November 23, 2015

Mooiste Nursing Cover GIVEAWAY and Review

Hello! Happy Thanksgiving! I'm super excited to do my first real giveaway on the blog, especially because I love the product I'm giving away, but first I wanted to mention that you should hop on over to With Great Expectation and read the guest post I made as part of Logan's series Miracle Mommas. While you're over there, check out the rest of Logan's blog! She conceived her little girl through IVF a few months before we conceived Cai, and is now expecting her second little one CONCEIVED NATURALLY (a most welcome surprise from the Lord). I love her blog for the godly perspective she provides on infertility, PCOS, and motherhood.

Now, to the review and giveaway!

I recently received two Mooiste nursing covers; one to review and one to give away, and I LOVE them! Mooiste is a small company based in South Africa. Mooiste means "the most beautiful" in Afrikaans, and the fabric is definitely beautiful.

The first thing I noticed about this cover when I pulled it out of the package is that it is luxuriously soft. It's a stretchy bamboo jersey that is thin enough to be breathable yet not be see through.

It provides full coverage all the way around which is saying a lot for me right now. Cai is a skinny kid, but he's tall and I have enormous boobs and am pretty fluffy, but we both fit completely under the cover. I don't have to worry about side boob or love handles peeking out of the cover. I love that.

It's also cute and trendy enough that you could wear it outside of nursing. It doubles as a poncho or cowl. We also used it as an infant seat cover a few times, and that worked really well. The packaging also suggests that it could be used as a swaddle; we're past the swaddling stage, but this definitely is soft and stretchy enough to do that.

I was asked to do a short video review, which I've never done before, and I'm probably super awkward, but you can see that below. Sorry that I'm talking so quickly; I needed it to be short enough to be able to upload onto the blog, but I wanted to fit in my favorite things about it!


The giveaway begins today and ends on December 2. Enter below using Rafflecopter!

November 18, 2015

Cai Alexander:12 Months

Today Cai turns one year old! This year has flown by. Cai has had a cold this week and had a few nights where he couldn't sleep unless he was touching me, so we spent a couple of nights on the couch (so daddy could get a good night's sleep for work). As I snuggled with him on the couch, I thought about how a year ago, I was also laying on the couch, unable to sle
ep because I was huge and itchy and achy and had to pee and thinking about the way our lives were about to change. What a difference a year makes!
This month has been the hardest and most rewarding so far. Cai has changed so much this month!

At his one year well baby visit, Cai was 19 lbs 3 oz, and 31.5 inches tall which means since birth he has gained 11 lbs. 4 oz. and has grown 11.5 inches! He is in the 10th percentile for weight and the 75th for height. 

Cai can...

  • Walk! All over the place. He is so proud of himself. He definitely walks more than crawls now.
  • Sign the words "more," "again," "all done," and sort of "please." He doesn't sign any of them consistently, but he knows how. I say sort of for please, because he only does it when he wants to nurse, and he rubs my chest instead of his (but even this is far more polite than the way he normally requests to nurse by squeezing my boobs or lifting up my shirt. We're working on this).
  • Bark. My sister taught Cai to bark and now he does it when he sees any animal, particularly dogs, horses, and cows.
  • Climb onto the couch. He can get his little leg up so high! He likes to climb up and push everything of the couch; blankets, pillows, the back cushions, the dog...
  • Ride his little bike, sort of. He has a little push bike, and he likes to ride it. He doesn't go very far. In fact, he prefers to hold onto the handles and stand balanced on the seat, one foot in front of the other.
  • Call the dog, sort of. When I stick my head out the door to call Finn, Cai joins in and calls him too.
  • Point out your nose, eyes, and mouth, but not his own.
  • Share. Very sweetly. Mostly with the dog though.
  • Do all of the motions for "Itsy Bitsy Spider"
Cai likes to...
  • Read. Particularly his Little Blue Truck books. He gets gleeful when we pick them up.
  • Eat!
  • Climb.
  • Make messes.
  • His Grandpa Jack.
  • Brush his teeth. If I ask him if he wants to brush his teeth, he will stop playing in his bedroom and crawl down the hall to the bathroom as fast as he can go.
  • Stack things or put things inside of other things.
  • Fight. Every. Diaper. Change.
  • Watch Sesame Street.
  • Touch soft things. He sleeps with a curtain. After weeks of having him play with them while we rocked him in the rocking chair, Steve finally took one of the panels down from his window, and now Cai uses it as a security blanket.
  • Throw tantrums. Seriously, the temper on this kid is absurd. If something doesn't go his way, he throws himself backwards and shrieks. We're working on this. 
  • Bite mama. He thinks it's hilarious! No matter what I do to discipline him. I even tried biting him back (I know some of you will think that's horrible and others swear by it) and he LAUGHED! Sometimes putting him on the floor and moving away from him works, but it's a battle.
Most nights, sleeping is a little better. He naps beautifully right now. Night times are one extreme or the other. Either he doesn't sleep much at all (waking often, not going to sleep until 2 AM or only sleeping with me) and other nights he wakes, eats, and goes instantly back to sleep. We had one night recently where he only woke twice, and then the next night, he went to sleep then work at 11:30 and didn't go back to sleep until 2 AM. 

