Wednesday, May 30, 2012

We decided on a name!

(The banner from my baby shower!)
We finally picked a name!

We’re naming our baby girl Paisley June.

About a month ago we decided that would probably be her name, and Jeff and I tested it out for a week without telling anyone.  It was a winner, so we started telling people, just as it came up.  I think most people know now.

We started with wanting to use “June” as her middle name.  June is Jeff’s mom’s name, and we both really like her a lot. I don’t remember whose idea it was to use her name, but we agreed on it right at the beginning.  Since our baby is due in the very middle of the month, she will almost for sure be born in June, so that made it seem extra appropriate. 

We were about, oh, 85% sure we would use June as her middle name, so we didn’t tell Jeff’s mom because we didn’t want to disappoint her if we ended up going with something else. 

For her first name, Jeff and I really liked the name Olivia.  (And Olivia even sounds great with June.)  But Olivia has been number one in Utah for 5 years now.  I’m not totally opposed to popular names, but number one?  Mmmm…maybe not.  It was kind of our back-up choice, though, in case we could never agree on anything else.

I liked the name Isla.  I think “Isla June” sounds nice, and it sounds good with our last name, too.  And, it’s kind of popular (especially in the UK), but not nearly as popular as Olivia.  Jeff worried that nobody would know how to spell it or pronounce it.  He kept singing a Madonna song “La Isla Bonita” and sometimes he accidentally (maybe accidentally?) referred to the baby name as EE-sla (like in The Emperor’s New Groove), which bothered me.  So then I would start calling him “Heffery” because he was pronouncing that baby’s potential name en espanol.  But he said no, really, he was still open to using the name Isla—he just wanted to conduct a survey to see if people knew how to spell it.

So one fine Saturday morning, Jeff conducted an informal survey.  He called several of his relatives and asked them how they would spell Isla.  “I-S-L-A.”  (Yay!) “I-L-L-A” “I-L-L-A” “I-L-L-I-A”  (Sigh.)  The survey was a failure.  I said people will learn.  I said people don’t know how to spell names anyway—Jeff’s name is spelled in an uncommon way, for instance, and people spell my name wrong, and how can anyone spell Emily wrong (but sometimes they do).  It didn’t matter.  The survey was a failure, and that was that.

We kept going over the other names on our list.  Several of them didn’t work with June as a middle name, so we talked about choosing a different middle name.  Eh.

And then, Jeff suggested Paisley.  I wasn’t sure if he thought it was his idea, or if he knew he had already turned it down a couple times before.  (That’s how baby names work; sometimes names grow on you.)

The way it had actually come up before is that my sister Jessica and I have had several conversations lamenting the fact that I named my cat Paley.  Jessica and I both really like the name Paley.  It sounds like a modern girl’s name more than it sounds like a cat’s name.  So Jessica would say, “I still really think you should name her Paley anyway.”  And I would say, “Or Paisley.”  Because they sound similar, and Paisley is actually used as a girl’s name, and Paley isn’t.  And then it wouldn’t be the same name as the cat.

We had also read the name in one of the name books that we went through.

So when Jeff suggested it, I told him what a great idea he had.  We decided we would try it out for a week.  Partway through the week, I had to be honest with him:  “Jeff, I’m worried you’re going to decide you don’t like the name when you realize it is similar to our cat’s name.”  He looked at me and said, “Em.  The cat’s gonna die.”  Whew.  He knew the names were similar.  So, that was that.

After so many months of not telling Jeff’s mom, Jeff finally told her we were planning to name the baby Paisley June.  Get this: he told her over the phone.  When I wasn’t home.  (“Seriously??”)  (“Ohhhh.  You wanted to see her reaction.”)  But supposedly she had already kind of guessed anyway.  Previously when she was trying to help us think of names, I had admitted that we were thinking of using a certain name as the middle name.  I wouldn’t tell her what it was, but I told her it was a one-syllable name, so the first name needed to be more than one syllable.  I think I may have also said we were considering family names.  That narrows it down more than I meant to.  Oh well.  So, she knows.  But she’s already had granddaughters named after her, so maybe it’s less exciting after the first couple times.

