Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Reality of Bringing a Life Into the World

Well, he made it, safe and sound! And healthy! We are so blessed in so many ways.  

When I first started this blog, it was mostly a place for me to posts the things I enjoy: crafts, gardening, cooking etc. I will add another topic: motherhood. 

Being a new mom is scary, and amazing, and wonderful, and awful all at the same time. My sweet Little Man is now 2 months old and I finally have my wits about me enough to discuss what being a new mom is like. I wasn't even going to incorporate it into this blog but it is literally in every aspect of my daily life and I feel like many of my followers may appreciate my candid commentary :) I thought about just talking about the wonderful things motherhood brings, but that's not reality and I feel it's better to be honest!

Let me start with childbirth. I don't really recommend it. In fact, I don't recommend pregnancy either, but alas, they are both usually necessary to bring a child into this world- though not always necessary to become a parent... now that I think about it, those parents who adopt are way smarter than me!

Back to childbirth- it's painful. I mean, really, really painful. I was under this delusion that the epidural works for everyone, so it should work for me.. why not? I'm healthy. Well, sparing some details, it DOESN'T always work... and so, childbirth is very, very painful. In fact it was so painful I felt betrayed by all of the friends of mine who had kids that didn't warn me EXACTLY how bad it was. I did get over it pretty quickly, but I feel like it's this thing that no one REALLY emphasizes.. NOTHING will prepare you for that kind of pain.

Regardless, eventually, you get this beautiful little person that looks like a cross between a wrinkly old person and the most perfect thing you've ever seen in your life:

Our Little Man :)
And then, just like that, you are a mother! How crazy is that? One minute you are sobbing and in complete agony and the next, you are a parent! The next few days were a blur, but a good summary is this: eat, sleep, poop. Rinse and repeat. Actually, that's what your newborn's life is like. Your life is more like scarf a cliff bar, nap for 5 minutes, change a diaper, feed your child, and fit a potty break in there somewhere (Oh and I won't mention how NOT fun those are!). I am thankful he is healthy, and actually had a decent sleeping pattern and rooting reflex when he arrived so feeding and sleeping weren't TOO bad. I tried my best to take as many photos and videos as possible, but in all honesty, my only two goals for the day were to shower and eat breakfast. Anything over that was just a bonus.

Let me talk a minute about how absolutely overwhelming those first few days are. Your whole life's routine is changed, and you may do fine or it may completely overwhelm you. And that's ok! You will find a new normal, and in just a few short weeks, you will forget what it was like to be able to take a shower at your leisure instead of in that (very) short window of time when baby is fed, sleeping and has a dry diaper. I'm pretty sure those three things never happen all at once in the first 2 months of life, but when the planets align.. take it for what you can!

Lots of people come to visit you after you have a baby. And you feel awful, the pain doesn't end when your gorgeous little person arrives, it lasts for weeks.. and weeks. No one told me that either, and I don't know why I didn't think about it, but it does make sense. I'm kind of a wimp when it comes to pain, so take that for what it is, but I was so uncomfortable for so long. All I wanted to do was sit and rock my child to sleep and I couldn't do it because it hurt so bad to sit down! Do not underestimate the power of ibuprofen and a couple fluffy pillows.

The best advice I can give a person going to see a new baby. Bring food. And diapers. My favorite visits were the friends that called me and said they were bringing dinner, but that they weren't staying for it! No offense, we love our friends, we just weren't very good hosts and it totally took the pressure off!

There are a lot of firsts that I didn't think about either. His first smile probably is my favorite :) Nothing warms your heart more, and nothing will make you forget you got up 4 times after midnight any better than a beautiful toothless gummy grin. 

The other firsts that I didn't think about include the first time I had to breastfeed in public with my little "apron".. that was interesting, and awkward- I only knew how to breastfeed with a boppy or a pillow.. so that took some getting used to. Also, our first grocery store trip was thankfully uneventful but I was on high alert to make sure no one's grubby hands touched my baby! The same went for our first trip to a restaurant.

Another first I didn't think of? My first pang of mommy guilt. Oh man, is this the most under rated, under discussed topic of parenting. I first felt guilty when he was 3 days old and not making enough wet diapers, that we had to supplement him until my milk came in. Then it was the circumcision. Then it was not realizing he had been laying in a sopping wet onsie which was why he wouldn't settle down. Then it was his first bath, which he hated. And the most recent?


