Monday, August 31, 2009

I ♥ Faces: Before & After


Phew, y'all, what a week we've had. More to come on that later but for now, I know most of you are visiting for I ♥ Faces, not stories :)




This week's theme is "Before & After". You are supposed to post a picture of what your old pictures and editing looked like in the early months of your I ♥ Faces participation and then show a recent photo of your new and improved techniques.

Since I just have my point and shoot Sony digital camera and do not have PhotoShop (or any other "cool" and "official" editing software), I have not had the chance to take advantage of I ♥ Faces' great tutorials.

I do, however, think that my editing skills on Picnik have improved and maybe even my shooting skills have, as well. I'll let you be the judge!

Before

The following picture is the first picture I entered that I edited on Picnik:



After

and this picture was taken late this month and edited on Picnik:



What do you think?

I'd love your suggestions on how to improve your pictures with a simple digital camera and a fancy-free editing system!

Make sure you check out other "Before & After" picture entries at I Heart Faces!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Fab Friday Giveaway: CSN Baby & CSN Mattress

Wow! It has been a MONTH since I hosted a giveaway!

Let's get on with it!



I am so happy to be introducing this store to you. Tyler, from CSN Baby and CSN Mattress contacted me about doing a review for them but he graciously allowed me to give YOU, my lovely blog readers, the CSN product instead.

CSN Baby and CSN Mattress are sister stores that represent over 200 stores online. They have an amazing selection of products (they even clam that they have THE largest selection on the web!) and strive to offer you the lowest price online. If you can't find something you are looking for or you find an item cheaper on another site, you can let them know via email and they will offer you a better deal most of the time! You can't beat that!

CSN also offers amazing customer service. When I was interacting with Tyler, I was amazed by his personalization and attentiveness (not to mention patience!) while I decided what I wanted to giveaway. They even offer 13 hours of personable customer service contact and claim you'll never wait on hold! now that is nice!

Best of all is their Satisfaction Guarantee which states: "We guarantee your absolute satisfaction – 100% of the time." Now that is hard to pass up! If you don't like it, you can return it no questions asked!

Another part of the CSN Stores that I think is really neat is that they have a Returns Outlet where you can get amazing deals! Check it out here!

So now that you know a lot about the company, lets get on with the giveaway!

Tyler let me pick out anything that was $65 or less for you all to win. It took me FOREVER to decide what I wanted to offer to y'all (seriously, their selection is so vast it is crazy!).

I finally decided on this cool Rodeo Drive Tote Diaper Bag from Amy Michelle in the COLOR OF YOUR CHOICE!:



The Rodeo Drive Tote Diaper Bag is awesome because it has two compartments: one for your baby and one for you! Check out its cool features:
  • Chocolate brown with turquoise lining
  • Includes matching 24" x 14" washable changing pad and stroller attachment
  • Internal / external bottle pockets
  • Quick release pacifier holder
  • Compartments for diapers and wipes
  • Place for wallet, day planner and essentials
  • Easy to find key ring holder
How to Win:

  1. Mandatory First Entry--Visit CSN Stores and find something that you love--come back and tell me what it is (1 entry)
  2. Be a follower or subscriber to my blog! I really wanted to thank all of y'all for bearing with me for the last month of little to no posts and also for your support and sweet comments when I did post! Leave a comment telling me you follow or subscribe (1 entry)
  3. Tweet about this giveaway. (1 entry/day) Please tweet:

    Enter to win an Amy Michelle Diaper Bag @monkeysonthebed ($65 value!) http://bit.ly/w8ilt

  4. Blog about this giveaway. You MUST link back to this giveaway and to CSN Mattress. Leave me a link to your blog post and give yourself THREE (3) entries!

The fine print:

This giveaway is open to anyone who in Canada or the USA, aged 18 and older. The giveaway will end sometime on Saturday, September 5th. You must leave the mandatory comment before receiving extra entries. You must leave a way for me to contact you with each entry! I will draw a winner via a Random Integer Generator and announce the winner on this blog and email the winner as well. If the winner does not reply to me within 48 hours, I will draw a second winner. I reserve the right to delete your entry if you do not follow the rules listed above.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

W.o.G. Wednesday: Micah 6:8

For some reason, this verse keeps streaming through my head so I thought it should be my Word of God Wednesday post for this week.



Micah 6:8
He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
I love how this verse is written. On first glance it seems so easy and straight forward. God shows us what is good in His sight and then tells us to do it. Simple as that, right?

If only! Broken down I wonder and contemplate each part:
  • To act justly

  • To love mercy

  • To walk humbly
Definitions, please!

