Friday, July 27, 2012

Bye Bye Bottle

Alyssa has been a year old for just over two weeks now.  So over the past week, we have been gradually decreasing her formula.  I wanted to use what we had left of it and didn't want to just completely cut it off for her all at once.  So that has been a gradual change for Alyssa.  But we have still been giving her whole milk in a bottle.  Even though doctors say only sippy cups at this point.  At the beginning of this week, I stopped giving her her morning bottle, which I hated doing because that is the one bottle each day that I am guaranteed to feed her.  And being that I have been home a lot this week due to sickness, I started giving her a sippy cup of milk with her lunch mid-week, making it pointless to give her that afternoon bottle which used to put her straight to sleep for nap time.  I thought giving her one bottle per day would be good.  The night-time bottle.  The one that used to automatically mean bedtime for her because she couldn't resist falling straight to sleep after drinking it and being snuggled in Daddy's arms.  It would be gradual for her and gradual for us.  But Wednesday night, she caught Keira's tummy bug {we all caught it} and our poor baby girl threw up.  So I automatically picked her up, snuggled her to comfort her, and she fell asleep...without her bottle.  We layed her down and she slept all night.  I assumed we would pick back up and still do her bottles at night.  But it seems she doesn't need them.  I am the one clinging on to that baby bottle.  Not wanting these changes.  But she has adjusted so well.  Just like Keira did.  It doesn't even phase her.  In fact, we aren't even rocking her to sleep these days.  She is doing just as well {actually better} by us kissing her goodnight, tucking her in with her blankie and bunny, and leaving the room with her wide awake.  She sometimes fusses for like .2 seconds but then goes straight to sleep on her own.  What a sweet, easy baby we have been blessed with.  I have a hard time with change.  She is my baby and I want to baby her forever.  But I am thankful that the changes are easy for her, making it a tad easier for me.
Bless her sweet heart.




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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

DIY Birthday Banner & Party Labels

Ordinarily I probably wouldn't have committed myself to making a birthday banner for Alyssa's birthday party.  Being that there are a million and one other things to be doing and buying and preparing for, it kind of seems insignificant.  But when ordering the main items to make up her theme, there was no banner listed.  And being that her theme wasn't actually a "1st Birthday" theme, I figured I would make one.  To be able to customize it.  To match it with her ice cream theme, to coordinate colors, to add "1st" in there, and to have her name.  I knew it couldn't be but so hard.  It would probably be cheaper than buying a customized banner.  And I would enjoy yet another project.  So I turned to the blogging wold, Google, and Pinterest for some ideas.  There are millions of tutorials out there.  Some were just too busy and complicated, and some were just unattractive and boring.  But I finally found a banner that I liked.  That was bright and simple and perfect for what I was looking for.  It was on Etsy, to be downloaded and purchased.  But all I needed was an idea.  I can usually figure out how to make it myself, and I usually come up with my own ideas along the way anyway.  So there was no tutorial on this banner, of course.  But I easily made due.   And it only cost me about $5 dollars.  That cost also included the labels that I made for all of our ice cream toppings, and the confetti.  This is how it all turned out...



I figured I would go ahead and give a tutorial on making a birthday banner yourself.  I'll try to do some simple step by step instructions, but I'm hoping you know a little bit about Microsoft Word.

What you will need:
-Computer with Internet and Microsoft Word or similar program
-Printer with color ink
-Paper (I used photo paper so the colors would print brighter, but the ink does smear easily so you may want to use regular computer paper)
-Cardstock or scrapbook paper to coordinate
-Ribbon
-Laminater (for the labels)
-Toothpicks (for the labels)



