An Uncomplicated Life Blog

Thursday, September 20, 2018

DIY Monogram Nursery Art

It's easy to make your own monogram wall art for the nursery, and so much cheaper than getting it custom made!

If you saw this post on the boys new room, you know I've made them each their own monograms that hang above their cribs. The older boys (I love that I have so many boys, I can't just say 'the boys' I actually have to specify which ones/who I'm talking about!) had a calming blue/green color scheme in their nursery that we carried over to their big boy room. I completely made over the twins' nursery with a outdoor/woodland theme. You can tell I love this theme because I hosted my sister's baby shower with it and used so many of the decorations I bought for that in the nursery! Full reveal and decoration inspo post is coming soon, but today I'm focusing on one part: the DIY monogram nursery art I made to hang above their cribs. Oh, and since I'm sharing this monogram craft, I'm also sharing the names of the twins! *Affiliate links used*

My older boys had classic wooden letters painted for their monogram but I wanted something a little more campy, a little more outdoorsy for the twins. I'm not overly into room "themes" so I wanted the art that I did put up to be cohesive and reflect the look I was going for without "over-theming" the room. (I don't think that's a word - spell check is giving me the red line - but I'm sticking with it). Anyway, I guess this theme or some version of it is pretty popular, because I had no trouble finding supplies to make their cute monogram nursery art.

At first, I just had the painted letters glued to the birch wood as the whole craft. We hung them on the wall and it just looked... Small. The room is large, and despite getting the largest birch bark I could find at the craft store and the largest letters to fit on that wood, it simply wasn't big enough for the wall space I needed it to fill. Easy fix! I bought large canvases that I covered in burlap (to keep the rustic campy feel) then attached the birch bark and monogram to the canvas. Boom, the monogram fit the space much better while maintaining the theme.

DIY Woodland Monogram Nursery Art
- Raw edge wood (like this if you want it to look like mine)
- Letter(s) of choice (like this or this - just make sure they fit on/within your raw edge wood!)
- Acrylic paint and small paint brush
- Wood glue
- Fabric canvas on wood frame
- Small screws and electric drill/screwdriver
- Optional: fabric of choice to cover canvas with staple gun or small nails and hammer

Start by painting the letter(s) of the monogram with the acrylic paint in your desired color. It will need two or three coats, and you'll want the paint to dry completely between each coat, then let dry for 24 hours before adhering to the raw wood.

Take a damp towel and wipe down the birch wood (or wood of choice). Get any wood dust or particles removed before gluing the monogram letter(s) on. Use wood glue and apply to the letter, then adhere to the birch wood with firm pressure. Use a Q-tip to remove any excess glue that presses out and into view. Allow to dry for 24 hours.

If painting your canvas, paint the canvas and allow to dry for at least 24 hours (if you're using acrylic or latex paint; longer if using oil based paint). If you're covering it in fabric like I did, cut your fabric to slightly longer than the canvas (enough to wrap around to the back side of the canvas and give you at least an inch of extra fabric to secure it to the wooden frame of the canvas). Use a staple gun (a regular stapler isn't strong enough to pierce the wood frame) or small craft nails to nail the canvas to the wooden frame.

Once your birch wood with the monogram letter(s) and canvas are ready, place the birch wood where you want it on the canvas. In order to hang straight on the wall, you'll need it to be as close to centered as possible - you'll also need to use the wooden bar across the back of your canvas to screw it in, so you'll have to think about all of that as you're positioning it. Mark the position location. Use small screws and your drill bit to screw from the backside to secure the birch wood monogram to the canvas. This way, no screws will show on the front, but everything will be very secure.

Hang in your nursery and enjoy! Remember that it's advised to NOT hang heavy art pieces like this over cribs that are flush with the wall, because it can fall onto your baby. We have several inches of space between the walls and the crib on all sides for this very reason! Should the artwork fall off the wall, it will slide down the wall and hit the floor, not fall into the crib. Also think about hanging it high enough so that it's not in danger of being pulled off the wall once your baby can stand in his crib, and grab at things.