Cai has either his first or his second cold right now. I'm still not sure if the first one was a cold or teeth, but this one is definitely a cold. Teeth may be making it worse, but I seem to have the same cold. We were working on the beginnings of the weaning process, but because he's been feeling poorly and not eating or drinking much of anything else, we've put a pause on that.

October 22, 2015

Tie Dyeing a Large Blanket

Recently we attended the wedding of Steve's cousin Tony and his bride Krystal, And I'm one of those annoying people who likes to give personal gifts instead of just buying something off of a registry, so we decided to make something for them. Well, really I decided to, and Steve really liked the idea. I knew that Tony and Krystal shared our love of tie dye, so I decided to make them a big tie dye blanket. Plus, they were uniting two families with three children between the two of them, so I thought it would be great to give them something that would be part of snuggly family nights.

I started out by buying an organic cotton blanket from Target. I chose cotton because I didn't want to have to do anything extra or elaborate to get the dye to really stick. I chose a twin size because I couldn't find one that was just a throw, and I didn't want it to be huge.

I then headed to Hobby Lobby and bought a large bottle of  dark blue Tulip dye and two packets of black dye refills. I also picked up an extra squeeze bottle. Although I wouldn't combine navy and black in an outfit, I thought that they would compliment each other in the blanket because the black wouldn't be a true black when added to such a large white blanket.
I then tied up the blanket using yarn. I decided to go for a burst pattern, so I simply grabbed a spot remotely near the center, pulled up and started twisting. I wrapped the yarn fairly tightly around as I twisted. I had to be sure not to wrap it too tight because sometimes with new fabric, the dye doesn't absorb well, so I wanted it to be able to easily seep into all of the little nooks and crannies.

Then it was time to actually dye the blanket. Let me just tell you, that was fun. Especially when Cai woke up in the middle of it. I did it in the bathtub, and it looked like I killed a burnt smurf in there. Unfortunately I didn't realize that the refill pack is made so that you can just drop it into the bottle and the packaging will dissolve. Instead, I poured the powder into the bottle and made a big mess. Lesson learned. 

I made sure that I got it as saturated as possible, and I ended up having dye left over. I then wrapped it in plastic wrap and let it sit for eight hours to allow the dye to set. I thought it looked like a huge terd. I know; I'm really mature.

 I followed the package instructions for washing the dye out and checked the results. The pattern was super cool, but it didn't really cover the blanket as well as I wanted it too, so I prepared the rest of the dye, wrapped the blanket up again, making sure that there was a large amount of white exposed when I was done twisting, and dyed it again. This time because I was low on dye, I wet the blanket to kind of spread the dye further. The combination of that and the original dye job gave it a cool layered effect, and I was pretty pleased with it.

You can see the two different dye jobs here. The darker, bluer pattern is the first time, the cloudier, grayer pattern is the second. 

The best part was that the bride loved it. We were still there after many of the guests had left, and they had started opening some gifts, and she nearly tackled me with a hug after she opened it! I love that they loved it!

October 19, 2015

Cai Alexander: Eleven Months

My little boy is almost one! How did this happen so quickly? I feel like we were just sitting on the couch listening to the voicemail of my nurse telling me I was pregnant!

Cai is a joy right now. Every day he does or learns something new. It makes life SO exciting for us.

Cai can...

