Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Button Tutorial

Countdown to the 100th Post Giveaway: 97 posts!

I just discovered that I like making animated buttons for blogs. I've done two today and could keep going if laundry and cleaning wasn't calling my name. Here are the steps I took to make mine:

1. Find a background for the button you want to make. I found mine on PC Layers.
2. Make sure you have this background image saved to your computer. Here is what mine looked like before I started editing it:
3. I have a Mac and do not own any photo editing software. So, I uploaded this photo to Picknik. You do not need an account to upload or edit your photo.

4. Once on Picnik, I cropped my image into a square, rotated it, fiddled with the colors, and added a border (you have lots of editing and formatting options on Picnik):

5. After I was happy with the square background, I saved it as "Tutorial Button 1.jpg". Make sure you save each picture onto your computer!!!

6. After saving, Picnik allows you to continue editing the picture you were working on--this is a great feature because you do not have to re-upload anything!

7. I then added some words that I wanted to flash first on my button:

8. I saved this picture, just like I did in #5 and #6.

9. I continued to edit, add words, save, edit, add (or subtract) words, save, etc. until I was happy with what my button said. Some fun features at Picnik let you flip the words horizontally or vertically. You can also add stars and other fun shapes and cllipart images.

10. Now that I have all of my button images saved (as Tutorial Button 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.) I head on over to Picasion, yet another wonderfully free editing software tool.

11. Self-explanatory, but you upload each picture in the order you want it to appear on your button. (Note, in the above case, I uploaded Image 3 twice so that the words went back to being in the proper order).

12. If you would like to customize the size and speed of your button, you can do that at the bottom of the image loader.

13. Click "Create Animation", wait while it loads, and voila! You have a button! Now you just have to copy and paste the url info and you'll be good to go!

14. If you make a button, I'd love to see what it looks like--please leave a comment about it below!

Tutorial Tuesday

Countdown to the 100th Post Giveaway: 96 posts

So. The twin, as stated numerous times before, is incredibly crafty. She started a Tutorial Tuesday last week and I hope she continues. I know a lot of blogs post Tutorial Tuesdays but I thought it would be fun to have people tell us about what they are making by commenting in one space. So, I made another button to advertise for Tutorial Tuesday. (Buttons are f-u-n to make!)

So, if you feel inclined to write a Tutorial Post, I'd love for you to join us! Please tell us your blog name and copy the post of your tutorial into the Mr. Linky below. You can grab this button, too, if you are feeling very inclined (see button info on the left and email me with questions!)

Get ready for the GIVEAWAY extravaganza

Countdown to the 100th Post Giveaway: 95 Posts!

I am so excited about my 100th post giveaway. There are some amazingly talented Etsy women out there who are donating their crafty wares for my 100th post. You are going to L♥VE IT

To get in on the excitement early, download my "100th Giveaway" button below and post it to your blog. Early adders will be able to get 2 extra entries for posting the button on their blog before I post the giveaway!

Simply copy and paste the button's code found in the sidebar to your left into your blog's sidebar. Need help? Feel free to email me!

(*special thanks to A Psych Mommy for helping me organize this giveaway and new mommy Natalie at See Jane Scrapbook for letting me use her PC Layers template to create my button!)

Monday, March 30, 2009

I ♥ (heart) Faces

Countdown to 100th post Giveaway: Post 94

I found this blog through another blog that I read. It is called "I ♥ Faces". Each week they pick a category for a photography contest. Speaking of contests, get excited about my 100th post giveaway!

This week has two separate entries--kids and pets. For the kids, you are supposed to pick a "pouting" picture. I'm lucky that C is typically a very happy baby so I don't really have a pout face for her. (Scratch that! I do have one for her! You can see it below) I do, however, have many pictures of my kitties!

Click on the button below to see all the other entries!

Pet Entry

Here is a picture of Churchill curled up on our bed. Maggie (aka Margaret Thatcher), did not want to be part of the photo that day and jumped up on the dresser that is to the left of the bed. Churchill loves his suburban home with Mimi and Poppy better than our apartment but, when he lives with us, he loves our bed.

Kid Entry

Baby C's first visit to the beach at 6 weeks old. Trust me when I say she grew to love the water. See the evidence at this post.

