Wednesday, September 25, 2013

DIY No Sew Babywearing Poncho Coat

As the cooler Autumn weather approaches, I've been drooling over beautiful babywearing coats that, unfortunately, don't quite fit my budget. As I stumbled across some basic ponchos, I knew that I could probably make one myself. What I didn't know is just how easy it would be! This simple no-sew project is easy and inexpensive. In less than ten minutes and at a cost of less then $10, you can have your own warm and cozy wraparound poncho style babywearing coat! It took me longer to drive to the fabric store and pick out my fleece than it did to create the poncho! This would make a wonderful DIY maternity poncho too!

  • 60 inch Square-ish piece of fleece. 
  • Scissors
No, really. That's it. 

I purchased 1.75 yards of fleece on sale for $3.96 per yard, so my total cost was about $8. My fleece was 60" wide, so I just trimmed the length down to 60", leaving a perfect little scarf sized scrap for my almost 4 year old. If you are considerably petite, you may want to go with a slightly smaller square. I typically wear a size "Large" shirt, and the 60" square worked out just right for me. 

This project is very forgiving, so if your fleece isn't exactly square, or your cut isn't exactly straight, it's no problem!


  • Cut a slit from one corner in to the center of the square. I did this by folding my square diagonally to make a triangle and folding that in half again to make a smaller triangle. That left a triangle with one thicker fold on one side and two thinner folds on the other side.  I cut one of the thinner folds from the outer edge to the center. (See photo at's occurring to me that this is a pretty confusing explanation for a pretty simple step, so yeah, in whatever way makes sense to you, cut a straight slit from one corner of your square to the center.)
  • Lay the fleece out flat and cut a tear drop shape in the center, where the slit you cut ends. This will be
    the neck opening. It should extend about 6" beyond the center (I started the tear drop a few inches before the end of the slit) and be about 6" wide.
That's it! You're done with a very basic babywearing friendly poncho. This poncho will accommodate wearing your baby in front, on your back, or on your hip. It can be used with any type of carrier or wrap. 

Simply wrap the poncho around you and your baby! You can allow the tails to drape/hang in front of you, but my preference is to cross one side over the other and pull the tails around my back to tie them to keep it in place an keep out the drafts. This video from Babyette demonstrates how to use her poncho, which is similar in functionality to this DIY No Sew version! You could also add a button or use a clip to fasten it if you prefer not to wrap and tie. The possibilities for personalization are limited only by your imagination!

For more babywearing information, follow my Babywearing Pinterest Board, or check out my recent guest post on Tales of an Unlikely Mother for 10 Reasons to Babywear!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Simply Living September Blog Hop: Money Matters

To switch things up a bit this month, the Simply Living Blog Carnival cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, and Joella at Fine and Fair is running a blog hop! Link up all of your old, or new, posts about money. This may be a post in which you talk about how you keep purchases in check to live a more simple life in tune with your goals, about your budgeting skills, how you talk about money with your children, or more. If it deals with money and finances, we want to hear about it. Simply add your link to the handy linky tool below before October 15, 2013.

We want you to see your creativity and expression. To that end, you are welcome to add posts at your discretion with a few guidelines in mind. Please be respectful in your posts. Avoid excessive profanity and poor grammar or spelling. As the co-hosts of the carnival are all advocates of peaceful living and gentle parenting, we ask that you not post about non-gentle practices or violence toward others. 

Blog hops are a great way to generate blog traffic and build a supportive community. Your blog will receive links from many other blogs and you and your readers will have the opportunity to discover other blogs with similar goals in mind. Please join us as we embrace Simply Living through Simple Living! We hope you will consider joining us every month as we discuss ways we simplify our lives. Want to help host this blog bop on your own blog? Grab the code and share everyone's posts with your readers!

photo credit: jDevaun via photopin cc

You are Not Excused

Like many mothers in this age of abundant social media, I participate in a lot of dedicated parenting spaces on the internet. From facebook groups, to Livejournal communities, to blogs like this one, these spaces are filled with photos of all things parenting related. Last year, a photo project challenged mothers to 'Get in the Picture,' to document our existence as young mothers, our role in our families. To be brave in the face of magazine articles promising the secrets to losing the baby weight, or clothing designers promising that their jeans will hide our stretched and rounded tummies.