  • Point our noses. On people, but especially on his stuffed animals which is stinking adorable.
  • Climb. On everything. 
  • Walk. A few steps at a time so far, but he does more every day. Today he took about five or six steps from one couch to another.
  • Sign the word "more" although he's only done it a few times.
  • Wave goodbye. And this week he has started doing it without me waving first. He starts when I say, "Say goodbye."
  • Communicate what he wants. He points where he wants to go, and has different noises he makes for different things. Technically, he says "mama," but it's not always in reference to me; it really just means I need something.
  • Yell. This seems obvious, but he does it for certain things like today he helped me call the dog in.

Cai likes to...
  • Feed his food to Cai when he's bored with it.
  • Sit at his little table and chairs (which my dad made for me when I was about one and a half) and eat or watch TV.
  • Watch TV. I've been careful to limit it, but it's super helpful when I'm getting my coffee and Cai's breakast in the morning and also when I'm making dinner. He particularly loves Sesame Street. When the TV is on a kid's show, he sits perfectly still and is completely enthralled, especially if music is involved.
  • Play with stuffed animals.
  • Throw Finn's ball for him.
  • Greet his Daddy when he gets home from work.
  • Be held by his Grandpa Jack.
  • Be fed by his Oma (my grandmother). Especially because she tends to give him cookies and has let him try chocolate...twice.
  • Be bounced on the couch.
  • Climb on things and in things. He likes to crawl inside Finn's crate.
  • Chew on straws.
  • Press buttons. He can just reach the power button on our Wii, and sometimes stands in front of it and presses it over and over again.
  • Pull books of the shelf.
  • Eat! He tried shrimp last week and loved it.
  • Read. Books about animals Crack. Him. Up. His favorite is Your Baby's First Word Will Be DADA by Jimmy Fallon.
Cai is sleeping a little better than he was before. He is backing to take longer naps (between 45 minutes and 2 hours). He naps twice a day, going down around 10:30-11:30 AM and 3-4 PM. We have had a few nights lately where he has only woken up two or three times, but most nights it's still 4-6 times a night. Last night he only woke up twice, but it took me an hour to get him to stay asleep. I still think a lot of it is due to teeth; even though he has six now, he is still drooling like crazy and chewing on everything. He occasionally stops nursing to chew on my shirt!

October 01, 2015

Lena and Natalie Crochet

I think I mentioned a while back that I've been planning to start selling my crochet items again. Well, I finally am! If you're friends with me on Facebook or follow me on Instagram (@lenaandnataliecrochet, you know that already. But, if you only read the blog (I think there are a few of you), you don't know that I will be selling things via Instagram starting October 5!  Here's the whole story...

The Name
First of all, a little background on the name. My Oma, my maternal grandmother, taught me how to crochet (and knit, but I prefer to crochet). She taught me some basic stitches, and I've taught myself everything else through books and the internet. Most of you who know my Oma know her as Helen, which is legally her name, but her family calls her Lena. I believe it's short for Magdalena. When she moved to the U.S. from Germany she changed her name to Helen, but I love the name Lena. The first part of the name of my crochet "store" comes from my Oma who taught me the physical act of crochet, but also shared with me her love for yarn and color and creating things.
My paternal grandmother, my Grammy, was an artist. She painted beautiful landscapes and portraits and animals. She and my Pop-Pop met in art school in New York. I took art lessons from Grammy off and on; private lessons and in art class at my school where she taught for a year. She taught me about how colors work together and interact and how to pay attention to colors around me. Her name was Natalie.
And thus, Lena and Natalie Crochet

The Store
For now I will be selling directly through Instagram. Basically, every Monday, I will post pictures of a few items. The first person to comment with their PayPal email address commits to purchasing the item. I will send an invoice, and when the invoice is paid, the item will be shipped. For now, I'm limiting the store to Instagram, but I may also open an Etsy store again. I have yet to decide. I know there are some people who are not on Instagram, and I understand that you will not be able to purchase anything yet, but I will eventually solve that problem...maybe.If you desperately want something I posted on Facebook, send me a message and we can talk about it. I am not currently doing any custom orders; it is just two much with a baby and making enough to have new items every week. Plus, I'd like to have time to make some stuff for my own kid. :)

The Giveaway
I'm also hosting a giveaway on Instagram. It was supposed to end tonight at midnight, but I think I'm going to extend the deadline one more day. The winner will receive a $25 credit to my shop!
To enter:
1. Like the original post on Instagram.
2. Share the original post on Instagram and tag @LenaandNatalieCrochet.

