Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cricut love!

My grandmother recently gave me her Cricut machine.

At first I didn't really do anything with it since I wasn't scrapbooking, but as I started planning for the girls' birthday party, I realized it is going to be sooooo wonderful to have this machine!  I had never used one before, so I wasn't fully aware of what it could do, but as I looked through the cartridge books that she gave me, I found that it can do quite a lot!  I'll definitely be using it for the banners and some garland I want to make.  I will probably also use it for food tray tags and possibly goody bag tags.

I've only done a few of the banner pieces so far, but I'm very excited about them.  Since the party is candy land themed, we have lots of bright colors.  I haven't cut all of the letters out, but I will do one banner for Mackenzie and another for Meredith.  I'm planning to hang these over the fire place.  Last year I spent hours cutting out letters for the different banners I made, but this time, it should take no time at all and they will all be uniform!

I also need to make a Happy Birthday one, but I think I need it to be a little bigger and I want to use a Candyland font I found, so I'll probably make that by hand.

One of the ideas I found on pinterest is garland like this...
or this...

I'm still trying to decide exactly how big I want the circles.  Big would be cute, but I'm planning to put it in front of the playroom entry, so I would need A LOT of circles/paper.  I think the little ones might be cute and still offer a distraction to the non-decorated playroom.  Cutting circles is easy with the cricut, so the only hard and time consuming thing will be putting it together.  I need to do a little test on one strand before I cut out a ton of circles and then find out it doesn't work as well as I thought it would.

So now that I've discovered the Cricut, I've been eyeing other sets.  There are so many that it's hard to choose just one or two.

These rosettes would be cute for cards and packages...
These tags could probably be used for almost anything...
"Let's celebrate" - yep, I could use this for years to come and not just for birthday parties, but birthday cards too!
I could definitely use these for future events at the house or make them small for greeting cards or scrapbooking...

What do you think?  Do you have a cricut?  Do you have a favorite cartridge set?  What garland would you make for the party?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Baby books and pictures

Since Meredith's first tooth came in, I pulled out her baby book to write in the date.  When I looked a little more at the book, I realized I hadn't updated anything since she was about 6 weeks old!  I was able to add dates for crawling, clapping, pulling up, sleeping through the night...quite a bit actually.  Her book also has a place for monthly updates, but since I do monthly updates on the blog, I had forgotten all about her book.  It looks like I have some catching up to do.  The good thing is, I have the blog to help me along!  I think I have pictures printed for the first 4 months, but I haven't ordered any pictures since February, which means I need to order pictures from February to May. 

For years I have uploaded pictures to and ordered prints from Kodak Gallery, but they are closing now.  They are transferring my pictures to Shutterfly, but I feel like I am in limbo right now for ordering and uploading pictures.  I want to order pictures, but since they close down forever in one week, I don't want to take my chances of the order not being completed.  I'm sure it would, but I think I'll just wait to order from Shutterfly.  The dilemma with that, is that my pictures still haven't been transferred.  I have a lot of pictures and they have a lot of accounts, but I was hoping it wouldn't take this long - it's been a couple of weeks.  I'm not worried about my pictures since I have all of them on our network here at the house, but I'd rather not have to reload them, since I also use the site as a storage back up.

On top of the baby book, I realized that all of Meredith's picture frames in her room are empty.  I have a photo frame that is also supposed to hold pictures from the first 12 months and it's completely blank!  Her frame that should hold her first 12 years doesn't even have the baby picture as the starter.  Another frame that I could easily fill is the big sister photo with a picture of both girls.  I think might need to go through the house and see what pictures I need to order and I should probably look at Mackenzie's baby book too, to see if there are any pictures I need of her.

Digital pictures are great because I can take a ton of pictures and sort through them later to decide which one is the best, but I still LOVE prints.  I have a lot of prints that I need to scrapbook or at least put in albums.  That was something I had started to do back in March, but then life happened and that project got delayed.  Maybe I can start it up again soon...if life would just slow down for just a minute!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

This and That..

We've been fairly busy these past 10 days, which explains the blog posts, or lack there of. 

