Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Circus Day for Mary Ella

Last Thursday was Circus Day at Mary Ella's school.
Since the circus was in town, the children celebrated by dressing up in wacky silly clothes and eating circus snacks and doing circus crafts. 
I bought Mary Ella some polkadot PJ pants at the thrift store that ended up being too long so she just wore some pants I'd made her last year and a shirt I'd made to match. We paired it with her purple sparkle tutu and a wig I found at Party Express Outlet, topped the wig with a bow, and she was ready to go! She's a little tired in this photo (it was early) but as we drove up to the school she got really excited.

The whole way to school she kept saying, "I can't wait to see what Sarah is wearing..." and "I can't wait to see what Alexander says about my hair." It was so funny. I was surprised that she actually wore the wig all day but she did! They ate circus peanuts, popcorn and cotton candy for snack. Her teacher, Ms. Elaine, told me that as they were eating their cotton candy, Mary Ella told the class that "she picks cotton candy all the time up at the Compound." Ha! 
She also told her entire class that her mommy had a baby in her tummy, and followed it up with, "I don't know what she's gonna do with 3 kids."  That made me laugh so hard. She is so funny.
(And she's speaking the truth - I don't even know what I'll do with 3.)

Here's the clown she colored at school. She loves having her artwork displayed on the fridge at home.

We didn't go to the actual circus this year - our schedules just didn't work out. 
But I'm glad several friends were able to go and it's been fun looking at pictures of all the kids' faces seeing those lights, elephants and crazy acrobats for the first time! 

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Monday, January 30, 2012

The Boys Vs. The Girls

We are still thoroughly enjoying this beautiful weather down here. 
Today we got out and played with the neighbors.

Sam enjoyed riding his trike with his little buddies.
Here are Greyson and Jake...

The girls didn't want to go without getting their picture made either, so here they are... I've dubbed them the "Pink Ladies" in this photo because they look like they are in some kind of 'club' about to ride around seeing what kind of trouble they can get themselves into! 
(Mary Ella does not usually wear a helmet while riding her oh-so-dangerous tricycle; but when the bigger girls strapped on their helmets, she wanted to do the same. Of course, of course.)
There is no telling what these girlies will be into in a couple of years.

 And when the boys saw they were outnumbered, well, they came out of the woodwork 
(as in, woke up from their naps.) Here they are, from left to right:
Greyson, Gage, Sam, Owen and Jake.
I need a good name for this little bunch.
They will grow up to be best buds, no doubt.

(Sam looks thrilled that he is having to sit in the pink car. Such is life when you have an older sister, buddy.) 

So thankful for our sweet friends!
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Friday, January 27, 2012

Mary Ella's First Trip to the Dentist

On Monday Mary Ella went to the dentist for the first time.
I avoided taking her for a while because
a) I have a fear of dentists and I hate going.
b) She's a lot like me.
c) I feared the screaming-crying-meltdown more than I feared the dentist himself.

But I finally decided we'd take the plunge.
I prayed for her on the way there - that she'd be brave, that she'd have a good first experience,
and that her teeth would be healthy and wouldn't require any extra treatment.
I really didn't know what to expect, but she did great. It was like she'd been there a hundred times before.
She went with the hygienist by herself to get her x-rays done. 
She crawled up onto the chair by herself and she answered their questions and did everything they told her to do. I was really proud of her, and so thankful that her first trip was a good one.

She was able to choose her toothpaste flavor (cookie dough - ugh) as well as her flouride flavor (strawberry) and she laughed when the lady showed her how to spit into the 'sucker.'

Her teeth looked healthy and showed no signs of cavities, according to Dr. C. 
She picked out a small doggy figurine as her prize along with a Dora toothbrush and a baby Einstein caterpillar toothbrush for her brother. 

We go back in 6 months for another checkup!

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

DIY Train Table (another Pinterest project!)

