Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Wedding Countdown Craft

My best friend is getting married next summer, and since I am to be her matron of honor (yay!), I feel like I need to go somewhat...above and beyond to help her out with the preparations. I was thinking about how it must be tough for her to wait so long for this much-longed-for day to arrive, and that it would be nice if she had something to help her count down the days. Something that could serve as tangible proof that the day was, in fact, slowly getting closer.

I know lots of engaged ladies have an ongoing "wedding countdown" of some sort. So I decided I should make her something cute and crafty to help her count down the days. I was hoping for something where she would have to either cross off, or remove some object each day. Figuring there would be a treasure trove of ideas online, I Googled "wedding countdown." Every single hit was just some sort of stupid electronic countdown application! I searched again with "wedding countdown craft." There were only two ideas, and both were too simple, and just not what I was looking for.

So, for almost the first time ever, I actually conceived of a craft idea by myself! And - with some assistance from my gracious husband - managed to pull it off!

Wedding Day Countdown Butterfly Mobile

Butterfly paper punch
Card stock (pink, orange, purple, white, and brown)
Bronze-colored marker
Craft Glue
Large embroidery hoop
2 spools of thin white ribbon
Glitter (purple and white)

I chose three colors that I know she likes. The pink/orange/purple for the fronts of the butterflies, and white paper for the backs. Also, brown and white to write the name of each month.

This punch was expensive ($10), but worked very well. And I'm sure I can find more uses for it in the future.

Cutting the paper into strips first, and then staggering the shapes helped a lot.

Punched butterflies waiting in bowls.

I wrote out the names of all twelve months on white paper, mounted on the brown. I also made plain brown rectangles of the same size for the backs (so I could sandwich the ribbon between).

I glued the butterflies on, sandwiching the ribbon between a colored one and a white one. I used each color of butterfly for four months of the twelve months. After the strand had the appropriate number of butterflies to indicate the number of days in that month (29, 30, or 31), I glued on the month's name at the top.

I wrote the day of the month ("1", "2", etc.) on the colored fronts of the butterflies, and the number of total days left until the wedding ("365", "364", etc.) on the white backs. I didn't want the two numbering sequences to be confusing, which is why I used different colors for front and back.

Here you can see the top of my "March" strand, where the dates are listed on the colored side. Each strand started with the 1st of the month at the bottom. The intent is that she will cut off one butterfly each day.

And here's the back of another strand, counting down the TOTAL days left until the wedding.

After I made twelve strands (representing 366 days in all, since next year is a leap year), they were hung down around the embroidery hoop. (We glued the ribbons to the inner part of the hoop, and then glued the outer hoop over the entire thing.)

Tom gets all the credit for the meticulous assembly of this! For both the "tent" of ribbons above (which led to a hook for hanging), as well as for positioning all twelve months around the hoop.

After it was all glued in place, I decorated the bare spots of the hoop with "special" white butterflies with dots of purple glitter on their wings.

I also created a special middle section. Since her wedding is on the 9th of the month, I needed an additional short strand to represent those last 9 days. On these butterflies, instead of the date on one side, and the number of days remaining on the back, I just wrote "9 days left", "8 days left", etc. And then I created a big fancy WEDDING DAY butterfly for the end (not pictured: their names and the wedding date are written on the back).

A close-up of the fancy Wedding Day butterfly. After all the work I did, it's kind of a shame that she'll just be slowly cutting this mobile to pieces all year! But I figure she can at least keep the big butterfly as a memento, converting it into a Christmas ornament or something.

The completed project!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Diaper Covers Saving the Day!

My BFF is in town right now, so Sly and I hung out with her today. We had to go into another part of the city so I could look at a rental property this morning (Tom and I are starting to look at places, even though our lease isn't up until the end of the year. We are definitely ready to move somewhere new!). We had decided to stay out in the city afterwards to browse shops, get lunch, and just catch up. I didn't change Sly's diaper before we left, since there wasn't a lot of time. I knew the diaper bag was in the car, and figured I'd take care of it later.

Well, "later" came soon enough, and he really needed a change (it was just a lot of "number 1", not "number 2", thankfully!). I broke out the diaper bag, only to find that there were NO diapers left inside. Last time I'd checked, there were at least two. Now, I don't want to name names....But let's just say that someone must have changed Sly with the last diaper, and then not informed his wife that the bag needed to be refilled.

I dug and dug through the bag, hoping to find something that could serve as a temporary diaper. The only possibility was one dirty burp cloth. If Sly had been wearing a disposable diaper, that would have been no help at all. But he had on a pre-fold with a COVER. So I swapped out the diaper, and slipped in the tiny folded up burp cloth, praying he at least wouldn't need to poo!

As soon as we found a public bathroom, I plopped Sly on the diaper changing board, and heaped a TON of folded-up paper towels on top (and the burp cloth was already soaked through, the little stinker!).

And you know what? It worked out fine. I wouldn't trust this solution for hours and hours, but he made it without any leaks until we got home - three hours later. And it was all possible because he had on a cloth cover to begin with. Otherwise, we would have had to call it a day, and go home. Or stop at a store and spend a fortune on a small package of disposables.

So. I'll just log that into my growing mental list of why cloth diapers are totally the way to go!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Why Crawling and Co-Sleeping Do Not Mix!

For the past few months, Sly's sleep schedule has looked approximately like this:
In his crib at 9 pm.
Wakes up between 5 and 6 am.
Mommy brings him into the bed to nurse him, and they both fall asleep there.
Between 8 and 9 am, Sly decides he's done sleeping, and wakes Mommy up.

