Baby Christmas Outfit

I spotted this adorable Christmas outfit at a children's boutique here in town. The problem was that it was $37. Some people would say that's not a bad deal, but I'll tell you what, for something she's only going to wear a few times all within a few weeks there was no way I was paying that! So I made my own!

This was almost no-sew and the part that we sewed was hand-sewn, so very easy! My Mom helped me a ton--she's one of the craftiest (in a good way) people I know. She gave me the bravery I needed to tackle this project (I've had all the supplies since October)--hopefully this will give you the bravery you need!
I got all my supplies at Hobby Lobby. First, Mom and I traced three different glasses onto the back of my fabric. Then we cut the circles "ornaments" out and arranged them roughly on the onesie.

Then we ironed the ornaments onto some Heat and Bond. A word about Heat and Bond: read the instructions carefully! Follow them all. It is super sticky, so if you have an old/spare iron I would recommend dedicating it as a "craft iron". IT WAS MESSY. I had to clean the iron in between steps--that messy.

Then we measured and cut the lengths of Ric-rack for ornament hangers. Then we ironed the Heat and Bond onto the Ric-rack. It took some patience to cut the Ric-rack out, but really wasn't that time consuming.

The only thing left to do after that was arrange it all on the onesie and iron it all on. It was a little frustrating to get the Ric-rack to stick, but with some time and pressure, it ended up working nicely.

Next we needed to make the tutu. The tutu on the inspiration piece is attached directly to the outfit, but the inspiration piece is also a t-shirt and not a onesie. The onesie didn't make attaching the tulle directly to the outfit an easily attainable goal, especially since neither of us had ever made a tutu. So we punted, so to speak. I had an elastic headband, so we cut it down to fit Nora's waist and sewed it back together. This was the only sewing in the entire project! As I said before, we hand-sewed it. The needle on my sewing machine didn't like the rubber in the headband, and hand-sewing worked.

We just stuck the now-waistband around a coffee can and cut the tulle into strips. We folded the strips in half and looped them around the waistband and back through themselves. We did 3 strips of red followed by 3 strips of green all the way around the waistband. It ended up full and fluffy and sooo cute! I used a wrapping paper cutter made by Scotch to cut the strips. It was much faster than scissors. I didn't measure anything at all on this part, just eyeballed the first one and then measured the rest off that first strip. We got 3 strips from the width of our tulle.

...and here's Nora Rose in her super cute new outfit! She already wore it for Christmas with my family and I can't wait to put it on her for Christmas morning next week! The whole project only took a few hours, so it's definitely something you could get done before the big day arrives!


Here's one to tuck in your pocket for next year.

Well, it's December 4th, I figured it was about time to post some pumpkins! We got out to pick pumpkins this year about a week before Halloween, but then I did NOT get around to carving them. I had a really great idea for Nora's first pumpkin, too, but it just didn't happen. Check out my inspiration for the might-have-been pumpkin as well as what we ended up with on Young House Love.

Well, here are some Thanksgiving pumpkins. I did this project about a week before Thanksgiving, so the pumpkins had been sitting out on our front steps for almost a month, so I spread out a garbage bag and brought them into the living room. I was feeling inclined to do this project in front of the TV, apparently, and shunned the table. Miss Zoe decided needed to check these things out and posed for a photo op.

Then I wiped those babies off. I love our house, but man, what I don't love it the fact that living on a corner=tons of street dirt on our front porch. Check out how gross my rag was when I finished!

Then I started taping off our letters with blue painter's tape. I decided on N for Nora, G for Griepenstroh, and then Zach and I shared the third with J+Z.

I had a little helper for this part. She had been eating while I taped, but ditched the bottle for something that looked far more interesting. Maybe she'll turn out to be crafty, too.

After being satisfied with my taping job, I started painting. I just used some yellow and light brown craft paint and my fingers to cover the area around and up to the tape with paint.

While the paint was still wet, I peeled the painter's tape off. From what I understand, if you wait for the paint to dry before peeling off the tape you run the risk of the paint peeling and then you don't get clean lines. My lines weren't really clean anyway, but that was because instead of cutting the tape, I went for more an unfinished look and just tore my tape.

I tried some silver paint on the J+Z pumpkin, but didn't like how it turned out, so after a few minutes of drying, I went back through and covered most of it up with the brown and yellow.

And here they are on our porch!

Not bad if I do say so myself! Check out all those leaves--another hazard of living on the corner, they all blow into our front yard (along with anything anyone throws out the window of their car within a 3 block radius). But the leaves were nice for a fall photo op, so there they stayed!


Christmas Coupons

Remember how when you were a little kid you made coupons for your Mom and Dad? Things like free hugs and kisses when you're small, putting away the dishes and cleaning your room without complaining when you're a tad bigger are a few of the staples. Well, what about coupons for friends and family now that you're a little bigger?

I was thinking the other day about how I'd like Hobby Lobby or JoAnn Fabrics gift cards for Christmas, but then I kind of went back on that because I'd probably whittle them away with this and that and then when I had a purchase I really could have used it for, it would be gone. This is when the coupon idea hit me.