A DIY monogram for your baby's nursery to personalize it and fit your nursery theme
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We're getting so close to meeting our twin boys, Knox and Theodore! Tough Love Teethers was kind enough to make me these beautiful custom teethers for them, but I had to wait until we were ready to share the names! I've had the name Theodore on my short list of boy names forever. I love how many nickname possibilities there are with it. As his mommy, I will, of course, call him Teddy and my older boys already call him baby Teddy. I got the name Knox from the magazine Southern Living. Several months ago they had an article that listed old fashioned Southern baby names and fell in love with it!

Knox is my Baby A and Teddy is my Baby B. So if all goes as planned via my birth plan, Knox will be the firstborn twin and Teddy will indeed be my baby Teddy. If I have to have a c section for some reason, that will be flipped and Teddy will be the firstborn. We'll see how it all pans out! Either way, I've got this adorable DIY monogram nursery craft hanging on the walls, ready to welcome them home. 

Monday, September 17, 2018

Selecting Which Breast Pump To Get FREE From Your Health Insurance

Obamacare mandated that all health insurance in the U.S. provide pregnant women with a breast pump at no cost to them. Here's how to simplify the process and get the right pump delivered to your door!

This post is sponsored by Aeroflow. All opinions are my own.

Goodness sakes, there are SO many things to think of and prepare for when you're pregnant, isn't there? It doesn't matter if you're on your first baby or your 10th, there are tons of things to do and think about and plan for with a new addition to your family. Hiring a nanny, finding daycare, setting up a nursery or bassinet in your room, washing old clothes, buying new ones, preparing siblings... That's just what popped into my mind on a moments notice, there's so much more to do and think about! Including selecting and getting your FREE breast pump. The Affordable Care Act passed in 2010 and implemented several years later (depending on what state you're in) requires health insurance companies - ALL of them - to provide pregnant women with a breast pump. But how do you do it and which one should you or can you choose? I'm here to help you select which breast pump to get for free from your health insurance and tell you a little bit about my story with it.

Henry was born in 2014, which was the year every state had to comply with the new health care law. Fortunately, I knew that and knew that it meant a free breast pump for me. I was about 28 weeks pregnant when I called the number on the back of my insurance card and got passed around from department to department trying to figure out what the process was to get my complimentary pump. Could I get any one I wanted? Did I get reimbursed? Did I have to buy it at a specific place? Since the law was new to Texas, things were a bit messy and everyone was learning at the same time. 

Finally, I got to the right department and learned that I had three options to choose from and had to purchase them via a medical supplier my insurance had a contract with. I had to get a prescription for the pump from my healthcare provider, upload a few forms to a website, fill out some online paperwork, get the clearance from my insurance, AND do it all within 30 days prior to my due date and up to 30 days after my due date. Confused? Yeah, it was a mess, and it all had to get done in a very narrow time frame! The time frame that, quite frankly, I wanted to nest and relax and NOT think about forms and prescriptions and breast pumps.

That story ended as chaotically as it began: because I gave birth to Henry early, I still didn't have my breast pump, and because he was a small preemie, my doctors wanted me to pump to bring in my milk heavier and faster so he'd have plenty to gain weight from. I ended up getting the pump 30 days after my due date, when Henry was already two months old. And in the meantime, we had to pay out of pocket for a hospital grade pump because we had already "used" the insurance benefit on a pump that didn't get shipped to us in time.

Fast forward to 2018, and the process has largely worked most of the kinks out. Even better, there are companies like Aeroflow that do ALL the work for you, at NO CHARGE TO YOU! It's so simple. You enter your information, due date and insurance info and state. Aeroflow then lists out which pumps you qualify for so that you can compare them. This was my favorite part, because now that I'm expecting twins, I wanted the absolute BEST pump I could get. Then they deal with your insurance, make sure they get all the required medical forms (and notify you if it's something you need to get) and ship it to you once you meet all your insurance's requirements. It's so much easier than doing all the leg work yourself! For this pregnancy, all I had to do was fill out one online form, submit my health insurance info and get a prescription from my OB, and Aeroflow did everything else. My pump arrived at my door when I was 30 weeks pregnant with my twins. Boom.

