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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thursday's Photography Challenge - Week 1: Self-Portrait

So I got home today and opened up Facebook and, after realizing that someone spammed my blog's wall (jerks), I scrolled down to notice the link to the photography challenge hosted by Laura Beth at A Step in the Journey that I said I would do.  Dangit!
It sounds like a lot of fun, though, and you should totally do it!  You don't have to have a blog to do it, either (and it's okay if you miss the first week).  You can just upload to a photo hosting site.  I love it.  It makes me feel like I'm in college again in my photography classes.

Anyhoo, I was shopping with the boys all afternoon, and they were champs, but it was exhausting.  It was a full day, and I was not looking my best, to say the least.  But I thought, 'This is me right now - frazzled, messy-haired, baggy-eyed, tired, but happy and content.'  And then I thought, 'But it looks like I just went into the bathroom and shot a picture of myself in the mirror with no thought put into it.'  And then I was like, 'Yeah, that's because that's exactly what I did.'

So that's it.  Not much to it.  There is a tiny depth of field, though (note the cabinet is blurred while I'm in focus), proper exposure, and the use of the rule of thirds.  There is not any contrast in lighting, though, even though I didn't use a flash.  It is what it is, though.  Next week I promise to put more thought into it.  ;)  And thank GOD I don't have to do another self-portrait until week 20.  These wrinkles don't need to be all out there for the inter-world to see.




Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Operation Food Overhaul - Installment #234

Every so often I realize that our diets have unraveled into a processed mess, and I wonder how we got there again.  I've been getting my diet under control (with the exception of those all-too delicious chocolate chip cookie muffins that I made the other day - way ridiculous), but I notice that the boys are taking advantage of my distractedness and have been eating way too much junk.

PBJs are all too regular around here.  And they're not even "bad" PBJs.  I make them with whole wheat bread, all-natural peanut butter, and Simply Fruit jelly.  But those are still so high in calories and fat, especially when that's all they're eating!  Plus, I guess since it's summer, we're out and about more often, and the food choices are not all that great unless you pack your own.

Today I had the laptop out on the couch with the boys and opened up Pinterest.  We pinned a whole bunch of healthy kids' recipes that they'll hopefully love.  Samuel is the picky one, so if I can make something healthy that he likes, then it's gold!  If you want to see my recipe board, click here.

While I was on Pinterest I ran across this website a LOT:
Healthy Meals for Healthy Kids

Have you seen it?  It's AWE-SOME!  I'm pretty sure it's going to be a go-to source for me from now on.  Love it!

source

Plus, I've decided to buy this bad boy, so if you have stock in Eggo, go ahead and sell now; the Hedgies are no longer keeping them in business.  I refuse to waste any more money on frozen waffles!!!  You heard it here, first!

So make me feel better and tell me that I'm not the only one who let's it all get away from them.  What are the two things that you wish you didn't have to buy anymore or cut way back on?  (Mine are all-natural peanut butter and frozen waffles.)  What do you do to reign it back in?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tipsy Tuesday: Nighttime Routine

Tip of the week: 
Post your nighttime routine
When I put something in writing, my kids think it's law.  This has worked amazingly for us (thanks, honey, for thinking of it).  And with school about to start, I'm glad that we implemented it in time for it to become habit.  


Do you do this?  Do you have a better spin on it?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Motherhood and it kicking my rear

This morning, after nearly crying because I couldn't find my favorite, black, Rolling Stones t-shirt and going on a tirade looking for it, I wrote this status update on Facebook:


Depressed today. Motherhood is kinda kicking my rear.

It obviously wasn't about my t-shirt.  I was just so tired, literally and figuratively.  Levi was freaking out about something, and the screaming was going through my head like a nail.  The cleaning lady was coming (poor me, I know), and I had to get the house ready for her and be out of my bathroom by the time she got there.  The kids were hungry for breakfast (oh yeah, that's why Levi was crying).  And I just blew.


Then I took the kids to the museum, and lucky me, it was field trip day so the place was packed.  Even though I didn't have the money in the budget, I decided to take the kids to the cafe there and get lunch, and the lady behind me in line kept bumping into me.  I swear I nearly turned around and snapped her in two, but I resisted.  Here's a hint lady: you stand too close to people!  All in all, though, the boys were really good, so that made me happy.  