1.  We enrolled Mackenzie in swim lessons and she's on week 2 of everyday lessons.  Going every day isn't as bad as I thought it would be, but it is still something that we have to get ready for EVERY DAY!  She's doing pretty well, except she doesn't like to get her face wet.  A little hard to do since she's in a swimming pool for 30 minutes every day! ;)  Yesterday was the first day she didn't cry when she walked into the pool area - Yay!  She's floating on her back fairly calmly and the teacher only has to hold her head.  This could not have been said last Thursday, also known as, the worst swim lesson EVER!  She could not calm down last Thursday and could be seen flailing about in the water as her teacher tried to get her to float on her back.  After that we talked to the director of the school and she told Mackenzie that she needed to 1) try and 2) be brave.  That has been our mantra for the last few days and it seems to be working.

2.  Meredith finally has her first tooth.  Pretty much right after I posted about her not having teeth, I saw the first one coming in.  It disturbed her sleep for a few days and she was waking up at 5:00 and 5:30 for several mornings and not wanting to go back to sleep.  But thankfully, now that it has broken through, she's back to normal and waking up at 6:45.  WooHoo!

3.  Meredith is also pulling up to her feet, which brings a whole new alert level for me.  All of the dvd's are pushed back on the shelf, her crib bumper is out of her bed and drinks/food are not left out on coffee tables or Mackenzie's playroom table.  I was never worried about Mackenzie climbing out of her crib, but I am for Meredith.  She's going to be our climber!  She found my friends stairs the other day and climbed 2 without any issues.  She has also climbed over our treadmill and climbed halfway up a playground slide last week!

4.  Mackenzie has really started singing out loud.  She's always sung the ABC's, Jesus Loves Me and Twinkle Twinkle all on her own, but she never really sand along to the radio or tv songs.  But now, if she knows the songs, she sings along.  And since she has such a great memory, she knows all of the words.  She even sings to the songs of the toys, which are always catchy and even I sing along to.

5.  Mackenzie asked to do some more school this week.  I printed everything yesterday, so I guess we'll try to do a few items after dance today.  It's nice to know she is still interested in doing school and actually kind of misses it!  I have a cute unit I found for next week and 4th of July, so this week, we'll just focus on the letter B and butterflies.  I had hoped that when we did the butterfly unit, we'd be able to go to the butterfly exhibit, but it's way too hot out to go to a humid rainforest museum to see butterflies.  Maybe we'll take a "rain check" and go in the fall/winter!

6.  I'm starting to plan/obsess over the girls' birthday party in September.  I guess I really shouldn't say "starting" since I've had an excell sheet for a couple of months now!  That's right, I said excell sheet - that's how I do things.  Is that not normal??? ;)  I received the paper, stamp pad and ribbon from my mom a couple of weeks ago and have actually started cutting out banners using my "new to me" Cricut (stay tubed for future posts).  Maybe I'll even do a post about my excell sheet.  How boring fun would that be?! ;)

So here's hoping my next post is sooner than 5 days from now and with more substance than just randomness, but since we still have swim lessons all this week, I can't promise anything!

Friday, June 22, 2012

RRSP: Letter P and extra Pond Unit

We are working through our Raising Rockstars Preschool curriculum at a snails pace this summer!  But, that's ok - she's 3 and still has 2 more years at home with me before she goes to Kindergarten.  For the past several weeks we've been working off and on our Letter P unit with an added unit on ponds. I had a ton of stuff I wanted to do, so I just kept going and whenever we had some time we would do a few activities.

Our letter of the week was "P", our number 17, sight word "to" and our verse - "Praise the Lord.  For it is good to sing praises to our God." Psalm 147:1.