Now, you'd only want to do this with someone with whom you are very close. It would probably be awkward and/or never get used if you tried it with someone less family-like. I was thinking of my Mom or MIL. But here's the idea:

You make coupons for specific things: one free pattern, 1/2 off fabric purchase, free notions for one project, etc. and give them in a little booklet. Then, when gift recipient needs those things, either you get to shop together and split the cost, or they can just give you the receipt later (shopping sounds more fun).

This would also be great if your best friend showed an interest in something new that she wanted to learn. It would help hold her to learning that new thing if your coupons were specific. If my bestie wanted to learn to bake, I could give her a booklet with coupons for things like a free class at a local baking store, free ingredients for her first batch of cookies and one free supply item/accessory for a baking project (you know, to use for cookie cutters or cake pan/mold, etc).

I think it would be a great gift geared for best friends, older or adult children, and parents!


What a Great Weekend!

I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving! We had a wonderful long weekend. My parents and neice came into town and stayed with us, we had a full house on Thanksgiving and Mom and I made Nora's Christmas outfit (it is SO CUTE!). I'll be hitting you with several posts in the next several days, so watch out!

We're in teething H-E-double-hockey-sticks around here. NR is working on her right front tooth and it is being a beast. She has slept through the night since she was about 8 weeks old (please don't stone me...), but has gotten up at least once for 4 nights in a row. Bleck. Seems like all my friends with little ones about NR's age are going through the same thing, so at least we can suffer together.

We are super blessed to have several friends both in "real life" and "cyber life" who have kids about the same age as Nora. One friend from work has a daughter 6 months older than her, one couple has twins 12 weeks older than NR, there are several children at church around her age and two couples in our small group have babies a few months behind Nora. And those are all "real life" friends, not even counting people I keep in contact with through facebook!

I remember being surrounded by very close friends while growing up--from birth all the way through high school. I have two friends who I literally have known since birth. I have no memory before knowing them. There were four of us who were inseparable all through growing up--we even drove to Florida together the summer after we graduated! Even now that we're scattered all over (no two of us live in the same town anymore), they are still the friends I miss, still the friends I know I can tell my secrets to. I pray that Nora knows that same kind of friendship as she grows up and that she has the support system that I experienced.

What kind of things do you want for your kids that you had growing up?


Thanksgiving Plans?

It's two days before Thanksgiving. Do you know where your co-workers are? Today it's likely they're sitting next to you, behind, around, in the next office, etc. But where will they be on Thursday? Will they be stuffing their faces with turkey and pumpkin pie with their families, or will they be sitting alone in their home or apartment? Sure there are lots of festivities you can partake in from home alone: watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, the dog show (does a dog show come on immediately after the parade for everyone?), football, Christmas movies and, of course, Black Friday commercials. But those "Thanksgiving Things" just aren't as festive when you're alone.

This Thanksgiving, talk to your coworkers, friends, neighbors, and church family about what their plans for Thursday are. If you have an extra space at your table, set it for someone who needs a family. Someone you see every day could be suffering and lonely without you ever knowing. Ask. Do it today! I guarantee you'll be blessed for it!


Parenting Poll

So Mommies of the internet, I have a question for you.

I've been seeing a lot of hub-bub about parenting lately online as far as making the best decisions for your kids, how you should teach them this-or-that, what you should-or-shouldn't do, etc. Usually I make a habit of reading blogs and articles by people who understand that there are many methods of parenting and many ways of doing things with and for your kids. However, recently I've been seeing a lot of somewhat vindicitive articles popping up in mainstream news and across the blogosphere that assert that it's their way or you're a bad parent! Crazy!

So here is my question: How much of parenting do you feel is intuitive vs. learned? How often do you think you would already make the right choice for your child without a book, blog, wikipedia, your parents or your pediatrician weighing in?

I feel like it would be pretty high on the intuitive side. Maybe 85/15 or 90/10.

If you're feeling ambitious, how do you gauge what's "right"? Do you go by AAP guidelines? Or is there another pillar of "right" that you navigate with? Am I a bad parent for letting her chew leaves to get some cute pictures, haha? (I really didn't let her actually eat them!)


Baby Update and Zach's Big Feat

It is November 15th. November 15th! What? Where has this year gone?

We've been busy around our house with baby things. NR will be 8 months old a week from today (again, what?!). She has become quite the proficient Army crawler. She scoots herself all over the floor using her hands and elbows, belly on the ground, mostly dragging her legs. She is giving the dog a run for his money!

She has had two bottom front teeth since September 7th. Sunday, November 13th, her top front left tooth broke through. Yesterday, her top right lateral incisor (the one next to the front teeth) broke through. That right front tooth on the top is not far behind, either. She's going to be eating steak before we know what happens!

She has also learned to pull up on her bed rail. Both the army crawl and the pulling up were pretty close to overnight feats. She was pulling really hard on things, and then one day she was able to stand up. With the crawling, I literally had just laughed about how she would lay on her belly and flail in "superman" position and think she was going to crawl and the next day she was scooting all over the place!

It has been so fun to watch her grow and change and learn. I think she is so smart and definitely funny! She has a delightful personality--loves people, doesn't know a stranger, always has a smile for you, loves kisses and peek-a-boo, loves animals and has a little sass about her, too!

Zach fixed our van over the weekend! It wasn't overly broken...at least to start. Several weeks ago, he changed our brake pads. Our friend Sid showed him how to do the front and my Dad showed him the back. Well, since then there has been a thump...or a knock...some kind of sound that I'm not sure how to describe going on when we would brake. Dad said it could be something with the caliper and it just needed to settle in and would stop when it did.

