January 31, 2012

DIY Craft Tray

Manny really likes to color and do more "crafty" things now, much to my delight. :) The challenge, as with most things, is keeping it all organized. I love this concept I saw from Family Fun via Pinterest. It's quite simple and inexpensive, so I knew I had to give it a try. Less than $3 later, my little organizational heart was full of joy!

What you'll need:
--a muffin tray (more on this below)
--magnets or velcro

1. I bought my muffin tray at Dollar Tree, but they also have jumbo sized ones at Wal-Mart for $5. I wanted to keep this cheap so just used the $1 version and it's working fine. The jumbo ones would allow more room for the cups to sit, but the regular one works fine as well.
2. The original idea covered the bottom of the cups with a magnet sheet. I didn't have big enough magnets to do that, so I thought I'd just use magnet strips. Well those didn't hold all that well, so I decided to use a piece of velcro instead, and that worked great. I just attached a piece to the cup and the opposite piece to the pan and it holds them in there perfectly.
3. Fill your cups with fun stuff and you're good to go! Manny loves fuzzy pom poms and popsicle sticks (random that I know that, but that's what happens when you leave your craft stash where your toddler can get in to it), so I filled a few cups with colorful ones. I also picked up a small playdoh set at Dollar Tree with some letter cutters.
This little tray has provided lots of entertainment and I'd definitely say it has been a hit with Manny. So much so that it's impossible to keep his little paws away from it. :)

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January 30, 2012

Project 366: Week 4

January 27, 2012

Oh, Baby Sister {An Update}

Well, I think it's safe to say it's long overdue for an update on Baby Sister. I have had good intentions, but clearly that's gotten me nowhere. I am definitely in the honeymoon phase of this pregnancy, and loving every minute of feeling good and being productive (most days). I am lucky that the sickness of the first trimester is behind me and this pregnancy has been enjoyable. 
I've seen all sorts of cute pregnancy documenting ideas on Pinterest, but it's just not realistic to think I'll actually do any of those at this point. Of the ideas I've seen, I thought Manny holding the chalkboard would be the simplest. Ha! That is what I'd like to call a momentary lapse in judgment...oh how naive I can be. As you'll notice, he basically messed with the chalkboard the whole time, then decided to pick it up and run off with it like a thief in the night. For this type of photo shoot to be successful with him, we'd need at least 2 more people there to distract him. So yeah, definitely not happening here anytime soon. 
In the end, we decided a solo picture might be best - though I didn't do a great job of positioning the sign where you can still see my belly. We took these real quick before Patrick left for work yesterday morning, and while they aren't the best pictures - for a 5 minute photo shoot, I can't complain. And now at least we have a few pictures to document my pregnancy (I'm 25 and 5 in these pictures). Better late than never, right?
Actually I do have one other belly shot - this was taken at 20 weeks exactly.
I also realized I never blogged about my "official" ultrasound in which they would confirm gender. When I went in, the ultrasound tech was surprised to see I was by myself as she said normally people bring someone with them to that. Then she said - "Oh wait, are you one of those who cheated and found out early?" So I confessed I did, and she wanted to know what I was having. I wanted to say, "That's for you to tell me!" But instead, I told her that the last tech was fairly certain it was a girl. After taking a look, she said she "thought" it was a girl too. However, she wasn't super convincing. And to make matters worse? Do you see what she wrote on the picture? "LOOKS LIKE A GIRL" Really?! Whatever happened to plain ol' Baby Boy or Baby Girl. So it made me start second guessing, and I asked her and she said she was "fairly certain" it's a girl and would be surprised if it wasn't. So I guess it really is; I just thought it was strange that she said "looks like a girl". I mean come on people, commit already!! But the first tech was certain it's a girl, as well as Patrick, so I guess that's good enough. :)

What else? Ah yes...naming her. No, we haven't decided on a name yet, though I'd say we are really close and have it narrowed down to 3 choices. Patrick is Mr. Laid Back so is in no rush to name her. Doesn't he know there are monogrammed things to be ordered?! Actually now that I say that...I'm realizing maybe that's why he's dragging his feet on settling on a name. He's trying to buy as much time as possible before I start shopping perhaps? :) Actually I have only bought ONE thing for her so far...and it was just a pair of pj's. So I'm not going out of control as he anticipated I would. Honestly though, I think it all boils down to staying so busy, which can be a good thing!