So, in case you’re wondering, Paisley is a relatively uncommon name.  My midwife has delivered one other baby girl named Paisley, in 2010.  ("She's a really good eater."  "Hm. Okay.")  In the United States, Paisley ranked #831 as a girl’s name in 2006.  It has been steadily rising since then: 2007 - #613; 2008 - #450; 2009 - #319; 2010 - #237. The statistics just came out for 2011, and last year Paisley ranked #195.  Last Friday at my appointment with my midwife, she had new name lists posted (she has monthly Utah statistics for the top 10 boy and girl names and other birthing statistics, and quarterly Utah statistics for the top 50 boy and girl names).  It looks like for the last quarter, in Utah, Paisley ranked #36 among girl names.  Jeff and I were really surprised to see that.

I keep joking that if she is born in May, we’ll name her Paisley May instead, but we wouldn’t really do that.  So, there you have it.

It feels GREAT to know what we’re naming her, and to talk about her (and to her) using her name. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Baby Shower!

Last Thursday I had my baby shower!  It was hosted by my sister Jessica, my mother-in-law, my sister-in-law, and one of my friends from church, and it was at Jeff's parents' house.

Jessica designed the invitations, which were really cute.  Obviously the real thing had last names and an address, so it looked better, but here is the Internet-safe version

I really worried that nobody would come since Jeff is my main friend and he wasn't even invited.  Actually, I think there were 20-25 ladies that came.  It felt great to know that so many other people cared enough to come celebrate with me.  And, a few other people have brought gifts to our house because they were unable to attend the shower.  That's really kind.

I think the decorations were a collaborative effort; there were balloons, flowers, and streamers.  Jessica made a cute banner to match the invitations...with our baby's name on it!  (More about that later.)

Since the shower was held in the evening, they served a light dinner: soups (my MIL asked for some of my favorite recipes), fruit and vegetable trays, and warm homemade bread.  (I don't have any really good pictures of this, or of everyone eating, or even when everyone was there, because I just snapped a couple photos on my phone before guests arrived and finally thought to pull out my camera at the end.  Whoops!)

For dessert, we had cake balls!  When my hosts were planning the shower, they asked what requests I had (for the theme, or foods, or anything) and I requested cake balls--if they weren't too much work.  Jessica said they take some time, but she didn't mind doing them.  So, she did.  They were perfect.  She made pink (strawberry), brown (chocolate), and white (lemon) cake balls, and they were really pretty, and really delicious.

After that, I started opening gifts.  Partway through opening gifts, the guests started playing the "dirty diaper game."  The way that worked was, there were a bunch of diapers that were all numbered.  Inside each diaper, a candy bar was melted, and the guests had to try to identify the different candy bars--no tasting allowed.  It was pretty funny to watch.  All of the guests were smelling "dirty" diapers.  A few of the guests got really into it and tried to compare the contents of different diapers, and discussed them. 

I finished opening gifts.  We got a lot of great stuff!  I kind of wished our baby were already born so that she could have enjoyed the shower too.  I felt like I had snuck into a 5 year old's birthday party and opened all of the presents without him.  (Although, it will probably be a while before she is interested in receiving presents.)  That's okay.  And then we went over the results of the diaper game.  The guests were all asked to write little notes for me with parenting advice.  After that, everyone went home. 

I felt very pleased for the next couple days that I have so many people that care about me and our baby.  Now, I am determined to do a better job of writing thank you cards than I did when I got married.  (In case you're wondering, I've made good progress so far.)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

More Official [Fake-Out] Mail

I should know better by now.

Whenever I receive mail from the Republican National Committee, I always kind of expect it to be important, but it never is.  They are champions at sending fake-out mail: they like to send surveys that "MUST" be returned (with a few questions to help me feel like I'm sharing my opinions--that they think they already know--and then questions about how much of a donation I'm making, $25 minimum for processing my survey).  Today, I got a fake index card with information about me, and a letter urging me to PLEASE confirm my information (because my party affiliation is "unconfirmed" until I send back the fake index card that lists me as Republican).  And when I send it back--time is of the essence--I need to include my maximum contribution so they know that I am with them. Like they are really hoping to receive thousands and thousands of index cards. 