Well, instead of better, it got worse and was knocking from 0mph to about 30mph and then it would stop. Then, of course, it would knock again as we slowed. Zach went to take the tire off and look at the brakes again and see if he could tell what was making the noise and one of the lugs stuck. When he gave it a little more elbow grease--and weight--to get it loose, the bolt broke off! So the van became undrivable and had a new thing that needed fixed.

Well, after having our friend Sean come by and help for a while (to no avail--we didn't have the tool they needed to finish the fix) and then being rescued tool-wise by our friend Sid (he's the man!), Zach was able to replace the bolt, adjust the brake, but the tire back on and we drove on it without the wheel falling off or anything! I am so proud of him! If you don't know us personally or don't know us well, you should know this is a HUGE feat for Zach because apart from changing oil and jumping a battery, he really knew nothing about cars until the past few weeks!


Flower Hair Clip and the cutest Kitty I've Ever Seen

This week I made an amazing, season-defying, simple, *almost* no-sew flower hair clip for NR. Do you like all those adjectives? I do.

My unbelievably talented cousin, Nici, had a couple of adorable hair clips made of felt when she took NR’s pictures at about 5 weeks and I fell in love with them. So, the last time I was in Hobby Lobby I picked up some felt. The deal was 4 for $1, so I picked up white, black, orange and yellow. I also picked up a bag of metal hair clips. They’re the same ones every hair bow and do-dad is attached to. They were somewhere in the 3-4 dollar range for something like 20 of them. Not bad. I had flowers on my mind, but as I was checking out, the cashier said something like, “making Halloween projects, I see” and suddenly my mind was filled with jack-o-lanterns and candy corn. I didn’t make any of those for Halloween this year, but did end up making something else Halloween-y…more on that at the bottom of the post.

First, I took a plain piece of paper and sketched out a flower, then cut it out and traced it onto the yellow felt. I used a plain pencil, but chalk would have worked a lot better, I just didn’t have any on hand. I tried using pinking shears to cut it out, but it didn’t look right, so I went to straight scissors. The petals ended up just a little lopsided, but I figured since this was my maiden voyage into the waters of felt flowers, it would be ok. Then I traced another flower onto the orange felt and cut it out.
The yellow flower turned out smaller than the orange because I had to cut it down after the pinking shears didn’t work. So I hot glued the yellow on top of the orange and placed a green button in the center. (I got 100 assorted buttons for $5 at hobby lobby) Then I just sewed the button on through both layers of felt. I made sure to sew the button on REALLY WELL because NR inevitably pulls headbands off in the car and chews on them and I didn’t want her choking on the button. As a matter of fact, I usually take her headband off before putting her in the car seat to prevent such gnawing.

Then I cut out a small rectangle of white felt and glued the clip to the felt, then the felt to the flower. It looked OK, but wasn’t really necessary.

Finally, I decided that it needed a leaf. I pulled out some green rickrack that I’d bought for NR’s Christmas outfit and cut off a piece. After struggling for a few minutes to figure out how to make it look like a leaf, I took it in to my husband and asked him what he thought and in 2 seconds flat he’d folded it to look like a leaf. Sickening, but I’m glad I have him, because I’d still be standing there trying to figure out how to make that rickrack look leaf-ish without him. I glued the little leaf to the back and put a small square of white over the edges so they won’t ravel or scratch at NR’s head.
It doesn’t look fabulous, but that part is against her head or the headband, so it’s fine for now and I’ll think ahead a little better next time.
Voila! My flower hair clip is finished! It defies seasons because the colors look either summery or autumn-y depending on the outfit you match it with.
Here’s NR on her 1st Halloween wearing the other thing I made with my felt—two little kitty ears!


Check me out on Playdate Crashers!

I got to do a guest review on Playdate Crashers today! Thanks, Jamie and Krista, for the chance to review the LeBibble on the site! (BTW, the more I use it, the more I like it...)

If you want to be a mom, are a mom, or mom of multiples, this site is for you! Check out their product reviews, podcast (makes me laugh out loud every episode!), and blog just to start! There's tons of great stuff to find on Playdate Crashers. Their tag line is "Where Real Moms Meet", so if that's you, you're a playdate crasher.

The Playdate Crashers

Life's a playdate. Crash it.



Wow! Haven't been here in quite some time! It's been such a busy...well, month! I'll hopefully get some more detailed posts on here later, but these are the things we've been up to lately:

  • I turned 27 and one of my Nieces turned 9 on the same day--My parents came to visit bringing her and her sister along for some family fun

  • Zach turned the big 3-0, so we had a little shin-dig

  • We made a trip to Indy to see some of our favorite bands in concert

  • Hit Nashville, IN on the way back home for some small-town fall shopping

  • NR had her first 2 overnights away from us

  • Our church partnered with two other westside (yes, in Evansville that is one word) churches for the first ever westside Trunk-or-Treat

  • I proposed a huge makeover for our church Nursery to the board (hoping to hear back with approval on that soon...)

Whew! And those are just the highlights! What happened for you in the merry month of October?


Birthday Shout Out!

