Thursday, July 21, 2011

The (Placenta) Tree of Life

Just to say this up front, placenta talk is not for everyone. Feel free to skip this post (which does have a placenta picture) if placentas make you uneasy, though I personally find them fascinating.

My son's placenta has been in my freezer for two years now. After Asher's birth, his placenta was examined to make sure the tissue was healthy and normal. It was then wrapped up and put in the freezer for a later day.  Though placenta encapsulation has many known benefits including reducing postpartum bleeding, lessening postpartum depression, increasing iron levels and encouraging milk production, eating it just wasn't for me. I did want a way to honor the organ that sustained my son's life and connected our two bodies. Committing the placenta back  to the earth is ancient tradition practiced in many cultures. My parents buried our placentas in their backyard under fruit trees.

My husband and I hemmed and hawed about what kind of tree to plant over our son's placenta. Fruit trees are a traditional choice but can be difficult to grow in our climate. This past Earth Day, our local Lowe's Hardware stores were giving out free baby spruce trees, which seemed like an excellent placenta tree candidate. They grow well in our mountainous environment, stay green year-round and live for many, many years. 

This baby tree was not ready to go in the ground yet, so we planted the tree in a pot and I have been giving it love and water daily. My son has helped cultivate his tree, too. 

May 2011

As summer marches on, our tree keeps growing. Next spring, when the spruce is big and strong enough to be transplanted, we will plant the tree over the placenta where an old bird house now stands in our backyard.

I hope this tree continues to grow as steadily as my son. I can't wait to look out my window and see such a beautiful, natural reminder that my son and I used to be one.

January 2012

For more information about planting a placenta tree, please see THIS ARTICLE.

Happy Planting!


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wordless Wednesday--Breastfeeding Photo Shoot

This photo of me nursing my then 13 month old was taken last August by Nevada Heirloom Photography.  Each year, the state of Nevada puts out a calendar of nursing mothers to help promote and support breastfeeding. These calendars are sent to OB offices, hospitals, WIC offices and similar places. A local lactation consultant group had arranged the photo shoot, which was a great success. I submitted my photo for the calendar, which didn't make it in, but my son and I are on the state breastfeeding website.

This year, a photo shoot was planned but could not accommodate moms who had participated last year. Since there were several mothers who were still nursing, myself included, I wanted to organize another photo shoot. I enlisted the photography skills of friends Kristin and Yuliya  and sent Facebook invites to all the local lactating women I knew. Here are some of the photos of my family and a few from the other mamas who were kind enough to participate. Thanks so much to Yuliya (you can see more of her photography at She Suggests) and Kristin (view her Flickr stream here) for all their hard picture-taking work!

His smile melts my heart

My Little Family

Thanks to the other mama's for sharing their photos, too!

Cristina and Cillian

Danna and Leili

Helen, Mila and Sara

Melinda and Kaelyn

Cali and Richelle

Heather and Isaiah




I’m celebrating World Breastfeeding Week with Natural Parents Network!

You can, too — link up your breastfeeding posts from August 1-7 in the linky below, and enjoy reading, commenting on, and sharing the posts collected here and on Natural Parents Network.

(Visit NPN for the code to place on your blog.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Yo-Ho, Yo-Ho--A Felt Pirate Crown Tutorial

Our Family Creates! from Code Name: Mama and Living Naturally With Children


Our theme for July's Families, Create! Make and Play Carnival was "Swashbucklers." Check out what our participants created this month:

With cat-like tread, upon their way they steal, Zoie at TouchstoneZ's sons are inspired to perform a little dramatic piracy as captured in pictures.

Brittany at Mama's Felt Cafe shares a tutorial for making an easy hand sewn felt pirate crown. No fancy stitching required!

Argh, mateys! Dionna at Code Name: Mama has written ye a tutorial to make easy pirate eye patches.

Lauren at Hobo Mama presents parrot play (sprinkled with humor) for your petite pirates.

A trip to a local botanical garden turned into a dinosaur safari at Living Peacefully with Children.

Shiver me timbers! If you have a pirate lover, check out "How to Make a Pirate Treasure Hunt Plus Other Fun Pirate Crafts and Activities" from Dionna at Code Name: Mama.

Be sure to join us for August's carnival, our theme is "Weird and Wonderful."


We are fans of pirate related items at my house. We even went so far as to give my son the initials ARG. Asher had a pirate themed first birthday party last year, which included some great felt pirate hats I stumbled upon at Target for a dollar a piece. 

