How to DIY a first birthday shirt (no sewing machine required)

Ah, the first birthday shirt. Yes, this is a thing.

I found some extremely cute “one.” shirts on etsy… for $32. I mean, I know the photos will last a lifetime, but I wasn’t going to spend that much on a one-time-use shirt for C.

So, instead, I bought a shirt from Walmart for $3.50, cut letters out of old T-shirts of mine (that I recently cleared out of my closet and stuffed in bags for random future projects) and spent 3 episodes of “Parenthood” and 2 episodes of “New Girl” creating this:


No sewing machine required! Here’s how it’s done.

STEP 1: Start with a solid-colored baby T-shirt. The sleeves are a little short on this one, but it was $3.33… so, yeah.


STEP 2: Find some old T-shirts (or shorts) in colors and textures you like. I went with colors that matched his party theme.


STEP 3: Carefully draw and cut out the letters. Use sharp scissors. Print out the letters in a font you like and trace them onto the fabric if you need to. I freehanded it and used lots of little snips with my favorite dollar store scissors (seriously, very sharp) to smooth everything out.


STEP 4: Pin the letters in place and carefully hand stitch around the letters’ outlines. Adjust placement as necessary, and check often to make sure your letters stay lined up. The stitches don’t have to be super tight.


That’s it! Very straightforward. Just be sure to have some good shows on the DVR to keep you entertained.


Corban tolerated loved it!


Dulling the pain of shopping

Shocking fact: I don’t love shopping.

In fact, I find it burdensome. When I need a new pair of jeans or shoes I often put off my shopping trip for far too long because, well, not only is it a pain to find time to go out to the mall or wherever, but there just seems to be so much pressure to find the right pair. The same goes for technology, household items and more. I researched cameras for weeks when mine was stolen, and have been putting off buying new bath mats for our master bath for months. I wish the perfect item would just show up on my front door so I wouldn’t have to spend so much time searching for it.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love having new things – it’s always fun to add to your wardrobe or upgrade your camera, etc. But I don’t just go browsing department stores for fun (now, Target, I suppose, is another story – I run in for diapers and end up with a cart full of things I didn’t know I needed until I laid eyes upon them – ha).

When it comes to baby clothes, I’ve been lucky so far — Corban spent his first six months or so in mostly gifts, and my mom is an avid deal snagger who has been outfitting him in cute “pre-owned” apparel from the start. I’ve been mostly spared the task of going out shopping for baby clothes thanks to that, and to a little service called Wittlebee.

Wittlebee is a baby clothing service that sends you a monthly box of baby clothes, allowing you to choose sizes, style preferences and clothing needs, but giving their “stylists” the freedom to choose the exact items from name brands like American Apparel, Kenneth Cole Reaction, Carters and Calvin Klein. Someone to pick out cute clothes and send them to me? Yes, please.

I originally signed up because I found a %50 off coupon code online somewhere (I can’t remember where), so I was able to get a box for $20. That 20 bucks got me this:

Eight adorable items, including a pair of swim trunks. Pretty great deal. The regular price is $40, so I figured I’d stick around for another month since Corban needed some fall clothes in bigger sizes, and it would average out to $30 per box for those first two boxes, which was still a great deal. The second box was another gold mine:

Before they send you a box, a stylist calls to confirm your order and take any preferences on items. I meant to cancel or at least take a break after the second box, but of course I failed to answer the phone or return the call or update my style profile online before the third box was sent, so we received another filled with pants, long sleeve shirts and onesies in 12-18 month sizes. Corban probably didn’t need more clothes at that point, but I can’t complain because it was totally my fault for not canceling, and the clothes are all cute.

The Wittlebee website says boxes come with six items, but the three boxes I’ve gotten have all come with eight. That makes the $40 price tag a decent deal – $5 per item – considering it’s all new clothing and from brands that aren’t exactly cheap (all three boxes came with at least one American Apparel onesie, which retails for $11.50 — a price I’d never pay, by the way, but it is a great onesie).

