Jun 30, 2012

Last Minute Patriotic Crafts

I am posting these extremly last minute not because I am slow at posting but because I seriously made these two things last night/afternoon just in the nick of time.  They are both super easy so you still have time even today to get them made.
The first is a 2x4 flag.  This requires a bit of hubby assistance as you will need to have 6 2x4's cut the same length.  I didn't sand them, or even brush them off before painting.  I wanted it to be as rustic as possible.  Spray paint them the appropriate colors (before assembling), I made an el-cheapo cardboard stencil for the stars.  After they are painted sand them.  Then flip them over and nail thin boards on the back to hold them all together (or a heavy duty staple or nail gun could be used-which leads me to a side note: power tools are fairly essential to crafting I am finding out.  I Wish I had more confidence in using them-I could do some serious crafting damage).  My husband was gone while I put the whole thing together so the actual assembly for me was a bit of a gong show (which is why I am not showing you the view from the back).  But I got it together and up for now until he can step in a help fix it.  I have it on my front step tucked behind these milk cans.  I love it. 
The second is a burlp covered wreath.  I cleaned out my craft room today and had one random piece of burlap that I didn't know where to store it.  So I had a moment of inspiration and this lovely and patriotic wreath was created and the burlap is now taken care of.
 I cut my burlap into strips long enough to wrap around the wreath.  I spray painted them red, white and blue.  Then using hot glue I wrapped them around the wreath and glued in place alternating red and white strips.  NOTE: be very careful gluing these on-the glue soaks right through the burlap and is very dangerous just ask my finger that is missing a big chunk of skin that was stuck to the hot glue (it's not pretty).
 Add the strips of blue.
Paint on the stars. I just free handed some stars with white paint and a brush.
 And done.  Literally 15 minutes start to finish and I love everything about it.

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Jun 27, 2012

Baby Bonding

I wanted to start by saying thank you to everyone who left kind and encouraging words in regards to my last baby related post.  It was hard for me to tell the truth ( I have wanted to many times but was too worried about what people would think) but it was really strengthening to hear some other stories and receive such kind words, so again I say, "thank you."

As the due date for my little man gets closer I have been thinking about how I want to spend time with him from the moment he is born and create a strong bond.  I didn't bond well with my little pumpkin and it took many months to form a really good bond but I am hoping to have more success this time around.  The problem is I am not exactly sure what it is that I should do right after the baby is born.  Let's face it, I am not a stay in bed type person (in fact I am totally the opposite-a do, do do all day person), I don't like to sleep in, I don't wear my pj's past 8:00am, I am pretty independent and I have two other kids and a husband who will be back at work by the time the baby is born.  With my pumpkin my husband stayed home for 2 days and then had to get back to work.  I didn't know what to do with myself considering I had another child already who needed me and my mom told me long before that how much she hated my vacuum, so I just got right back to doing all my normal stuff: housework, cooking meals, laundry, and blogging.  Then one day I realized I hadn't even taken a moment to recover from having had a baby or adding a second child into the mix but by then everyone was used to having mom back and so it just had to continue. 

So my question to you is: how do you bond with a new baby when you have a household that depends on you, a couple of supper meals brought in by people and not a lot of family near by to help?  Any suggestions or things that have worked for you?
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Jun 26, 2012

Super Simple Scrapbook/Photobook

I've mentioned this before but I will mention it again; I am not a good scrapbooker.  I have tons of photos that will never be scrapbooked.  It is just too time consuming for me.  I know some people absolutely love it and it is a passion and I wish that were me, but it is not.  I want to preserve my memories but I want them to be cute and easy to do.  On my personal blog I post a lot of collage pictures like this:

as I just can't seem to delete very many of my cute girls and that always makes for way too many to post, so I turn them into collages.  Well last year I wanted to see if I could just put all those collages into a photobook so that I could have a hard copy of all of them.  I used Snapfish and created a photobook where each page was one of the collages I had previously made.  It was simple and easy.  I usually try and make a photobook once a year but it is really hard to pick and choose all the photos and choose backgrounds etc (especially if you are like me and put it off until the last moment before a certain deal ends).  I really like the collage book because I had everything made ahead of time and just had to drag and drop the pictures.  Last month on Facebook I saw a little ad on the sidebar stating that if I "liked" MyPublisher I could get a coupon code for some discount on a photobook.  I can't remember the exact discount but I decided that it was a good deal and I hadn't ever used this company before but I wanted to see if I could make another collage photo book.  Out of all the companies I have used (Snapfish, Blurb, Picaboo) this was by far my favorite.  It was really easy to use, I liked how it let me organize my photos so I didn't have to search through all of them to choose which one to add next.  I did that all in one step.  And I really liked the price plus they always have tons of coupon deals. 
So here is what I did (and literally I did all of this in 3 days).  I hadn't had many new photo collages made of a half a years worth of pictures so I started with that.  I use Picasa to edit all of my photos.  It is a program you download to your computer.  It gives you options to edit pictures, create photo collages, I use it to make my banners on my blogs, you can type text onto your pictures and more that I haven't even discovered.  It is really easy to create a photo collage.  You just click the pictures you want, you can download digital scrapbook paper to add backgrounds and then click the collage button then play away (if you want a tutorial let me know and I will create one).  Anyway I went through all my photos and created collages of them.  Some were really simple, some had a background, some were a background with one photo, some I added text and all I added the month and year they were taken.  Then I used MyPublisher to create my book.  I put the whole thing together in a couple of hours and found a coupon they were offering for a set price on photobooks no matter how many pages.  In the end with shipping it cost $48.00 and I think that is a pretty good deal for a 60 page photobook.  Here is a little look:

What I like about this is that you could leave a blank spot to write in it yourself if you want it to include your own handwriting.  You could also leave blank spots to include embellishments if that suits your fancy.  It is so easy-the easiest way to make a memory book I think.  It isn't fancy by any means but even that you could change.  You could pay more for a custom cover, or fancier paper or lay flat pages. If you are being held back by an overwhelming number of photos and you don't know where to start and you feel you don't have any scrapbooking bones in your body then this might be the answer for you.  And I am not getting paid or being given anything free to tell you this.  But I do have a little offer to share with you that I got in the mail with my photobook.  If you have never used MyPublisher then this is for you to try:

Go to : MyPublisher.com/friend and enter your e-mail address to receive a $20.00 giftcard to try MyPublisher.  It says it is for first time customers only and a one time use thing but that is a sweet deal. 

 And if you have used that up then keep your eyes open for other photobook deals (you can search online to find tons).  When one comes along it is simple to get a photobook made when you can just drag and drop already made photo collages onto a page.
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Jun 21, 2012

My Version of the Styrofoam Ball Wreath

 Have you seen these on Pinterest or out in blog land-styrofoam ball wreaths?  I think they are super cute.  I was just bound and determined I had to have one for my front door for the summer.  Have you ever looked at the price of a package of styrofoam balls?  They are not cheap-like $5.00 for a package of 4 or 5 (except maybe not wholesale-I never looked at those prices because that would have taken longer than I wanted anyway).  I wanted to make wreath NOW.  So I tried to think of other possible ways to get round shapes for a wreath and guess what I came up with:
 Don't you just love seeing my whole pregnant body in that shiney ornament?  Christmas ornaments.  I bought 3 full boxes for $3.00 at the thrift store.  They are light weight and easy to wrap (though not unbreakable I might add so be warned).  I wrapped my fabric around them-adding a dab of hot glue here and there, and then glued them to my wreath base and ended up with a pretty summer decoration.  Super easy and super cheap too.

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Jun 20, 2012

Super Simple Mini Album Idea

I am always looking for ways to create keepsakes for my girls that I know I will be able to start and finish in a day or maybe two.  I just am not a scrapbooker-it takes too much time for me.  I want simple and easy and that is just what these are.  I found this cardstock at a scrapbook store. I knew it would be the perfect size to pair with 4x6 photos.  It had places for me to write and I loved the colors and design.  I bought 2 different pages, cut them apart as marked, wrote notes about my girls on the pages, added the photos, a ring clip on the corner and some ribbon and done (in less than an hour I might add).