If you have pets (or pouty-faced kids), you should submit an entry, too! It's fun!

Review: Leap Frog Baby Learn and Groove Play Table

Countdown to 100: Post 93

When we registered for this toy, we blindly followed the reviews and recommendations of parents before us. Of course we knew that a "Top Registry Item" meant that 1000s of parents had registered for it. Just because it was top, though, did not mean that it would have correspondingly top ratings.

My mom and the twin both found the Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Table (the old school version, not the new high tech one) at various Resale Stores in the burbs. When I saw those and Lil Miss putting them in action, I had registry remorse. Why did I blindly follow the registry recommendations? Surely C will be developmentally behind because she does not have the Fisher Price learning table.

Well, C finally gets to the point where she can really engage with the various buttons and features on our Leap Frog table. And, amazingly, she is enthralled. To the point that she even giggles when she spies it from across the room. Maybe it is a "top reviewed" item as well!

As C gets older, this toy gets more interesting to her. I'm so glad she has it and that it entertains her. So far the A-B-C song and the 1-2-3 song are the most captivating for C. I, however, am particularly enamored with the Spanish button feature, especially when the woman in the toy sings out, "Arriba" and "Abajo". I've even taken to using those words ("High" and "Low") with C when we are playing.

Another great thing about this learning table is that kids don't get tired of it quickly. Our Bible Study leaders have a 2-year-old boy who we watched play with this very same table from the time we met him. And, in our Sunday School, kids 3.5 years of age still wander over and press all the buttons (if only we had batteries in it at church--it would be much more entertaining).

I have a feeling this toy will last us for a long time. Even J loves it

Please note: I was not compensated for this review. This review is based on my own opinion. Baby C (and J and I) love this table so much that i just wanted to share!

It took her a while

...but she is finally rolling all the way over. Look out world, here she comes!

By the way, the hop-flop has progressed to near crawling. If she wants something badly enough, she can now get it! Yikes!

Countdown: 8 posts to the 100th post give away!

Countdown to my 100th post!

I cannot believe that I've blogged so much in the past two months that I'm going to hit my 100th post in a few days!

Soo, send me your suggestions on how to celebrate. I'm thinking we need another giveaway! What do you guys want? Something non-mommy related, probably, since all the giveaways have been kiddo-related...we'll see what we can get out there!

Let me know your thoughts! In the meantime, i'll try to post slowly (though I have lots of reviews I want to blog about, I'll resist for the time being)...comment below and we'll get a great 100th post going!

UPDATE: I've been talking with few creative Etsy sellers to see if they'd be willing to showcase their talents by giving away something. They have GREAT stuff and I can't wait to show you what they're willing to give away.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

In it to Win It

That was the rally cry of our morning.

Yet another morning up bright and early due to my passion for running (and volunteering). This time it was a bit earlier (up at 4:35) but it was more rewarding...In a quick recap, our morning involved...
  • setting up a waterstop at the ING Marathon,
  • filling up literally thousands of water and Gatorade cups,
  • handing them out and screaming/cheering for all the running/walking participants,
and then
  • taking everything down.
Our community group from church volunteered at the 4th mile marker water stop. It was incredibly convenient to our church in case we wanted to just walk over to the service after our volunteer session was over.

Turns out, our group was paired with the Lupus Foundation and they had so many volunteers that it made everything extremely quick and efficient. At the end of the race, all the runners vote on their favorite water stop. Whichever stop wins receives money donated to their cause and organization. Very neat idea and really makes the water stops worth running towards--motivation that a runner may need at any point during the race.

Team Lupus was second last year so this year they were "In it to Win It". In order to convince runners that we were really the best stop, we played the Rocky soundtrack (on repeat...for 3 hours) while flashing lots of propaganda soliciting the fact that we were "The Best Water Stop" (seriously, we held up signs that said that). It was fun and i hope Team Lupus Foundation wins because they deserve it for all the effort they put into it.

Here are a few highlights from the morning:

Before, during, and after the runners:

The very fast and the very dedicated:

and those too fast for my iPhone:

Ice Cream Man, why are you so creepy?

Today it is only 47 degrees outside. Despite that chilly thought, what chilled me even more was the music of the ice cream truck coming down the street.