It reminds me of the super sketchy call center I worked at for a few months.  I was calling people to verify that they were interested in online college classes (which was sketchy enough), but some of the other people in the same building had a different type of calls.  They would set up "interviews" where they would ask people questions...but the whole goal was to get the people to feel like it was an exclusive opportunity.  They didn't even write down anyone's responses, because everyone was approved--as long as they were ready to pay for their "opportunity" to participate. 

I'm sure the Republican National Committee gets a lot of replies, but I think fake-out mail is so tacky.  (Also, it's kind of insulting, because I know they're trying to trick me into giving them money, which implies that not only do they think I am stupid but they are trying to take advantage.)

Oops, I just shredded my index card.  Now what?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Tutorial: How to Make Nursery Button Art

As I've been scouring the Internet for cool nursery ideas, I discovered button art.  If you want, a few sellers on etsy will make a custom monogram letter out of buttons, to use as art in your baby's nursery.  I thought they looked so cool!  The art has old-fashioned charm, but it seems modern at the same time.  I wanted one! 

The going rate for an unframed piece of button art is $80. 

Having a baby is expensive.  Aside from birth-related expenses, we've bought nursery furniture, and we still have to buy the car seat and stroller, probably an infant seat, a set of cloth diapers, a breast pump, and about 900 other things like a snot-sucker and crib sheets.  So, it's pretty hard to justify spending $80 on a little piece of fabric with some buttons.  (Even a really cute little piece of fabric with some buttons.)

I decided to make one myself.  The supplies would be cheap, and sewing buttons is pretty easy, so how hard could it be?  (Answer: Not too hard, but fairly time consuming.)

I think this took me about 4 hours, and the supplies cost under $10 (or much less, depending on which supplies you already have).  I think my result was not quite as nice as the ones for sale on etsy, but close enough.  (And the baby won't know the difference.)

Want to make your own nursery button art?  Here's what I did.

* fabric - I used linen, which seemed like a good choice.  (My linen was $12.88/yard, and I bought .25 yard for $3.22.  The quarter yard was enough fabric to make five pieces of button art.)
* buttons - Plan to use at least 70 buttons of various sizes.  Buy a lot more, so that you have more choices as you go; I think I had about twice as many as I needed, and that was about right.  I started with little container of pink buttons that I bought at Ross for a few dollars, and when I realized most stores sell buttons a few at a time (or bigger blends in not-pink), I turned to eBay.  On eBay I bought two packs of 50 assorted pink buttons (about $6 including shipping).
* thread & needle - any.  I used an off-white thread that I already had, which matched my linen.  Embroidery floss would also be a good option.
* disappearing fabric ink marking pen - I got one that wrote in purple, and it cost $4.79. 
* frame (& coordinating paint) - to display your button art.  I bought a cheap oak frame from Walmart for $4, and I painted it a coordinating light purple to match the nursery.


1. Choose what letter you're going to do. 

Bold letters work well, and so do fancy frilly letters.  Skinny lines are easier to make with buttons than fat areas.  I downloaded a few free fonts from a free font website online, and I thought about using "Annabel Script Font", but then I ended up deciding to use Georgia font, which was already on my computer.

For 8X10 button art, I printed the letter I was using in 650 pt font.  This would vary depending on the font that you choose and the size that you want it, but the key is to have something that doesn't take up a full sheet of paper, but is large and seems well spaced.

I printed my letter in "outline" style to make it easier to trace.

2. Print 2 copies if you want to try laying out buttons before you sew anything, or 1 copy if you're sure you have the right size.

3. (optional) Arrange your buttons on one of the printouts.

I worried that I wouldn't have the right number of buttons for what I wanted, so I used one copy to practice.  I arranged the buttons directly on one of the printouts.  I had plenty of buttons and liked how it was going to look, so I left the buttons arranged, and planned to transfer them to the coordinating spot on my actual fabric.

4. Cut your fabric. 

Remember, a little too big is better than a little too small.  Iron the fabric.  I also used a little bit of starch to help it stay flat. On a scrap of your fabric, test your disappearing ink to make sure it actually disappears.

5. Put a letter printout beneath your fabric and trace the outline onto your fabric with the disappearing ink.

Since I used linen, I was able to do this on top of a regular table.  If you choose something thicker, you may need to tape your fabric up to a window to get some light coming through so that you know where to trace.

