The Real Deal Baby List

19 months! How can it be that it’s been so long since the birth of Augustine?! The last year and a half have flown by, and with that countless of onesies, shoes, and rattles. Edging ever closer to two, I’m now thinking back at all of the good things, and useless things, I acquired in preparation for my little bundle.

When August was first  born we were living in a spacious one bedroom, complete with three rescue pets. Fast forward 19 months later. Now the five of us (August, Peanut, Butter, Tomato, and I) live in a vintage 2 bedroom with way more leg room, and yet, we’ve actually down-sized since adding square footage. I’ve found that the adage “less is more” truly is the way to go. Less stuff means less to wash, clean, trip over, and, the most important thing, it means less clutter. So with that context in mind, here are my favorite “I can’t live without you” items that I’d recommend to any urban parent, as well as a few things I’d urge you to leave off your list.

Must-Haves

Sniglar Crib: When looking at cribs I was overwhelmed by the clunkiness of even the most modern of designs. Many people advised against getting a crib – saying to use a pack and play or  to co-sleep. But with my brood of critters, and need to keep the design of my space flowing, I decided that a crib it would be. I was hoping to find something sleek, simple, affordable, and small enough to fit into my bedroom alongside my queen size bed and vintage dresser. And then I found it. August’s Singlar crib, from the mother of all square-foot-savvy design houses: Ikea! Not only was it sleek and lovely to gaze upon, the space conscious design allowed me to squeeze it into my bedroom without any problems. It also has that gorgeous sanded beech wood that I knew I could pop some color on in a snap. I can’t praise the design (and value!) of this piece enough. Plus – since it’s Swedish – you don’t have to worry about the materials being comprised of toxic chemicals like flame retardants. Yuck! And once he’s old enough for a bed – this beauty will convert. Can you see just how in love I am with this thing? Go get one or put it on your registry!

A Rocking Chair: This is something I didn’t have, didn’t think I’d need, and now that I do, I wish I had scored it sooner. Having a designated nursing and “let’s get ready for sleep” spot has significantly helped with August’s routine. And the reason I recommend going retro with a rocking chair instead of a glider is that it will take up less space and with all the milk sprays of the early days of nursing, you don’t have to worry about the upholstery soaking up all those wayward liquids, so keep that in mind should you be considering a glider. Our rocking chair was scored second hand from my apartment’s previous inhabitants. I found a cushy pillow and seat cushion to strap on it and it works like a dream. I find that it puts me to sleep just as easily as August!

Vintage Dresser: My vintage dresser is one of my all-time favorite furniture pieces, both pre and post baby. Picked up from a Craigslist add, this classic piece has six sets of drawers, a nice wide surface, and a detachable mirror. Once pregnant I knew that I’d need a place to change the babe, but didn’t want to buy something new. So the dresser it was! Adding a foam changing pad to the top, and emptying the drawers of my stuff to make way for the baby’s, this furniture piece provided the perfect place for flipping diapers, clothes, or just having a coo fest in the mirror. I also love knowing that further down the line, once he’s potty trained, I can reclaim it for use in my own bedroom. So it’s an item that will far outlive the early infant years.

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The Bebe: 18 Months & Growing!

This past August marked, ahem, August’s half birthday! I’m convinced that all winter babies are entitled to some kind of mid-year hoopla to celebrate when the season is fair. And that’s exactly what we recently did!

All the parents I know warn of the fleeting nature of the early formative years – so I’ve made it a point to celebrate every milestone possible. First tooth? Celebration! First burp? Party-time! First word? Make it a holiday!

But in all seriousness, each new season, each new phase of development, is better than the last. Being the mama to such a quickly growing chap has been nothing but a delight and blessing. Watching him investigate, explore, and challenge the world around him is a treat. Plopping him down in a field to smell a flower, gather sticks, chase butterflies, and dig in the dirt makes this mama’s heart sing.

That’s why turning 1 1/2 years old was something I couldn’t let off easy. So on a recent summery weekend I planned a day filled with treats and outdoor activities. We had plans to hit the lakefront, stroll the park, play in the sand, eat pizza and frozen custard, and (of course!) sneak in some photos!