Usually I immediately think of this song that J insisted upon singing throughout our wedding weekend (we were renting a trolley to ferry the wedding party around town...it happened to have a bell which J found particularly humorous when singing this song):

Despite that looong and annoying but funny song, I have a healthy fear of ice cream "vans" that look like this (not our sketch-mobile but I'll try to snap a pic of it soon):

Vans with no windows, sketchy exterior, and the fact that they are driving around when it is FORTY-SEVEN DEGREES outside. That is in my creep-book for sure.

Hope you at least enjoyed the song!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

sdrawkcab ,yadrutaS (Saturday, backwards)

Today's events, in reverse order:

This was one of the last houses we passed, all decked out for an Easter Egg Hunt. J pointed out that even C could find those eggs. How many can you find? Look closely! (note, no prize except for bragging and glory rights will be won)

After the playground, we strolled past the site of the future elementary school in our neighborhood. If we stay here long enough and don't homeschool (more on that later), we'd send C to that school. Anyway, we kept walking and went down Springdale. We loved walking down this street because the houses were beautiful, old, and rambling, much like our favorite street when we lived in Cambridge, MA (Brattle Street, aka Tory Row). This picture is of one of the first houses we passed. We'd hate to be their neighbors as their grounds were beyond breathtaking. With my Dutch ancestory, I can't help but love tulips!

After being inside all day today (and yesterday for that matter), we decided to go for a walk. J had never been to the playground that I recently found and frequented twice this week. C definitely didn't mind going back:

One of our last stops was the LĂ„RABAR booth. Renowned for their wonderful customer service by the twin, we have come to love these all natural bars ourselves. The twin even feeds Lil' Miss them! (C has to wait a bit longer as they have nuts in them). J tried to go by the tent two or three more times to snag more samples but , with the baby, it was obvious that we'd been there before--who wouldn't remember this face?

After running in my last race, I brought home some Einstein Bagels for C to gnaw on. Lucky her there was an Einstein Bagel Booth at the Expo! Here is J loving on C loving on the bagel:

A year ago, I was 21 weeks pregnant with C and thought I couldn't race a half marathon. To make sure I wasn't tempted to register, I decided to volunteer instead. Well, that was all fine and good but, as the days got closer to the race, I thought I'd be jealous of all the runners who were running while I stood on the sidelines and passed out water. So, I decided to do my own 14.2 mile route the day before. While I loved every minute of my run, I ended up tripping over construction on a sidewalk, bleeding all over the sidewalk, busting my phone, and being helped by the Knicks' trainers. What a nightmare.

This year, since I wasn't pregnant, I thought I'd be less clutzy and could do the same thing as I did last year. Well, sadly, it was downpouring all day and I wasn't up for a long run in the rain. So, we carried on with half of the tradition and went to the Expo. We still have the grad-school mentality of gravitating and taking everything that is free, especially food. C caught on quickly and gladly took a hand clapper:

The day started bright and early at 6:30 AM. I am going to run the Hood to Coast relay race with my local competitive team. Since a lot of people would be in town for it, we decided to meet for a 7 AM (runners are gluttons for punishment) breakfast to get to know each other better.

I had to take C because J was working early in the morning. Besides the restaurant actually not opening until 8 AM (they let us in and gave us full breakfasts and won us over as life-long customers because of their great service), everything went well. C didn't want to eat as she was too busy making friends with the girls on the relay team. So, when we got home, we hung out with J (who was back in bed). C got to enjoy her very first breakfast in bed:

Hope you enjoyed our backwards post!

Diaper Free EC

So. Never ever thought I'd be writing a post like this. (what never? no never!*) But, thanks to my friend Amy who asked to learn more about this whole craziness, I decided to write a post on it. It should be mentioned that Amy was actually the one who convinced me to try cloth diapers in the first place thanks to this post! Thanks Amy!

And, feel free to skip this post entirely if 1) you no longer have children in diapers 2) you have no children or 3) you find this whole topic gross (but keep in mind this was my attitude before I started!)

When we were meeting with our doula group to decide if a doula was right for us, we were "subjected" to more "earthy/crunchy" propaganda. I listened politely but swore up and down that I would never use a cloth diaper and definitely not ever try to use EC (elimination communication) with my children. Were they NUTS? Sure, I'd listen politely and carefully pass around the diaper using just the tips of two of my fingers but, seriously, who did these doulas think we were? We surely weren't that crunchy.