Coloring our verse page...
Our craft was to "make music".  When we were finished, she said we could sing and "we'll just have a pretend man".  I asked her what that meant and she said, "you know like the man at church when we sing".  Oh, the song leader, I get it.  So she had me sit next to her and we faced the same direction and sang Jesus Loves Me and we had our pretend man leading us! ;)
Our verse was on waist high this week!
One night after Meredith was in bed, she asked if we could do a little school.  I wasn't really in the mood to do a ton of school stuff, so I just pulled out the matching ABC game.  She had to match the fish with the lowercase letter to its pond with the uppercase letter.  Other than just taking a bit of time to do, she did well.
She loves the number puzzles...
The number puzzle for 11-20 was much more difficult for her.  I tried to show her that if you cover up the 1 on the left, you can see what number comes next, but that was a little confusing for her.  Clearly it's something we need to continue to focus on.
After the struggle with the number order puzzle, I knew we definitely needed to do this next activity.  We just put the numbers in order similar to what we do with the ABC's sometimes.  Again, once we get past 12, it gets difficult for her, but we'll keep working on it.
Sound matching and pinching skills with pond plants/animals from 1+1+1=1...
Brandon's mom brought this game for us the last time she visited.  It has a mystery box full of items and she has to place the items on the correct letter of the alphabet that they start with.  She can pretty much do all of them and she still really enjoys the game.  She usually plays with each item, tells a story about it or just talks in general while playing it.  Pretty much how she plays every other game we have! ;)

She loves to sort the pom poms into the ice cube trays.  This time I brought out 3 different trays and 3 different size pom poms for her to sort.  As usual, she really enjoyed this activity.

Sorting fish by size...I think she's mastered this skill, but we'll keep doing it because she also likes to use the glue stick! ;)
Matching frogs from the Montessori Print Shop was one of the first activities we did.  For having 20 frogs to choose from at once, she did pretty well.
This "Which one is different" sheet was a little difficult...even for me!  The very first line we had to skip and come back to.  Can you see which one is different?  Mackenzie picked up the different snail quicker than me and the frogs were another hard one.  We eventually found them all, but it took a little bit of time.
(In case you were like us and you couldn't find it, the second turtle only has 3 legs; the last snail only has one antennae; the first frog has a different colored eye, which is a little hard to see with the photograph.)

The irony of our pond dice/graphing activity is that the snail won! ;)  She loved getting to use the dot painters, so I think that might become a regular media to use rather than stickers or marking x's.
One day, we decided to forgo the hot, humid playground, so I pulled out the ping pong balls and we practiced tossing them into different containers.  She preferred to just stand over the can an toss them in from above.  Whatever floats your boat, sweetie.

Most of the pond stuff was a preschool pack from Homeschool Creations unless I noted it being from somewhere else.

While our next unit is the letter B with an extra unit on butterflies...I'm not sure when we'll do it.  Since she sometimes randomly asks to do school stuff, I might try to prepare it today so that it's ready whenever we feel like it.  We only have 9 letters that I had hoped to finish before September, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to miss that goal.  In September we'll get back into school on a regular schedule and this time we are going to focus on bible stories with occasional letter units, so maybe I can add the remaining 9 letters into that curriculum.  Whatever we end up doing will be fine, but for now, we are enjoying summer with an occasional dose of "school"!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Fun in the Water!

We've been having a lot of water fun this summer.  We've visited a couple splash pads and gone swimming several times, too.  We try to have at least one water activity every week and lately there has been two.  Considering when I worked, we only had Saturdays to go swimming, this year is much better.

Mackenzie is getting a little more comfortable in the water, but still doesn't like having water in her face.  You'll see evidence of that in the video of her at the splash pad, as she runs around the water barely getting wet!  She likes to walk around with us in the swimming pool and rarely wants to use a raft.  For this reason and many others, she has started taking swimming lessons.  Day 2 and there were only tears for the first 5 minutes of class rather than 25 minutes on day 1!  Much improvement!

Meredith, on the other hand LOVES the water.  We finally bought her a good float this past Saturday and she stayed with us in the water for about an hour.  She loves to splash and doesn't care if the water gets in her face.  I think I'll start her in swim lessons next summer and maybe she won't have as much anxiety as Mackenzie does at age 3.

Below are videos of each of the girls in different water activities we've done.  The videos also clearly show the difference in their personalities - cautious fun (Mackenzie) and crazy fun (Meredith).