Tutorial:
1.  Google a background image that you want to border your letters.  I Googled "bright polka dot background"  and found what I wanted immediately.
2.  Once you have that image pulled up of what you want, right click "save image as" and save it to your computer.
3.  Open up Microsoft Word.  
4.  On your "Drawing Toolbar" click the circle.  Now draw a circle to take up about half of your page (I had my page setup on landscape so the circles are side by side). - you could do any shape that you wanted, I wanted circles.
5.  Once you have your circle to the size you want, right click inside of the circle and select "Format Auto Shape".  Under the "Colors and Lines" tab, click the drop down for the "Fill" section and click "Fill Effects."
6.  In that window, click the top tab that says "picture."  Here is where you will "browse" for the picture that you just saved to your computer.  Find your picture, select it, and click Ok.  Now your circle should be filled with your picture.
7.  Now you want to draw another circle inside of that circle.  So go to your "Drawing Toolbar" and click the circle.  Now draw a smaller circle inside of your larger one, making the larger one serve as a border.  
8.  Now to give that circle a colored line, right click on it, "Format Autoshape," and choose a color under the "Line" section.  I alternated my colors for each circle...pink, then green, then blue.  I also adjusted the thickness of the line so it would show up better.  I chose a 6 pt thickness. 
9.  Now you are going to add your letters.  Make sure your circles are un-clicked, and add "Word Art."  I just selected the first Word Art option there is, you can change the font in the next window.  Type your letter for that circle, I selected the font "Crazy Girlz Blond BTN,"  font size 96 (you can enlarge after), and I made it Bold. Click Ok.
10.  Now, you want to change the Layout of the letter so that it is on top of the circle.  So right click on your letter, select "Format Autoshape" select the "Layout" tab, and click the "In Front of" option.  Click Ok.
11.  Now you want to change the color of your letter.  So right click "Format Autoshape," select the "Colors and Lines" and change the "Fill" color to the color you want your letter.  And I also changed my "Line" to 1.25 pt thickness.
12.  I needed one spacer, between "1st" and "Birthday" so I saved a picture of a plate from the birthday theme I was going with online.  And inserted that picture inside of my circle.  And it serves perfectly for a spacer.
13.  Now you have an original and you can begin copying and pasting, so you don't have to go through all of those steps again for each letter.  Count how many circles you need and copy the main outer circle, then paste as many as you need.  I needed 22 circles for "Happy 1st Birthday Alyssa!" on three separate lines.  
14.  Now you can copy all of your inner circles to be placed inside of your bigger circles.  If you want different colors like mine, I would create those as originals as well so you won't have to go through and change the colors to every single one.  For example, after I copied all my large circles, I pasted my inner circle on one, changed the color, then copied and pasted that for as many letters as I needed for that color.  And the same thing for the next color.  So I had 7 pink circles, 8 green circles, and 7 blue circles altogether.
15.  I did the same thing for the letters.  I copied and pasted all the pink letters that I needed, then right-clicked to change what the letter was.  And repeated for each color letter.

**If all of that is confusing, you can repeat the original steps for each circle/letter, but it saves a ton of time to just copy and paste and then make the color changes once you have the basic format down to what you want.**










16.  Once you are happy with all of your circles, letters, and pictures, you can print.  I would print preview to make sure your circles look centered inside of the large circles.

17.  Now that you have printed, you can cut out all of your circles.

18.  Now take your card stock paper, and cut out circles to border your letters.  I just used a bowl that fit perfectly, and traced the edges.  I used pink paper for my pink letters, blue paper for my blue letters and green paper for my green letters.

19.  Now you need to attach your letters onto your card stock paper.  I used glue dots, until I ran out of them, and then I used a glue stick.  If you use a glue stick, use very little glue.

20.  Once you have all your letters bordered with card stock paper, you can cut your ribbon.  I measured pieces that would stretch across the back of my circle, with leaving enough edges to tie a bow on each edge.  Remember, you can always cut any extra off.  So cut enough pieces to thread through each letter.  And hole-punch each circle.  One hole on each top corner.

22.  Now you will thread your ribbon through these holes.  

23.  Now tie bows to connect your letters together. I even tied a bow on the starting letters and the ending letters, instead of leaving a long piece to hang it up.  It didn't look right.  So I tied little bows, and simply taped my banner to the wall.