In my online social life, I see many photos of moms getting in the picture. I love them. I love seeing moms of all shapes and sizes, of all colors, of all walks of life, just being with their children in their day-to-day lives. All too often, though, those tender, happy, beautiful moments are marred with apologies from the mothers for the perceived flaws in the photos.

Here some examples I've seen in the last 24 hours, all of these captioning beautiful photos of mothers and children:

No make up, no hair style, no "bikini bod", no apologies.
"Excuse the fatty."

"Don't mind the mess."

"Sorry about my hair."

"Ignore my jelly belly!"

"No make up, sorry!"

"Ugh, don't look at me, look at the baby."

"Still working on those last 10 pounds. :( "

Even though we're getting in the picture and documenting our existence, we're still apologizing for it. We're apologizing for the ways that motherhood has changed our bodies. We're apologizing for spending more time playing with our kids than scrubbing our floors. We're apologizing for not having a full face of make up and perfectly coiffed hair at all times.

We're preaching body-positivity, we're calling out fat-shaming, we're drawing attention to the unrealistic expectations placed on mothers, and yet we're apologizing because neither we nor our homes look like we just stepped off the pages of fashion magazines.

I will not excuse the fatty.

I will not forgive the bare face and messy hair.

I will not ignore the mess.

Your body, your amazing body that brought forth and maybe also fed another human being, requires no exuse.

Your tired eyes and spit-up-on hair requires no apology.

The clutter on your shelves or crumbs on your counter need not be ignored.

Don't apologize for not being perfect in every picture. Celebrate that beautiful glow that radiates from your heart. Take pride in the happy, dazzling smile on your face. Enjoy knowing that even if you haven't showered in three days, your children think you're amazing.

This is motherhood. This is your life right now.

It is beautiful.

YOU are beautiful.

So get in the picture, stay in the picture, and stop apologizing for being there. You're right where you belong.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Dear Judgey McJudgerson

A while back, there was a super judgey "Dear Mom on the iPhone" meme that was going around. You know the one. If you're a mom, you probably felt guilty when you read it. Because, you know, how dare you not spend every single second of motherhood completely and joyfully consumed in your childrens' every move.

When it first made the rounds, there were a lot of awesome responses to it. (This one is my favorite.) I wanted to write one myself, but deferred to those who said what I would have wanted to, but wouldn't have said as well.

Well, it's popping up again, and it's bothering me even more now that I have not one, but two children that I'm supposed to feel guilty about glancing away from to pretend I have a social life for a sec. So here goes:

Am I excused for browsing recipes while nursing
my son if I totally baked them with my daughter later?

Dear Lady Judging Me At The Playground,

You seem to be reading a lot into the very tiny slice of my life that you see. You see me vacantly tapping on my phone, and are apparently filled with sadness for my children, whose lives you assume are slipping away without me noticing. (I wonder what your own kids are doing that you're missing while you sit in judgment of me?) You see my daughter twirling in the sunlight. You see my son smiling and cooing. You see me not noticing.

Would it be okay if I filled you in on some things you didn't see?

You didn't see this morning, when I greeted my waking daughter with a smile and a kiss. You didn't see when I painstakingly helped her pour her cereal and milk, then help her wipe up the spills. You didn't see me cut up her fruit. You didn't see me dance like a ballerina while doing so. You didn't see me smiling and baby talking to my son while I changed the nastiest diaper you could imagine. You didn't see me grit my teeth when he bit my breast, testing out the new teeth on the way, then sing a silly song about how we don't bite Mama.

You didn't see me do all that before I'd had even a drop of coffee.

