Real Life | Week 1: Good Morning, Good Night

Back at the beginning of 2015, the amazing bloggers over at A Beautiful Mess launched an e-course titled “Capture Real Life in 52 Weeks”. For my birthday that year, I was gifted a subscription to the class. It has been approximately 109 weeks, and I’ve never really gotten past the first couple of lessons. Whomp. So… I’m starting again, and I’ve decided to blog my progress each week in order to help keep myself accountable.

(Incidentally, that class is no longer available, but they’ve got an e-course called “Everyday Photography” which looks pretty similar.)

I have always loved photography as an art form, ever since seeing a black and white portrait exhibit at a museum in Chicago when I was a young teenager. Since smartphone cameras have become much more advanced in the recent years, I’ve tried to use photography, not just for snapshots, but for personal artistic expression. And, more recently, to document the lives of my children. I have a pretty nice DSLR camera now, too, so I’m working on my technique as well as trying to find my own personal style.

So, back to this e-course. The prompt for the first week is “Good Morning, Good Night”. It didn’t really require stepping out of my comfort zone because sleeping babies, and little kids in general, are cute and relatively easy subjects to photograph. Taking indoor photos early in the morning and late at night, though, when natural light is low, made it somewhat technically challenging. As a result, my photos turned out a bit grainy, but for the most part I don’t mind– it just gives them character.

Good Morning

Little Bird Nest | Good Morning Good Night 1

When William was a baby, he was a terrible sleeper. In fact, he didn’t start sleeping through the night on a consistent basis until after he had turned two. In order to maintain my sanity and get the most sleep possible at night, I co-slept with him for most of his first year and a half. Nights could be super rough, but waking up next to this sweet sleeping face was one of the best parts of my day.

Now William often comes into my bed– the queen-sized bed I share with my husband that isn’t really big enough for a third person– and snuggles up next to me at night. On the particular morning that I took this photo, Garrett had left early for work and William came in after he had already left so there was plenty of room for both of us. What made it even sweeter was the fact that he brought his own pillow with the Ninja Turtle pillow case that his grandma had made for him.

Even now, some nights are rough, but seeing his adorable sleeping face when I wake up is always a welcome sight.

Little Bird Nest | Good Morning Good Night 2

Winter, on the other hand, wakes up trapped in a crib. Because of the co-sleeping situation with William, he never had a crib– just a mattress on the floor. When Winter was born, I thought I’d do the same type of co-sleeping arrangement with her as well, but just a few months in, we realized that she did much better on her own with walls around her. So we fixed up Garrett’s old crib so that it more or less conformed with modern safety standards, and put Winter in that.

When I hear that she’s awake in the morning and go into her room, the first thing she does is either hand me her bottle or point to where she’s thrown it on the floor. I guess it’s her way of saying it’s time for breakfast.

After that, she’ll jump around in the crib, point to various things around the room, and look out the window when I open the blinds. She’s usually pretty eager to be released from her confinement, though.

William wants breakfast immediately after he wakes up, but I always try to slow things down and get some cuddles out of the kids before heading downstairs to the kitchen.

Little Bird Nest | Good Morning Good Night 11

I thought this would be a good opportunity to get myself in front of the camera too, since I’m obviously a major part of my mornings!

The picture of me with Winter turned out blurry, but it’s still one of my favorites. Despite the lack of focus, her eyes are still perfectly bright!

And finally, who doesn’t love a good outtake?!

Little Bird Nest | Good Morning Good Night 7

That last pic pretty much sums up our natural state. A picture is worth a thousand words! haha

Good Night

Taking photos of our nighttime routine was considerably more challenging because, well, it was dark. Plus bedtime is always a bit crazy with a couple of toddlers.

After the bedtime storm is over, though, I like to go in and check on them one last time before I go to bed. Often this means fixing Winter’s blankets, since she has an odd habit of pulling them all over her head when she’s sleeping, leaving the rest of her body uncovered.

Little Bird Nest | Good Morning Good Night 12

Not to mention seeing those sweet sleeping faces is a good reminder of what is often so hard to remember during the tantrums and screaming– that my kids are the greatest blessing I’ve ever been given, and I love them so much it hurts.

Little Bird Nest | Good Morning Good Night 13

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A Simple Embroidered Dress

A Simple Embroidered Dress | Little Bird Nest
Winter came down with a cold yesterday. This is actually only the second time she’s been sick, I think. She had a particularly nasty virus in May that ended in a double ear infection, and up until now, that was about it. For a baby born in winter when all kinds of nasty things get passed around, I’d say she’s been pretty lucky. Seeing her sick now, though, sure is pretty sad. She’s all runny nose and watery eyes and adorable sneezes, but she’s also a lot more needy than usual. For the first time in months, I’ve been carrying her around in the sling just around the house since she’s been extra clingy. It’s sweet, but I’m tired. So tired.