We took a break this month because we’re good on fall clothes, but I will probably say yes to a box here and there in the future. I’m all for a good steal from a rummage sale or resale shop, and that will still be where many of Corban’s clothes come from, but it’s nice to have some new, high quality items too. And for someone like me who would rather have someone else pick out and deliver clothes to my door, Wittlebee is perfect.

Have you used any sort of home delivery “club” for baby things? We subscribed to Honest Company diapers for two months with a really great coupon (50% off), but stopped when the price went back to normal. I’m all for these kinds of things, but only if they’re a good deal!

**In case it isn’t obvious, I am in no way affiliated with Wittlebee, nor was I asked to endorse them or anything like that!**

The jogging stroller

At Corban’s four-month pediatrician visit, we got the all-clear for him to ride in the stroller the big boy way and use the jogging (er, running) stroller. Yay!

That was a few weeks ago, but finally today I got around to dusting off (literally) the InStep 5K stroller I bought for $25 on Craigslist. It needed some air in the tires, a once-over with the vacuum and some love from a wet rag.

Unfortunately, the straps are a bit worn from age so they shed scratchy black fuzz all over Corban when I tightened them around him. It also doesn’t look like the most comfortable strap situation, so I may try to cobble together a cover for the straps at some point.

The other disadvantage to this stroller over our usual stroller is the hood, which doesn’t come down quite as far, so Little C is at times exposed to a bit more sun.

The good news is this stroller is much easier to run with than our regular stroller, the Baby Jogger City Mini (ironically not a jogging stroller). The larger, air-filled tires make for a smooth ride that is easy to push and steer while running.

I took it for a quick 1.5-mile jaunt just to test it out, and though I still would prefer to run sans stroller (it’s nice to be able to swing your arms!) this jogger will work for the times I want to take Corban with. After realizing how much less fun stroller running is than I anticipated, I’m glad we didn’t end up buying an expensive running stroller.

Semi-related story (not for those who are afraid of diaper talk): As I was cleaning and prepping the InSTEP, I had Corban strapped into the City Mini so he could watch me. When I finished and picked him up out of the City Mini, a huge yellow blob was revealed in the seat. Major poopsplosion! Peter and I teamed up to tackle the messiest diaper leak yet, and after a full outfit change and some stain prevention measures, Corban and I headed out for our (my) run. When we returned home, I caught a glance of myself in the mirror only to discover a yellow spot in the middle of my shirt. Yes, I ran through our neighborhood with poop on the front of my shirt! Oh, the things I never imagined about motherhood…

Hello, yellow stain (it looked bigger in person, unfortunately).

Maternity models: Real or fake bumps?

Gap has its Columbus Day sale going on right now (yeah, apparently it’s Columbus Day today), which of course encouraged me to jump at some deals on a few more basic maternity clothes (these camis, a pair of black pants and a pair of jeans).

I browsed a bit at Gap Maternity (smartly housed inside Baby Gap) yesterday and tried on some pants, but the selection in-store is sorely lacking. It at least gave me a bit of an idea on sizes, but they didn’t have my size in any of the pants I liked. So if you know your size in regular Gap clothes, skip the store and head straight to

Anyway, while browsing the site, I started wondering if maternity models are actually pregnant.

Some of those bumps look pretty convincing, but others… not so much (the girl on the right doesn’t even look like she needs maternity clothes). Wouldn’t it be tough to find real pregnant models, at the ideal stage of pregnancy to boot? Furthermore, pregnancy isn’t exactly kind to one’s complexion (well, at least not mine). My money’s on fake bumps on these gals.

What do you think?

Bargain stroller

About that exciting purchase I alluded to yesterday

A jogging stroller!

The InSTEP 5K Single Jogging Stroller, to be exact. The tires are flat and it could use a bit of dusting off, but it seems to be in excellent shape otherwise. And you can’t beat the price: $25. Thank you, Craigslist!

This model is discontinued, but probably cost about $100 originally. It’s not a high end jogging stroller, but for $25 it’s worth the risk that it might not be perfect. I can’t wait to use it next summer! I might actually take it for a test run this week, if I can overcome the embarrassment of pushing a 20-pound weight around the neighborhood in a stroller. Peter suggested putting a blanket over it so it looks like a baby.