Here are some other miscellaneous pictures from our summer fun.  I don't have many pictures since my hands are usually wet or we are in a pool, but here's what I have.
Playing at the splash pad...
Having a picnic at the playground and splash pad...
Meredith forced to chill in the stroller.  She didn't like the cold cold water of the splash pad.
Mackenzie's first water slide - she went down it a lot.  She later tried the large slide and liked it.  Unfortunately, her fears got the best of her and she didn't try it until we were about to leave.  She went down the big slide only 2 times.
Meredith floating and splashing.  It's hard to tell in a picture if she's crying or laughing, but let me assure you she was definitely laughing!
Chillin' while daddy and Meredith play in the pool...

I think later this week, if it's not raining, I might attempt taking the girls swimming by myself or with a friend.  Now that Meredith has a decent float, I can just keep her in arms reach and play a little more with Mackenzie.  Today, a friend said she looks forward to the day when she can just lay by the pool and watch the kids, rather than staying right with them and having them hang all over you.  I couldn't agree more!  I love playing with the girls, but it would be nice to just relax by a pool again.  Maybe in another 10 or 12 years! ;)

Monday, June 18, 2012

No Teeth!

Mackenzie's bottom two teeth came in at 7 1/2 months and at 10 1/2 months, her top two teeth.  At 9 1/2 months, Meredith has no teeth!  I know it's not a big deal, but I keep wondering where they are? ;)

Luckily, no teeth hasn't kept this girl from eating solids!  She will gum it all!  Her current favorites are Ritz crackers.  My friend gave her one several weeks ago and now she eats them all the time.  This is how I know she's a second child...1) I let my friend give her a cracker; 2) I let her eat the crackers, all the time, at 9 months, without teeth! ;)  Definitely something I never would have done with Mackenzie, even when she had 2 teeth!

She also likes mum-mums, yogurt melts, puffs, the Gerber vegetable cheeto thingies and nutri-grain bars.  I've fed her a couple of nutri-grain bars, but one night while I was cooking dinner, I decided I would cut the bar up and just let her feed herself.  Let's just say, she liked it!

She stayed in the high chair while the rest of us ate dinner.  At one point, she was retrieving pieces of the bar that had fallen into her lap and putting them in her mouth.  In the end, I wiped off her mouth and hands as best I could and gave her a bath.  I have a feeling that's what I'll be doing at her first birthday party!   

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Time to make money...maybe.

Two weeks ago, I took some baby clothes and carseat to a children's resale shop.  I have high hopes of them selling.    They didn't take a few of the items I brought in a couple of weeks ago, but I didn't even bother to ask why not.  I worked in a resale shop in high school and that was one of the most annoying questions asked, "why won't you take this?"  "what stain?"  "what do you mean it's outdated?"  I just took my bag with the few pieces of clothes inside and put it in my car.  To be honest, I haven't even looked to see what exactly they didn't take.  They'll go in a donation bin and someone will use them.  They only take 40-50 items at a time, so I'll be going back in another week or two with the infant seat stroller, bath tub and a few other summer baby clothes that I've realized Meredith has outgrown. 

My dining room has several piles of clothes sorted by season and as most resale shops only take things at certain times of the year, I'll have to wait a couple of more months to take in the fall/winter clothes.  This particular resale shop will start taking fall and winter clothes in the middle of July, but I think that would be a big mistake to take in clothes that early.  Who shops for fall clothes that early?  In Texas, especially Houston, I'm pretty sure I don't need to take any fall clothes in until September.  Anyways, this place also sells toys and almost any kind of baby gear, so I'm thinking as Meredith gets bigger, more and more of our stuff is going to this store!  I figure I might as well try to make a little money, since I'm not working.  If it doesn't sell, it goes to charity/donation straight from the store, so either way it's out of my house!

I also took pictures a couple of weeks ago for some items I'm planning to sell on Ebay.  I have my account set up and basically I'm waiting for a time when Brandon and I can sit at the computer together and think about the asking prices of items.  I know I want a reserve on my items since I don't want to sell a $270 breast pump for $1!  Any other tips/tricks from those of you who have sold on Ebay before?  What about those who have bought from E-bay, anything you would recommend we do?

So, this is my effort to make a little money while staying home.  We don't NEED the money, but it would be nice to have a little extra for summer trips, random expenses or the girls' birthday party.  We'll see what happens. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Too tempting

The other day I accidentally left the diaper bag on the floor and Meredith found it!