6. Start sewing buttons on. 

I was using regular thread (which is pretty thin) and linen (which has a loose weave), so I quadrupled my thread, because otherwise the knots came right through the fabric.  To do that, I took a long piece of thread, folded it in half, threaded both of the loose ends, and matched them up with the other end.  This worked fine for me.

I had thought that transferring buttons from the arrangement on paper to my fabric would be a piece of cake.  It wasn't.  It turns out, it's pretty hard to sew buttons very precisely where you want them, since the fabric tends to move around a little as you're sewing.  This means, sometimes you'll end up with a little extra space where you didn't want it, and sometimes the buttons will be a little closer together than you meant for them to be.  At first this bothered me, because it wasn't perfect, and then I decided it was totally fine, as long as I didn't have big gaps, or big overlaps.  If I were to do this project again, I would try using an embroidery hoop to keep my fabric flat.  I think that would partially solve this problem.  This is handmade art, though, so I decided it's okay if it looks like a person did it instead of a machine.  Another thing that I think would really help with spacing is to have tiny buttons.  I had small buttons, medium buttons, and large buttons, but I think the people who sell these on etsy have some very tiny buttons.  That would help a lot with spacing.

For me, I liked to start with the skinny parts of the letter, where it required small buttons and they had to be in precise places.  Then I worked away from those areas, using larger buttons first and then smaller buttons to finish small sections and work my way out.  I frequently arranged 3-4 buttons to help decide how to best lay them out on the fabric.  Sometimes after I sewed one or two buttons, I would have to decide again, because of the way the spacing was.  So, it didn't end up looking like my original arrangement, but I think that exercise was still worthwhile.

7. Rearrange buttons or re-sew buttons as necessary.

There were a couple buttons that I sewed at the beginning that I decided to adjust later.  And, there were a couple buttons that started to come detached because the knots pulled through from the back, so I needed to re-sew those too.

8. Iron your button art.  Use water to remove any disappearing ink that hasn't disappeared. 

I tried to avoid actually touching the buttons with the iron, but to the extent that they did touch the iron, they were fine.  (Which makes sense, since men's dress shirts are ironed all the time and they have buttons on them.)

9. Frame your button art, and put it on display!  (Note: these also look pretty when they are matted, or when they hang on the wall.) 

That's it!  If these instructions are helpful for anyone else, I would love to see how your button art comes out.

(And yes, we have finally settled on a name for this baby girl, and yes, it does start with "P".  More about that later.)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Pregnancy Photo Progression

I've been thinking it would be fun to share these.  Today I am exactly 35 weeks pregnant.  When I was almost 15 weeks pregnant I decided it was about time for us to start taking pictures to document my pregnancy.  (Before that, I didn't feel like there was much to photograph.)

Since then, I've had Jeff take my picture pretty much every other Saturday morning, before we go to the gym.  A couple months ago I started wearing a different shirt to the gym, but we still do pictures with this one, because it's the one I've been wearing for pictures all along and it makes the transition more interesting.

We also take pictures from the front, but those ones are less interesting.

It's kind of amazing that next time we take a picture I'll be at 37 weeks--full term(!).  And, most likely there will only be two more pictures like this.  Maybe three.  (Although, it seems like I'm getting so big so fast lately that maybe we should switch to doing weekly pictures, just like midwife visits are weekly now.  Or maybe two pictures a week.)

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Kidding Season 2012

Our four pregnant does all had their babies this week, so here's an update!

Mercedes had her kids early last Wednesday.  I mentioned this in my last post

She had one buckling and two doelings, and they're all doing well.  Mercedes is a great momma.  These babies are getting bigger, and they are very playful.  We will probably be keeping both of the girls (the brown ones), and we may keep the boy.

The black one is the boy, and the brown ones are the girls.

Thursday morning, I went outside and noticed Star standing with one of Mercedes' girls, but that seemed really weird, so I went to take a closer look.  The baby goat was a boy, so that meant it wasn't one of Mercedes' babies after all.  At first I thought there was just one, but then I realized there was a baby goat crying from somewhere in our yard, away from the barn and the other goats.  I looked, and eventually I found this:

Last year I wanted to fence an area that I could use to garden, and I dug holes for the fence posts, but we never finished the project.  So, somehow this poor baby goat fell into one of the holes.  Whoops!

