focusing on natural (meaning unmedicated) birth. As Boo and I debated the costs and time commitments of her class (at a few hundred dollars and 12 weeks) vs the hospital class (at $60 and 4 hours on one Saturday) Boo in his infinite wisdom suggested we take the longer more expensive route, because "you can never have too much information".

Setting up the class was another trip. J teaches on a rolling schedule, and her current class was already in session. She informed me that we could join the next session, starting in late October. The only problem there: Baby would be born before the class was over...(This is the first clue that the book is complete birth trash. Shouldn't the birth class chapter be early enough in the pregnancy to actually take a birth class??? I digress...) But! Because J LOVES what she does, and truly believes in parents having an informed birth, she worked us in to an ongoing private class. So after a quick crash course to cover the weeks we had missed we jumped right in.

I must say, before the class I thought my little thimble of birth knowledge was quite vast and comprehensive. I was wrong. So so wrong. By week 3 (of the class) I realized how far in over my head I truly was. By week 5 I was desperate to get my hands on every book on J's recommended reading list. By week 7 I was committed to a natural unmedicated (yeah that means no drugs) childbirth, and Boo was on his way to convincing me we needed a Doula. (If you don't know what a Doula is, Google it. Then multiply what they do for a pregnant/laboring mother by about 5,000,000 and you might have an idea...) So, we hired J to stick with us after class, and be the Doula in attendance at our birth.

While my birth story absolutely plays a leading role in my own birth as a birth nerd, that is a story for a different day.

Here we are then, on the back side of birth, with the most delicious Baby ever, and instead of relishing the fact that it was over as so many people do I was mesmerized by what I had done, producing this little human, and not only did I want to do it again, but I wanted to learn so much more about it! I wanted to know how other people had done it. I wanted to know how I could do it better the next time. And I really really wanted to do it again.

When J first assembled the group to watch The Business of Being Born I couldn't wait. A bunch of birth nerds sitting around watching birth videos?!? Yes please! Now it is top among some of the mom/baby activities that I participate in. I love everything about it.

As I was sitting in the living room yesterday, in a house I had never been to, surrounded by women that I don't actually 'know', I realized that what we all have in common is birth. Everyone has a different story, or stories, but it doesn't matter. We were all brought there by birth. We came to watch a tribute to the many different birth stories that exist, but also to share our own. To laugh about how we all thought we knew what was going on before, and how clueless we now realize we were. To share our concerns about upcoming births, and our experiences past and present.

I'm not really sure why I needed to write this post. Who really cares if I am a total nerd about all things birth now? Maybe it was just a way to say thank you to J. Thanks J, for introducing me to the beauty of birth, and for including me in your birth nerd circle. I really feel like this is where I belong.


Monday, April 1, 2013

I'm a Modern Feminist - So I've Discovered

We have all learned about the feminist movement at some point in our schooling. We gape at the idea that women had to fight for rights that we sometimes take for granted, and we admire the women who sacrificed their lives to further the rights of women around the world. Susan B. Anthony was commemorated on the U.S. dollar coin: the only woman featured on the currency until Sacagawea made her debut in 2000. The 19th Amendment was added to the Constitution. That was just the beginning.

Later "The Feminine Mystique" blamed society for trapping women in their homes, when we have so much more to offer. And so we continued to fight, and burned our bras in the process, until we had conquered the glass ceiling and achieved the ultimate prize: equality with men.

But as I take a look around, to see what the feminist movement has given me, and I find myself somewhat dissatisfied with the outcomes. Don't get me wrong, I believe the roots of feminism were pure, and I believe that women should have equal rights on all fronts. I do not believe that women should be discriminated against because they are women, and I certainly don't think a man has more to offer simply because he has a set of marbles in his pants (despite losing those in his head).

But at the same time, the feminist movement became so focused on being equal with men that it completely overshadowed the women it was trying to defend. Women lost the essence of being a woman, and became 'the same as a man'. Now, the world (or at least American society) looks to women as the same as a man, and therefore discounts all of the things that women can do that a man cannot.

Sure, a woman can stay at home; cook, clean, and keep the house tidy. So can a man. Sure a man can go to work, and make a living to support a family. So can a woman. Women have pushed and shoved and elbowed their way into the former "Men Only" worlds of business, sports, politics, science, medicine, law...The list seems endless. But honestly I don't see where we have become truly equal.

In math, equality is as a mirror. 2=2 just the same as 2=2. You cannot tell here which is the male 2 and which the female. But society is not the same as math. For society equality between the sexes is more like 2=1+1. Sure the sum is the same, and we can say in the end both are 2, but men certainly do not value the female arts the way they value their own.

Women have joined the business world in droves, but male nurses (a traditionally female career) account for less than 6%.  Teaching (another traditionally female position) is also dominated by women, outnumbering male teachers 3 to 1 in schools. Don't even get me started on traditionally feminine skills like sewing, knitting, cooking and baking. Although we do see men making forays into the culinary worlds, so I'll give them that. But where is the stay-at-home dad's TV spot across from Martha Stewart? Where is the man washing dishes in the Dawn dish soap commercial? No, for society there are some jobs that are still only for women.

This disparity used to infuriate me. I wanted to graduate from college, start my career, blow that glass ceiling into oblivion and show the world that just because I was a female didn't mean I wasn't just as good as the men around me. And then I realized: those men ain't got shit on me. Not a one of them could birth a baby. Snap. Game over.

I quit that job and assumed the traditional role of the domestic housewife. A role that I thought I was better than. But as it turns out, I'm just good enough to call myself a wife and mother. I realized that there is plenty to take pride in within the domestic role. And plenty of skills that are overlooked in the pursuit of being 'the same as a man'.

And so I arrived at modern feminism. I don't think modern feminism as I see it is a defined movement. I don't think it has a Twitter following, and I'm not supporting it just because it's popular. I am a Modern Feminist.

I will sacrifice my life; my time, and my energy to promote the beauty of being a WOMAN, rather than simply trying to be like a man. I will embrace the powers that I possess by virtue of my gender. I will wear dresses! (j/k I know men can do this too). But seriously, I'm going to wear dresses. I will embrace natural, non-medicated childbirth because pregnancy and birth are not a disease to be feared, but an innate super power to be revered. I will birth many children, and I will be proud to say I 'just stay at home'. I will breastfeed my babies, in public when they are hungry, because God has given me all of the tools I need to meet their needs, and last I checked I had two boobs and no bottles.

I will embrace the tasks that have been traditionally 'women's work'. I will sew and knit (well I am currently learning) so that my children will know that the things I have made them have love in every stitch. I will grow a garden. I will can/jar my own jams and sauces; not because it is frugal (although it is) but because women not only have the power to give life but to cultivate it, with nothing but their hands and hearts. I will cook and bake, from scratch, not from a box. I will keep my house well. I will support and respect my husband.

I will not do these things out of obligation, I will do them out of choice. The current (and past) feminist movements have given me the choice to enter a "man's" world, but they have forgotten the alternative is still a choice. Choosing a traditional women's role does not make me less than. On the contrary. I am empowered to be a woman.

I will step back from the constant battle of being like a man, just to enjoy being a woman. And in the end, I will raise up my portion of the next generation to know that a can and should be respected as a woman. That a woman can do ANYTHING that a man can do, and quite a few things that he can't even imagine.

True feminism is in recognizing the beauty of being a woman, not in becoming the same as a man.