I guess she was hungry and thirsty.  It would appear that the snack cup does not hold the small puffs very well.  Clearly, I wasn't upset and didn't tell her no, since I took pictures.  In the end, I might have regretted my decision about not stopping her.

I think she was bringing them to me, or she just wanted a trail to lead her back to the bag of goodies! ;)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Learning to share...or not!

Mackenzie adjusted to Meredith just fine when she was born.  With the exception of the time she asked if Meredith could go back in my tummy, she didn't have any jealousy issues.  She wasn't extra clingy to me or Brandon, either.  Having a baby sister that just lays around is no big deal - she doesn't move.  Fast forward 9 months and there are issues.  Not big issues...just sharing issues.  As in, Mackenzie doesn't want to share with the 23 pound baby crawling toward her toys, knowing the first thing she will do is put whatever she can grab in her mouth.  I don't really blame her, who would want slobber all over their toys...other than babies?

In an effort to keep Mackenzie from "freaking out" (my favorite phrase, right now), one day I lined up the chairs around Mackenzie to block Meredith from getting to the doll house.  We called it her "cave."

It works perfectly, because Meredith can't really pull up from the back side of the chair and she hasn't quite figured out that she could move the chairs if she tried to squeeze between them.  I added her basket of toys to the end, so that she would be content with finding those toys and not try to figure out how to climb into the "cave".  Since that first cave, Mackenzie makes it almost daily to keep Meredith away from the doll house.  If that was the only toy we had, then I would probably make Mackenzie share the doll house.  But since we have an entire room dedicated to the girls' toys, I just redirect Meredith to play with something else.

I know there will be many more years to come of fighting over toys, but I'm hoping there will be sharing too! ;)

On a side note, this is what Mackenzie does with her doll house

They are lined up for "school".  Every day she takes them down, lines them up somewhere else and then lines them all back up in the doll house.  Every. Day.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Father's Day...a little early.

My parents came over last Saturday night to watch the girls while we went out to dinner.  Since they will be gone this weekend, I made sure I had my dad's father's day gifts ready to go.  I couldn't help but scour Pinterest this year for ideas and I found some great ones.  The first one is my favorite! 

It took 2 stores to find all of the candy and in the end I couldn't find Now and Laters.  Do they still make them?  The original used Airheads for the kids signature, but since the girls' initials are both MM, I thought M&M's were more appropriate and cuter than Airheads.

I also couldn't resist making this cute little gift.  The tags and idea are from here.

My Dad's birthday was last week, so I also gave him this cookbook:

along with a batch of cookies (from the book) and a quart of milk.  My dad loves to dunk cookies in milk and from what I can tell/taste, these cookies are perfect for milk dunking!  I now officially want a copy of this cookbook!  All of the recipes looked so tasty!

So that's my craftiness for the week.  I'm linking up to SNAP's show and tell party if you want to jump over there and check out more crafty goodness!

Friday, June 8, 2012

I won!

I just checked my email and I was stunned to see an email from Bakerella!  I knew instantly what that meant - I had won one of her giveaways! 

YAY!  I can't believe I actually won something.  I've been entering in blog giveaways for a couple of years now and have never won, so I'm pretty excited!  I won a Limited Edition Johnny Cupcakes Frosting Label T-shirt.

I love the packaging and the shirt looks cute too!  I already replied to Bakerella with my contact information and I may or may not have rambled on about making cake pops and cake balls (or at least trying too)!  She probably thinks I'm crazy, but oh well. ;) 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Reading Groove

I got back in my reading groove late last year after taking a forced break when Meredith was born.  At some point last year I made a list of all of my books.  At the time I had 74 books on my list and wanted to attempt to read them in the order I put them in.  That didn't happen and I wasn't even close.  I did read 3 books in the last 2 months of last year, but they weren't the first 3 on the list.  What's even worse, is that this year I've read 10 books so far and not a single one was on the list last year!  So much for not collecting any more books - which was the purpose of making the list.  Four of the 10 books were library books and 3 others were gifts, so I only bought 3.  I guess that's something.