You didn't see me patiently go through 5 outfits with my daughter before she settled on one she was satisfied with. You didn't see me carefully wrap my baby on my back to take my daughter outside to pick cherry tomatoes from our garden and giggle when they burst in our mouths. You didn't see me following her lead in a "princess dance" that involved some very specific maneuvers with a stick. (My neighbor did, though.)

You didn't see us go for a walk, stopping to pick up leaves, or watch squirrels, or name the colors of the flowers.

You didn't see the three of us, back inside our house, building towers with blocks, building tracks for trains, or rolling around on the floor laughing and tickling each other. You didn't see me skip my shower, again, in favor of a few more minutes of play time. You didn't see me sitting on the kitchen floor plucking grapes and slices of cheese out of my daughter's backpack after she accidentally dumped her lunch box in there, staying calm and reminding her that it's okay, accidents happen.

You didn't see all of that happen in the precious few hours I have in the morning before I have to get her to school, and him to the sitter, and myself to work.

You didn't see me drop my daughter off, leaving her crying in her teacher's arms, and bursting into tears myself when I turned the corner because I never want her to feel scared or alone. You didn't see me pepper my son with kisses when I left him at the sitter's house, or pump breast milk for him at my desk while frantically writing case notes between clients.

You didn't see any of that, did you? No.

You saw me updating my facebook status while my kids got some fresh air. Maybe I was uploading a photo I just took of them, to share with my family and friends. Maybe I was texting their father about what he should pick up from the grocery store. Maybe I just made a totally sweet play in Words With Friends that reminded me for a second that I'm clever sometimes. Or maybe I was just mindlessly scrolling through this app or that one, because maybe if I had to do one more princess dance or tolerate one more bitten nipple, I was going to lose my mind.

But hey, thanks for judging me. Thanks for making me feel guilty. Thanks for reminding me that I am not a perfect mother. (Are you?) Thanks for perpetuating the mommy wars. Thanks for not taking the opportunity to relate to the frustrations and monotony of motherhood. Thanks for missing the chance to lift another mother up. Thanks for not giving me the benefit of the doubt, and thanks for assuming that my children do not know how deeply and fiercely they are loved, because I dared take a moment to myself during their waking hours.

Maybe next time you see me at the playground, you'll say hello. Maybe you'll smile warmly. Maybe you'll ask if I live nearby, or where my daughter goes to school. Maybe you'll find out we have more in common than you realize. Maybe you'll discover that we're both just doing the best we can, and that the best we can is good enough.

Your Friend,

Mom on the Phone at the Playground

Saturday, September 7, 2013

NPN Green Back To School Guide&Giveaway Bash! ($440 US only 9/30 2Winners!)


Welcome to the Natural Parents Network Green Back To School Guide!

If you still need to complete your back to school shopping or find a back-to-school gift for a friend, the NPN Green Back To School Guide is full of awesome products and essentials for back to school experiences. But what’s even better, the NPN Green Back To School Guide has eco-friendly choices for almost any Back To School products you will need! In addition, the companies that have provided items for review and giveaway are almost exclusively made up of small businesses and Etsy shops.

Below you will find information on 9 awesome companies and reviews from 5 of our NPN Authors. These companies are giving away 21 products and gift certificates, for a total combined value of $441. There will be two Grand Prize Winners in this Giveaway: Giveaway Set One and Giveaway Set Two, worth $220.50 each. Each set will contain:
As you scroll through our Green Back To School Guide, we encourage you to click on the links for each of the reviews and read them in full. Our authors have crafted thoughtful posts on each participating company with pictures of and links to products that are simply perfect for our natural parenting families.

You can enter to win every giveaway by using the Rafflecopter system below. Please note that every review post has the same Rafflecopter script, but you may enter only one time, and at one site.
Even if you don’t win one of our fabulous prizes, please consider spending part of your Back To School budget at one of these small businesses. By supporting small businesses, you are helping families, boosting local economies, and supporting ethical practices of manufacturing, production and selling.
**Without further ado, here is the NPN Green Back To School Guide!**

This is a Joint Review and Giveaway of the Little Kid Backpack from Beatrix NY between Natural Parents Network and Fine and Fair.