So, I've been enjoying some quality Pinterest project time lately with the rainy weather we've had. I saw this a few nights ago and fell in love with the idea. Seems like every little boy I know at some point goes through the train phase; I had no intentions of Sam falling in love with choo-choo's but he and Mary Ella both love them. We've been given some of the magnetic Thomas trains and have collected a few other 'off brands' and I recently bought them 2 small boxes of generic wooden tracks (you can get 6 pieces in a box at Christmas Tree Shops for around $3.) If you do go and buy the tracks, make sure you get twice as many curve pieces as you do straight pieces! I had to borrow a couple curves from my neighbor Lindsey because I couldn't make the track connect all the way.

Anyway, I knew I would never buy a train table, or at least not one of the huge rectangle ones; they are just too bulky for my house and my OCD-ness with toy organization. Now, I did see a small square one at Christmas Tree Shops for $49.99, which I thought about getting for Sam's birthday. But then I decided to type in "DIY train table" on Pinterest just to see what was out there. And one of the first things that popped up was this under-the-bed train table:

SCORE. How great is that?

Now, I didn't actually click on the pin to see how she made it; I just assumed it was a cork bulletin board and so I went out and bought one at Hobby Lobby for $12.99 (and used a 40% off coupon, of course.)
She actually went a more expensive route and used a piece of plywood, some cork tiles, and some molding for the outside. Hers was about $50 so I am glad I made the mistake of thinking it was a bulletin board because for $50 I could've just bought the actual train table from the store! But you can do it however you want. (Hers is definitely bigger than mine; I think her plywood was 4ft x 3ft and this bulletin board is 2ft by 3ft.)

I used regular acrylic paint and painted the border red and then painted a blue pond and filled in the rest with green grass. I added some brown 'rocks' to surround the pond. We don't actually have any of the train track accessories (tunnels, stations, etc) and I knew I didn't want this to get expensive so I just dug through the kids toy bins and pulled out stuff I could use... for instance...

The train station. What? Looks like a dog house? No, silly. It's a train station. (Big Lots; comes unfinished and ready to paint, maybe around $4? You can also find them at Hobby Lobby and Michael's.)
The blue 'columns' on either side of the station are plastic 'nails' that went in one those hammering toys of Sam's. We had actually lost most of the nails anyway so it only made sense to recycle the ones that were left.

That turquoise colored tunnel is just a paper popcorn container turned upside down and painted; I cut the doorway out of it.

And the lovely pigs... they are actually breakable and they came from America's Thrift Store in a 'grab bag." In case you didn't know, almost all thrift stores have aisles with what I call 'grab bags;' that is, just plastic bags of random figurines or toys or stuffed animals. You can find some real treasures on these grab bag aisles if you look hard enough. (For instance, Mary Ella got the Fisher Price "My First DollHouse" a year ago for Christmas; the actual furniture sets you can buy to go with that dollhouse are over $10 for EACH set; by the time you bought one for each room you'd be out some serious dough! But I found her a grab bag of dollhouse furniture at the Big Saver for $.99. Score.) So, back to the pigs; Mom bought these on one of our thrifting adventures. A whole grab bag of breakable pigs. So I hot glued these hams to the train table. That way brother Sambo cannot pick them up and throw them around. They are now the permanent residents of this little train town.

This tunnel and plastic fence is from a tractor set Sam got for Christmas. I glued them down too. :)

The Mickey light post came with a Mickey train we got for Christmas and the yellow 'platform' underneath is just a block from who knows where.

Sam woke up from his nap and hasn't stopped playing with the new train table yet.
He is not happy about not being able to dis-assemble the wooden tracks and as you can see in the picture above has already ripped one of the blue columns from its post at the station, but hopefully he won't cause any more destruction! Ha! Overall I'd give this project an A+, especially for the price and how easy it was to put together. Yay for toys that no longer take up space or cause Mommy to bend over 80 times a day! (And thank God for glue guns.)

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Random MidWeek Post

I thought I'd update this morning since I'm up with my cup of coffee and my children are miraculously still sleeping. We've had a good week so far and I hope you have too!

We began visiting a new church in town with some friends a couple weeks ago and I love it. 
(We loved our old church too but it's a 30+ minute drive and by the time we get there and try to make it through church and Sunday school my kids look and act like children out of a horror film. If you know what I mean. The children's ministry at this new place is super and my kids both love it. We are still trying to find a Sunday school class that is the right fit, but both of the ones we have visited have been warm and welcoming and full of people who love the Lord and want to do His work first in their lives. We've been blessed at this church already.