Apparently, I was the one who was/is nuts.

One of my sorority sisters (my grandbaby) had a baby in December and she started trying EC soon after her daughter was born. It apparently worked for her. It made me think, 1) that she was crazy 2) that maybe we could do it and 3) that it was too late to start with C but we could possibly, just maybe, look into it with our next one.

All that changed after C went #2 in the bathtub 3 nights in a row. Keeping in mind my doula's (she EC'd her last two kids) and my friend's experiences, I thought it wouldn't be bad to implement one aspect of EC--put the child on the potty before bathtime as warm water usually causes a BM of some kind. Just implementing one aspect wouldn't make me nuts and crunchy, would it? Surely this experiment would never last!

I put C on it the first night and, to my amazement, off she went. It was like she was born to poo on a toilet. Exciting stuff. The next day, anytime I thought she was thinking about passing a #2, I'd whip off her diaper and put her on the comode. And, amazingly, she went every time (save the one time we were in the "family restroom" with Mimi at the mall--but she did try very hard when she was on it!). Soon, she even started going #1! C has gone for hours without a wet or dirty diaper.

The trick to remember is that you are not training your child to hold it all in but, rather, you are training yourself to learn his/her potty cues and then acting on them quickly. I think it is fun to try and get her to go and to not have to change a dirty wet diaper is a huge bonus. As long as you keep an open and flexible mind about it, you'll be fine. There are a lot of parents who want to get their baby diaper free and get too stressed out and then their baby gets stressed out and then the whole thing is a mess, including their house (because most likely, there will be a few misses!)!

I haven't read much more on ECing but I do have the following books on reserve at the library. I am by no means an expert on this method of pottying but, if you do a google search for "elimination communication" or "diaper free", you'll find out a lot more! Also, feel free to click on any of the following books for more information about them. These are the books that I will be getting soon.

*From the Simpson's (I also NEVER ever thought I'd quote a line from the Simpsons. J is having an effect on me)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

"Nice Monkeys 7 Months Old"

I'm sure some of you have noticed my Sitemeter icon at the bottom of my blog. I put it there to keep track of any scary people that might be blogstalking my family (seriously, these people exist...or so I'm told).

I check my Sitemeter periodically to make sure that no wackos are spending hours of time on our blog and so far so good.

Tonight, when checking, I nearly spewed out my oatmeal raisin cookie (I tried this recipe but tweaked it a bit...w/ different spices it was amazing!) when I found that someone found my blog by searching for:

"nice monkeys 7 months old"

how hilarious. If you are that person, thanks for visiting! I hope you enjoyed my blog :)

At the Name of Jesus

Philippians 2:10,11
"so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

This verse has been running through my head ever since I first saw the signs of Spring "springing" (if you will) forth. A great hymnist composed a song to correspond with this verse. I originally thought that Aaron Shust wrote it but, upon google searching the hymn, I learned that Caroline Noel wrote all the way back in 1870! Here are her words:

At the Name of Jesus
every knee shall bow,
every tongue confess him
King of glory now;
'tis the Father's pleasure
we should call him Lord,
who from the beginning
was the mighty Word.

At his voice creation
sprang at once to sight,
all the angel faces,
all the hosts of light,
Thrones and Dominations,
stars upon their way,
all the heavenly orders,
in their great array.

Humbled for a season,
to receive a Name
from the lips of sinners,
unto whom he came,
faithfully he bore it
spotless to the last,
brought it back victorious,
when from death he passed;

Bore it up triumphant,
with its human light,
through all ranks of creatures,
to the central height,
to the throne of Godhead,
to the Father's breast;
filled it with the glory
of that perfect rest.

Name him, brothers, name him,
with love as strong as death,
but with awe and wonder
and with bated breath;
he is God the Savior,
he is Christ the Lord,
ever to be worshiped,
trusted, and adored.

In your hearts enthrone him;
there let him subdue
all that is not holy,
all that is not true;
crown him as your Captain
in temptation's hour;
let his will enfold you
in its light and power.

Brothers, this Lord Jesus
shall return again,
with his Father's glory
with his angel train;
for all wreaths of empire
meet upon his brow,
and our hearts confess him
King of glory now.