Justly: just 1 (jst)
adj.
1. Honorable and fair in one's dealings and actions: a just ruler. See Synonyms at fair1.
2. Consistent with what is morally right; righteous: a just cause.
3. Properly due or merited: just deserts.
4. Law Valid within the law; lawful: just claims.
5. Suitable or proper in nature; fitting: a just touch of solemnity.
6. Based on fact or sound reason; well-founded: a just appraisal.

Mercy:

n. pl. mer·cies
1. Compassionate treatment, especially of those under one's power; clemency.
2. A disposition to be kind and forgiving: a heart full of mercy.
3. Something for which to be thankful; a blessing: It was a mercy that no one was hurt.
4. Alleviation of distress; relief: Taking in the refugees was an act of mercy.

Humble: hum·ble (hmbl)
adj. hum·bler, hum·blest
1. Marked by meekness or modesty in behavior, attitude, or spirit; not arrogant or prideful.
2. Showing deferential or submissive respect: a humble apology.
3. Low in rank, quality, or station; unpretentious or lowly: a humble cottage.

How can I act justly, love mercy, and still be humble on a daily basis? To act justly but to be merciful is to emulate my God--he is a Just but Merciful and Graceful God who loves me because He sent His blameless Son, Jesus Christ, to humbly die for my sins!

I think that, for me, the last two go hand in hand. To love mercy is to be full of mercy and that means to be as generous with mercy and grace as my Savior is to me.

And then, even if I think I am doing the righteous godly thing by being merciful, I need to walk humbly, knowing that I am only able to show mercy because I have experienced such grace and mercy from my Savior, Jesus Christ.

What are your thoughts on this verse? I'd love to hear them!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tutorial Tuesday: How to {make} and tie a "Moby" Wrap!




Nearly as soon as Monkey was born, she was put in a sling and lugged around town. I had a great organic baby sling that the twin bought me pre-birth and I seriously wore that thing from the day Monkey came home from the hospital until the day I lost it.

And that, my friends, was a sad day (the day that I lost the sling).

I had seen a few of my friends post pictures of themselves with looooong layers of fabric draped across their bodies and tied in such a way that they could carry their baby around with them all day long. Much like a Baby Bjorn, these new mommies were sporting Moby Wraps.

I was intrigued but a bit scared by how crazy they looked. I thought they were complicated and, to boot, they were expensive!

So I decided to make my own.

I went out to Jo-Ann Fabrics and found some cozy flannel prints that were on sale for $2.99 a yard. Needing 5 yards, i thought that was a decent price. I brought it home, cut it, made it, watched a few baby wearing tutorials, practiced with a fake baby doll and, by the time Monkey was awake the next morning, I was ready to try sporting her around in my homemade Moby.

Well, let me tell you, it was great! I wore Monkey for FOUR (4 yes FOUR) hours while standing in line outside in the bitter cold to vote for the Presidential Race. J and I both wore her in Seattle when it was so snowy that cars couldn't drive, buses weren't running, and strollers certainly couldn't be pushed through the ice and slush.

That thing was perfect. The only problem was, it was hideous. I had chosen flannel (not bad in the winter but brutal in hot summers in Atlanta!), it was a crazy print that ended up covering my entire torso, and it was fraying.

So, after months of contemplating it, I finally decided to splurge and buy some Jersey-knit fabric, similar to what the real-deal Moby's are made of.

And here, my friends is the tutorial. Watch carefully because it will be over in half a second:

Things you'll need:

  • 5 yards of fabric, at least 60 inches wide, preferably jersey-knit but clearly, flannel works, too!
  • Sharp fabric scissors or a rotary cuter
  • nothing else. seriously
Two New Additions:

1)
You get TWO Moby Wraps out of this tutorial. So keep one for you and give one to a friend or keep one handy while you are washing the other one!

2)
Some people may need less or more fabric. If you are shorter than 5'5" you probably only need 4.5 yards (or even less!). If you are a little heavier or taller, you may need a little more fabric. I have plenty of fabric left over after I tie it and J, my husband, who is quite a bit taller and heavier than me, can easily wear the same wrap as I do.

Here is what 5 yards of fabric looks like:



Cutting with jersey fabric has pros and cons. I found out that jersey fabric is sold as a loop, like this:



Which means that you have to cut it length-wise, twice. However, the pros to selling it like that is that the fabric has two very nice creases that allow you to see exactly where you need to cut.

That being said, Step 1 is to find the center of your fabric and cut straight down the middle.



I chose to cut a little on one side and then cut the same amount on the other side. (Let me tell you, I was really missing my rotary cuter at this point...)

Please keep in mind: you are cutting it LENGTHWISE so you only end up with TWO separate pieces of fabric that will become your wraps.