TaDa!  You are done and ready to hang your banner.  I hope this tutorial was helpful for you and you are able to make an affordable, personalized birthday banner.  It really is much simpler than it seems especially if you are familiar with Word, but please feel free to email me if you need any help, or if you would like me to email you my Microsoft Word document that I created.  And if you keep reading you will also see how I made the labels and confetti...


For the labels, just do all of the same steps, except make your Auto shapes rectangles and make them small enough for the dishes that you are labeling.  Here is an example of my Word document before printing...



Then you simply cut out your labels from the laminating sheet, attach each label to a toothpick, and tape them to your dishes.    




Lastly, I used some of my left over card stock paper, and I hole punched until my hand went numb.  Making perfectly coordinating confetti to add to my table.  It matched the bright polka dots on my banner and my labels perfectly.


I hope these tutorials were helpful!  Good Luck!


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Monday, July 23, 2012

No More Excuses

I'm ashamed to say that it's probably been about three or more months since we've been to church.  Until yesterday.  We've had distraction after distraction.  Excuse after excuse.  None of which should have been prioritized over attending church.  And yesterday was the start of a new priority.

As hard as it was to get up so early when I felt I needed so much more rest, it felt so good to go.  To be at the 9:00 service, dropping our kids off so they too can learn about Jesus, and to have over an hour focused solely on God.  Within the first worship song I was already tearing up.  The verse "I'm so unworthy, but still you love me" fit so perfectly to my feelings.  Not only that morning in going to church but an everyday feeling that I have.  No matter how unworthy we are of God's love, He is still there.  Loving us unconditionally.  And that just makes me emotional.  To know what a loving God He is when we least deserve it.

Since having both kids, we've been distracted.  We've been through phases of going to church and not going to church.  And it's just been excuses.  It's easy to be distracted.  To make up excuses.  But thankfully God forgives.  I grew up in church.  We went Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night.  I don't remember ever missing.  We were so involved and had so many memories there.  I was saved at a very young age.  And I'm so thankful for that.  That such a healthy habit was instilled in me.  And though we have had a couple of years that weren't as regular, we plan to change that. To raise our children in church.  And to be followers of Christ.  Because that's what we believe is right.  That's what we believe is a core responsibility in parenting our children.

Dedicating ourselves to attending church for an hour each week is hopefully just the beginning.  It's not only a chance to learn more about Jesus, the Bible, and to be surrounded by other Christians who are also growing in their faith.  But I know in doing so I will be more focused.  More focused on what I need to be doing at home.  And that is such a huge part of my journey.  I'm sharing this with you in hopes to inspire anyone else who has strayed from church and to even hold myself more accountable.  As a family, we have decided to take church more seriously.  To work our Sunday schedule around it.  To make it our priority.  To be less distracted.  No more excuses.





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Friday, July 20, 2012

The Blogger 411 Link-Up...All about Me


Today I've linked up to Becky's Blogger 411 post.  Questions answered by ME...



1. How long have you been blogging? And what got you started on blogging? Has your blog changed?
    I just started blogging in January...so 6 months.  And I love it.  I've read blogs off and on for a couple of years.  I love reading about others.  About their lives.  And looking at pictures.  I thought to start my own blog because I wanted to share all about my life.  I'm in love with my family and am blessed in so many ways.  And I just want to share about my thoughts, my family and my faith.  It's therapeutic for me to write about anything and everything that I want to.  And to know that you have a choice on reading it or not.  I wouldn't say my blog has changed much, being that it's only been about 6 months.  Maybe just the presentation of my blog.

2. Did you go to college? If so where, and what did you study?
    I went to a community college to get my Associates degree...in nothing specific.  I was very undecided in college.  About what I wanted to do. Or be.  So I got a general degree, planned to move on to a University, but once that time came I decided not to.  I got engaged to my wonderful husband in my last semester, got married that May and got pregnant within 2 months.  So college was not my priority.  And I wouldn't change any of it.