After church and lunch on Sunday, I went to my friend Amanda's moving sale and bought a black and white chevron-striped rug for a steal! Amanda can be found here and here. I love her blogs, her fashion sense, her interior decorating style, and her unbelievably cute, I-could-eat-them-alive children. I put the rug in Sam's room because it matches all the decor, but I was so tempted to put it under my kitchen table and also in my entryway downstairs. Is it against home decorating rules to have more than one chevron rug in your house? I hope not because I just ordered a brown and white one from RugsUSA thanks to my friend Tesney who let me know about this site. (They are having a big sale right now. Lots of their rugs are as much as 75% off and the Chevron rugs are 35% off now; they were 50% off a few days ago when I ordered; sorry I didn't post this sooner! But you are still getting a great deal!) Anyway, here's Sam's room before I added the rug...

And after! I love it.

(I am not loving the decor/wall art above and around his bed and please forgive me for not having fixed that yet; I've been playing around with ideas and just haven't quite decided on what to do.)

In other news, Sam's made some great progress this past week. About a week ago he learned to let go of whatever he was holding onto while standing and stand there by himself. He was so proud. Then two nights ago he started going from a squat to a standing position without pulling himself up using furniture or a toy or anything! So his balance has definitely improved and we can see him getting more and more confident and sure of himself - such a sweet blessing. Our PT Chantel predicted before Christmas that'd he'd be taking some steps by the end of February so I'm hopeful he'll try it even sooner now! Here are a couple videos; the first is from 2 nights ago when he first stood up. The other is from last night and you can already tell a huge difference in his balance and his ability to stay up longer. So proud of my sweet boy. I think he's proud of himself too. :)

I read two articles this week that I absolutely loved and wanted to share. I know most of you have probably seem them, as they've been floating around FaceBook, but I wanted to link to them on here so that hopefully I'll be able to go back and read them. Both of them relate to parenting and I found both to be really encouraging and well written and funny. Here are the links:

Don't Carpe Diem by Glennon Melton

Hope you enjoy reading them; they are great posts; short and sweet.

And some sad news - Picnik is closing. Boo. I'm sure you've all heard by now. 
This is not good and there are a lot of mommy bloggers out there who are not so happy about it. For those that don't know, Picnik is a free photo editing website where you can do just about anything from making labels to blog headers to editing your photos to designing scrapbook pages and greeting cards. Apparently they are owned by Google and Google has decided to shut them down. For no apparent reason other than "to move on to more awesome things," as quoted in the e-mail I received from them, which I think is both a lame and inadequate excuse. This site is also where I do all of my blog design, invitations, cards, collages, etc. So there goes my small business and my ability to afford my children's food and clothing. Thank you Picnik for ruining my life. (No, not really, but yeah, really.)
I'm sure there will be some alternatives that pop up but so far I don't think anything will compare. I didn't really use it to edit pictures so I don't care about that aspect, but the blog stuff I do care about. They are closing April 19 so get your blog orders while you can, people. Let's help feed my children here. :)
(I'm in the process of adding all the new stuff I've done to my portfolio page; there is a page where you can view the blogs I've done as well as the invitations. Get em while you can!)

I am 28 weeks pregnant and plan to do an update soon. I'll probably wait until my 30 week checkup; I have a 4D ultrasound that day so I'll post some pictures then and give you all an update. Overall though, I'm feeling good and baby is a wild child; moving all the time. With my other two I could really only feel the movements when I was still; this child apparently never sleeps and I can feel him/her move even when I'm up cleaning and walking around. I may be in for it with this one! :)
We do have a name, for those that have asked. First name is a name we have always liked, middle name is a family name; just like my other two kids ('Ella' was my great-great grandmother's name; 'Ellis' was Chad's grandfather's name; and this child will also have a family middle name. We didn't really do that on purpose but I'm kinda glad it worked out that way. Neato burrito.)