Now that you have two pieces of fabric, you've made your Moby Wrap! If you chose jersey-knit or flannel, you technically do not have to sew the edges. I never did and I've been fine! I will tell you, though, that the flannel does start to fray so beware of that.

Now to put on your wrap:

1) First, find the middle of your wrap. With this wrap, I am going to eventually add a little pouch right in the middle so I know where the middle is and I don't have to fold it in half every time I want to put it on



2) Line up the middle of the wrap with the middle of your belly:



3) Take one of the long ends and wrap it diagonally across your back so that it now hangs on the opposite shoulder. You can have a friend ensure that it isn't twisted.



Do this for the other side, too, so you now have an "X" across your back



4) Now you'll have two flaps of fabric draped over your shoulders:



5) Take those long ends and cross them in FRONT of you--so now you have an X in the back and an X in the front.


6) Tuck the flaps UNDER the center panel that is across your belly so that it looks like this:



Don't worry! I know it looks like you are in a weird cult with this garment but keep going--it won't look so bad in a bit!

7) Pull the flaps to the side:



8) and tie them together in the back so you make a knot:



Now that you have your cross wrap you just need a baby!

Check!


9) Find the INNER flap. The one CLOSEST to your chest.



10) Insert your child's foot and leg into the flap closest to your body. This could be the left or the right leg, depending on whether your child is facing in or out. For this tutorial, Monkey is facing OUT--she loves her vantage point!



Since she is Facing Out, you need to put the flap completely over her leg and arm like so:



11) Do the same thing for the other side of your child so that it looks like this (please disregard Monkey--she likes to make funny faces in the mirror)



12) Now you need to take your belly flap (not belly flab!) and pull it up and over your child's legs so that it is a stomach flap for them:



The finished wrap should look like this:



Alternatively, you can place you baby facing you (which is what we always did when Monkey was little!). It's basically the same concept (insert the legs and arms and pull up the belly flap) and should look like this when you are done:



Monkey is 12.5 months old and 25lbs and she still loves being carried in her Moby. We walked all over Decatur last weekend for 2 hours with her in it and she loved it! I can even do it with my pregnant belly and no discomfort!

If you would like to see other ways of wrapping your baby, make sure you check out Wear Your Baby (the best tutorial and how I learned!)

Do you like wearing your baby? What do you use? Any more tips that I missed? Let me know!


Sunday, August 23, 2009

I ❤ Faces: Nostalgia

This week's theme at I ❤ Faces is Nostalgia. Angie and Amy came up with great ideas for how to capture a photo that makes you nostalgic but the only thing I can think of these days are memories of my grandpa...


Our family is huge and everyone played an important role during the days following my grandpa's death and preceding his memorial and funeral. My job was to make a DVD of his life in pictures. I divided it into four chapters: "biography" (including pictures from age 1-81), "husband", "father", and "grandpa".

Without a doubt, we had the most pictures in the "grandpa" chapter. Of course, one reason could be because of the advent of digital cameras but I think it is mainly because he was such a wonderful, hands-on grandpa, that there were plenty of opportunities to take pictures of him playing with his grandkids. And what great pictures we have of him! The old ones are my favorite because of their retro coloring and faded tones--especially this one...



This is a circa-1986 picture of me*, the twin, & my grandpa making cookies.

Ahh! Talk about nostalgia!

I miss that man, my grandpa and my friend.


I highly encourage you to check out other Nostalgic entries at I ❤ Faces! You never know--maybe something you see will make you nostalgic, too!



*Since I'm obviously in the picture, I'm not entering it officially in the contest!


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thankful Thursday!

I have a W.o.G and Tutorial post all lined up but I'm not sure how annoying that would be if I started posting three things on the same day. Ehh...we'll get to it tomorrow!

For right now, it is time for Thankful Thursday!

As you know, a LOT has happened in the last week. A week ago, I was visiting with my grandpa and celebrating my grandma's birthday. This week, we celebrated my grandpa's life with all of his immediate family--not counting his surviving siblings, that includes 5 children, 5 children-in-laws, 14 grandchildren, 3 grandchildren-in-laws, 2 great-grandchildren and 2-great-grandchildren on the way. WOW.

So...

  1. i am thankful for all my cousins (and aunts, uncles, etc.). They are so fun, funny, kind, respectful, and just all around great to be around.



  2. J's safe arrival. He arrived in Florida at 12 AM and departed 16 hours later! Monkey and I were so thankful and happy to see him for those 16 hours and we can't wait until we are back home with him!