Since we were able to find such a great deal on this running stroller, it made our “regular stroller” decision a lot easier. I had been debating between three models:

The BOB Revolution CE. A true running stroller made by runners for runners. Has options for fixed or swivel wheel (you want fixed for running, swivel for everything else) and can hold kids up to 70 pounds. Probably the best running stroller out there. The downsides are it’s pretty big (I think it’d be a bit tough maneuvering around at a festival or something, and would probably want to get a little cheapie stroller for that) and it’s expensive, at $469.

The Baby Jogger City Elite. Smaller and lighter than the BOB, but apparently can hold kids up to 75 pounds. Again, fixed or swivel wheel options. Pretty maneuverable. Nice adjustable handlebars to accommodate different heights. Not recommended for serious (like double digit) runs (though that’s probably debatable) and hefty pricetag at $399.

The Baby Jogger City Mini. This one is actually not a jogging stroller at all, though I know people who have run with it (probably not long distances though, as it has a swivel wheel only). It is highly recommended by practically everyone for its ease of use – you can actually fold it up with one hand. It’s the smallest of the three and the easiest to maneuver, though the weight limit is 50 pounds. Price is more reasonable at $239 (or $179 in one of the uglier colors).

For a while I was leaning toward the City Elite, since it seemed to have the best of both worlds (made for running, but also easy to maneuver).

But now that we have a decent (or at least passable, hopefully) running stroller, the City Mini is definitely the best choice. I have heard nothing but good about this stroller, and it will be great for everyday use, travel and tight spaces. Now the only question is do we get one of the less attractive colors (primary blue or bright pink) and save $60, or go for the lovely light green and gray model we’ve been eying (linked above). Hmmm. What would you do?

Bargain hunting

I’ve started checking Craigslist almost every day for certain baby items, and some of the deals out there are too good to pass up. Last week I bought a new, in-the-package, unfortunately named “My Brest Friend” breastfeeding pillow for $18 (usually retails ~$40).

I started scoping out some deals on Medela breast pumps, but I’m a little nervous to pull the trigger on a [very reasonably priced and good-condition, sanitized] used pump just because I’ve read that you’re not supposed to buy a used pump, period. For safety reasons. But what I don’t understand is how it’s OK to rent one from a hospital? Anyone have thoughts on this? By buying used, I could potentially save $200+.

I did find a decent-looking running stroller for $25 on Craiglist and am waiting to hear back from the seller. I don’t see how that could be a bad purchase. The risk of it sucking is worth $25.

But my mom found the best deal of all. A great-condition Baby Bjorn for $0. That’s right, free. From a garage sale where they were apparently giving things away.

I gave it a test drive last night with Basil. She wasn’t too into it.

Maternity coat

I hit up a maternity store for the very first time the other weekend. It was kind of fun.

Did you know they have fake bumps in the dressing room so you can see how something will fit when you’re further along?

Such fun! And very useful to see how this maternity coat will look in a few months when I need it.

I got a good deal on it too.

The worst part of my first maternity store experience was checking out. It took about 800 minutes, between getting my personal info into the store database, hooking me up with their little first-timer goodie bag of free junk, attempting to sign me up for Parenting magazine and issuing my “Bump Bucks” for spending a certain amount. It was all far too complicated.

Consider this your warning not to be in a rush when maternity shopping for the first time.


We finally registered

Or, at least, started to register…

My mom has been begging me for several weeks to decide on where to register so she can send out baby shower invites. On Sunday I finally did.

This was definitely something that I’ve been putting off. I get way more overwhelmed than I should about decisions like this. Heck, I get so overwhelmed by all the toilet paper options at the store that I put it off until there are approximately four squares of toilet paper left in our house and then I beg Peter to go buy it. When I am faced with the toilet paper aisle, I become obsessed with finding the perfect marriage between price and quality and the seemingly simple decision becomes far, far too complicated (can someone just tell me which brand is the best value?).

So you can imagine how daunting picking out baby products seems to me.

The best piece of advice I’ve gotten so far in this pregnancy was to buy the book “Baby Bargains.” It finally came in the mail earlier this week and it already has been a lifesaver. The authors review every product imaginable (to me) with the perfect amount of detail based on a nice mix of research, parenting experience and reader feedback. They also spend a decent amount of time just explaining what features are out there on different products and why you might want them (or not). Basically, this book has introduced me to the world of baby junk and helped me form some educated opinions in a very short amount of time.