3. Where have you traveled?
    Other than to a few surrounding states, I have been to Jamaica on our Honeymoon...and that's it.  I honestly have no desire to travel anywhere other than beautiful, tropical places.  I'm boring, I know.


4. If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing you would buy?
    Wow, what a touch question.  So many things come to mind.  Like a new house with a fenced in yard, a garage, a craft room, a playroom and a pool, an SUV, a maid, giving money to all of my family, and so much more.  But I have to say I would probably start by donating a percentage of it.  To church.  And to some charities.  Like St. Judes.  And after I've given a percentage away, then I will go on my shopping spree.

5. What are your 3 biggest pet peeves?
    1.  Lying.  Please don't lie to me.
    2.  Bad personal hygiene.  
    3.  Those with no morals.  Who are selfish and do not care about others' feelings.  Those who are disrespectful.  Ungratefulness.

6. What is your favorite movie?
    I have two favorites.  The Notebook and Sweet Home Alabama.  I love them both dearly.

7. What is your drink of choice; wine, beer, or liquor. Or Water, Soda, Tea?
    Umm I really don't drink alcohol.  Not saying I will never have a drink, but it would be a very very rare occasion.  I drink water all day and have a Diet Coke for dinner.  And I always get Diet Coke when we're out to eat, regardless of the time of day.  Something about drinking water at a restaurant grosses me out.

8. What is something you enjoy to do when you have me time?
    Blog. Paint. Draw. Crafts. Photography. Sleep.

9. If you could have a $10,000 shopping spree to one store, which store would it be?
    Being that I really never ever shop, I honestly have no clue.  No where too expensive because I would want to get a lot for my money.

10. Share with us an embarrassing moment of your past? Or present.
    Okay, I would probably say my 18th birthday.  Out to dinner, with family and friends, and my now father-in-law told the waitress it was my birthday. So the entire restaurant crew came over to sing.  And being that I hate all eyes on me, I hate that kind of attention...I had a major panic attack.  I started crying, put my head down on the table, and told the waitress that she should be fired because I asked her not to sing and she did anyways.  Yes I did all of that.  And on my 18th birthday.  All because of my anxiety. What can I say I'm an anxious, sensitive girl and those emotions got the best of me.  I can't imagine what those waiters were thinking.  Psycho, maybe.  The family still makes fun of me.  Embarrassing.

11. What day would you love to relive again?
     My wedding day.  Even though the weather was horrendous with downpours of rain, thunder, lightening, and tornado warnings when it was supposed to be an outdoor wedding, I know all of that worked out for a reason, and it turned out to be a very romantic indoor ceremony.  I loved my wedding day.  And am so thankful I married my best friend.  It was the start of a very good thing.  Of our beautiful life together and the family that we have created.  (The only thing I would change about it is I would get more pictures....but that's insignificant compared to our marriage)


12. If your life was turned into a movie... what actor would play you?
    Jennifer Aniston.  For no reason other than I love her.  She seems to be down to earth and real.  And I think she could play my calm, laid back personality.

13. What are the jobs you had in high school/college/the early years?
    I have worked at the same salon, where my mom is a stylist, since I was like 12.  I started as a shampoo tech, moved to receptionist, but then had to quit for a couple of years when I first got married.  We needed me to have a full-time job with a decent income, so I got a job at an apartment community where I leased apartments and then moved up to an Assistant Community Director.  I was unhappy and stressed there, and decided to change jobs.  I then worked at a medical spa as a front office coordinator then moved up to a sales consultant.  I too was unhappy and stressed.  I do not do well with sales.  Again, my anxiety.  But then it all worked out for me to go back to my home, the salon.  I was offered the office manager position with full-time hours, but a flexible schedule.  And I could not be happier.  I am back where I'm supposed to be.  No doubt about it.