This post is a simple shout out: Happy Birthday to my loving, wonderful, amazing husband, Zach! This is not just any birthday, though, mind you. It is his 30th birthday! Unlike 29, this birthday only happens once (maybe that only applies to women...) so I wanted to give you a little run down about all the things that makes my Griep special!

In no particular order:

  1. He is my best friend. When we met in college we were part of a group of close friends that we affectionately called "The Fantastic 5". I had the privilege of sharing life with these other 4 individuals and finding the man of my dreams in the midst of it. I can remember nights sitting up in the Chapel at school attempting to study (we had the same major), but mostly talking a lot. This is when he went from being my friend, to my best friend, to the man I love.

  2. He is a great husband. He still picks me up when I'm down, is full of compliments, is helpful around the house (Really. I am spoiled). He works hard to be the leader and head of our household. He deals with me when I'm moody, hard to reign-in, mouthy and mad. He's got a way that about him that I just can't stay mad at.

  3. He is committed to God first. Yes, it's OK with me to be second to God. I guess I can take that J Zach has been the single most influential person in my adult life in my walk with God. He is always looking to be in God's Will no matter if it's uncomfortable or scary. He wants what God wants all the time. That's hard to come by.

  4. He is a fantastic Daddy. Our girl is going to be spoiled. He loves her so much and she just adores him back. He sings to her, plays with her, takes her everywhere with him, stays at home with her. She is his little pal and it's so cute!

So those are just a few reasons I love my hubby on this, the day of his 30th birthday! What makes your hubby special? Did you/are you feeling stress about turning the big 3-0? If Zach is, he hasn't really let on!


Looking for a Laugh?

This is the funniest blog I have ever read! Please go check it out. I literally sit at my desk on my lunch laughing out loud when I read it. It's that good. It's called "Parenting. Illustrated with Crappy Pictures". I think of my sister every time I go to this site. She could be the author (not saying she can't draw...she's quite the artist, actually). So, Jodi, make sure you check it out!


Losing the Baby Weight tip: Pants (ones that fit!)

I've been trying to lose weight for the past few months, needing to knock off the last 10 (troublesome, stubborn) pounds of baby weight and would like to drop a few more beyond that.

I have been working pretty hard at it, but it's slow going, so in the meantime I've been wearing a lot of dresses and elastic waist skirts to get by until my regular pants fit again. The problem is that the weather is starting to change here in southern Indiana and my breezy, elastic-y wardrobe keeps me just a little too cool most days. So I started trying out some of my old pants. I could wear them, but they were not flattering and most certainly not comfortable!

I don't know about you, but being squeezed to death, stuffed like a sausage in too-tight pants all day DOES NOT make me motivated to work out or eat right. When I'm feeling really fat, I actually have less motivation and feel a little hopeless about the situation.

So I mentioned at my small group a couple weeks ago to keep an eye out for size "x" pants because I don't want to spend money on pants that I'm hopefully not going to be able to wear in a few months. My dear friend Katie came through for me! She had just gotten rid of a bunch of clothes in my size, but a friend of hers had lost a significant amount of weight recently and was getting rid of hers! She brought me a whole box of free, new-to-me clothes! Thankfully, a lot of them were work attire, also, which was exactly what I needed!

Long story short, ladies, if you're in the middle of your journey, don't hesitate to ask for help! Send out a shout out for what you need via social media, church, small group, work, family, friends...wherever you are around people! This way you won't spend a fortune and then feel guilty for only being able to wear the clothes for a month or two. You also get the great benefit of the motivation that comes along with feeling like you look good!


Drying Dishes

So my Mom calls me the other day (I know when you use the word “my” before “Mom” the word is no longer a proper noun and shouldn’t be capitalized, but I just can’t bear not to capitalize “Mom”. She reads, after all!) and has a wonderful (and hilarious) suggestion. If my dryer wasn’t in the basement, I’d be all over this. She and I are in a similar kitchen predicament: no dishwasher. She tells me a very sad tale in which she does ALLLLLLL the dishes from the past couple days by hand and no sooner does she finish them than my Dad (same grammar lesson…) comes in with ALLLLLLLL his plastic ware from his lunches the past week.

I would have cried.

But my Mom, being much less of a weenie than me, washed all the plastic ware. Her least favorite part of the process is drying all those little nooks and crannies under the lip and the creases in the lids. That’s everyone’s least favorite part, right? And really, who has the counter space to spare to air dry that stuff? Not me. And not my Mom.

This is where the genius idea came in. Mom’s laundry area is just a few steps from her kitchen sink (in the next room, on the porch). So she gathered up all her wet plastic ware, walked to the dryer and tossed ‘em in! I laughed at this point and asked if it all promptly melted. She said no! She put the plastic ware in the dryer on high heat for about 5 minutes and it call came out perfectly dried, no melting to be seen (even the cheap stuff and the recycled cottage cheese containers, etc)! I was amazed!

So if you have the luxury of your dryer being close to you kitchen sink…go for it! Mom even said it was quieter than when you have a pair of bibs (where the metal button catches clank all around) and definitely quieter than a pair of shoes.

Hope this gave you a laugh…it’s funnier every time I think about it…and maybe some inspiration!


DTR, blog style

I've been working on a few things for on here over the weekend, but nothing got completed. I've got photos picked for a new feature I'm calling "one-tank wonders" and some photos chosen for a "watch me grow" post in honor of NR's 6 month "birthday". I've also done some work on a DIY of some under-sink storage. So, things really are coming...eventually.