On a related note, I have come up with a grand solution for pregnant women. A toy rake. As in, a cute and colorful, lightweight but industrial strength rake that you can use like a broom to rake up your children's toys so that you do not have to bend over constantly. I am serious. Seems like I pick up a million little toys a million times a day. My back needs a break! (Funny as that seems, I have seriously considered bringing our garden rake upstairs to aid me in this never ending task. So if you see a rake in the corner of my living room you'll know why.)

Ok, my children are awake now. Gotta go. 
Check back tomorrow for funny pictures of Mary Ella. They are having "Circus Day" at school and are supposed to dress up all wacky and circus-like. I got her some goods at the thrift store yesterday. :)

Hope everyone has a great day!

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Early Birds

I woke up early Saturday morning to the sound of 2 kids laughing hysterically over the monitor.
I grabbed my phone, hoping I would catch them in their shenanigans. 
Sure enough, sister had crawled into Sambo's bed and they were jumping around like monkeys... 

Here they are on video. I could only get a few seconds before they 'caught me!'
I love how when Sam sees me he instantly begins reaching and saying "MAMA!" 

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Just a few pictures.

 We went to The Egg & I yesterday for a late breakfast. The kids wore their robot shirts and shorts because it was really warm outside (67 degrees in January - I'll take it!)

 That afternoon we tried to get some good pictures of Sambo for me to blow up at Staples! Ha!

 Elon came to play last night and enjoyed getting pushed around in the riding toys.

And then here's the best picture (out of about 62) that I took after church and lunch today.
This makes me crack up. Those are Wendy's kiddos - from left to right - Tyler, Ashlyn and Tatum! We've enjoyed getting to hang out with them a lot over the past couple weeks. 

Be back tomorrow!

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Friday, January 20, 2012

The Hallway...

I ended up hanging the frames I distressed on Wednesday in the hallway, as well as the frame my aunt and uncle made (the one on the left). Obviously I need to get some horizontal pictures for that one so my guests don't break their necks looking at the photos. But I really like the way it turned out. Especially since it's technically the kids' hallway. I like the way it showcases them and is bright and colorful. 

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

It's true, it's true! HUGE photo for el CHEAPO.

I'm sure you've all seen THIS POST on Pinterest by now.
I was skeptical, but it's true! You can get a HUGE photo print for $2.99 at Staples.

I think the blogger that I linked to above got hers done at Office Depot and then she mounted it to a piece of foam board from Lowe's. You can click on the link to get the low down on how she did it, but since I did mine a little differently I'll show you another method here.

I used Staples' website to upload my picture.
Just go to www.staplescopycenter.com and create and account with them. 
Real easy, just fill in your info.

Then when you're done, on that same page you started on, you'll see a small section that says "Engineer Prints" with a small link button below it that says "Begin." Click that button and it'll take you through the steps of uploading your picture, etc. It does need to be a black and white picture. (If you upload a colored picture, they may automatically change it to black and white; not sure about that. I uploaded my original black and white photo.) You'll also need to click the box that says, "Scale to Fit Paper" so that your entire picture prints and not just a tiny section. It will let you preview it and choose your size; I chose a 2ft by 3ft and it cost $2.99. Not bad! 
Then just choose the store closest to you for pick up and you're all done. I was giddy with excitement when I went to get mine today. The 'engineer prints' are printed on the same type paper that engineers/architects get their blueprints printed on; so it's no photo paper, and it's not photo quality like you'll get if you order from your photographer (if you look closely enough, in person, you can see a tiny line or two running through the picture, but you have to look really close! And it is not pixelated at all - not one bit), but for the price, wow! You can't beat it. I'll be using this method for all my large photos from now on.

Here's my photo on the garage floor when we got home.

The lady from Pinterest mounted hers to foam board using spray glue, or Spray Mount (made by Scotch and 3m - thanks, Molly!) which is definitely the best method. I thought I had some spray glue at home but it turned out to be something different so I had to use Mod Podge. I bought a 24x36 inch pine colored frame for $9.88 (yes, I know, that price is SICKENING it's so cheap; I got lucky) at Old Time Pottery and used my transform-a-frame method to paint it red and distress it a bit. The frame came with an ugly landscape print in it - no glass - but I didn't feel I really needed glass anyway. I mounted my picture on the back of the artwork that came in the frame. Since I didn't have spray glue I used a foam brush and brushed a VERY thin layer of Mod Podge over the back of the artwork and then carefully laid the picture on top, starting at one end and smoothing it out to the opposite end. I did NOT Mod Podge OVER the picture, or the actual print. I thought it might wrinkle up so I just used the Mod Podge like I would've used the spray glue. 

