Friday, June 27, 2008

would you use... mummy calling cards?

Olivia Brown Mommy Cards, $US35 for set of 50, Mommy Cards

I found these while searching for my birth announcements: mummy calling cards. Basically, they're business cards for mums with all your personal details on them to hand out to mother's groups, your kid's friend's mums etc to keep in contact and arrange playdates. I thought they were a cute idea, but do you think this is an "only in America" thing (sorry those reading from the States, we do tend to use that phrase a lot here for things we're a bit behind on!)? I think these ones in particular are rather swish and would feel rather stylish handing them over, but wondered if the person receiving it would think I so missed my career I had to make myself feel important in my mummy role too. Either way, it sure beats the 10-minute bag search for a pen and chocolate wrapper to write your phone number on... So what do you think? Is this something you'd stash in your wallet?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

"L" is for Layla

Layla's initial - customised by moi. You can see how here

How many kids rooms do you know of that don't have the child's name or initial featured somewhere in it? Not many, I'm guessing. It's a hugely popular trend that doesn't seem to be disappearing anytime soon. So, the trick is to try and do something a little different. So what's out there aside from wooden letters? If you want to create something yourself, you can simply customise a plain plywood letter like I did above (instructions here). Or if you'd rather someone did the hard work for you, here are a few ideas...

I love this! A gorgeous elephant wall decal with your child's name printed all over it. You get the choose the colours and it's also available in a giraffe shape. Elephant decal, $65 plus $20 for customised name, The Wall Sticker Company

Fabric-covered letters. You can get pretty versions from Freedom or try this eBay seller for this gorgeous paisley "W"

Get cursive - Empire Vintage's pretty font is priced $45 per letter and is available in white, red or black

Choose your fave fabric from 12 patterns and create your own word at Wallspace. Cost is $20 per letter

And if the wall just doesn't do it for you, go for these cute little blocks with letter decals, $8 per block, The Wall Sticker Company

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

you're invited to... an online baby shower

Invite nicked from Hey Bubbles

How's this for a cute idea! I discovered this on Leslie's blog (good luck for the last few weeks of your preg and birth, by the way! Let us know how you go with the birth skills below!) and had to share for all the new and expecting mums out there. Basically, you sign up, get assigned a "swap" partner and have to make a little handmade gift for your partner's new or soon-to-be-new addition. It's as simple as that. I'm signing up cause who doesn't like to receive gifts?! Just have to think about what on earth to make the little cherub I'll be gifting. I'm nowhere near as creative as some people out there so don't want to disappoint! Oh, the pressure! Check out the details and register here at Hey Bubbles.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

need-to-know labour skills

My labour kit: not much to it, but each an incredibly useful tool. Also essential but not pictured: a shower

I was very excited - and a little stunned - to experience a nice and easy labour with Layla. I won't get into the details now (I'll share my birth story soon to kick those off), but I will share these really simple tools I used to make it a really positive, not too painful and even rather pleasant. Yes, pleasant. I was laughing, talking and completely relaxed in-between contractions. And even sometimes during them.

This time around I didn't do any classes and while I told my midwife I had been practising my breathing, the only time I actually did it was when she asked me to show her. Oh and to stay alive... I did, however, read a book. Well part of a book (I didn't get to finish it). Birth Skills by Juju Sundin with Sarah Murdoch was great. A friend of mine had taken her class and I remember her talking about some of the skills she learnt and how much sense they made. I'm not going to give the whole book away, but I will tell you the main thing I learnt from it and what should be made common knowledge: distraction helps relieve the pain. All the breathing exercises in the world won't help if you're still focused on what you're feeling. So, here's what worked for me.

* Stress balls These guys became my best friends. As soon as I felt a contraction coming, they got banged together and I stared at them like a crazy person as they came into contact with each other. By concentrating so hard on what I was doing with those, the contraction seemed to come and go mighty quickly. If I stopped (which I did just to test if this theory was working), all my attention went to my stomach and the pain overwhelmed me.

* Banging my foot Another distraction. I did this while in bed where the contractions started (I was too lazy to get up and grab the balls). They were relatively mild, but again, half asleep I managed to detract my attention away from the pain. This tool became even more essential as the contractions got stronger - I banged my heel on the floor and the stress balls together in time.