Well hopefully it won't be so long before I update on this precious little girl again. She's really starting to move around a lot (at NIGHT of course!) and I forgot what a precious feeling it is. We are so thankful for an uneventful pregnancy thus far...keep behaving sweet girl! :)

January 26, 2012

Gabi's Sweet 16 Party

As I mentioned last week, my lovely niece Gabi turned 16 this past weekend, and we had a wonderful time celebrating! I have to say I did a horrible job at taking pictures. The lighting in the place we were in wasn't great so a lot of the pictures just didn't turn out, and of course things were crazy. The saddest part is that I didn't get a single picture of me or Manny with Gabi! So instead, I will share this picture from when Gabi was my flower girl in homecoming many many years ago. However, it does seem like yesterday and it makes me feel so old to realize this little girl is now 16! (P.S. How about MY HAIR?!) 
I shared about the invitations for her party here, and wanted to thank everyone for the kind words about them. I promise they're easy to make, so give them a try if you're looking for something different.
Gabi knew we were having a party for her, but she had no idea that my sister (Becky) had a lot of fun surprises in store. Becky rented out this huge lodge that was awesome and we all stayed there for the night. On Saturday, we went out there to set things up, but Gabi had no clue that's where we all were. Becky had dinner catered, and we also set up a sweets table with all sorts of snacks. For the backdrop, we did streamers taped to a strand of lights and hung them using 3M hooks. Thanks so much Ashley for this adorable idea! Our wall backdrop wasn't the best type for this (it was actually a rock fireplace), but I still think it turned out cute. It would be perfect on a solid color wall as I think it'd really give the streamers a chance to stand out.

The first surprise of the night was when Becky had a limo pick them up at their house! Manny was pretty excited about it too...poor guy thought he was going to get to cruise off in it. Not so fast buddy. From there, the limo took them to the lodge, and again, Gabi was surprised when she saw the place and everything set up.

We ate dinner and hung out for a bit. Manny loved hanging out with my nephews, and anywhere they were - you can guarantee Manny was only a few steps behind. He also took some time to love on my dad of course, and was a little pouty when I wouldn't give him anymore chips.
A little later, they went to pick up one of Gabi's friends who wasn't able to come earlier because of a basketball game. While they were gone, my sister's boyfriend brought Gabi's car to the lodge and had it sitting out front with a big red bow on it so it was the first thing she'd see when they pulled back into the house from getting her friend. Gabi had NO clue her mom had gotten her a car, and it was so fun to see her reaction! It absolutely blows my mind to see her behind the wheel. Remember Gab - NO TEXTING, TWEETING, OR FACEBOOKING WHILE DRIVING!! :) (And yes, I know you know...I just have to say it anyway.)
And I have to share this picture of Manny that my mom took. He kept lurking by the sweets table begging for handouts. It cracks me up that he is licking his lips here...who knows what he'd snagged.

So yes, it was a fabulous time and Gabi really appreciated everything my sister and everyone else did. It was a special weekend for a VERY special girl...love you and so so proud of you Gabbers! :)

January 24, 2012

Tuesday Tidbits

--I shared about my love for Red Stamp here, and since then have decided to give their actual mailing services a try. I've used it to mail a few different postcards out - including one to Patrick while Manny & I were out of town this weekend, mostly so I could see first hand what the quality was like. :) I have to say I am SUPER impressed with the quality and overall service! Ordering through the app is fast and simple, and it took about 3-4 days for them to arrive. They were $1.99 each total, including postage. A few of the ones I sent were the pop-out kind, so the photo is perforated and can easily be popped out. (You can see an example of what it looks like in the top right picture - this was popped out of the postcard in the top left picture.) So yes, while a handwritten card is still #1 in my book, I have to say this is a very close second right now. It's just SO simple and I love that it can be personalized with a photo without me ever leaving my house or doing anything other than opening the app on my phone.  The simplicity just speaks to this busy momma's heart.