The print is HUGE! 
And since it's vertical I was very limited on where I could hang it; a 3-foot vertical photo is VERY tall and just know that you'll need a lot of wall space. My next photo enlargement will most definitely be a horizontal photo! But I hung it in the hallway that connects the kids' rooms and I think it looks perfect there. Now for what to put around it... more pictures? I just don't know. Suggestions welcomed!

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Crap Baskets: A Pinterest Project

I saw these a week ago on Pinterest and this is one project that I RUSHED to make. Not just an idea for down the road, or something to put on my 'this would look good in my house someday' list. NO - these were on my 'MUST MAKE NOW TO IMPROVE MY SANITY' list. And let me tell you, my sanity level has gone way down. Wayyyy down. These are must-haves if you have stairs in your home and especially if your people tend to leave their things where they don't belong!
We have a split-level home. Our garage is downstairs, so we always enter the house downstairs. But none of us LIVE downstairs, so none of our 'crap' belongs down there. And now, we have a way of organizing it as well as getting it to where it needs to go.

Crap Baskets! 
a.k.a. Take your crap upstairs!


And now for the how-to.
First, you'll need the baskets. I found mine at Christmas Tree Shops in Hoover.
If you haven't heard of Christmas Tree Shops, please oh please, drop what you are doing right now and find the nearest location and GO. It is like a Big Lots meets Tuesday Morning, and prices are even better.
(Contrary to the suggestion of the store's name, they do not sell Christmas Trees. Which totally throws people off. That makes no sense. But whatever.)
My baskets were marked $8.99 each, which I know if a little steep for one project, but I had a feeling these baskets would change my life, and $36 for a life changing project isn't really that big a deal, now, is it?

So... get you some baskets that fit on your stairs. Might want to measure your stairs before you go; I guess you wouldn't want them hanging off the edge. I didn't measure and got lucky. 

Now, you will need to label them with your family members' names.
The ones on Pinterest are labeled using the clear plastic name badge holders that you can find in the office section. She just printed out names on the computer and inserted them into the badge, then tied the badge on with ribbon. See here:

I love her baskets, but I wanted to mimic these cute baskets I saw at Target with chalkboard labels:

(Um, and just so you know, ONE of these baskets at Target is $39.99. Ridiculous.)

So I decided to make my own chalkboard labels and tie them on with raffia-looking straw string.
Here is how I did it:

First I cut out 4 pieces of cardboard from the flap of a diaper box. Just regular ol' cardboard.
Then I spray painted them using chalkboard spray paint. 
I buy Krylon, which you can find at WalMart and Hobby Lobby.

Let them dry in the sun for an hour or so. Won't take too long.

Then write your names on them with chalk, or, if you want it to be more permanent, a white crayon.
(Note: You cannot erase and start over if you use a white crayon. Just FYI.)

Then you'll need to poke holes in the top of your rectangle labels. I used a large screw to poke the holes. I'm sure there are much easier ways to do this. My hole punch would not work, but the screw did just fine. So screw you some holes in your labels.

Then, I searched my house high and low for raffia string; couldn't find any. 
But I did find a pile of burlap scraps. 
Sooo I just cut my burlap into thin strips and decided to use this as ribbon. 

Now, burlap is, well, burlap, so it can be a bit finicky and tends to unravel if you cut your strips too thin. But just be patient if you go this route. (I do plan to replace the burlap strips with raffia as soon as I get some.) Use your screw to poke the burlap through your hole, then pull through.

Next, tie your labels to your basket, put them on the stairs, and fill 'em up! Wah-lah!

It took me about 0.2 seconds to fill up EVERY basket to the top. 
Yeah, we had a lot of crap laying around. Don't judge.

Now, go make you some!
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