* A sports bottle of water It's important to keep yourself hydrated during labour. I remember this being a problem last time. I was threatened with a drip if I didn't keep up my fluids. This time, my handy Tupperware bottle was basically glued to my hand (when the stress balls weren't being used) and cool, refreshing water was just a squeeze away. No fussy screw-top lids to worry about (seems silly, but honestly, the easier things are when you're in labour, the better).

* A hot water bottle My saviour during the last few weeks of pregnancy and still now. I had the worst back pain ever in the last few weeks and this was the only way to relieve it. It also helped having the heat applied to my lower stomach area during a contraction. And even better paired with a hot shower running on my back pain.

* A shower Water restrictions don't apply to pregnant women. I don't think this is technically a rule, but it should be, cause a hot shower in the middle of labour is a great pain reliever and even better way to relax you. I honestly think that's why Layla came so quickly. In-between contractions I was completely normal. I just swayed under the water and chilled out, enjoying the warmth and relaxing. I was in the shower for about 10 minutes before I felt the urge to push.

* My Birth Skills book This didn't make it out of my bag, but the three big messages I got out of it certainly stayed with me the whole time. They were:
1. Keep yourself distracted: march around, stare intently at a picture, bang stress balls together, say "ahhh" really loudly, count or chant some keywords out loud - anything to take your thoughts off the contractions.
2. Externalise your breath during contractions: Deep breaths in, loud breaths out. No use trying to be quiet in labour - leave that to the Scientologists. Expelling your breath with a huge big "ahhh" sound seems to take the pain away.
3. Internalise your breath during pushing: Basically, when it comes to pushing, instead of blowing the breath out with a big ahh, you need to push it down deep into your body to push the baby out. You need to make your insides work the same way as a coffee plunger - strong internal pushes to gently move the baby out into the world.

And that's it! No CDs, no candles, no yoga balls, no aromatherapy and no massages. These might work for some, but this is what I found worked for me. But while we're sharing, what worked for you?

Monday, June 23, 2008

birth announcement time...

Cute little birds, and Zak would get a mention! From Tiny Prints

I was debating about whether or not to make these myself again like I did with Zak, or take the so-called easy route and just purchase them. I say so-called easy because I have spent a few days looking online at gorgeous announcements and have discovered sooo many pretty ones I can't choose! I didn't even get past page 15 on the Etsy search site... Here are a few of my faves - I'm considering it my short list because I just don't have time to look anymore!! I would love to DIY, but I remember how long it took last time and with two babies, it could be next year before people receive them!

I love the colours in this one - not too pink! From Tiny Prints

Cute blossoms and subtle colouring. From Etsy seller Tiny Tot Greetings

A little bright - I actually love their more subtle blue and chocolate version - but the pattern, font and layout is divine. From Etsy seller Ink Obsession

So, what's your fave? And while I won't be searching myself anymore, I certainly won't ignore anyone's links to fab sites! So if you used someone great or know of a great online stationery store that sells cool announcements, please point me in the right direction. I'll post the end result once I decide and get them!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

nursery inspiration: dwellstudio

DwellStudio Garden Print. How cute is the little bird silhouette? Stuck on the wall, it looks like it's perched on the cot! This is basic DIY - cut out the shape in pretty paper and glue to the wall!

By the looks of my blog statistics on renovate + decorate, a heap of you are Googling nursery ideas and inspiration. And a quick flick through popular baby sites like Essential Baby and Bub Hub has threads dedicated to the topic with members posting their own handiwork. Sooo, I'm going to do my best to make it a regular feature here with inspiring rooms, decor ideas and nursery tours of REAL little people's cool pads (not just magazine stylists' creative ideas). To kick it off, I thought I'd share these pics from one of my fave labels - DwellStudio. If the cot sets didn't set me back $290 each time, I'd invest in every one of them cause they're so cool. I also love their simple, stylish nurseries. I know these are styled to an inch of their lives and hardly practical in real rooms, but I do think there are a couple of ideas to steal from each of them!

DwellStudio Choc Spot Print. I love the garland hanging in place of a mobile. Not sure if it's made from paper or fabric, but I think it'd be something you could easily make yourself with either.

DwellStudio Carousel print. Another garland, but I'm sure I've seen this before - anyone recognise it?