I GLARED at that bottle for a solid 30 minutes. I have exclusively breastfed but my supply is decreasing and he's growing so his demand is increasing.. and I'm working 12 hour shifts- which means I only pump twice in a 12 hour period. So, I had to give in to supplementing with formula. I teared up as I gave him that bottle. I'm ridiculous, I know. I think motherhood has made me that way actually. I went to great lengths to find a formula that was free of corn syrup and sugar as well as GMO and pesticide free. You would think that was easy- it wasn't. BUT I found one and bought some "just in case". Well that day came and I was pretty upset.. but then I realized something.. my sweet boy was no longer fussy because he had a full belly. He was still getting some good stuff from me, but also filling his belly. And I didn't die of guilt. And now, I feel a little silly about that tear I shed, but at the time, I felt like a failure. 

Mommyhood so far has been awesome. My Little Man is doing so well, I could not ask for a better child. And he's such a cutie to boot, total bonus. But Mommyhood also has it's darkness.. the guilt can be all consuming if you let it. And interestingly, no one talks about it FOR REAL. It's passively mentioned as a joke, but it's awful to feel guilty about everything. And then there are women who develop postpartum blues, and even depression. And, though I think I may have had a touch of the blues, thankfully I was spared that agony. It amazes me what a taboo subject it is. Your hormones change very drastically- it's okay to be teary eyed about not having time to do a load of laundry!! Not saying I did that...... well, maybe at least once. Oh, hell, my poor/wonderful husband knew right when to just stop and hug me. And we'd laugh about it. And it was okay, but in our 8 years together I had never been that weepy and labile before, it took me by surprise. 

I'm so thankful to have a healthy, happy baby. He is my world, OUR world actually.  I can't imagine if he was sick, unhealthy, if he was a twin, if I was a single parent.. the list goes on. For those mommies who don't have a happy or healthy baby, or those that have multiple outside factors that make being a new mom even MORE overwhelming- I will say a prayer for you tonight! 

Such a smiley boy

I love that sweet face! 

I will continue to post about project life. It took a little back burner.. lots of photos but no journaling! I really want to keep track of all the things that happen in the next year so I will be getting back to it! One thing at a time :)

Happy crafting :)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Our World Traveler Nursery

He's due any day now, so I figured I can finally share a few shots of the nursery :)

We went with a "old world" or "world traveler" theme for a few reasons. First, I wanted a theme that would grow with him.. what 3 year old boy wouldn't love maps and planes and sailboats? The second reason is that we are sailors, and it is a hobby we both very much enjoy. My husband also enjoys flying (full size and model) airplanes. Plus, we enjoy travelling so that's a bonus. 

I think I'll post some before photos so you have an idea of what we were working with..

Pale Yellow was just not going to work.. neither was that fan...

We chose the lower blue- I didn't want a crazy bright room!

We chose to paint the walls instead of replacing them.. we will eventually drywall everything but time and money were inhibiting factors...
So after many weekends, weeknights, shopping trips and craigslist searches, we are pretty much finished! The closet doors aren't done, so I'll hold off on photos of that for now. In the meantime..

His nursery is officially my favorite room in the house. I just sit in that chair and rock sometimes.. imagining how our life will change, how this room will welcome a newborn. 

We are so excited he will be here soon! 

Happy family time :)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Adventures With Chalk Art

Uh oh. I have discovered a new time consuming hobby that I really enjoy. I blame Pintrest.

It started at hobby lobby. I picked up a chalkboard and chalk paint (less messy than chalk) for our little one's room. I wrote on it as soon as I got home and realized I was going to have to put a little more effort into it than I originally planned. So, I went to Pintrest, naturally! 

CLICK HERE for Crafty Hobby House Pinterest Chalkboard Art Page
I was so inspired, I thought I'd make a short "first attempt" tutorial. If you like to draw, this is a very fun thing to do-- but it is time consuming!

The first thing I did was practice with markers. I went online, downloaded free fonts and played around in word to get the letters I wanted. I free handed everything you see in the photos below, and was actually pretty pleased at how they turned out! Plus, it was kind of fun :)

Not too bad for a first try! I like the word "Logan" the best...

My freehand cursive is kind of awful, but it's good to practice, right?
So after I felt like I'd mastered that technique, it was on to the chalkboard!

I learned a few important lessons on my first attempt.

First, make sure to gather your items. I printed a few examples of what I thought I wanted to use for reference (bigger print is better!!). The other items you will need:
     1. Chalkboard
     2. Chalk or I used chalk paint (get one with a fine tip!)
     3. Wet wipes, or paper towels and a cup of water
     4. Toilet paper
     5. A ruler
     6. (not shown) Qtips and a small cup of water

Now the fun begins. I started with the word I knew was the fanciest. I traced out a basic "sketch" by TRYING to center the middle letter, and filled it in after. I made the mistake of filling in from the middle out. This means your hand will be touching the wet chalk paint unless you let it dry in between  If you are a righty, start right to left!