The pressure from a bunch of little things has been adding up, and it's nothing new to motherhood, but it still kinda sucks when you're in the thick of it.  I'm sleepy from Isaac keeping me up still.  I'm frustrated that I don't know why he keeps waking up in the middle of the night, and I'm worried that I'm missing something.  I'm sad that I have to cut back on caffeine so that I can see if that's what the culprit is.  I'm tired of breastfeeding.  I know I won't wean him until 12 months, but I really feel like it.  And I want those damn teeth to break through already so that I can have my sweet baby back.


Like I said, nothing new to motherhood.  And even when it's all typed out nothing seems like a very big deal.  I do certainly feel like a whiner now, but whatever; you moms know how I feel.  I keep telling myself that this summer is probably the toughest it will be in terms of raising small children.  (I don't do the baby years well.)  I also keep reminding myself that we have it extremely good.  Everyone is healthy and well, and I have every reason for a heart full of thanksgiving and joy.  I know so many people with lives much harder than mine, navigating through their journeys with such grace, so I'm going to try to find a bit of peace and gratitude of my own today.  


I do need to get away from the kids for a bit today, though!  I think I'll hit the gym and work off those curly fries and BBQ sandwich I splurged on at the museum today.  

Friday, July 22, 2011

My Fitness Pal is my Pal!

So I am THRILLED to be past the next 5 pound increment of my goal weight.  8.5 pounds to go until I'm to my goal weight!  


I was doing Weight Watchers for the first 15 or so pounds that I lost after the baby was born, but just 10 days ago I switched to using My Fitness Pal to jumpstart me out of a plateau.  WW was good for me, but I was tiring of it.  I had pretty much altogether quit tracking my food and wasn't losing at all for about a month or more.  PLUS, I was paying $18 a month for it!  


Source
MFP is both a website and a smartphone app (not just iPhone), and it's FREE.  I LOVE IT!!  The features that I love most about it are:


{}  You can share all of your information with your friends that are also using it, so it REALLY keeps me accountable and motivated.  I have an amazing group of girlfriends on there that are so dedicated and encouraging, and they really keep me going.  (It's similar to a Facebook interface.)


{}  It keeps track of how many days you've logged your calories in a row, so it makes you not want to skip a day.  One of my inspiring friends has logged for over 450 days now!  


{}  You can choose to share your food diary with your friends or not.  I do because it keeps me balanced.


{}  There is a barcode reader on the iPhone app so that you can just scan the barcode of the food you need to log, and it gives you all the nutrition info.


{}  The food database is added to by everyone using the app, so it's got everything you could possibly think of (well, except for the Aldi rum I bought).  And with all of the people using it, most everything is pretty much correct because other users can say if it's accurate or not.


{}  It gives you other nutrition information besides just calories, fat, and fiber.  For example, I learned that I'm eating way too much cholesterol, and I never knew that on WW.  (I still can't give up my 2 eggs every morning, though.)


{}  At the end of the day when you're finished logging all of your food and exercise it says, "If everyday were like today, then you'd weigh X in five weeks."  I LOVE that!  On one of my bad days it said I'd weigh like 5 pounds more, and yesterday, a good day, it said 7 pounds less - very motivating!


I am so super excited about this app/website.  If you decide to get it, let me know, and I'll friend you!  


So I promised progress pictures at every 5 pound increment.  As of this moment that I'm typing, I haven't taken the picture yet, so I'm eager to see if there's a difference.  Hmmm....should I wait until I do my hair and makeup to take the pic??  Nah, I'll just cover my face with my gigantic and awesome camera.
So the difference is subtle, but I'm alright with that.  I think it's because I need to do more toning.  (I just started back at the gym this week.)  I just realized that it took me over two months to lose 6.5 pounds!  Dude!  And 3.5 of those pounds were lost in the last 10 days on My Fitness Pal.  Yet another reason I love it.


Oh and just so you know, these are all my opinions and I wasn't paid by anyone to write about MFP.  I just really love how this app is helping me get to my goal!  (If they wanted to pay me, however, I wouldn't mind.)  ;)

Weekend Bloggy Reading

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Are you DYEING to see my shower curtain?