DwellStudio Transportation print. Love how the theme carries through on the wall art and ride-on. And an Eames rocker just screams "cool". All pics above from Baby's Got Style

DwellStudio Cowboy and Cowgirl print. Pic from Luxury Labels

This combined boy/girl room I love - I'm going to do something kinda similar when my son and daughter move in together. I have so far decorated my son's room three times (and he's only 19 months old!), so another attempt in a few months won't faze me at all! I'm looking forward to it and have already started a bit of a moodboard. I'll show you my plans soon...

Friday, June 20, 2008

lovely little layla

Just a few hours old

Proud parent moment: my daughter, Layla, born last Wednesday. So far she's settled in beautifully - has slept up to six hours at night and appears to be able to sleep through anything (ie, Zak slapping her on the head, screaming and laughing in her ear and playing footy/cricket/anything ball-related in front of her cradle). I'm hoping this all continues as I've done the hard yards with a non-sleeper - Zak cat-napped for half an hour only - but she showed signs of following in her brother's footsteps today, and was awake for the best part of five hours. Fingers crossed it was a one-off!!

As for Zak, I was worried he'd not take to her very well, but seems happy enough - just a bit whingy and had a very large screaming match this evening. I'm thinking the past week or so has caught up with him - late nights, me not at home, visitor after visitor, overstimulation, new person in the house. Did anyone else have this problem? How did you cope?

so-simple baby gift

Boy + girl versions

It's been a busy birthing month this one - a good friend of mine gave birth to her daughter on my due date, June 5 (how jealous I was!), my colleague, Nat, gave birth to her son on Monday, I popped out Layla last Wednesday and another friend from my mother's group is being induced next week. So it's gifts galore at the moment - giving and receiving. I love giving gifts - it gives me great pleasure rounding up a few little items and packaging them nicely. I also love a personal touch - something handmade whether it's a card, creative wrapping or the gift itself. This latest baby boom had me making this simple little singlets.

And I can't forget my little Layla - she gets an elephant

It cost virtually nothing (the singlet itself was a whole $3), took about an hour to do and while it might not last the distance, the baby will probably outgrow it first!! And it's so simple, anyone can do it. Just cut out a shape - a heart, a star, an animal, the initial of the child's first name - pin to the front of the singlet, shirt or onesie, and stitch around the silhouette a few millimetres from the edge.

A pretty pink newborn parcel

I paired my little singlet with a wooden letter of bub's initial and packaged it in a cute little pink suitcase from Baby's Got Style which is great for storage or as baby's first bag (a friend of mine used her little red case as a nappy bag for the first few months!)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

has your baby got style?

Oobi Baby's adorable baby. Pic by Sheena Cooke, courtesy Baby's Got Style

I'd like to think mine do - but then this is basically saying that I think my own style is fabulous seeing as I'm the one buying for and dressing them. And I wouldn't go that far... But I do think they're adorable so I might get all stage mum-like and enter Zak into the Baby's Got Style kids casting call for their summer advertising campaign. It's as simple as emailing a photograph. Head here to find out more:
And just in case you think your bub needs a bit of help in the fashion department, you can cheat their way to style by entering the comp to win a photoshoot with renowned children's photographer Sheena Cooke who shot the adorable picture above. The prize is worth $1000 and your child will get to wear cool clothes on loan from Baby's Got Style. All you have to do is shop at their online store this month. Details on the homepage. Good luck!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Isn't she sweet? A baby rattle with a difference - soft fabric (so no accidental bumps to the head) and tinkling bells inside. Lil Sock Baby Rattle, $US16, Chickabiddybaby

Welcome to my new blog! Knowing how obsessed I became with all things 'baby' after giving birth to my son Zak, 19 months ago, I had no doubt it'd be the same the second time around - which happened to be last Wednesday! While pregnant with my daughter Layla, I tried my hardest to refrain from posting too frequently about baby things on my blog, renovate + decorate. But some things slipped by! So, in an attempt to avoid boring those not interested in birth stories, cool gifts, nursery ideas, labour-pain relief and settling techniques, I figured I'd start a new blog dedicated to babies and pregnancy. I've been thinking about doing this for quite a while, but never found the time. Not sure how I'll manage two blogs with a newborn in the house and a very excitable toddler, but I'll give it a go! Let's think of this one as a mini online mag - my dream job would be to edit a kids magazine with a bit of an emphasis on interiors (real living for babies?!), so until that happens, this is my way of doing it! I'm no expert, but I think the best advice and info comes from us real mums anyway - I don't know how I would have survived pregnancy without Essential Baby! So please pop by regularly and let me know what you'd like to see on here...
Belinda x