You WILL mess up. That is the beauty of a chalkboard! Tear off a very small piece of the wet wipe and VERY CAREFULLY wipe away. You will get white paint "smears" so make sure to use different sides of the wipe. Dry with a piece of toilet paper and don't try again until the board is totally dry. 

Okay the most important lesson after? Make sure you sketch ALL the words out first! I was lucky everything fit, but I should have sketched it all, THEN filled it in! On that note, I did use the ruler and put a very very faint line up top to keep me straight. And I re-wrote "home" like 100 times before I liked it! Oh- and make sure everything is FULLY DRY before moving on. I also used a piece of paper between my hand and the board, just in case. 

I started filling in the other letters.. that first "e" had to be redone 3 times also. Thank goodness for wet wipes. 

Ahh, the hardest part is done. Is it perfect? No. Is it WAY BETTER than how it started? YES :)

Now to add accents. Honestly, this is also a hard task for me, as I'm not a good "doodler". The finished product, while not very fancy, suited my needs just fine! I love it :)

Now I have to buy another chalkboard.. this has to stay up until little man is born, so I guess it's back to pinterest and hobby lobby.

So, give it a try! Start with markers and go from there! It won't be perfect.. and that's ok! I think of the imperfections as "character". 

Happy sketching!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

I Heart 5th & Frolic!

So PRETTY. So, so, pretty. These cards are just gorgeous.

I've been using project life since January of 2010... when there was only one edition- cherry. Now, don't get me wrong, cherry is nice, but it's soooo dark! I like bright and airy, and it was way too dark for MY taste. I also love the rain and cinnamon editions, but they were also just a bit too dark for me- fortunately, NOW I have options :)

I have to brag a bit too.. I went to Michaels today, armed with the knowledge that Project Life items were 40% off today, and also knowing there was a 15% off sale items coupon on their mobile app... and I saved a TON of money on next year's album necessities. I'm still using and loving the seafoam kit, but I had been eyeballing 5th and Frolic, and I'm so glad I snagged the last one! I spent $57 for the full core kit, 2 big variety packs, design G pack and a corner rounder. For curiosity's sake, I went on amazon and compared what I would have spent with shipping if I could have gotten 5th and frolic online... $123! And that did NOT include the corner rounder. I love saving money :)

(BTW I think the sale ends on Labor Day!)

So on to the review. 

This line is very different from the previous ones I have chosen. (to recap I've used: Cherry, Amber, Clementine, and Seafoam) All the previous editions have pretty clean lines and graphics. The 5th & Frolic edition is very messy. By messy, I mean, the cards resemble vintage linens and library cards, complete with stains and such. At first I was a little put off by them.. but the more I look at them, the more I like it. It forces me out of my type A box and makes me look at things asymetrically. 

Oh look, pre-stained :)
Lots of ledger style cards- which I really like!
The line is also quite girly- and manly- all at the same time. Dear Lizzy (the designer) has mixed pretty vintage patterns with ledger/library style cards, hearts and trees, pennants and foxes! You could definitely use this as a heritage album, but would have to be choosy with all the pink. There are also very cute branches, trees and houses.. very heritage-ish :)

Here are the front and back 4x6 and 3x4 cards:

And here are the 4x6 "journaling"cards. I have separated them so the top card is one side and the card just below it is the other side (prints with journaling). 

They only have room for journaling on one side, which I found a little odd since I thought the purpose of these cards was to be able to add extra journaling. I guess I will be purchasing (or printing a freebie) a 4x6 blank grid card! They are still very cute though :)

And now, the everyday cards :)

Below are the title cards. Again, very different from the previous editions in that they are not uniform. Each card is unique- and there are quite a few patterns to choose from.. only 3 of each title card if that tells you anything!

And finally, the journaling cards. There are a TON of them, lots of options! There are quite a few horizontally aligned cards too, so for those of you who don't always use design A, this may be a nice kit for you!

I have to say, I LOVE the little cartoon graphics.. unfortunately, they are mostly on the horizontal cards, which is disappointing (see the branches and foxes above!).. but I like the little vertical house design for sure! Maybe it will force me to use different page protectors!

So there you have it, 5th & Frolic. What do you think? I love the light and airy feel to it... it kind of reminds me of a 1950s clothesline if that makes any sense? The patterns are soft, and the colors are sweet. I'm especially excited because this will be used during our son's first year of life :) He will have his own album, of course (I'm using Becky Higgins' sweet baby kit from many years ago to document a monthy recap of his first year).. but this will be a part of our family album! I can't wait to use it!

Happy Crafting :)

Friday, August 30, 2013

Those Unfinished Scrapbook Albums

6 years. SIX WHOLE YEARS and I've finally finished an album that has become the bane of my scrapbooking existence. It actually became a joke between my scrapping friends and I when we would get together to scrap... oh you are working on "that" album again, huh? Of course that was back when it took 2 hours per layout. I would be so annoyed, wanting to work on newer albums and pages, but being determined to get the album "done". It really did take the fun out of scrapbooking.