He was totally fine, though.  I took him back over to Star and his brother, but Star acted like he wasn't her baby.  Any time he tried to nurse, she shoved him away.  Sad!  So this little guy started to hang out alone, outside the barn.  Then, he tried to join Mercedes and her kids, but she wouldn't let him.  Poor guy!  I milked Star and began bottle-feeding this baby goat.  (Now, he is very friendly.)

Star laying down next to one baby.  The other baby is curled up by the entrance to the barn.  Poor guy!

Caroline kidded the same day--Thursday afternoon.  She was obviously in labor, so I put her on the other side of the barn (Mercedes has been monopolizing the main side of the barn since she had her babies first).  She had a doeling (!) and then she tried to have another baby.  It took a really long time--maybe half an hour, and she really struggled.  She didn't clean the baby off right away, but the goopy blob moved a little bit, so I thought it was still doing fine.  Turns out I'm terrible company for a laboring goat, because what I actually should have done was helped clean up.  Instead, I waited so that Caroline could bond with her baby by cleaning it.  When she did start cleaning the baby, I was really sad to discover that it was not alive anymore.  And, it was actually two babies.  They were both doelings (!) and neither of them made it.  I thought the blob moving meant that they were alive, but I think actually it meant "WE NEED AIR--NOW!". 

So, that was really disappointing, and it made me feel pretty bad.  I remember that last year I had read up on how to help a goat at birth, and I used to know that you're supposed to clean off their nose and mouth if the mom doesn't do it right away.  I don't know why it didn't occur to me this year.  I think there were a couple other problems, though.  For one thing, goats are usually born one at a time.  And for another thing, one of the goats was born in a really bent up position; it almost seemed like her back was broken in birth, or something, probably because she was born in a big blob with another goat.  I don't know.  So, it was pretty exciting that Caroline had triplet doelings, and pretty disappointing that I failed to intervene in a helpful way. 

But, in happy news, Caroline's first doeling is doing great.  She's pretty big for her age, and very friendly.  It's actually been kind of funny over the past few days, because Caroline "loses" her doeling I think at least once or twice every day.  Caroline looks around, and sniffs a few other baby goats, and begins to become distressed because she can't find her baby.  The funny thing is, though, every time this happens, her doeling is actually "lost" inside the barn, with all of the other baby goats!  So, we guide Caroline to where her doeling is, and put the baby in front of her, and she calms down.

Caroline is a good mama goat to the doeling, but even though she is always willing to let her doeling nurse, the doeling is a real opportunist-- the little girl is constantly trying to nurse off of other mama goats.  They push her away, and she comes running right back.  She's very assertive.

So, after Caroline kidded, we were just waiting for Claire to kid. 

Claire had her babies on Sunday morning, before Jeff and I went to church.  I went outside to bottle-feed Star's little guy, and found Claire in the barn, cleaning off a new kid.  So, I hurried inside and let Jeff know that Claire was kidding and I thought she would probably have another baby pretty soon.  Jeff hurried outside with me and several minutes later, Claire did have another kid.  It was fun because it turns out Jeff had never seen a baby born before, except for in movies.  So, it was a new experience for him.  ("OH, wow!  That's amazing.  Wow.")

I was really grateful that we were there for Claire's second birth, because it was completely different than Caroline's second birth.  It made me feel a lot less guilty about losing Caroline's babies, because I realized that Caroline's experience was really not typical.

Jeff and I had the great idea to take the little guy that Star rejected and cover him in Claire's goopy fluids when she was having her babies, so that she could clean him off, bond with him, and adopt him.  Since we were there for the kidding, we were able to try this out.  We covered him in goop, she cleaned him off, and it looks like she has adopted him.  I am no longer bottle-feeding him, and he is getting fat!  We were happy that that worked out.

Oh, and both of Claire's babies were doelings!

Claire's second doeling.

So, our final count is: 5 girls, 3 boys.  (Plus 2 girls that didn't make it.)  Not bad!