Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Egg Allergy Debrief

I'm usually pretty good in a crisis. I keep calm, at least on the outside, and help others to manage the situation. Maybe it's a teacher thing - taking control and telling everyone else what to do. Well this past weekend, my 'cool in a crisis' label wasn't simply shaken, it was smashed. I can safely say I've never been so frightened and unhinged before in my life. And why is it that when something happens to our children, it's ultimately ourselves we worry about?

Sunday evening, my husband was getting things started for dinner as I sat down to give baby Jack is his dinner. I had been meaning to give him egg for ages and now that he is over 7 months old, he can handle a few lumps and bumps. I scrambled a fresh egg and had little success getting him to eat. He was happy to taste, but I guess the new flavour and texture put him off. He would've had less than 1/4 tsp of egg so I gave up and finished dinner with some of his favourites.

Just as I was wiping Jack's face at the end of dinner, I noticed that it was very red. I quickly showed my husband and before our eyes, the rash was spreading and small swollen whitish lumps started appearing. This is when I lost it completely and am oh so glad Tim was home. First I was going to ring the GP helpline, but couldn't get my fingers to dial the correct numbers. But as the reaction seemed to be getting worse we just jumped in the car and headed for the hospital. 

I got in the back seat with the baby, and as we are in a new city, tried to work out which was the closest emergency room for children. I'm trained in first aid and as a teacher have had extensive anaphylaxis training, but on school children and adults, not babies. I didn't know what to look for or what to do. In the car Jack didn't seem bothered at all by the reaction he was having. Then he started blowing foamy bubbles from his mouth. I'd never seen him do that before so it started me freaking all over again even though it is perhaps completely normal baby behaviour. A quick call to 000 (Australian equivalent of 911) and a wonderful paramedic was giving me excellent support and reassurance. 

When we got to the hospital Jack's face rash had gone down quite a lot. Over the next hour or so he vomited 5 - 6 times and the rash spread to his back and shoulders. The hospital staff were wonderful and caring as most medical professionals are, and the reaction was soon under control with some steroids and antihistamines. Three hours of observation later, a very tired little boy and his shaken parents went home. I left the hospital feeling completely empty. The massive adrenaline rush had left me with a downer that lasted well into this week. No wonder my poor baby was fussy all of the following day. 

From here we are going to see a paediatric immunologist for further testing. According to our GP a subsequent exposure would produce a more severe reaction so I've stocked up on phenergan and have taken on a new life's mission to keep my baby boy away from egg. As always, I have been amazed at everyone's kind support and excellent advice from other parents of allergy sufferers. And without our lovely Canberra cousins coming to the hospital for support - Tim and I would not have eaten that night! 

Saturday, 26 January 2013

One day = one new skirt

After doing so much quilting and intricate projects of late, I forgot how quick and satisfying dressmaking projects can be. At the Adelaide Quilting and Craft Fair last November I bought a wrap around skirt pattern ( and finally made it today. It was quite a simple pattern and so I started and finished it during Jack's naps. How wonderful! The skirt is completely reversible so it was basically like making two skirts and stitching them together.
I bought some matching fabrics at the Spotlight sale so the whole thing ended up costing about $20. Bargain! However, the rings that the ties go through cost $15 at the Quilting Fair - not a bargain. I reckon you'd be able to to get them cheaper somewhere else, or even make big button holes instead. I was pleasantly surprised at how quick and easy they were to put on though, just snap the two parts together by hand.

As I was trying to complete this project on a budget, I found the most suitable cheaper fabrics, these ones were $8 per metre. However, if I had an endless budget I would've gone for a black backing fabric with a metallic asian print on the front. Great in theory but at $20 per metre it was a stretch.

What would you do to mix up this pattern? Do you think this is the sort of product people would like to buy online? How much would you pay for it?

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Baby, Please Sleep!!! A story about loving your baby to tears.

Morning cuddles with Jack
I have the most adorable, healthy baby boy. The problem is, he is growing like there's no tomorrow and earlier this month, he had me well worn out. In just under three weeks, baby Jack put on 470grams. That's just over a pound for my friends in across the ocean. During this growth spurt, jack was downing 3 - 4 solid meals a day on top of his regular breast feeds. This was not a major problem. What was bothering me were the two-plus feeds per night. Now Jack has never been one to sleep through the night. At six months he was still having that 3am feed and I really didn't mind at all. But I did mind feeling like I had a newborn again, sometimes waking evert 2 - 3 hours. Whilst I realise extra feeds during growth spurts creates more milk, I lost 4 kgs in three weeks (that's just under 9 pounds) and could not continue.

After a quick visit to the doctor and a my mother flying in to help, the decision was made to add a supplementary formula feed to Jacks diet. Great in theory, terrible in reality. Jack would take one taste and reject it. We tried, bottles and sippy cups, but he just hasn't got used to the taste yet. Ultimately this hasn't mattered, as with my mum staying I was able to get lots of extra rest and I guess Jack was over his growth spurt. 

Just when I thought things were going back to normal, my lovely child who had recently become cuddle dependent to go to sleep, cried and cried and cried at bed time. Try as I may, I could not get him to settle down. I sang, I rocked, I shushed - yet he cried on. And, what inevitably follows when you cannot sooth your child, I cried and cried and cried. It was time for a change.