Oh and I have to share a story about the one I sent to my niece Ellie (bottom left picture). The picture I used is one of her and Manny from last May, so it's a little old but I adore this picture so decided to send it. My sister said when she got it, Ellie asked, "Who's that little boy in the picture?" My sister told her it was Manny, to which Ellie responded, "Oh, from when he was a baby and still had long hair?" SEE?! Even she noticed Manny's hair got whacked!!

--A couple of weeks ago I saw a scarf tutorial via Pinterest that I wanted to try. I love scarves - I'm obsessed really and have way too many - and I'm always looking for different ways to tie them. I loved this particular method shown in the tutorial, but after giving it a try tweeted this picture and said that all it did was leave me sweaty, choked, and never wanting to wear a scarf again. Because after messing with it forever, this was the closest I got - which still wasn't it. I am pleased to say that I have since mastered the technique, and would like to retract the previous statement in which I may or may not have over-reacted. With a little more practice, I think I've finally gotten it down. So yes, this was a proud moment and what my accomplishments are boiling down to these days. You take what you can get, my friends. If you're interested in the tutorial, you can see it here.

--Since posting about How to Do Project 365 from your Phone, I've had some people ask me why their picture sizes are so small when posting from the BlogPress app. To be sure you're maximizing your picture sizing, follow these steps:

1. Open the BlogPress App.
2. Click on "Settings" on the bottom right of the screen.
3. Scroll down until you see the section that says "Editor Options" as shown in the screen shot above.
4. Click on "Photo Scale", and make sure your images are set to Large Size.

I don't know if that will completely solve everyone's problems, but I think that should help some of you at least.

--I have been wanting a few more canvases to put up in our house, so I was excited to see the deal on Doodle Deals today. It's $39 for $80 worth of product. I'll probably get the 16x20...now to decide which picture to use. Being indecisive is exhausting! If you're interested in this deal, you can see it here.

Happy Tuesday! :)

January 23, 2012

Project 366: Week 3

January 20, 2012

Friday Fragments

--I got an email the other day from someone who had been searching for BumpIt reviews, and came across a post I'd written a few years ago. I forgot about this, and more importantly this picture of my mom that I shared in that post. Isn't her hair something else?! I mean, the width alone is unbelievable. So if you'2009/07/im-only-teasing.html">here, and you can also read about "the moment we first met" here...yes, I was a tad dramatic in these posts. And yes, I still have a special place in my heart for infomercials. And no mom, this picture will never get old. Sorry. :)

-- I realized last night that I never shared the birth announcement that I did for my friend Ashley awhile back. Her sweet little guy Judd was born at the end of October, and I was lucky enough to get to play photographer and take some pictures of him when he was just about a week old. Isn't he precious?! She wanted something simple, so I set up this picture so it would include lots of white space. Then to design it, I just put his info on the front, and the back was navy, green, and turquoise argyle. Very simple but I love it! It was inspired by this photo I saw on Pinterest.

--You may have noticed that some of my posts now have a "Pin It" button at the bottom of them (scroll down to the very bottom to see it on this post). This allows you to pin a post directly to Pinterest if you wish. Karen shared a great tutorial on her blog on how to do this. It was really simple, and I like the fact that I can just erase the html code as I'm posting if I don't want that post to have a Pin It button there. Thanks for sharing this Karen!