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Recent nursing school grad, friend, and photographer, Jessica Woodville, has been delighting us with her nature photos for years. Since the birth of her much younger brother Adam she’s also been sharing adorable documentary style portraits of her baby bro. Watching her work develop, I had hoped for an excuse to nab her for an easy-going photo session with August. And what better time than the present, right?! Continue reading

August Year One

augustine year one

It’s been twelve months since the birth of Augustine.

Twelve months since we learned to swaddle, sway, and sweet talk. Twelve months of changing diapers, sorting toys, and counting sheep. Twelve months of learning the ropes, building up confidence, and settling into parenthood. Twelve months of prayers, patience, giggles, and dreams. Twelve months of learning to love deeper, higher, and without limits.

It’s been twelve months since our lives changed forever, and for the better, which is why we’re celebrating our first twelve months as the mom and dad of Augustine.

Happy birthday to our little jelly bean!

August’s Nursery: First Edition

It’s been exactly a year since we converted our bedroom into a nursery for our little jelly belly. I was three weeks away from my due date and a maddening urge to nest hit me. I had made a plan for the space but hadn’t done much beyond having David put up the crib and pop some art on the wall. One year later his space has undergone a multitude of changes, which is when it occurred to me, I never shared the first edition!

Photo by Megan Saul Photography

Photo by Megan Saul Photography

We live in a vintage one bedroom in Chicago’s populous and energetic Lakeview neighborhood. Our flat is sizable for the area – we have a sun room, formal dining room, large kitchen and a living room with built-ins and a fireplace (just for show though!). When we found out we were pregnant in May of 2014 we decided we’d work with the space we have rather than moving into a larger apartment. We love the character and location of our current place and knew that to find a two bedroom even remotely as cute in such a good neighborhood would be a long shot. So we decided to stay!

 

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Pierogi Picnic’s Fond Farewell

This is it! The Pierogi Picnic Etsy shop has officially closed as of 9pm this evening. Let the record show that August 2nd, 2015 is a day that now stands in history! At least in my books. Though it’s a bittersweet moment, there’s so much to celebrate when looking back at these last seven years of sustainable design.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAIt all began with a skirt. I created a simple asymmetrical pencil skirt using a thrifted cotton t-shirt. Every which way I went I would receive compliments, along with inquiries on how people could get their hands on one of their own. That’s what inspired me to create an affordable line of retro, comfy, eco-friendly clothing. I had also recently discovered the growing handmade movement, and with encouragement from my husband, launched my own Etsy shop in the fall of 2008.

After debuting my store I continued to create truly one-of-a-kind clothing items made from recycled materials. Scouring Chicago’s thrift stores high and wide, I was collecting pre-loved fabrics and vintage textiles to create a unique line of casual and comfy clothing. Within a couple of months I began to add other designs. T-shirt dresses, camisole gowns, restructured tanks, vintage finds and more! It was in that year that I came up with some of my most popular designs, included the Resurrected Tee skirt, Revamped Flower headbands, Darling Dresses and No Sweat tunics. They were a hit! And so Pierogi Picnic took off!

Pierogi Picnic post-branding

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DIY: Baby Gnome Hat

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Little baby August was born this past Valentine’s day at a hearty 7 pounds and 6 ounces. But despite his ample weight, this long and lean baby has the tiniest of craniums, causing any and every hat we have for him to slide down over his eyes. The result: one fussy baby! So what’s a mama to do? Make some DIY hats of course!

To ensure our little guy’s noggin was staying nice and toasty in our home and beyond I whipped up a simple yet chic hat design that I could create using various fabric scraps. Using printed fabrics on a bias instead of elastic, and solid t-shirt fabric for the top, August’s “krasnoludek” hats have become an instant hit! Keeping his head warm while adding a pop of color to his ensembles, making these little gnome hats in different color combos is becoming my new pass time, in between feedings and naps at least.

So without further adieu, I bring you a quick photo tutorial on how to make a baby gnome hat (or two or three!) for your own little bundle. Enjoy!

diy gnome hat from pierogi picnic

Introducing August!

August birth announcement crpped

This past Valentine’s Day was life-changing.

At 1:30 a.m. on Saturday morning David and I welcomed our son Augustine Krupinski Downs into the world. Born six days after his due date, we were thrilled that the anticipation of meeting this little man was finally over. Here’s the story of how he came to be a Valentine’s babe. Continue reading