14. Show us a picture from high school or college.
     Without scanning pictures, this is all I have.  It's a picture from high school.  My senior year, in my senior dress.


15. If you could travel anywhere in the world, all expenses paid, where would you go?
    I don't know of a specific vacation spot.  But anywhere tropical.  With clear water and white sand.  Maybe in a bungalow on the water...or in the water.  Somewhere with really luxurious accommodations.  Like these...



But then again, I would also love to take my kids somewhere they would enjoy.  Like Disney.  We will be doing that one day.
   
16. Show us the most current picture of you or you, or your family, or anything of meaning to you. 
    My family.  My world...



 


17. Where do you see your life 5 years from now?
    I see a happy loving family of 4, plus the hound dog.  I still see us adoring our 2 girls.  Cherishing our family time.  Although I would love about 10 kids, I believe our family is complete.  It just feels complete.  So unless God has a different plan, which I'm certainly open to if that's what He wants, I personally don't see any more kids in our future.  Maybe a new home, maybe a new car, but our family the same.  Just 5 years older.  The materialistic things don't matter, I just pray that God blesses us with good health and a happy life.





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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

DIY Ice Cream Cone Birthday Party Hat

When I was in need of a birthday hat for Alyssa's Ice Cream party, I just couldn't help but envision an ice cream cone party hat.  How could I not?  How perfectly would that go with her theme?  I thought it would be so incredibly adorable.  So I went for it.  I did a Google search to try and match a picture with the idea in my head.  I always do that.  In hopes that someone else had the same idea as I did and already has an easy way of doing it, to take out all the hard work on my part.  Well there was one waffle cone hat that was sort of similar to what I had in mind.  But instead of trying to replicate that, I went to the Dollar Store and just tried to make due with what I could find.  I think it turned out quite adorable.  And it only cost me about $3 dollars.  I'm proud of that.



What I bought...

1.  Waffle Cone (had on hand for her upcoming party)
2.  Gift Card Holder from Dollar Store ($1)
3.  Balloon weight from Wal-Mart (.97 cents)
4.  Pink headband from Dollar Store ($1)





Tutorial... (Have your glue gun ready to go)

1.  Cut the tip off of your waffle cone.
2.  Take your balloon weight, unwrap it, and cut out the center.  
3.  Fold it up so that you have the streamers sticking straight up but so that you can roll up the bottom and make it skinny enough to fit through the top of the cone.
4.  Get your glue gun as far into your cone as you can so you can glue the balloon weight wrapper to the inside of the cone.  Do not use too much glue, the heat of the glue will melt the cone some.


5.  Take your gift card holder, cut the fuzzy border off.  You will use that to line the bottom of the cone.
6.  Instead of throwing away the rest of the gift card holder, I cut two circles out of it.  One, to use as a border for the front of the cone (Measure the width of your cone and cut out a circle that will fit nicely on that).  And the second to glue the headband to the waffle cone (Measure the size of the hole in the waffle cone, so that this fabric will cover it and allow a little extra border).
7.  Create a circular label to apply to it saying "Happy Birthday Alyssa" and the number "1" for example on Microsoft Word and print it.  I placed it on top of the pink circle that I cut out of the gift card holder, and laminated them together.  So the pink fabric served as a border.
8.  Hot glue that to the cone, remember to use a very thin layer of hot glue so it doesn't melt your cone.


9.  Next, figure out where you want your waffle cone to set on your headband.  I wanted mine on the side slightly.  Once you have your cone rested where you want it on the headband, hot glue your other circle to the cone...with the headband wedged between your cone and your circle.  It's okay if your fabric goes beyond the cone some because your fuzzy border will cover it.
10.  Lastly, have your fuzzy piece ready, make a thin layer of hot glue all along the bottom edge of your cone and quickly stick your fuzzy piece to it.


Wallah.  You're done.  A very simple yet adorable do-it-yourself project...if you happen to be throwing an ice cream birthday party anytime soon




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