But she also happens to be super cuddly in this knit dress that I finished earlier this week. It’s the Clean + Simple Baby Dress by Purl Soho, knit with KnitPicks CotLin in Rocket. I wasn’t totally sure how this would turn out since CotLin is DK weight, and the Cotton Pure yarn that the patterns suggests using is a sport weight cotton. But I had some CotLin in my stash from a previously frogged project and the gauge was just about right, and I absolutely love the way it turned out.
A Simple Embroidered Dress | Little Bird Nest
The bodice of this dress is knit in a linen stich which is pretty solid to begin with, but using a thicker yarn probably made it more so. When the dress was finished, I thought that nice sturdy bodice section would make a perfect canvas for a little embroidery, so the flowers were added as an afterthought using KnitPicks Dishie in Clarity and Mint.
A Simple Embroidered Dress | Little Bird Nest
(Sorry about the grainy photos– it was a gray morning. But yay for fall! I love the gray days.)

As I was reading through the pattern for this dress, I was worried about it being too long. I love to dress Winter in dresses, but crawling is her main method for getting around these days, and long dresses sometimes get in the way. I knit it to the length specified by the pattern and it was perfect. And layering it over a onsie means her bum is still plenty cute when it peaks out.
A Simple Embroidered Dress | Little Bird Nest
Overall, this was a pretty quick and simple project and a pleasure to knit.

If you’re a Raveler, you can see the project details, as well as some photos of the dress by itself (not being worn) on Ravelry. Let me know what you think in the comments!
A Simple Embroidered Dress | Little Bird Nest

 

Welcome Winter: A Birth Story

 

Winter Grace

Winter Grace Cox was born in the early hours of the morning on a snowy Christmas Day.

She was due on December 20, but for most of my pregnancy I never even expected to make it to my due date. When I was pregnant with William, I was induced early due to high blood pressure, so I (and my midwives as well) just kind of assumed that my blood pressure would go up again during this pregnancy and I would once again be induced early to avoid the complications of going into labor naturally with hypertension. When my blood pressure was still normal well into the third trimester, I started to prepare myself mentally to go into labor naturally– a first for me! I still never really thought I’d go past my due date though, because seriously, what woman wants to be pregnant more than 40 weeks?!

I was sure of one thing though. I did not want to have a baby on Christmas. With family coming into town and all the holiday festivities planned out, I was hoping to be out of the hospital and feeling somewhat back to normal by Christmas so I could enjoy it along with everyone else, while people ooh-ed and ahh-ed over our newborn baby. So strong was my desire to not have a Christmas baby, I think that I may have created a mental block preventing myself from relaxing and going into labor before then. Because as Christmas Eve rolled around and I was still pregnant, I finally surrendered to the fact that we might have a Christmas baby after all, and that would be much better than staying pregnant forever. And sure enough, that night, I went into labor.

We ate dinner with Garrett’s family at his parents’ house on Christmas Eve and left William to stay there overnight just in case. That night, I woke up at 1:45am with painful contractions and started timing them. After some walking around the house, and convincing myself that I really was in labor, I woke Garrett at about 2:15. I called the midwife who told me that I could probably labor at home for a while before coming to the hospital. My gut feeling, though, was to go sooner rather than later. I planned on having a water birth, and I knew they would need time to set up the birthing tub. Plus the idea of sitting in a warm tub sounded quite nice and there wasn’t really anything else to do in the middle of the night, so Garrett and I gathered up a few things and headed out.

It was snowing as we drove to the hospital, so Garrett drove very smoothly and cautiously as I did my best to relax through the contractions. We knew ahead of time that we wanted to name our daughter Winter, although we hadn’t told anyone. We had joked about how we’d be able to tell each other “Winter is coming” in ominous tones as I went into labor, but I don’t think either one of us actually said it that night.

As it turns out, it was a good thing we went to the hospital when we did, because my labor was quite short. It was about 3 am when we arrived and I was already dilated to about 7 or 8 cm. A nurse got to work right away setting up the birthing tub, but I guess it took longer than usual– something about a smaller hose than usual and water temperature not being quite right… I wasn’t really paying attention. The contractions were so intense and painful that I wasn’t really upset about not being in the tub. It was nice to be able to relax completely on the bed during the short breaks that I was getting between them.

When the birthing tub was finally ready, we could all tell I was getting really close to being ready to push. My water hadn’t broken yet, though, so the midwife informed me that she was going to break my water and then I was going to immediately get into the tub and have the baby. Sounded simple enough. Except the instant my water broke I felt the unmistakable urge to push and I was not going anywhere. Soooo… my water birth didn’t happen, but it’s okay. After ten minutes or so of pushing, Winter was born, just two and a half hours after the labor contractions had woken me up.

I didn’t get to hold her right away. The cord had been wrapped around her neck and she was having some difficulty breathing so they whisked her away pretty quickly. I had caught a glimpse of her as she came out and landed on the bed, thanks to my hands-and-knees birthing position (waaayyy better than giving birth on my back as I did with William!), and I think I said something profound like “I see her!” right before they took her away. A nurse and doctor from the NICU came in to help with getting her breathing– something that seems scary, but no one was acting too worried, so I tried to stay calm as well. Garrett was by her side giving me updates and it was certainly a relief when we heard her cry. Despite all her difficulty getting a start on life outside the womb, she was surprisingly pink! Once she was doing a bit better, they put her on my chest for some skin-to-skin and I finally got a proper look at her.

 

We spent Christmas Day in the hospital, but it didn’t really feel like Christmas. No one came to visit us because of the snow, but it was very peaceful. After a stressful holiday season of wondering when the baby was going to come and how things were going to work with family plans and such, it was nice to finally just relax knowing that everything had gone well.