About the Beatrix NY Little Kid Packpack

The Little Kid Backpack is designed for children ages two through five. Its sturdy construction is free of
PVC, BPA, Phalates, and Lead. The Nylon and Laminated Canvas surfaces are intended for easy cleaning, and the roomy interior has a smaller zippered pocket inside. The back panel and shoulder straps are padded for comfort. With a variety of cheerful embroidered characters, there is something for everyone!

Our Experience

Having picked out the dolce & panna print herself, Delilah couldn't wait for her new back pack to arrive. The anticipation of her new backpack was almost as exciting as the anticipation of starting preschool! When it arrived, she was beside herself with joy and loved the ice cream cone design embroidered on the front panel. I loved the high quality materials and construction. The Little Kid Backpack is a perfect fit for her at 3.5 years old, and since she's petite, will likely last her past age 5.

While the Backpack is smaller to enable wearing by younger students, it has plenty of room. We can fit her
little bento lunch box, a change of clothes, a pair of shoes, and a couple of books into it easily. The pocket on the side is perfect for easy access to her water bottle, and the zipper pull is designed to be easy to maneuver by small hands. She is very proud that she can zip and unzip her backpack by herself, as well as take it on and off without help.

The only drawback we found is that the smaller zipper pull on the inside pocket is difficult for Delilah to maneuver. Overall, we are very happy with it and impressed with the both the aesthetics and the functionality packed into a perfectly sized Little Kid Backpack!


You can purchase your own Little Kid Backpack at Beatrix NY for $42. Beatrix NY also offers a variety of cool and contemporary children's products including Big Kid Packpacks, Wheelie bags, Lunch boxes, iPad cases, and Cuddly Creatures.


For your own chance to win one of our two Green Back To School Prize sets worth over $220, each containing:
 Enter by leaving a comment and using our Rafflecopter system below. Mandatory Entry is specifying which set you would want if you win, all other entries are bonus entries. 

Disclosure: Our reviewer received a sample product for review purposes.
Amazon links are affiliate links.

We try to seek out only products we think you would find relevant and useful to your life as a natural parent.
If we don't like a product, we won't be recommending it to you.

See our full disclosure policy here. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, September 6, 2013

Off to School

Dear Delilah,

Tuesday was your first day at preschool. It was a day of mixed emotions for all of us! I think we were all a little nervous, a little excited, and a little unsure of what to expect! When we woke up that morning and started to make our way downstairs, you grabbed my hand and stopped me, and asked excitedly, "Can you take me down on our butts?" In that moment, it hit me just how much you've grown and changed, and just much of that growth and change has happened in a few short months.

See, these days, you master our steep, narrow stairs all by yourself, with only the railing to help you. It wasn't long ago that you refused to even attempt them, needing to be carried down instead. So recently, in fact, that it was just after your brother was born that 'taking you down our butts' became a solution to your inability to navigate the stairs yourself, and my inability to carry you while recovering from a surgical birth. So each morning, you'd climb onto my lap, and slowly, we'd make our way down, one step at a time, as I tried to distribute the effort between my legs and my arm, clinging to the railing much the same way you do now.

So on Tuesday, a morning when I was full of emotion about how quickly my baby girl is growing up, I happily plopped down on that top step, pulled you onto my lap, and snuggled and giggled with you the whole way down, one step at a time. I fought back tears (the first of many times that day) as I remembered back to how much more you relied on me a few months ago, reminiscing about you as my baby, but so proud of the independent, empathetic, funny, smart little girl you've grown into.

Our morning was calm and productive. We took a nice walk to the store to pick out your inside shoes to keep at school, we drew pictures, we played on the floor with your brother. We ate lunch, then you dressed yourself in your new outfit, pants on backwards on the first try. Grandma arrived to stay with Canon while we headed off to fetch your father from work to accompany us for that highly anticipated first drop off.