The three books that were gifts were The Hunger Games trilogy. 

I realize I'm a little behind in reading them, considering they were written between 2008-2010, but better late than never.  I think I did the same thing back when Harry Potter was popular.  I don't think I started reading those books until book 4 was published.  Since The Hunger Games books are "young adult" books, they are very quick reads and it only took one day to read per book.  I finished the last one on Sunday night and am officially ready to watch the movie (and future movies) to see the similarities and differences.

Another book I read, which also happens to be a movie is I Don't Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson.
I liked this one too and it had a much better ending that I thought it would.  I could really relate to a lot of the book because it's about a working mother and how she juggles work, family and friends and the guilt associated with the time (or lack of) spent within each "category" of life.  It's been 9 months since I've worked out of the house, but I vividly remembered the juggling and guilt!  Not that the juggling doesn't still happen now, it's just a different kind of juggling.  Again, I'm interested to see how this movie compares to the book.

Other books I've read this year are:
  • 5 Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman - I blogged about that book here.
  • Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F Kennedy - a series of interviews about JFK's presidency within a few months after his assassination.  I thought it was good, but since I wasn't alive when all of the events happened, I wasn't familiar with some of the topics mentioned.  In theory, I would love to go back and read it again, but take time to look up the different events in order to have a little more background.
  • Untold Story by Monica Ali - a fictional book imagining what Princess Diana would be doing if she had faked her death and moved to the States.  It was a cute book and made you wonder if she's really dead.  Not really about the fake death, but it was still a good book.
  • The History of Love by Nicole Krauss - this book was a little strange and it's sort of hard to paraphrase, but it was still good.  It had been on my list to read for quite some time and I finally remembered to check it out at the library.
  • House of Daughters by Sarah-Kate Lynch- a book about 3 sisters who don't know they are sisters until their father dies and leaves them a vineyard to care for.
  • Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman- a Christian book about being a follower of Jesus, not just a fan.  Very good book!
I know I said all of these books were good and you are probably wondering if I ever dislike books.  The answer is yes.  Two books from the library went back to the library unfinished because I didn't like them and didn't want to read them anymore.

Last night, I did read Mere Christianity by CS Lewis in the hopes of finishing this book in the next week.  Since it's at the top of my list from last year, maybe I'll be reading from the top of my list again for the rest of the year.  I doubt it, but maybe. ;)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Birthday Cards

I finished my birthday cards I was making.  I finished them around March 10th.  I remember the date because even though I finished them before my sister's birthday on March 13th, I still managed to NOT send a birthday card to her!  SHAME ON ME!

It's way too easy to just text, email, message on facebook a "Happy Birthday" to anyone and everyone.  And that's OK for my friends, but for my family I feel like I need to send a card - something a little more personal.  But that's just me.  I made 36 cards (6 different colos/variations) in hopes that they would last me the entire year for anyone I wanted to say Happy Birthday to in a more personal way. 

The day I decided I would make cards, I pulled out all of the handmade cards I had to find a design I liked.  I also pulled out all of my stamp sets that had to do with birthdays.  I had to do a lot of back and forth - finding a card I liked only to find that I don't have that particular stamp set.  Or finding a stamp set that I liked, but not finding a card that was already designed.  I was trying to avoid designing my own card, since that can sometimes take a while.  I finally settled on this design:
It's a retired Stampin' Up set called Sweet Treats.  I had the stamp set, some markers and plenty of coordinating patterned paper.  I made sure I used papers that could be considered a boy birthday card or a girl birthday card, so that I can send them to whomever I choose.  Once the papers and design were chosen, I cut all the pieces I would need:
Finally, I stamped, colored and assembled the 36 cards.

Here are close-ups of each card and the greeting insert.

So far, they've come in really handy and I haven't had to try to remember buying a card at the grocery store.  Yesterday, for instance, I needed two cards, so I just picked the cards I wanted, adhered the greeting insert and mailed them out.  Getting the cards ready took less time than driving to the mail box! 

So while I've tried to make things easier on myself by having the cards ready to go, my biggest obstacle is remembering to mail them in time! My poor nephews always get their cards a couple of weeks late!  Ugh! 
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