If you saw me on Facebook, you'll know that I was on pins and needles wondering if this would work.  So here's the situation.  My parents went away for a week's vacation.. (holla if you get the joke). My boys' shower curtain was white, and it kept getting stained by the water.  So weird and gross, I know.  Whatev. 
So I decided to dye it grey.  (BTW, I've been spelling it "dying" instead of "dyeing" all of my life until today.  Oh the shame.)  This was my first ever dyeing experience, so I was quite nervous.
But I just had to follow the directions on the box, so it wasn't too difficult.
I probably should have experimented with something smaller to start out with, but I think it turned out pretty good.  The pics don't do it justice.  It was hard to get the exposure correct. 


Anyhoo, I think I'll be doing it again.  It's a fantastic way to save money.  Plus, you end up with something that no one else has!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Growth Chart FINALLY Finished

My mantra this week has been: "I will not start a new project until I finish the last one."  It's funny that that makes me so much more motivated and productive.


Way back when, I had on my summer to-do list to create a replica of Angie's amazing growth chart.  Surely you've seen it everywhere by now because it's so super cool.  Well, I was waiting for the right size piece of wood to come along, because God forbid I actually have to buy one!


Well, as luck would have it, a house was being torn down, so I snuck in after hours and hooked myself up.  
I won't give you the play-by-play because Angie gives a great tutorial on her blog.  I did do mine a little differently just because I didn't have stencils - I printed numbers, traced them, then painted them with a steady hand.  Either way works.
I'm SOOOO glad that I thought to copy down the sizes that we marked on the door frame before we had them painted over!  Thanks for the idea to do this chart, Angie!  It's sure to be a family treasure!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tipsy Tuesday: Kids' Soap Pump

So I thought it would be fun to implement some kind of a weekly post, and I've been wanting to share some tips of the mama trade.  So bada-bing-bada-boom, you got Tipsy Tuesday!
Now understand that I don't think I have it all together or that I have all the answers, but I love hearing other peoples tips, so I thought I'd pass along my own.  


This one we just came up with a month or so ago.  I would come into the boys' bathroom and see their shampoo/body wash laying on its side in the bathtub with its entire contents on the floor of the tub.  I was so annoyed!  It was such a waste, and I just hate that.  


Enter the pump.  
It has already paid for itself in shampoo saved from a frightful destiny.  Target has them on sale for $5.99, and they come in all different colors.  And I know this is obvious, but plastic is the way to go for this.  ;)  


ETA: This pump was a POS!  It leaked out the bottom.  WTH!  


Got any other ingenious tips for bath time?  

Monday, July 18, 2011

Let Them Be Little

My bil reminded me of that song in his post about co-sleeping, and I thought it was so fitting in regard to yesterday's big event.  We had Isaac's baby dedication at our church, and it was just perfect.  


So if you're not familiar with baby dedications, it's basically just a prayer time for the family so that we can dedicate ourselves to raising them in a godly home.  
We decided to have our older two come up with us because it was more special for us that way.  We wanted them to feel a part of it and grasp the depth of it.  It was so wonderful.  Levi brought his Buzz Lightyear rocket with him and kept pulling the string so that everyone could hear "Buzz Lightyear to the rescue" followed by rocket ship sounds. Then while I was speaking he kept making his own sound effects. It was hilarious.
Michael punted to me, so I had to do the talking.  My talking points were:
- The cliche is true that having children is like watching your heart walk around in the world all exposed and vulnerable, therefor we really just have to put our trust in God.
- Our kids are on loan from God, and we are God's stewards of them (except I made a Freudian slip and said that we're their - the kids' - stewards; they knew what I meant).
- Boys will not remember much of what you tell them but will remember most of what you do.
- I want Michael and I to be the type of people that we want our kids to be when they grow up.


So try saying all of that in front of a whole church full of people while Levi is blowing air through pursed lips, making everyone crack up.  It was awesome, though.  Just perfect.  
Isaac was gnawing on our pastor's finger while we prayed.  A boy's gotta teethe!  
I love my family.  :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Co-sleeping Considerations

::Sigh:: Well, my six-month old Isaac is just about breaking me.  When Michael convinced me we decided to have a third kid, we vowed that things would be different this time.  We'd set things up to be easier and not so intense.  With our first two, we were attachment parent poster children.  Our room was totally set up for co-sleeping, too.  We basically just had a mattress on the floor, and as they got older we added a box spring.  


Well, when we finally got stinker #2 out of our room, we remodeled/redesigned our room to become a parental haven (sans kids).  So now that #3 is here, I don't really want to share my haven with him.  ::Sigh::


But here's the deal - I'm not sleeping, and I think I might just die if I don't get some sleep SOON.  So he's been sleeping in my haven more than I'd like.  