It's time for a shout out to all my lovely facebook friend mummies who were so generous with their advice and support when I was at breaking point. With their help, a week ago we started a new program of 'controlled crying'. I hate that term so instead like to say 'self settling'. And, it was marvellous. We never let Jack cry for longer than 5ish minutes without going in and giving him a pat to calm him down and very quickly, bedtime became a much less painful event. By the end of the week Jack was even making happy sounds when I put him to bed instead of crying as soon as I put him down like we had in the past. 

The greatest development from our new routine is night sleeping. Without really intending to, Jack is now sleeping through the night. I give him a feed going to bed at 7:00, then a dream-feed just before I go to bed, usually about 9:30. For the last four nights (don't breath unless it changes something!!) Jack has slept from the dream feed till after 6:00. It's wonderful! 

What I've learnt

  • Stick to your routine. If 7:00 is bedtime, then it's bedtime every night whether the baby seems tired or not.
  • It's much easier to listen to someone else's baby cry. 
  • Try not to cry when baby is upset as it just makes everything worse.
  • Being strong and taking the tough option makes life much easier in the end.
  • Ask for help. My wonderful mum flew in and saved the day.
  • I have the greatest online support through social media. It's a fantastic resource when you live away from friends.
So one week on, whilst we still have the odd difficult bedtime (it just took me 45 minutes to get him to go down) generally nap time is a simple and happy process for Jack and I. If you are thinking about changing your baby's routine, this method is not suggested for children under 6 months, but worked wonders for us. Good luck and stay strong!
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Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Baby bibs - Appliqué with the Embroidery Machine

A couple of weeks ago I finally got up the courage to try appliqué with my machine embroidery unit. Turns out - it's really easy! The instructions on the site are really simple to follow. All you need is a printer and some spray glue on top of your normal machine embroidery supplies. The simple process is as follows.
Appliqué using embroidery machine

  • Select and purchase a design. 
  • Print the DL template file and cut it out.
  • With a little bit of spray adhesive, stick some stabiliser to the appliqué fabric. 
  • Trace around the wrong side of the template onto the back of your chosen fabric. Cut it out.
  • Place chosen garment fabric into the embroidery machine. The first thing to be stitched is the outline.
  • With a little bit of spray adhesive, place your appliqué fabric exactly within this outline.
  • Complete the rest of the embroidery using your machine instructions.
I love this little monkey design. It goes so well with the backing fabric and really is a quick process. My motivation to appliqué the traditional way is waning! 

Inspired by the birth of a friends baby I got busy with making some bibs. The embroidery machine makes it so easy to personalise them and they make such a great, practical gift. 

Buy Monkey Bib Here.


Print the DL template onto thick paper so you can you use it again later.
Remember to cut out the template out reversed on the stabiliser so the good side of the pattern fabric is the right way around. 
Cut the appliqué fabric out a tiny bit smaller than the template.
Be careful with the overspray from the adhesive. I can't wash it off my cutting board!

What ideas do you have for a bib pattern? Let me know what to do next!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Silly season? I say productive season!

Lion Quilt Project
How on earth has it been the best part of two months since I wrote a blog post? Incredible. Moving states and having Christmas meant time has just melted away! We had a very quiet Christmas at home. I'm a bit of a Christmas grinch who had to go out and buy a Christmas tree because I was made to feel guilty I was robbing my child of his first Christmas. Whoops! Never the less, baby Jack was well spoilt and we enjoyed lots of family time at home. 

My main project leading up to Christmas was a quilt for my dear friend's son's 1st Birthday. After the success of my animal appliqué quilt for Jack, I chose a lion template and made a lovely play rug for the little boy. The border was two rows of 4" squares. I used a lovely green pattern for the backing and the bright quilt will be perfect for playing and napping. 

What not to do
Putting the pieces together
I was really happy with the finished product and used the machine embroidery attachment for my sewing machine to do the quilting on the patchwork. The pattern I chose were cute little lion/feline footprints. I learnt the hard way what not to do when using the machine to quilt though! The overhang of my backing fabric was tucked underneath and got stitched to my quilt! It is so difficult to unpick and I hate to admit that I did the same thing THREE times! Oh my! The appliqué used the same as technique as the farm animal quilt and I'm getting quite good at it. I blew up the lion template from A5 - A4 which made the tiny pieces a lot more manageable and a better size for this type of quilt.

I also made a lovely quilt label using the embroidery machine. You must always put a label of some type on your quilts. They are heir-looms and will often last longer than their maker. 
Putting the pieces together with the help of a light box.

Just today I finished the cousin of this lion quilt that had different patchwork around the border. Instead of the 4" squares I had one row of 6" squares made of two triangles - not sure what that's called. I also left more space around the lion itself for free motion quilting. Something I worked out long ago is that if you're going to the effort to make something - you might as well make two! So, I had already cut out the appliqué pieces and ironed on the applifix. This made the making of the second quilt a bit less painful in the early stages. I probably like this quilt better than the first one as the yellow fabric border lifts it a bit and I enjoyed doing some more free motion quilting around the lion. 
Progress shot for Lion Quilt 2
What projects did you get up to on the holidays? Was it a productive time for you?