  3. I felt the baby move last night! It was awesome! I love that and look forward to the next 25.5 weeks of feeling it :)

  4. The grieving process finally started for me at the memorial yesterday. I was finally able to mourn and cry over the death of my grandpa. It took a while but now the emotions are raw and even this morning, when talking with one of my grandma's neighbors, the tears were quick to spring to my eyes. I know that it might be weird to be thankful for tears but I'm glad they finally came.



  5. I forgot this from last week: When I was running one morning, I prayed that I'd be able to comprehend what Grandpa was trying to tell us. Later that day, the twin and I brought the babies into grandpa's hospice room. He CLEARLY said to them, "Hi there!" in his old, normal way like he'd do any given day. It was WONDERFUL and such an answer to prayer!

  6. everyone in real life (i guess "IRL"), all my blog friends, and everyone on facebook who have been SO kind and encouraging the last week (and, of course Your patience and understanding as I've slacked on this blog!)

  7. Monkey has been taking GREAT naps TWICE a day since we've been down here--i think it is because she goes swimming twice a day but that is fine by me!




  8. and, one more for good measure: the knowledge that my grandpa was a believer in the one true God who offers Eternal life with Him in Heaven--what a glorious and encouraging thought for our family of believers!


Sunday, August 16, 2009

I ❤ Faces: Week 31




I didn't think I'd even come close to entering this week's contest over at I Heart Faces...then I saw the theme and thought that it would be so fun to try and get creative with bubbles.

My original idea was to get my cousin (she's 13) to sit in a bubble bath (with her bathing suit!), while she blew bubbles with her chewing gum, and someone else blew kid bubbles at her.

It was a fun thought.

And...

It went pretty far: I got my cousin to blow bubbles at Monkey while Monkey sat in the bubble bath! We did try to do a few pictures of the two of us blowing our bubble gum but we couldn't sync it--we kept laughing and accidentally spitting out our gum. Oh well, it was a nice effort.

In the end, I had three great photos of Monkey playing with the bubble bath bubbles and the bubble blowing bubbles. J was the ultimate decider and chose the picture with bubbles piled high on her head and a lone blown bubble perched on top of that!



Feel free to check out option 1 or option 2 to see if you agree with J's opinion...

OR

feel free to enter your own creative bubble shot and be inspired by the other entries at I Heart Faces

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Featured Follower, Monkey's Favorites, & More

i haven't been too consistent with my postings and i don't anticipate getting back on schedule until we get back home next week (we're still in Florida, Memorial service will be on Wednesday, then we'll head home by Friday).

Regardless, I still appreciate all of you, my readers--you have been continually encouraging and your sweet comments mean the world to me!

So i'd like to start featuring you guys again which brings me to my first topic--Featured Follower

12 of you fun followers signed up to be featured but there are 271 of you! Does anyone else want to be a featured follower (confused? check out these two past posts here) ***ETA: I had to delete the form on this post because it was causing issues so please check out the past posts to fill it out!***

Also, back in the very beginning of my blogging days, I used to review all of Monkey's favorite things. I'd like to start featuring everything she loves--like her favorite foods, her favorite toys, her favorite books. Not lots of individual posts/item--just one "big" post/category. What do you think?

And, finally, I am going to be putting together a movie for my grandpa's memorial service--So I won't be on the blog much until the movie is finished. Just an FYI :-o




What a Homecoming it must be...



My grandpa passed away early this morning.


1 Corinthians 15:54-57
Then when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this scripture will be fulfilled:
"Death is swallowed up on victory.
O death where is your victory?
O death where is your sting?"

For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ!


Friday, August 14, 2009

Thankful Thursday part 2: Week 15

In the midst of active sorrow and grieving, God is giving us lots to be thankful for this week...

  1. Memories with my Grandpa, especially of the times he was with Monkey (baby C's new moniker...), and of those, the times when he would tease her and she would laugh!




  2. My Grandma--it is her birthday today and she is holding in there despite her constant vigil by my grandpa's side. We celebrated her birthday in the lanai outside of my grandpa's room.











  3. A wonderful, restful Hospice Center for my grandpa and grandma to spend their last days together. It is called Joanne's Hope Hospice and has amazing amenities and even a children's play area:



  4. Cousins who are ready and willing to help me and the twin with our babies. They will take Monkey and her cousin and play with them for hours. So nice when we need little breaks!







  5. A great visit with Grandma S--we had to cut the visit short when we left early to get down to Florida. We had fun and Monkey waved "Bye bye" as we drove off!



  6. Beautiful weather in Naples with cooling rains every day. i've taken Monkey into the pool every day and she LOVES it! We are also thankful for the cool hat that Aunty Sledge sent to Monkey for her birthday! Stylin'!




  7. Monkey's cousin--she has provided hours of entertainment and is inspiring her to officially start walking...one day...


I'd love to hear what you are thankful for!!!