He starts out in his room each night, but for the past 2-3 weeks he's been waking up like every two hours to nurse, so I end up putting him in bed with me to nurse while I sleep for the last third or half of the night.  I think the first week or so was a growth spurt followed by another week or so of teething.  I'm to the point of drinking more caffeine than I'm comfortable with just to function.  


So alas, it appears that co-sleeping is my only option right now (at least for the short term), as I'm philosophically opposed to sleep training (ETA: before 18 months or so) or CIO.  It's alright, though.  This is not a bad face to wake up to.   
cosleeping, co-sleeping, night waking, attachment parenting
  

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Home Tour on Craft Scrappy Happy

So remember I told you that I'm guest blogging over at Crafty Scrappy Happy on Wednesday?!!!  Well, it's up, and I hope ALL of you will come by and say hi.  :)  You may just want to follow Jaime's blog, too.  It's pretty amazing.  Browse around while you're there.  You'll be hooked.  :)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Yellow and Gray Wedding


Hello and Happy Tuesday!  First of all, before I forget (I really wouldn't forget because I'm so excited about it), I'm guest blogging over at Crafty Scrappy Happy tomorrow!!!  I'm so thrilled, and I hope ALL of you will come by and say hi.  :)  You'll LOVE Jaime's blog.  I'm SO incredibly inspired by it all the time.  She's so super creative!  I'll be giving you my house tour, so you won't want to miss it!!!
So I told you my friend is letting me help decorate her wedding, and she very stylishly chose yellow and gray (it takes everything in me not to type grey) for her colors.  I LOVE the colors, but for some reason here in Texas retailers haven't caught up with the trend yet because I can't find ANY cool fabric or paper prints in those colors.  Oh well.  I guess that's what creativity is for (except online, of course).


Since this bride is a visual person (as most women are), I decided to make a mock centerpiece to see if I was going in the right direction for what she wanted.  One of her favorite inspiration pics on Pinterest has been this, but of course in yellow and grey gray.
yellow and gray wedding centerpiece
from At Second Street
So I came up with this below.  It's not the final product but just the idea.  Instead of silk flowers, of course, she's planning on fresh.  And the doily and yellow placemat are just things I grabbed out of my linen drawer, but you get the idea.  I have white fabric underneath because the tablecloths will be white.
yellow and gray wedding centerpiece
She likes it, although she wants a bolder yellow for the paint on the frame and round box and number.  The number is, of course, the table number.  We'll probably do a couple of votives, too, although it's an outdoor wedding, so we'll have to consider wind with the candles (maybe flameless votives, idk). 


We'll probably also do different things on each table but all painted with the same colors.  So they'll all have the same feel but without  being matchy-matchy (not that that's bad, I just think this is more fun to do different).
yellow and gray wedding centerpiece
So now for the good part, how much it all cost:
-$1.47 Wooden oval
-$2.49 Picture frame
-$0.00 Spanish moss (had it)
-$2.40 Candle (on clearance)
-$0.00 Gold rope (repurposed)
-$0.00 Faux jewel beads (repurposed)
-$0.00 Paint (mixed it myself)
-$6.36 TOTAL 


Holla! 


(I'm not counting the silk flowers since she's not using them.)  Not bad, I'd say!  I love being cheap.  :)  

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Hacks Above My Couch

I see the term "hack" used a lot around the blogosphere in reference to taking something and upcycling it to repurpose it.  There are whole websites dedicated to just IKEA hacks.  The stuff is so cheap, and you don't use it for very long usually, so there's a big blog market to repurpose all of those purchases.  


I've also seen the term used in reference to copying an item for much cheaper.  There are Pottery Barn hacks all over the blogosphere since their stuff is so expensive but made to look rustic and worn.  Pottery Barn hacking is so satisfying because you can make something that you know is trendy and cute (as confirmed in their gorgeous catalogs), but you don't spend a fortune on it.  


I, however, enjoy hacking other bloggers' ideas.  Hehe.  Imitation is the best form of flattery, right?!  Which brings me to my living room.  I painted this (which isn't an imitation)....
 ...about a year ago, but I'm so over it now.  
It was a cheapo Garden Ridge painting that I painted my own thing over since the old painting didn't match my new wall color.  
I like how the red looks on the "green river" blue of the walls and picks up on the red from the dining room (to the right of this picture) and the bookcase in the corner.  But I'm done with that silver frame.  I want something more woodsy and textural.  