I am a faithful reader of the blog Young House Love. They had their "blogiversary week" last week and I read some of their blog tips. One of them talked about not making your blog be something it's not. There's a big difference between Young House Love and I, because I'm not doing this as a means of income (let alone my sole means of income), but their advice rang true: people can read falsity in a blog just as easily as they can in real life.

Now, this is certainly not to say that I have shared anything false with you all up to this point! But I have needed the advice so I could have a much needed DTR (defining the relationship) talk with getagriep.

I have been trying really hard to decide what I want my blog to be like over the past couple months and have failed miserably. Do I want it to be about parenting? About DIY? About my life? Travel? Food? But what I realized is that it doesn't have to be about one neat, tidy, little thing! It can be about ALL of those things and still be great!

So, no, every post doesn't have to have pictures and instructions; doesn't have to seem well put together...it just has to be me. Us. It just needs to be our dorky, happy, crazy life. And I'm happy with that. So look out! There will probably be more posts from here on out, and who knows what the topics will be, but you can be sure it'll be all Griep!


Weekend Craftiness: Hairbow Hanger

We have a little girl, so we have hairbows. It’s kind of like “I think, therefore I am,” as in, “I am a baby girl, therefore I have hairbows,” or some such. Hairbows used to live in a little box in one of her drawers, but as the bow collection has grown and the clothes have needed more space that system was not working anymore. I saw these hangers in stores, but wasn’t about to pay what they wanted for something I knew I could make myself. Then I found a picture on Pinterest here and got inspired. It was so quick and easy, I wanted to share it with you!

First, I gathered up my supplies. I had picked up a 5” pink, glittery foam “N” at Hobby Lobby a few weeks back for this project for $1.49. As I was cleaning up our little bedroom I came across my box of tissue paper (so I could make some tissue pompoms like I saw on Pinterest here) and on the top I had tossed some zebra striped ribbon from the diaper cake one of our Church Chicks made for my baby shower. It was perfect. Then, I busted out the ‘ol glue gun. How long has it been since I was crafty like this? Well, the glue gun was under my bed with stuff from a young adult retreat I worked in January. Ahem. I got that little guy fired up and got busy.

It was as simple as putting a little glue on the back of the foam “N” and attaching the ribbon. By a little glue, I do mean a little because it is a foam letter, after all, and doesn’t stand up to the hot glue all that well. “N” was a tricky letter because it doesn’t have a nice chunky spot on the bottom middle to attach the ribbon to (like the letter S or C or B or E…you get the idea). Since I would be attaching to the slanty, middle bar on the “N”, I made sure one edge of my ribbon was attached directly to the letter, leaving a little triangle sticking up over the middle slant. Then I just folded the triangle over and tacked it down. You could also just trim the excess off. I’m not sure why I didn’t think of that till just now.

The bottom of my ribbon was already “finished”—it was folded over and stuck with some double-sided tape from it’s original job as a diaper cake decoration. I would recommend this just for a cleaner look. At the very least I would singe the bottom with a lighter to avoid it coming unraveled (as long as it’s not ribbon that’ll go up in flames immediately—grosgrain works well to singe).

My letter had four little sticky pads on the back, so I just peeled, eyeballed where I wanted it on NR’s closet door and stuck!

Then we clipped the ribbons on—I told you it was easy! My ribbon was really wrinkled looking, but it was wire ribbon, so a lot of that wrinkliness went away with the weight of the bows.

I chose to use a shorter ribbon than the ones you see in stores simply because we don’t have a million bows and I can see NR ripping it off the closet door if it was in her reach. If we aquire more bows than the ribbon can hold, I’ll just pull it off and attach a new ribbon. Since we didn’t know whether we were having a boy or girl till NR got here, this is one of the few truly girly items in her room. I’m looking forward to “girling it up” more as she grows, but for now this makes me smile!

I'm linking up with dutchbeingme's pinterest challenge!


Confessions of a Bottle Feeding Mom

We hear a lot about how breast feeding is best for babies. One of the hospitals in town is running an ad campaign with slogans on billboards and bus benches such as “Breast is best” and “Every baby deserves the best. Every baby deserves breast milk”. I want to be a voice for the bottle feeding Moms out there. Here’s my story about the very difficult choice not to breast feed my daughter.

After NR was born, I began breast feeding. She took a long time to actually nurse for only 5 minutes the whole time we were in the hospital. With her being my first child, I didn’t know that she should be nursing longer and more efficiently in such a short time. We only had one opportunity to meet with a lactation nurse and by the day we left she was barely nursing.

The day we got home, we struggled through the day and that first night, with her failing to latch and nurse enough to speak of. She went 18 hours without nursing and without wetting a diaper. I remember calling the lactation office so hysterical that I could barely even speak to her. She instructed me to immediately make a bottle and give it to her. Thankfully, they had sent some instant formula home with us from the hospital. After getting her some nutrition and a wet diaper, we went to rent a breast pump and made an appointment with the lactation nurse. She had me attempting to nurse NR as well as pump to try to keep my milk supply up.