For an extra entry, tag a friend in the comments of the original Instagram post. Winner will be chosen at random and announced on October 3rd.

What do you think? What kinds of things would you like to see in the store?

September 28, 2015

Food for Little Tummies (Baby Led Weaning)

I've mentioned on the blog before that we've decided to do baby led weaning (BLW) to introduce Cai to solid foods. This meant that we skipped purees and rice cereal and went straight to solid foods. In the beginning it mostly looked like Cai shoving food into his mouth, tasting it, experiencing the texture, mashing it around a little bit, and spitting it back out, but as he has grown, it now looks like a small person eating food (and it's super fun to watch).

I just wanted to share a few of the recipes that have worked for us (nutritious and easy for little hands).

 Breakfast Hash
This was a go to meal for me in the end of IVF and the beginning of pregnancy when I was trying to eat lots of protein, but with just a little bit o tweaking, it's been great for Cai too. I made enough for us to share


  • Potatoes, cut into grabbable sticks
  • Fresh herbs (I used basil and rosemary and scallions)
  • Shredded cheese (I used parm. and cheddar)
  • Eggs
  • Milk (we use raw milk)
  • EVOO
  • Sausage (optional depending on your baby. Cai doesn't do well with sausage skin, so I either take the skin off or leave it out)


  • Brown potatoes in hot skillet with EVOO.
  • If you're using sausage, add that next and cook until brown.
  • In separate bowl, scramble eggs with herbs, cheese, and a splash of milk.
  • Add eggs to skillet and use spatula to scramble all of the ingredients.

Farmer's Market Pizza
I won't bother posting a recipe for this, but I was super proud of this recipe. I used all ingredients from the farmer's market, my own potted herbs, and a local farm. Everything was pesticide free. 

  • Brick oven chabatta bread
  • Farm fresh mozarella
  • Tomato sauce
  • Fresh basil
  • Fresh rosemary

Strawberry French Toast
Again, I won't post a recipe for this one, because I'm sure you know how to  make French toast, but basically I made French toast and then spread cream cheese on it and added strawberries.

  • Bread (I think I used some of my dad's homemade sourdough bread)
  • Egg
  • Cinnamon
  • Milk
  • Cream cheese
  • Strawberries, sliced

Sweet Potato Fries
Not only did Cai love them, but Steve did too. 

  • Sweet potatoes, cut like fries
  • Coconut oil
  • Cinnamon
  • Ginger
  • Curry
  • Toss cut sweet potatoes in coconut oil and spices to taste (we liked ours with a mix of sweet and savory spices)
  • Spread onto parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
  • Bake until soft enough to chew.

We have loved BLW (and so has Cai). It can be messy, but it's so much fun to watch your little one explore foods. And so far, Cai loves everything we've given him except artichokes. Yay for not being a picky eater!

September 23, 2015

Gallery Wall on the Cheap

Just a quick post with a quick explanation of a project I recently did.
I love the look of gallery walls. My Pinterest boards are filled with them.

Young House Love

And my own gallery wall in our hallway.

And with all of the great pictures we have of Cai and the family photos that Kristen Fuest Photography did for us a few months ago, I was looking for a way to display them. But money is tight, and picture frames are expensive, as are prints. So, I had to find a way to do things inexpensively.

I started by ordering prints from I also subscribe to the app Groovebook which is an awesome way to keep up with photo prints, so I used some of those. I then picked out some frames at The Dollar Tree.  I spent $15.00 there. I couldn't find fifteen matching frames, but I made sure that all of the frames of a certain size matched each other. I wanted white frames against our gray wall, so I painted them with some acrylic paint. 

Arranging them was harder than I expected. I though I wanted the look of a random arrangement, but I couldn't get it to look "random" and organized at the same time. The diamond arrangement sort of evolved when I was playing around, and that's what I went with. I mounted them with 3m Command Strips which I think work bests for this sort of thing. With nails and picture hangers, the frame can end up hanging a little differently than you expected, but the strips (although a little bit more pricey) are easy to get in the exact position you want them. 

So, nothing amazing here, but it was a nice way to showcase our family photos and our little Cai without spending a ton of money. 
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