Speaking of pumps, there are tons of options on the market, and I'm convinced that there is no universal right choice for any woman. So take a look at each pump's features, talk to other moms and ask your health care provider or a lactation consultant for their thoughts on what the best option is for you that you qualify for via your health insurance. 

My OB told me if I wanted to be successful at breastfeeding, I'd need a medical grade pump with twins. That meant I could rent a hospital pump or get one of the few medical grade pumps on the market. I still have my Medela Pump In Style Advanced that I used briefly with Henry (because it came so late!) and used throughout breastfeeding Otto. It was ok... And just ok. I was never that impressed by it, especially after having the hospital pump for the first few months of Henry's infancy! Moisture was always getting in my tubing and had to be replaced regularly, which was expensive. It's a LOUD pump, so when I got up at night I had to go to a different room so that I didn't wake my husband. But all the parts are sold everywhere, which was convenient, and I could pump right into one of Otto's bottles, so it was efficient and easy to clean. 

This time around I went with the Spectra S1PLUS. Another cool thing about Aeroflow is that while it lists what pumps are 100% covered from your health insurance, it also lists what the cost is for an upgrade. My insurance covered the Spectra S2PLUS fully, and my upgrade fee to the S1PLUS was a mere $39. That was totally worth it to me to get the cordless feature of the S1PLUS and a few more programming capabilities. There are also packages you can buy, so that when you get your pump, you get all the necessary parts too. While insurance buys the pump for you, it only sends the bare minimum accessories, and you'll want/need to buy additional flanges, bottles, tubing, etc so that you have enough on hand to effectively pump.

Confused? Email me here, ask a lactation consultant or another experienced mom that you trust.

I love that I received my pump in advance of my birth this time too! It's given me time to play around with it and get to know it, so that when I do need to use it, I know what I'm doing. I have to say, I'm super impressed with the Spectra! This pump was designed for a pumping mom. It has SO many more features than the Medela PISA that I used with my first two babies! I can program pump sessions into it, then simply hit that button and get that pump. So I could do a "regular pump" that lasts about 25 minutes with a few minutes of a letdown speed in the beginning. I could do a "power pump" that lasts 10 minutes for when you're trying to boost supply (typically done after you've breastfed the baby already) and I can program a night pump that lasts for as many minutes as I want to be awake for in the middle of the night. I don't have to watch the time or pay attention to anything - just hit the button of the pump session I want and space out/doze/play or work on my phone/ etc. 

There's a nightlight on the pump so I don't have to turn on lights and wake people up. The pump is QUIET! So quiet, I'll be able to pump in bed, with the nightlight feature, and not wake my husband. That's great for me because it means I'll be able to return to sleep more easily! And the suction seems to be better than the Medela. Both pumps have adjustable suction power, and stronger doesn't mean better. But the Spectra seems more efficient, where my Medela seemed to work really hard for that suction. The Spectra's seems even and consistent where the Medela seemed to provide inconsistent suction (one day a level 5 would work, the next day I'd need it set to a 7 for the same effect, sometimes I'd change the suction mid-pump because it was too strong/ineffective).

These, of course, are all my preferences and you might have a totally different opinion on both the pumps! Just like every woman's pregnancy is different, every woman's breastfeeding journey is different. You may rarely use a pump or you may return to work and depend on it. You might be like me and start out exclusively breastfeeding, then switch to exclusively pumping when you go back to work. Any way you slice it, you're entitled as a pregnant woman to get a free pump from your health insurance! Aeroflow makes the whole process seamless and easy on you, and can help guide you through the process. Mommin' aint easy, but selecting which breast pump to get free from your health insurance doesn't have to be hard with the right service like Aeroflow and the right information to make your selection!