When we attempted to nurse, NR was the “nip and nap” type. She would eat a few minutes and then nap a while. She usually followed this pattern for 40 minutes while latching and unlatching about 100 times (I’m not exaggerating) before becoming frustrated enough to melt down. I also had to pump and she was taking the expressed breast milk as well as supplementing with formula when necessary. The whole process took nearly an hour and a half. I was repeating every 2 hours. That’s right. I had a half hour between cycles. This means that in those 30 minutes I slept, ate, or played with NR. Pretty much the only time I got to spend with NR was while we were struggling to nurse.

I was stressed to the max, sleep deprived, chapped, cracked and sore. I would sit in the nursery and cry. When NR would latch nurse, my toes would literally curl and my stomach would turn with the pain. I could feel my grip on my mental health slipping away. That sounds sensationalist, but I was spiraling into depression and that’s how it felt. Whenever I held her she was crying and I would be frustrated, angry, and sad. We were not bonding healthily. She was sensing my anxiety and frustration and mirroring it, but I couldn't control my emotions. The whole process was counterproductive. I held out hope that that things would get better and kept trying for 2 ½ weeks.

When after 2 ½ weeks my milk supply was still not fully “in” and the vicious cycle was more than I could take. After prayer, talking to husband, family and friends, I finally made the decision to switch NR to formula exclusively. I felt better immediately. I was providing for my daughter. She was satisfied and growing. I could sleep, she could sleep. We could bond in a healthy way and I could enjoy her.

For us, the breast was NOT best. I applaud and respect the breastfeeding Moms who overcame the same obstacles, others, and some even more difficult ones. Breast milk is best for babies, nothing else compares. But even more important is having a healthy parent who can cope and care for baby. Do I get the side-eye from other Moms when they see me pull out a bottle? Yes. Will I try breast feeding next time? Yes. Do I regret the decision I made for NR and myself? No.

Sorry this got so long, and thanks for reading our story. Hopefully someone will stop feeling guilty for making the same decision I did, or someone will be more compassionate and less judgmental of bottle feeding Moms because of it.



Still no DIY progress in the Griepenstroh world. Lame.

In other news, I have been working out regularly (3-4 times a week) for 4 weeks now, and I've officially gained 3 pounds. What's up with that?! Totally unfair.

We took NR for her first bike ride yesterday! We love biking and have missed it a ton. Until yesterday it had been 10 months since I was on a bike. It was nice to be reunited with my old friend, Trek. Nora fell asleep on the ride. It was cute. Her little head was bobbing like when you fall asleep and your head falling forward wakes you up a little. Then we stopped in some shade and took her out of the seat to nap on a blanket in the grass. Too cute!

Hopefully I'll be feeling ambitious when I get home tonight and we'll do some fun work. I just have a hard time getting motivated to paint, craft, and generally DIY when I come home and see those sweet cheeks on my baby smiling up at me! At least the house is clean, thanks to my wonderful "house husband"!

Have a nice weekend! Stop by again!


Some News and a Before & After

Hey Folks! Not enough progress in the DIY world for a post this week. We’re in the middle of a bathroom storage makeover and making the tiny, unusable closet in our bedroom into useful space. That closet was painted dark hunter green and is so narrow that you can’t even hang a hanger in it. It’s been a bit of a conundrum, but now it’s on its way to becoming a closet we’ll actually use. Can’t wait for that makeover to be complete, you’re going to love it!

In life news, next weekend is Zach’s last weekend at our Saturday night church. They are in the midst of a large building/remodel project as well as a senior pastor search and have chosen to eliminate a few positions, Saturday night worship leader being one of them. The Saturday night service is not one that they supported greatly throughout our time there and I will not be surprised if the entire service gets cut in the next few months.

It sounds like a terrible thing, to be “downsized” like this, but I really have found it as a blessing and have not had a moment’s unrest about the situation. We have been becoming progressively more uncomfortable with the teaching at this particular church and have talked several times about leaving. The thing that continued to keep us there was the money. With Zach’s other ministry strictly part time, we worried about what to do if we lost the income. I prayed that God would create a way for us to be able to leave that job. Little did I know that He would do it this way!

So here we are, about to get some extra time on our weekends and trusting that just as God gave us a way to be finished there, He will provide a way not to have to struggle with the loss of income. (Some budgeting tools help too!)

In other news, I cut all my hair off. How’s this for a before and after?

Have a great Friday and *hopefully* I’ll have some project pictures for you soon!


A Pair of Chairs

I promised a post about our chair redo and here it is! We picked up these stools last fall at Goodwill for about $10 each. We are suckers for stools and I'm not sure why. I think it has to do with Zach being a guitar player...stools are his perch of choice when playing.

When I was pregnant, I did not nest in normal ways. My nesting included using a leafblower to clean our patio when it was 30 degrees outside. It also included a wild hare (hair?) to recover these chairs. So Zach obliged me and we tore into the chairs. We unfortunately did not get a “before” picture, but here’s a picture of the blue vinyl that covered one of them and the other was the exact same type of vinyl, but in green.

Lovely, huh? Well, we got the things torn apart and one of the seats recovered and reattached to the base and one back recovered, but not reattached…and then my wild hare ran off. So they sat sadly in pieces in our sunroom for several months until I started reading DIY blogs and got inspired. So a couple weekends ago when my parents were in town, Dad graciously helped me finish my project! I don’t have step-by-step instructions with pictures, but I will give you a rundown of some missteps and how to avoid them.