--I mentioned in my Project 366 post that Patrick and I went to a gala Saturday night. It was the Winter Gala for his work, and we had a lot of fun. I had a ridiculous time, however, trying to walk in heels again. I don't know what I was thinking, but it was a sight to see. I'm pretty sure at times it looked as if I'd had one too many drinks (which I hadn't) so I'm sure people were curious about if this pregnant girl was getting her drink on. Regardless, it gave us a good laugh, and we enjoyed getting out together for a bit.

Well that's all for today...hope everyone has a great weekend! :)

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January 19, 2012

Candy Box Invitations

My sweet "little" niece is turning 16 this weekend, and I absolutely cannot believe it! It seems like just yesterday she was born. We'2010/03/baby-shower.html">Manny's baby shower. 
Her party is going to be red & turquoise, which I LOVE of course. These didn't quite print the shade of blue I wanted, but I still love the way they turned out. I bought the red boxes at Michael's ($1 each) and designed an invite the dimensions of the box to go inside. This box was 3.75"x3.75", so I made it just a little bit smaller so it would nest in there perfectly. I used a few glue dots to hold it down to the bottom of the box.
For the outside, I also just designed something a little smaller than the box and used glue dots to affix it to the box. And of course, I filled the inside with some yummy "sweets" to match the party theme. I tied it together with a coordinating ribbon, but forgot to take a picture of that part.

Can't wait to celebrate you this weekend Gabbers!! Love you so much!! :)

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January 18, 2012

20 Months

Dear Emanuel,

Oh buddy. It's been awhile, huh? I'm a little sad that I totally dropped the ball on the last few monthly letters to you, but I have a hunch you won't mind a bit. Yesterday you turned 20 months old, and I knew it was time for another letter. I'm not sure how often I'll be writing these from now on, simply because...let's face it. Life is so busy. But there are so many things you do that I want to remember, so hopefully I'll find a way to get those documented somehow.

--I took some pictures of you for a 16 month post, but I never got around to actually writing it. When I look back at these pictures now, your transformation into a little boy just blows me away!

--I remember the day I took these pictures you were being so funny. You kept pointing across the street and yammering away. You had one of your rubber duckies and a soccer ball, and wouldn't put those down. You are so funny about always having some kind of object with you. It doesn't necessarily have to be the same thing, though you do have your favorites, such as the horse from your barn set or either of your Curious George stuffed animals. You love to give kisses, especially to George!
--Around 16 months old, you started getting your feelings hurt. If we'd verbally scold you, you'd cry and be sad. It was SO pathetic, and always made it a challenge when it came time to discipline you. Fortunately (I guess?) now you throw fits when you get in trouble, so we don't feel all that bad. You're a strong-willed little guy who seems to carry a lot of my personality traits...which at times, is frightening. :)

We have started seeing a little bit of your temper lately...yes, it is shocking, but you do get worked up from time to time. When you get really frustrated trying to do something you can't, or if we're making you do something you don't want to (like put on a coat), you've started shouting "dadadadada!!!" It seems as though you're using daddy's name as a curse word almost, and daddy doesn't understand what he ever did to deserve this. He said he probably needs to spoil you more, but I don't think that's possible as he's pretty much wrapped around your finger as it is. You guys are the cutest buddies and watching you play together is so sweet. You get sad when he leaves for work and race to the door when he comes home, and I know it certainly makes his day.

--You love trains and cars, and are always on the lookout for them. You say "wheee" when you push your cars around, or sometimes even when we're riding in the car and take off you'll shout it (that's when I know I'm going too fast - thanks Safety Man). You love to say choo-chooooo and push your trains all over the place too. Drawing and coloring are some of your favorite things to do, and I'm sure your Mimi is thrilled to see the chalk in your left hand in these pictures. You seem to switch back and forth on which hand you use, though favor your left hand - same with feeding yourself. I'm curious to see if you'll end up a lefty like your Mimi! You love to play ball and have learned how to make baskets in your little goal. It's the cutest thing ever to see you so proud! You also like to spin in circles until you fall down...silly boy. :)

--You absolutely love to play with your belly button. It definitely has become like a comfort thing for you. If you're sad or tired, you are almost always playing with your belly button. It's kind of cute but also kind of strange. Your daddy says there are worse things you could be playing with though, and I certainly won't argue with that. Let's keep things north of the border, okay buddy?