This is the paper that I used.  It is by Simple Stories and they are item numbers #2111 and #2112.  I also found a similar set of papers for boys too only it has wallet sized pages so I am going to make a mini "mini scrapbook" for my little man when he is born.
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Jun 15, 2012

Easy, Fast and Cheap Kid Activities

I am always on the look out for something that my kids can play with, or that I can do with my kids that does not involve running around and being crazy (which is what they always suggest we do when given the chance).  I need things that I can whip up in a second or that are new and exciting without being alot of work.  Here are two great ideas. 
This first one I found on Pinterest.  It is a city map made out of masking tape on the floor connecting houses and other "town" like toys.  I had a bunch of toys in the basement and found as many cars and trucks as we have in a all girl house.  The girls were super excited to see this but didn't play with it that much at first, except when my husband or I played with them.  But they asked me to leave it and went back to it multiple times over the next couple of days.  I think I left it up for 3 days total.  It was really easy to make and took about 10 minutes during nap time. 
 The second one is going to be one of my favs I think: painting with water.  I know it is the simplest idea and yet so fun.  Why didn't I think of this before.  I didn't want the girls to get messy but wanted something new to do outside.  I brought out jars of water and paint brushes and away they went.  We wrote names and practiced writing letters, we splattered the water with the brushes and all with no clean up at all.  It was fantasic and is something any mom can throw together in a matter of seconds.

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Jun 12, 2012

Missionary Onesies for my little guy

 I whipped these up the other day for my little man on the way-Future Missionary Onesies.  I love the chunky tie with the little tag along side.

 I made my tags a new way this time printing them directly on fabric rather than an iron on transfer so that they don't stretch and ripe as you put the onesie on. 
Just throwing this out there but if anyone is interested in some future missionary tags I will make you a set of 4 for $4.00 (USA only sorry-well actually I will make them for anyone but the charge will be higher depending on where you want them shipped).  I know they aren't rocket science to make or anything but in case you want some and don't have the time or can't figure out how to do that, I am just offering.  Drop me an e-mail if you want some.
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Jun 9, 2012

The Best Form of Discipline I have Found-A Real Mommy Moment

I thought as my kids got older they were supposed to be over their "terribles" but that doesn't appear to be the case.  Consequently I find myself searching out discipline ideas and tactics for handling the "strong willed" child more than ever before.  But of all the things I have found and read and tried this one seems to always work best: paying attention to my children.  It seems like for every 10 minutes of quality time I give them I get 20 minutes of peace and calm and kindness and playing well together in return.  It is when I am trying to "get things done" that I spend so much of my time settling arguments, setting time out buzzers, calming down a meltdown and comforting a crying child, not to mention trying to get my own emotions under control and not flying off the handle.  When I take time to watch the latest crazy dance, or play a game, or push swings, or color on the couch I have far less discipline problems.  I am not saying they are gone entirely but they are much less and I feel better about myself as a mom because I am not tense and angry and I am doing what is most important for a mom to do: pay attention to her kids.  Case in point: Small Fry was having a day.  I think she had been in time out a few times and had been sent to her room a few times to calm down until she was ready to talk nice and not scream and kick and be rude.  Time after time she came back to find me and stomp her foot and clench her teeth and scream at me or her sister.  Finally while she was in her room again the thought came to my mind, "the tea set" and I said to my husband, "is there something that you can do with pumpkin for a few minutes so that I can do something just will small fry and give her the attention that I know she is needing right now?"  He agreed.  I went in to talk to her about not acting the way she was and how I needed her to say she was sorry for how she was acting and use kind words and she was crying and just wanted to be held.  I told her that when she was ready to be calm then she and I would go on a special date to run some errands and buy some cookies so that we could all have a family tea party.  She was super excited about that idea.  (Now in case you are thinking this, I did not feel that the tea party was a reward for her acting the way she was.  I felt that she had fully mended the damage done to the best of her 4 year old ability and used the tea party as a much needed time for us to be together in hopes that it would lessen any future outbursts for the day).  We went to run errands while my husband took pumpkin to the school with him where she got to be the center of attention.  We bought cookies that small fry picked out and grapes and got home and got the tea set all ready.  We found extra stuffed animals to have as guests to the party and were ready and waiting when sissy and dad got home.  Then we all sat on the floor for a fabulous party complete with spills and pinkies up in the air.  It was wonderful.  The girls loved every second and the best part of all was that we didn't have another incident with tantrums or melt downs for the rest of the day.

It is not nearly as easy to play with my kids as I thought it would be before having kids.  It takes time and creativity and effort but man does it ever make a difference.  They would have me be at their beckon call all day long if it was up to them and that just isn't possible but when I make time with them-and do some of the things they want, or come up with a creative thing for us to do together we just have better days, and I can't think of an easier form of discipline.  Put it to the test.
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Jun 7, 2012

Countdown to baby

WARNING: This post is candid and honest.  If you can't handle that then pass it by.