The picture below depicts what happens when you don’t measure well.

The fabric was a little short on the side, so you can see the staples. This was a constant fight while doing this project because if we gave generous amounts of fabric to wrap around you couldn’t see the staples, but the fabric was so thick in places that those little studs wouldn’t go through all the fabric. We fixed this problem on the second chair by cutting little V shapes into the places where the fabric overlapped several times which cut down on layers of fabric when we made the corners.

The staples were another small misstep we ran into. When I overzealously decided we were recovering these babies, we only had 1/2” staples. That’s waaay too long for going through some vinyl into particle board. Make sure your staples are appropriately sized. We ended up with squiggly staples like the ones shown here or pounding them in with a hammer. It was annoying. Happily MOST of the staples don’t show…

We also did not paint the frames of the chairs, which in hindsight I would have done. Maybe one day I’ll get the gumption to take the seats and backs off again and paint them. Maybe I’ll just cover and tape them really well and spray them…maybe not. So we’re going to call the frames “vintage-style”. Sounds good to me.

I love the vinyl we chose for the covers. We knew we wanted green vinyl to match our kitchen curtains. We walked into Sis’s Fabrics and asked, “Do you have vinyl?” Sis pointed us to a wall lined with bins with bolts of vinyl in every color. It was really well organized, so we went to the bin of green vinyl and picked our perfect color. I love that it has a little pattern/texture happening, too. It does not resist dirt the way I expected, but that was a mis-expectation on my part. It is soft vinyl, not plastic-y vinyl, so it does hold onto dirt a little more than a less porous version would. Wiping it with my licked fingers did not do the trick (no comments on my super sanitary and efficient method of cleaning…), but I’m pretty sure a wet cloth will. I’m not too worried.

I really enlisted my Dad to help because I wasn’t sure how to attach the backs and seats to the frame that holds the backs after recovering since the original screw holes were now covered with fabric. He is a genius, of course, so he just got a pin and stuck it through where he eyeballed the holes to be and kinda felt around till he found them. Then he lined the frame up and screwed it right on. What a smart man. I told him if I was doing this part of the job, it would have probably ended in yelling (at Zach) and crying. So I was very glad to have him there.

Here they are all put together and finished!

And here they are in their new home! We tend to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, especially when people are over, but not a lot of time at the kitchen table. Hence the folding IKEA table, Norden. It really is wonderful for us. Anywho, back to the chairs. We decided that we needed some seating in the kitchen that was not our kitchen chairs (they tend to live elsewhere and only come out when needed since Norden is almost always folded down). They match beautifully and are perfect for the space! I wish I had a picture of our white and green curtains to show you so you could see how nicely they tie in, but our window area was not fit for a photo at the moment.

Voila! Our first DIY (with some assistance) project on our blog!


Paved with Good Inentions...

Well, I survived VBS! It pretty much kicked my butt, but we had a great week. We didn't have the highest attendance ever recorded, but we did have great consistency. We only had 51 different kids across the week, but we had 40-46 each night. We did Gospel Light's Son Surf Beach Bash which covered meeting Jesus, looking to Jesus for help, joining God's family, opening up to Jesus about our sin and getting fired up to tell others about Jesus. Good times.

I have been inspired by a couple of blogs lately and have had good intentions to post some tutorials and DIY projects. I have finished two and am waiting for it not to be 100 degrees to work some more on one that is in progress. I also have one on deck for when the current one gets finished, and a project that I'm dreaming of working on, which will probably not get started till fall (it will require me to clean up my garage a bit so I can get a table out of it). One can only have so many things going on at once! However, as you can see, I have failed to post any such DIYs or tutorials. One of them is 4th of July specific...to post now or to wait till next year...that is the question. Sad day.

Anyway, expect a little more on here in the future (I know, I've made that idle threat promise before). I’m hoping to start after I get my house (and the church) de-VBS-ified. My parents stopped in this weekend on their way to Branson and caught the house a mess. I’m hoping to have some marked improvement by the time they stop again on the way home this coming weekend. Maybe I’ll get my booty in gear and posting by next week! Watch for some 4th of July Strawberries and a pair of chairs in the near future!

Finally, I leave you with some VBS Pictures!

One of our snacks, blue jello "ocean" with whipped cream "waves" complete with gummi octopus!

The Dunes Room. Woot Woot for my vounteers who helped paint that backdrop!

Volunteers hanging out at the registration table

Our SonSurf Beach. Big shout out to Zach for creating the beach, wrestling those kayaks up there and building the barrier to keep kids out of the sand!

The signs with each day's action on them: Meet up, Look Up, Join Up, Open Up, Fire Up


Oooooh, Aaahhhh

Oh, Fireworks, what fun you are! We had a fabulous 4th which included visiting with good friends, setting off our own fireworks show, seeing two more fireworks shows, and lots of good food (more on that in another post).

Unfortunately, it also included staying out late two nights in a row, which was code for disaster for Nora's schedule. I call Nora a "free range child" because we follow her cues for food, sleep, etc and she is not overly scheduled. We can count on a nap in the morning and at least one in the afternoon, but she's not consistent on when or how long. No comments on our parenting style, please. If the lack of schedule is a bad idea, it'll turn around and bite us. :)

The one thing that is scheduled at our house is Nora's bedtime. She goes to bed between 6:30-7:30 most nights. Her lack of scheduled naps hasn't really messed with this. Then she's ready to get up around 7 in the morning. Well, staying out late does mess with it.