Of course before I could start putting those newfound opinions to work, I had to decide where to register. I had been browsing message boards and blogs for several weeks now and collecting advice on different stores. Yesterday, it basically came down to Buy Buy Baby and Babies ‘R’ Us. “Baby Bargains” helped me make the final decision by highly recommending Buy Buy Baby.

Phew, one decision down!

Buy Buy Baby is owned by Bed Bath and Beyond, which is where we registered for our wedding, so we kind of knew what to expect. It was, in fact, exactly like our wedding registry experience except everything in the store was baby-related. An associate walked through the store with us and, with incredible patience, explained and demonstrated most of the big-ticket products. We were like clueless puppies armed with a scanning gun and lots of questions, like, “Why do you need this?” and “What does this do?” [Thankfully we didn’t get laughed out of the store or told we were unfit to be parents.]

When it wasn’t completely overwhelming, it was actually fun! Peter got gun-happy and scanned almost anything I showed more than remote interest in. I got to test drive the strollers I’ve been eying (that’s about the only thing I’ve put significant thought into so far). And we both came to the mutual decision that we do NOT want a kit to make a plaster mold of my pregnant belly. [Googling that led me to this and this, which are equally, if not more, ridiculous.]

We still have a long way to go and lots of editing to do, but I’m just glad to have it started. FINALLY. Once we get closer to completing our list of things to buy and register for, I’ll share some picks.

Now I have to ask, any recommended brands/items?

Prenatal belly dancing?

Oh yes, it exists. In this day, that’s not surprising.

The surprising thing is it exists a mere 10 minutes from my house, at Destination Maternity (a retail store, I believe) in Brookfield, Wis. And it’s free. Ha!

So I pretty much have no reason not to try it out, right? I mean, sure, I’ll probably feel incredibly ridiculous and uncoordinated and embarrassed (I’ve never been very good at any sort of dance-based exercise classes), but I’m not one to pass up on something so seemingly outrageous.

The good news is, aside from prenatal belly dancing, they offer free prenatal yoga, piyo and weights classes. I’m definitely interested in piyo, and will give the weights class a try (though I have a feeling it will seem really tame compared to Body Pump). If nothing else, it’s a good chance to meet some other pregnant ladies.

Here’s the class schedule. Apparently there is a binder at Destination Maternity where you can sign up for whichever classes you plan to attend. Destination Maternity is located at 16010 W. Bluemound Rd., Brookfield.

Baby’s first clothes

I made it more than 20 weeks into my pregnancy without buying a single thing for our little peanut! Crazy, I know.

So until yesterday, baby’s wardrobe consisted of the following: An adorable Mizzou sweatshirt from my thoughtful friend Kristie (Peter and I – and Kristie – are Mizzou alumni) and these too-cute-for-words monkey tennis shoes and wristband rattle from my dear amiga Katie.

I know this little one is going to be spoiled by his loving grandparents and other family and friends, so I didn’t want to get too crazy with buying baby items just yet, but I have recently had my eyes peeled for rummage sales (garage sales if you’re not from Wisconsin) with baby items. That’s the perfect place to pick up good deals on clothes and toys that baby will outgrow quickly.

Yesterday I came across a sign proclaiming “Baby Girl Rummage,” and I had to check it out.

Of course, this little girl had only one color in her wardrobe: pink, so there wasn’t a whole lot of gender-neutral items to be found. I did find some steals though.

First up: this semi-impractical, cuddly, full-body suit.

Can’t you just picture a little Pooh bear inside?

Of course, it could be completely impractical for our kid, since it’s labeled 3-6 months, and that puts us in about April through June. But these Wisconsin springs can be pretty cold, doncha know.

There’s also this soft, Biggles-approved, lion blanket.

And out of probably hundreds of clothing items, these were the only ones I could picture either a boy or a girl in.

I think this is the perfect gender-neutral onesie.

Total cost for all of the above: $8.75

Yay, bargains!