So I have been thinking lately about how excited I am to have this little boy in my arms.  I am so excited to have a baby in our house again.  My girls are excited.  My hubby is over the moon excited.  I am feeling fine with changing diapers (though I have no idea what to do with changing boys), and getting up at night, and blow out's and spit up.  But actually having to bring the baby into the world, as in push him out of my body does not sound the least bit appealing to me in any way right now.  In fact I just plain don't want to have to do it.  I am searching high and low for some other option besides pushing him out or having him cut out but have not seemed to find any luck in the matter.  If you happen to know an alternative route please let me know cause I am looking for anything right now.  I know they say that you forget the pain of birth after it happens and that is why women go on to have multiple babies (plus there really aren't any other options) but let me tell you people, I have not forgotten.  I had both of my girls naturally and I will be darned if I do that again.  It was my choice both times.  I mainly did it out of fear of feeling inferior to friends that are "all natural" girls.  I didn't want to be the one they were talking about as "not knowing what she is doing to her child" by having drugs during the birth process.  With Small Fry it was long and hard but she was transverse and so the doctor assured me had she been turned the right way it would have been much easier.  I felt a bit of pride having actually done it and decided that I could probably do it again with a baby turned the right direction.  So when it came time to have my little pumpkin I was set to do it again but this time experienced the worst back labor ever and was so super exhausted by the time I had to push that I thought I was going to die.  Plus my little pumpkin came out on her shoulder.  I remember in the last few minutes of pushing I said, "Heavenly Father I either need to get this baby out or let me die cause I can't take it any more."  And she was born and I didn't even want to hold her because I was bawling, so grateful it was over.  The year following her birth was extremely hard for me.  I had post partum depression for almost a good part of the year.  I hated breast feeding and had to stop because I was feeling so resentful towards my little baby every time I had to do it.  I didn't hold or snuggle her nearly enough.  We were not bonded.  In fact I would make myself go into her room while she was sleeping and list off things that I loved about her because I was so overwhelmed and emotional and frustrated that they didn't come to my mind easily at all.   I suffered alone-no one knew.  My husband always told me he just thought I was tired.  But there were times that I was ready to pack up and take off-only I didn't have any place that I could go.  When she approached her 1st birthday I finally started to see that I was getting out of the biggest low I had ever been in, in my life.  So I think all of that plays into not wanting to actually have to give birth either.  I don't want to have to go through all of that again.  I feel very blessed that God has trusted me enough to let me have another child to redeem myself as the mother of a new born.  And by all means I don't feel the slightest bit inferior for planning on having drugs this time.  And if you will pardon me for just as second as I step on my soapbox I just have to say that I think that giving birth is such a completely personal thing and such a completely personal decision that no one has the right to ever say that it can only be done in one way, or that there is one best way in which to do it.  The same goes for feeding your baby, to what kind of diapers you use, to how you have them sleep, to what you have them wear.  I know some people have strong opinions in one regard or another but it is a sensitive and personal thing and should not ever be open for public scrutiny (in my opinion).  And now I will step down.
Having said all that, I was on Pinterest the other day and came across a blog post about things that one must do in her last weeks of pregnancy and it made me laugh (because they are so true) and also nearly cry because it means I will have to experience so many of them all too soon.  If you are a first time mom, you need to read this because there is a good chance there are some things no one has told you.  Oh and take time to read the comments because they are also very informative.  You can go here to read the post.  And while you are at it check out this post as well on 10 Things No one Told you About Giving Birth (don't read it with your children around okay-there is one photo that is not kid appropriate but it portrays exactly how I felt while breast feeding).  It is a candid post-if you can't hack it don't go.
And just so that I haven't sent anyone into a state of panic over my own mental state-I know I will have to give birth and I will do it and it will be fine.  I just want my little man in my arms so that I can hold and snuggle him and kiss him as much as I possibly can because I am so grateful that I get another chance to do it.
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Jun 1, 2012

Yogurt Help

We live off of a major Interstate highway and recently a semi-truck carrying cartons of yogurt wrecked.  When these things happen the stuff is brought into town and anyone in town can come and get what they want or need.  Well I currently have a fridge full of plain and vanilla yogurt so I am petitioning all of you to share your yogurt recipes or links to some.  I know I could use all the inspiration I can get and my friends and neighbors who read my blog and also have fridges full of yogurt would appreciate them too.  Thanks.
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