The first night we were out, we expected to be out late, so we brought along the swaddler, pack n play and her twilight turtle so she could keep some semblance of her routine. It looked like it was going to work. She got tired, got fresh pants and wrapped up, ate and went to sleep. However, she couldn't stay asleep in the foreign environment with all the unfamiliar noises. She we wrestled and after several attempts to lay her down, I ended up holding her (asleep) for a couple hours. When she started snoring, I figured it was safe to lay her down, and she did stay down that time, but it was 10 or so before she got layed down and stayed down. Then when we left for home at almost midnight, I had to go get her, "transplant" her into the car seat and load her up. Then we drove home (about 30 minutes) and had to get her out and lay her down in her own bed. She has slept through the night for well over a month now and that night she needed me at about 3:30 when we were up for about an hour and then slept till about 8:30.

Then on the 4th, we went over to a friend's where we ate dinner at around 6 (dangerously close to bedtime). She took a late nap and then was wide awake for most of the fireworks (which she loved). She slept for most of the stroll back home (we walked to the friend's and then on to the fireworks) and went right to bed. She slept pretty normally that night.

Then yesterday, after a weekend of insanity, she finally melted down. She was cranky late in the afternoon and fell asleep hard at about 5:30. I decided she was down for the count and probably just needed to make up some lost sleep, so I wrapped her up to put her down. She woke up while I was putting her in the swaddler and then we had about 3 rounds of Nora vs Mommy before she finally gave in around 7:30. Then she was up and wanted to eat at about 1:30 and was ready for the day around 4 this morning. ugh.

The goal tonight is no late nap, bed at our normal hour (at all costs) and hopefully to get back on schedule. Wish us luck!


Getting Your Groove Back

It has been 11 weeks since Nora was born. Zach and I have been taking walks to get a little exercise, but I have yet to do a real work out since Nora was born.

At first my excuses were about being sore, tired, Nora not napping long enough or at the right times for me to get one in and on and on the list goes.

What I have decided is that I am afraid. I'm afraid to learn just how weak my muscles are, how out of shape my cardio system has become. My other big inhibitor is that my very favorite exercise is cycling, which I have read is not safe for me to take Nora on until she is 5 or 6 months old. Same for running.

So here's my question: how did you mommies get your groove back after baby?


One of Our Favorite Things...

I was looking at our blog and saw that the tagline says "these are a few of our favorite things". I realized I've never actually written about our favorite things, so here's one: The Evansville Otters.

In the summer, Zach and I love to go to Evansville Otters baseball games. The Otters are the local minor league team, playing in the Frontier League. They are terrible.

Their quality of play in no way affects how much we love them. They are still fun to watch, and it's only $5 for tickets. Sometimes they have fireworks (regardless of whether they win or lose) and always bring kids out onto the field between the top and bottom on innings to play a game and win a prize. The food is also really good at the stadium. Another plus for the Otters is that their field, Bosse Field, sits on Garvin Park. Garvin Park has a fountain, lots of mature trees, a walking/stroller path, fishing, shelters and the Greenway Passage (a walking/jogging/biking path that is several miles long and connects...or will when the next phase of it is finished...downtown to the north side of town) runs right along it.

The Otters give us someone to cheer for and a connection to our community. They are definitely one of our favorite things!


A Mommy Heart

Nora is 8 weeks old and it has been quite a ride so far! The whole time I carried her I knew in my head that my life would change and that I would love her like no one else, but I couldn't even begin to fathom it the way it has actually manifested! I've had friends have babies and have seen their schedules and priorities change. I never knew that having her in our family would remind me what love feels like. Don't get me wrong, I love my husband, but after 5 years I've started to take the love we share for granted. Having Nora has made me remember what it's like to think that no one could ever love this way again. She has made me remember just looking at someone and feeling like your heart is going to burst. And having her has revealed something even deeper: sacrificial love on a new level, love that protects and serves from a new heart. It's hard to explain. When I got married I felt like I understood better how Jesus loves us. Now that I have Nora, I feel like I understand better how God the Father loves us...and how He loves Jesus. It made Easter a new experience.

In other news, Nora truly discovered her hands last Sunday. She seemed to suddenly realize that she can put her hands in her mouth ON PURPOSE! She will grab things if you hand them to her and hold a stuffed animal that you put in her arms. We went to the doctor yesterday and she had a perfect checkup. She weighed 12 lbs. 8 oz. and was 23.5 inches. She got her first shots and Daddy said she was fussy for a good bit of the day. When I got home she slept all evening and then woke up for about an hour and a half at about 9pm. Then she was back down at 10:30. She was one tired pup. She is doing very well sleeping. Zach usually gets up with her once sometime between 4 and 5:30, but she's only up long enough to eat and then sleeps for a couple more hours. The doctor said if she regresses to try some rice cereal at night, but not to bother if she stays on this trend or continues to sleep longer!

Zach is going to Junior High Camp at Illiana in June (3 weeks from now...what?!). VBS will be here before I know it in July.

Our 5 year wedding anniversary is tomorrow. On one hand, the time has flown. On the other, I feel like we've been together forever. Both are good feelings.