This year, I was inspired by a felt crown my son received as a party favor a couple months ago. The crafty hostess had made a crown for each of the party goers. She made this pirate one with my son in mind:

Here is the sea of felt crowns she made for all the kids at the party:

I looked around online, I found several tutorials for felt birthday crowns but all were machine stitched. In case you don't own a sewing machine like yours truly, here is an easy hand sewn version made mostly with super simple running stitches. 

The Ingredients: 

-2 felt crown pieces. I used gray but the colors are up to you. These pieces measure 13 inches long by 6 inches to the tops of the crown spikes. How you cut the crown spikes is also open to creative license. My crown has 5 points--the two smaller points at either end are 1.5 inches wide and the bigger spikes are about 3 inches in the widest spot. 

-2 dark blue felt circles for underneath the stars. These are about 3.25 inches wide and 2.25 inches tall, just cut roughly freehand.

-1 black felt circle for under the skull and bones. This one is 2.75 inches wide and 3.25 inches tall. 

-2 white felt stars. I have a stencil I used for these, which are 1.75 inches at the widest spot. You can also free hand these or find a clip art star to trace. 

-1 white felt skull and bones applique. I'll post the image I traced to make mine below. 

-1 piece of elastic. I happened to have 1/8 inch wide elastic on hand but wider elastic, about a half inch, would work great. The crown needs about 6 inches of elastic, but I cut 8 inches to give me some extra to work with. 

-1 piece of felt for the elastic casing. Since my elastic is tiny, I wanted to cover it for durability. My piece is 12 inches long by an inch wide. If you are using wider elastic, you'll want to make your casing piece wider to fit. The length should be double the length of the elastic so that it bunches up. If you are using  half inch wide elastic, you don't need to make a casing at all if you don't want to and can just leave the elastic exposed. 

-Embroidery floss to match. I did a contrasting white thread for the appliques and matching gray for the rest of the crown. 

The Recipe: 

First, we need the skull applique. I'm not artist, but I am a tracer! I did a quick google search for free skull and bones clip art and found this guy. I down loaded the image, copied it into MS Word and sized it down just a bit, so that it took up the top sixth or so of the page. The image here is after my resizing, so you should be able to print it out and use it. I traced the outside and cut the eye and nose holes. They don't have to be perfect or even. Pirates tend to be an unruly bunch so perfectionism is not necessary for this project. 

Next, start sewing the stars to the dark blue circles. I just used two stitches per star point.

After the stars, sew the skull onto the black circle. Be sure to stitch around the eyes and nose holes, too. The ends of the bones hung off the ends of mine, which is ok.

Now, pin down the circles where you want them on the top layer of the crown piece. 

Add running stitches all around the circles to secure them to the crown. I kept my stitches contrasting but you can use matching thread if you like. 

Continue until all of the appliques are secured to the crown. I added a couple stitches to the bones where they overhung, too. 

Next, we want to make the elastic casing. Fold this piece in half and whip stitch it together to form a tube. 

After the casing was done, I safety pinned the elastic to the end of the felt casing and fed the elastic through. 

While pinned, I back stitched the elastic to the casing, ensuring the elastic wasn't going to come loose. Once it was secure, I scrunched the casing down until I got to the other end of the elastic. Since I had cut about two inches more of elastic than needed, I pulled until I had that extra exposed then safety pinned and back stitched the other end. Cut off the excess elastic. 

Here is the completed elastic casing. You can see it scrunches along the whip stitches nicely. 

Next comes crown construction. Sew a running stitch along the bottom edge of both crown pieces. 

When you round the corner of the crown, measure about a half inch up from the bottom and this is where the elastic will go. Put the casing about a half inch deep between the crown pieces then back stitch to secure the elastic piece. 

Do a second row of back stitches to ensure the casing piece isn't going any where. 

Continue to sew running stitches around the spikes of the crown. 

When you get down the far side of the crown, we are going to sew the second end of the elastic piece in just like on the other side.  Sew two rows of back stitches, with the casing a half inch deep and a half inch from the bottom of the crown. Make sure your casing piece isn't twisted when you sew it in. I kept the casing seam to the bottom. Finish the remaining running stitches down to the corner of the crown and knot off your thread. 

Our crown is now complete! This same basic idea can be used to make pretty much any themed felt crown by changing the colors and the appliques. Is your little matey the king of the swashbucklers and pirates? Yo-ho, yo-ho, it's a pirate's life for me!

Happy Felt Sewing!



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