You've got a lot of words for your emotions now, so you were able to articulate that you were feeling nervous and shy. That you were excited for school, but wanted us to stay there too. We affirmed that those were all normal feelings to have, and reassured you that your classmates would be feeling some of those same things.

When we arrived at the school, you paused to say hi to some students who were playing outside. We made our way up toward your classroom, and you remembered where your cubby was and where to place the little stick with your name on it to indicate your attendance. You greeted your teachers and set to work with some playdough, and seemed to settle in just fine, until it was time for us to say Goodbye. You had a hard time with us leaving, but after we were gone, your teachers were able to help you calm down, and by the time we returned an hour later to pick you up, you were happy and proud to show us around your classroom.

Drop off on the second day was similarly difficult, and I shed a few tears myself after I turned the corner, leaving you crying in the arms of your teacher. You adjusted much more quickly that day and after just a couple of minutes, thoroughly enjoyed your time in the classroom. Yesterday, you were so excited about eating your lunch at school for the first time that you hardly even noticed I was leaving, and on your first full afternoon at school, had a great day with very few bumps! I arrived home from work to you presenting me with a necklace you'd made for me, something I will keep as a memento of this important transition in our lives.

The past few days, you've been much more snuggly and affectionate, in addition to being a bit more tired and cranky. You've always been quick to adapt to new situations and people, so your father and I have been caught off-guard and feeling ill-prepared to support you through this adjustment. As much as I wish things had gone smoother the first couple of days, I can't help but feel relieved that my baby girl still needs me to hold her, to comfort her, to encourage her, and, once in a while, to take her down the stairs on our butts.

I love you so much, and am so proud of how brave you've been, and how much you've learned in just a few short days at your new school.



Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: First Day

Delilah is officially a preschooler!

Each student at her Montessori Preschool brings a plant to care for throughout the year. We planted some offshoots from our Spider plant, and Delilah painted the pot:

First-day-of-school outfit, all ready to go the night before:

Dressed and ready:

Excited and a little nervous:

Showing off her new backpack:

Arriving at school:

Settling into the classroom and getting to work:

 *Stay tuned for a Back to School Giveaway bash, including my review for this Beatrix NY Backpack! :)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Simply Living Blog Carnival September Call for Submissions: Money Matters

Welcome to the Simply Living Blog Carnival cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair. We hope that you will join us on the third Tuesday of each month as we share posts about simple living in our lives. Submission deadline will be the second Tuesday of each month.

 Money Matters Everyone seems to have a different financial system or ways to simplify their finances. Do you have great budget? Do you save money? Are you a thrifty spender? Do you outsource some things in order to simplify your life? We want to hear what money matters are important to you!

To submit an article to the blog carnival, please e-mail your submission to mandy{at}livingpeacefullywithchildren{dot}com anddelilahfineandfair{at}gmail{dot}com, and fill out the webform by September 10. Please write a new, unpublished piece for the carnival. We will e-mail you with instructions before the carnival date. We ask that you publish your post on September 17.

We want you to use creativity and to express yourself as you see fit. To that end, you are welcome to post at your discretion with a few guidelines in mind. Please be respectful in your posts. Avoid excessive profanity and poor grammar or spelling. As the co-hosts of the carnival are all advocates of peaceful living and gentle parenting, we ask that you not post about non-gentle practices or violence toward others. While we will not be editing your articles, we do reserve the right to not add your post to the carnival if it is not on topic, is poorly written, or goes against the guidelines which have been set forth.

Blog carnivals are a great way to generate blog traffic and build a supportive community. Your blog will receive links from many other blogs and you and your readers will have the opportunity to discover other blogs with similar goals in mind. Please join us as we embrace Simply Living through Simple Living! We hope you will consider joining us every month as we discuss ways we simplify our lives.
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