--I'm not sure whether to be proud or ashamed, but you are a whiz with electronics. You love playing on our phones and the iPad. It always makes us laugh when you march right over, pick it up, and get your little pointer finger going to unlock the screen. Your favorite game by FAR is Tozzle (a puzzle game), and of course any of the games with animals. You also like to watch YouTube videos. Oh yeah, and tweet links to the videos you're watching. I can't figure out how to unlink my YouTube and Twitter, so I tried to hide the YouTube app in a folder...which, of course, you found. Little stinker.
--You are quite the little chatter box. As your cousin Ellie says, it seems you speak Spanish, though I think your English is starting to improve. You say a lot of basic words and will repeat many things we say to you. You used to say "a-weeeeeeze" for please, then you shortened it to "weeeze", and now it's usually just "wee". You still do a quick swipe across your chest like the sign language for please when you say it. You also sign thank you when you say "dank you" or just "danks". "Woah" and "wow" are other favorite expressions of yours, and you usually use them in the appropriate context so it's pretty funny. You love to make animal sounds, which comes as no surprise given your crazy love for animals.

--And I'm sorry Bub, but I have to include this one. Almost every time you take a bath, you poop in the tub. I don't know what it is - I guess it relaxes you? Pretty gross, but on the bright side? If you're ever constipated, I know I can put you in the bath to take care of it.

You are so much fun buddy, and you make the long days totally worth it. It is challenging but fun to learn and grow together.  You have become my little sidekick and I just love you to pieces. You bring daddy and I more joy than you'll ever know.

I love you baby boy!!



January 17, 2012

DIY Activity Center Tutorial

I saw the idea - where else? - on Pinterest to use an oil drip pan as an activity center. With so many refrigerators not being magnetic anymore, I thought this was the perfect idea for an activity space for kids. The person who originally posted about this used it as a magnetic board just as it came, so that is a perfect and simple option, and still looks cute. You know me though - I like to complicate matters :) - so I changed it up just a bit. Here is what you'll need if you'd like to make one too.

--Oil Drip Pan (I got mine at Wal-Mart for $10)
--Chalkboard Paint (I used Martha Stewart from Michael's)
--Spray Paint
--Painter's Tape
--Moulding (optional)
--Small paper mache' box (optional)
--Magnets (optional)

1. Spray paint your drip pan if you wish. Since I was running low on spray paint, I didn't paint the side where I knew I was going to put the chalkboard paint. You'll notice there are some words embossed on one side of the pan, but I don't think it's all that noticeable once you put magnets on it.
2. Use a foam brush (or brush of your choice) to paint half of the board with chalkboard paint. Now. As you can see, I let my impatience get the best of me, and painted despite the fact that I was out of painter's tape. I do NOT have a steady hand, so the results were a little rough. That decision still haunts me.
3. Because of my mistake above, I decided to pick up a piece of wood moulding from Michael's to cover up my messy line. It was on sale for $1, and I just used a regular pair of scissors to cut it the length I needed to fit the board. Then I spray painted it the same turquoise as I'd used on the rest of the pan, and glued it down.
4. Michael's also had some of their wooden shapes on sale for 17 cents, so I picked up a few and hot glued a magnet on the back. I also added some alphabet magnets from my teaching days.

5. For the chalkboard side, I bought a little box from Hobby Lobby and added a few old stickers to it. Then I hot glued 2 magnets on the back so I could use it as a chalk holder.

And that's it! Manny absolutely loves it and it is providing lots of great entertainment. The person who originally posted about this said she used 3M tape to hang it on the wall and that worked fine. Right now, I just have it propped up in the living room until I decide where I want to put it permanently.

Happy Tuesday! :)

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