And here is Aaron Shust singing his version of it:

Recap: all in a day's work

C decided that all that potty time at the mall tuckered her out. We shopped, she dropped...sadly, this was the ONLY nap she took for 20 minutes all day.

J finally came home tonight but he needed a ride home from the office so C and I finished up her bath and headed out to get him. Immediately following her bath, C expects a bottle and if she doesn't get it...oooh, boy, look out. I decided I'd rather not have her cry and scream when she sees J for the first time in days so I brought along the bottle and propped it up on her shopping cart cover:

C still did not want to sleep (despite the eyes being closed in the above pic) because she finally got to see her daddy. Sadly for her, J and I had date night to get to! So, we dropped her off at our neighbors. Before we got there, though, we spiked her growing hair into a sweet fauxhawk. We believe she found it humorous.

And, on our way to date night, the rain finally ceased and all Spring broke forth in its fine array, displaying the splendor of God's Creation:

Potty learning...!

So, I thought I wouldn't post anymore about C going to the bathroom on the toilet. But, when we met Mimi at the mall today and I had to go to the bathroom myself, I thought, "why not show her off?"

So, we took her into Nieman's (if only they knew!) and put her on the potty (don't worry, I cleaned it) and two seconds later, out came two little plops. Needless to say, Mimi was impressed!

side note: I actually took a picture of the next poo she made when we got home (you are probably either truly grossed out by now or beginning to realize how exciting this is for me!) but I decided to not post it. In case you are truly curious, it just looks like a mini version of what yours probably looks like :)

I think I'm going to go buy her this toilet tomorrow to celebrate her little victories...

It may look like a big chair but this mom talks about how she uses it for her little one (4 months old) to EC which is effectively what we're doing when we place C on the toilet :)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I love Wednesdays

Why? Because I get to really delve into the word of God by exploring Genesis chapter by chapter and...BONUS! i get to see all my nursing-mommy friends at Bible Study (we are in the nursing mothers core group)!

Three of us all had daughters within days of each other which makes it really neat to see the girls growing together. They are both leaving C in the dust with their mad-crawling skills. Here are some precious pics of them from today:

Poor baby C needs to learn some people-skills. Either that, or she is just jealous of Baby A's hair. She tried to pull it out and made Little A! Hopefully she will not become a bully--not if Babywise principles can help it, that is!

I thought this pic of C was hilarious:

All that playing with babies made her sleepy! While we might sacrifice a nap in the morning to go to Bible study, she sure does sleep well on the way home!

PS Another mommy giveaway! If you don't have a babe, though, this adorable blanket would definitely be snuggle-worthy for your pampered pet (and I know those of you sans kiddos have pets and that they are pampered). Check it out by clicking on this pic:

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tutorial Tuesday Thanks To The Twin

I love alliteration. Just thought I'd get that out in the open.

Now, onto the post's purpose (ha! alliteration!)

The Twin decided to start a Tutorial Tuesday on her blog. Great stuff! Told you she was crafty!

Check out her tutorial on how to make almond milk. When I wean Baby C, I'll be following these steps, but with a blender.

Another "park"

Because C was so cranky today, I decided to take her for a walk around the block. We used to do that all the time when nothing else would console her. As I was walking up the street I had an "Eureka!" moment--there is a church a block away from us that doubles as a preschool...which means they must have a playground, right?!

Sure enough, we wandered around the church until we found the incredibly extensive playground. It was empty so we had it all to ourselves. It featured her old-faithful, the swing:

as well as quite a few new toys she had never experienced. One was the tri-bouncer (what its proper name is, I have no idea). She had actually been on this little toy back in January but she wasn't able to support herself on it. Here she is modeling her balancing abilities:

Best of all was a brand new toy, even to me. I saw these two buttercup looking like toys inbetween the swings and the tri-bouncer. It looked deep enough for a baby's bum so I nestled her in there and then watched as gravity took affect (and the toy's purpose became apparent)...it spins you around and around. C squealed with delight and seemingly loved it. I could only handle so much of it, though, as I got dizzy just watching her. Looks like she'll have no problem in the Mad Hatter Tea Party at DisneyWorld. Good girl (much better than her mama who dry heaves upon exiting such an apparatus).