Once I started Project Life, I mentally put my older albums on a back burner because I didn't know what to do with them and almost all of them were only half finished. The prospect of finishing them "one day" was there.. but never actually happened.

Well, this week, nesting has taken FULL EFFECT. I have reorganized everything, and I decided to tackle that album, but do it project life style! 

The album in question? My bachelorette weekend. Several of my friends and I went to Downtown Disney in Orlando, where we shopped, laughed and at night, went to Pleasure Island, which was a safe way to "bar hop". We had a great time, and I really want to preserve all the fun we had- which is why I was hellbent on finishing the album. 

I will warn you, the photos you are about to see contain a bunch of ladies drinking adult beverages, laughing at stupid things, and making goofy faces. View them at your own risk :)

I also decided to take them out of the album and put them into my 2007 family album. This will also eventually be a project life type of album, but for now, it holds memorbilia from the year as I really don't have any photos printed for it yet!

Below are some of the beginning pages done the "old way". There are a bunch more, but you get the idea. It's AMAZING how my style has changed. I don't love these pages but I wouldn't change them for anything :)

And HERE is where things basically stopped:

So as you can see, I put the photos and background paper in, but never quite got to the last few layouts. I had big plans for some of them, actually, but I never had the time or motivation. 

So I started on one of the pages. The first lesson in integrating old with new? The first page (left side) has to be the OLD style- so I pulled out my old scrapping supplies and went to town. I had already pre cut several photos with good intentions, so now all I needed to do was adhere!

BTW, don't mind the random crappy image quality. I'm still learning how to use my Canon 7D and it's TOTALLY operator error.

Step 1: Layout ALL YOUR photos to see what you have!

Used the 6x6 pages, and LOVE them!

A very easy, and FINISHED page! Nothing fancy, but DONE!
Okay, so now I can continue the Project Life style.. using inserts instead of full 12x12 layouts! So I went to the next page, started to layout my photos to see what I had, then hit a roadblock...

I had WAY too many pictures! This was one of the biggest troubles I had with traditional scrapbooking. I would try to cram a million photos into one layout. So, I started thinking and decided the best way to handle ALL these photos? INSERTS :) I use inserts ALL THE TIME with my current albums, why not here? So the "layout" will be full 12x12 pages, although not traditional layouts. And the insert can fit a TON of photos, but is smaller than 12x12 so it fits snugly in between the two 12x12 pages. 

Left 12x12 page is Becky Higgins design E. The middle (has a sticky note on it) is Becky Higgins design G (one of my FAVORITE designs)

The right side is a We R Memory Keeper page. I've left a blank space for journaling. 
There. DONE. Why have I waited SOOOO long to get this album done?

On to the next. I had big plans for the next page. One of the things we did was try to get me to take a photo with as many guys as possible. It was fun, and I wanted to make this big layout with all the boys.. well that never happened. What I DID do, was use design J as an insert, and you know what? I like it better than the original idea. WAY less work, and still gets all the photos in there. I love the versitility of the project life way of scrapping. The outcome may not be exactly the same, but it works and takes a FRACTION of the time. 

Used Becky Higgins Design J for the first time, which worked perfectly!
On to the next! 

Laying out the photos

Both are We R Memory Keeper pages. I was glad to use them up! Again, blank area for journaling!

AND.... on to the next and LAST page! HOLY COW, is that possible? 

Again, I layed out the photos to see which plastic I would use. 

Left and right are both We R Memory keeper pages. I will be journaling in the blank areas :)

And I'm done....?

How is that possible?? I think total time, start to finish was maybe an hour and a half, and that included food breaks, potty breaks, taking photos, and getting some old scrapbooking stuff out (and putting it away).

THIS is why I love project life. Are the above pages my most favorite work? No. Are they done and somewhat cute? YES! Can my friends and family look through the album and get an idea of the memories created? YES! Can I take a big breath in and shout "I'M FINALLY DONE WITH THAT ALBUM!!!" yes :) Can I choose NOT to use pink and black pages in an album again? Oh yes!

For those who are just thinking about project life, and are still debating it, think about the time it takes you to do one layout. Now think about all those unfinished albums and count roughly how many layouts you need to finish. Now multiply them. For me, 2 hours per layout was a safe average. That meant in an 8 hour session, I got 4 layouts done. AND.. I had to pull ALL my stuff out and really make a day of it. I don't know how many project life layouts I can do in eight hours, but what I can tell you is that it excites me to know that it's a bunch. 

Take a look at your older albums and see what you can do to get them finished!

Happy scrapping :)