So I saw these, and I am IN LOVE.  (They're both from the very talented Stephanie Lynn.)  Can you believe the white textured piece on the left is made out of party streamers?!  Yes, I think these are my next two hacks.  I want to put a long picture ledge above the couch and then do the white textured piece on the left with the deer painting on the right.  


I love both of them, but I'm a little nervous.  I have never ruffled anything on a sewing machine before (which is what you have to do with the streamers), so I don't know if it will be as good as Stephanie's.  Plus, she used an overhead projector to project the deer image onto the canvas (brilliant), but I'd have to freehand it.  We'll see.  If I don't like them, I can always repurpose the canvases.  More to come, my friends!  I've been sick all week, so I'm just thinking about doing all of these projects instead of actually doing anything.  

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Swim Lessons, Heat, and Wasting My Time

So I really hate to have a crappy attitude, but swim lessons sucked this year.  The previous two years we did survival swim lessons (Infant Aquatics) for the two older boys, and they learned SOOO much.  Because of those lessons, Samuel is an excellent swimmer now, and he's only five.  Levi, however, is traumatized and will not swim even though he knows how.  I'm confident, though, that if he fell into a swimming pool, he'd be able to swim to the side to get himself out.  


That said, since the previous two years of swim lessons were a bit intense, we decided to do more fun swim lessons this year for just Samuel (Levi was still opposed), so that he could learn different strokes and whatnot (he just goes off of instinct now).  So we enrolled him in lessons from the City of Arlington.  


FAIL!  That was such a big, fat waste of everyone's time.  The website said that for the class that we chose, the children should already know how to swim.  Great, he does.  Well, the teacher didn't let him swim by himself at all.  She would teach them the strokes as they sat down, and then let them "swim" using the strokes as she held them up.  WTH!  They didn't learn anything.  Samuel actually regressed in his swimming skills while he was taking these lessons.  When he would show us what he was learning, he would actually start sinking.  
Samuel would get so bored that when he was supposed to be holding onto the edge, he'd sink and swim a little while the teacher had her back turned.
I told the teacher to let him swim more, and she totally blew me off.  I was, in a word, pissed.  I stood out there in 100+ degree heat, with a baby in a sling and a 3 year old that wanted to wander around (not in the shade), 5 days a week for 2 weeks, so that he could be taught how to sink!  And I paid for it!  Never again, my friends.  
I started letting Levi get in the pools, too, even though it was against the rules.  He was SOOO hot and bored.
They gave me a survey to fill out for the class, and on it I said, "I will never again take city of Arlington swim lessons and will discourage others from doing so as well."  Done and done.  
They had the kids jump off of the diving board on the last two days, and the teachers would catch them and bring them to the side.  I told them to let Samuel do it all by himself, and they were reluctantly amazed.
If I seem like I'm overreacting, which I NEVER have a tendency to do, it's because the heat amplifies my rage.  Texas is hot, y'all.  

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Laugh Sign for my Smiley Pants

Just before I learned that my reclaimed wood was not really safe to be sawing and sanding a whole lot, I made this little sign for a ladies' craft night at my church where I hosted a table for them to make their own signs (hope you guys aren't eating off of your signs!).  I cut up a bunch of random sized pieces of wood (my favorite were the two pieces attached together that made a square).  Then I bought a bunch of stencils and daubers from Hobby Lobby.  
Oh and I also got some thumb tacks and twine for the back to hang with.  Some ladies made their twine visible, which looked really cool, but I decided not to because...I didn't think of it and I made mine first.  It was an easy peasy craft, perfect for a bunch of people to do at the same time, for all skill levels.  


Since the wood was so weathered, it's obviously very uneven, so the paint bleeds a lot.  Spray paint would have been a LOT easier, but I'm on this kick where I don't spend any unnecessary money on crafts or DIY around the house, so ceiling paint fit the bill.  Then when we took the stencil off, we scraped the bleeding off with toothpicks because it comes off really easily since the wood was so old.  A little bit of bleeding looks really cool.  I love the way it came out. Up close it's too uneven, but far away it looks cool...I think.  ;)
It fits well with the retro woodsy feel of the room, don'tcha think?
My little Isaac is lovingly nicknamed Smiley Pants, so this sign fits him perfectly.




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