His method of waking me up in the morning used to be simply by crying. More recently, he's gotten creative, and likes to wake me by smacking my face or pulling my hair. Not the most enjoyable way to be roused, but certainly better than what woke me this morning: the sound of a huge bang and then Sly screaming. Somehow, he'd climbed away from my side without me noticing, crawled across the bed, and went off the edge, smacking his head on the bookshelf. He has no awareness of the risk of falling yet, and has had many close calls where he's tried to plunge off the edge of something. But I never even considered the possibility of him crawling away from me in the morning before I would wake up! I guess I'm still not used to having a mobile baby.

Obviously, something needs to change now. But I don't know what. After his initial waking early in the mornings, he sleeps pretty lightly. I don't know if he'd "let me" put him back in his crib, even after nursing. Do I need to start waking up for good at 6am?!

Whatever the answer is, I have a feeling it's going to involve me getting less sleep than I need....Now I understand why co-sleeping families often keep their mattresses directly on the floor!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Babyproofing the House

Now that he's fully crawling and cruising, Sly is discovering new ways to cause trouble and destruction everywhere he goes. Yesterday, he was playing in the bathroom while I was washing up at the sink. Then he noticed the shiny silver handle on the toilet...

And he flushed it. About five times. The water wasn't refilling in the tank quickly enough for him to do the rapid-fire flushes he hoped for, so he started getting bored with that game.

Looking over his shoulder, he saw something thrilling: never-ending paper!

"Want some, Mommy?"
Flushing again...

Unrolling more paper...

I'm not sure yet of how far I want to go in babyproofing the bathroom. Flushing the toilet is wasteful, but it doesn't hurt anyone. And the toilet paper thing is annoying, but not the end of the world.

My biggest concern is that he will manage to open the toilet lid. So many bad things could happen then! He could fall in head-first. He could play in the gross water with his hands. He could drop who-knows-what into the bowl, and then flush it away. In anticipation of such scenarios, we bought a toilet lid lock last night. We haven't installed it yet. I hope it works without proving too annoying to get open.

If you're wondering why I don't just keep the bathroom door shut, and not let him in at all...well, when Sly's doesn't have me in eye sight, he usually starts crying. He wants to be near me. So anytime I take a shower, dry my hair, put on makeup in the bathroom...he crawls in after me.

We've also been baby-gating dangerous parts of the house. There's a gate at the top of both staircases, and one for the front and back door (since we leave them open all summer with just hanging screen-curtains).

Notice the "cat portals" we had to cut :-)

Small or delicate objects around the house are starting to get moved to higher or safer locations. I feel like the living room and kitchen are both safe areas now where I don't need to keep my eye on him every moment. Of course, every day I'm sure he'll grow in his ability to get into more and more things! So it's going to be an ongoing battle.

Flea Market Season!

As an avid collector of things that are old and bought cheaply (read: junk), I always look forward to the return of warm weather and the flea markets and garage sales that come with it. On Saturday, I stopped at two flea markets, and scooped up a handful of things...

Okay, I know this is totally cheesy, but I think it could be really cute in the kitchen someday. I have to wait until I have more little chickies, though. Or I guess those are ducklings? Goslings? ($2)

I picked up these two framed prints. The one above shows June flowers, and the one below has February. I feel like I've seen these in many old Victorian-era houses.

Pretty, but they'll have to wait until we live in a bigger home. No room left on our walls! ($2 each)

Some Little Critter books for Sly, when he's a little older. I love Little Critter! ($0.25 each)

The same toy Little Tikes firetruck we had as kids! Sly already loves playing with the firemen. And he even sits on the floor and rolls the truck back and forth. Last night Tom said, "look at him! He's a little boy playing with his truck!" ($2)

A math book, which might come in handy if my homeschooling plans come together in the future. I used this same book in, what...third grade? ($1)

Some religious jigsaw puzzles. I also got a Sermon on the Mount one, not pictured. ($0.25 each)

Pretty serving dish for sidedishes. ($1)

If anyone else scores some good thrifty finds this summer, share a link in the comments so I can check them out!

Friday, May 20, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 5)

1. As I've mentioned a couple times this week: it's official! Sly is finally crawling! It's still very cute to watch. But I probably only think that because he hasn't totally destroyed anything yet. That's not to say that he isn't getting his little hands on everything he can, and making messes. You can tell exactly where he's been in the room, because he likes to leave his own little "signature" touch.

2. Making Catholic news this week, England and Wales have re-established meatless Fridays for the whole year round! I'm pretty excited by this news. Fridays were long observed as days of abstinence (from meat) in the Church. But 50 or so years ago, most of the bishops decided that it would be better if people could choose a particular sacrifice for Fridays, which no longer had to be obligatorily the abstinence from meat. And guess what happened? Catholics happily started eating meat on Fridays, and then most of them never really remembered the part about giving up something else in its place.

A lot of Traditional-leaning Catholics, our family included, do abstain from meat on Fridays. I think bringing that back as an obligatory practice would have several benefits. It would remind people the value of sacrifice, call Catholics to reflect on the Passion more often, and unite the members of Christ's body through common practice.

Friday is a day when it is sometimes annoying not to be able to eat meat. It's the start of the weekend - people like to go out to restaurants, or attend parties. There are yummy, tempting meaty dishes you'd like to eat. But just like in Lent, doesn't it help when you see that all the other Catholics around you are also giving it up? Help you remember what it's all for?

And just think...if even a few Catholics who previously didn't do anything special on Fridays (probably out of ignorance), started giving up meat once a week - it would help them understand the spirit of sacrifice. And it could really add up to some serious graces over time. Not to mention that people's Lenten sacrifices would have to become a little more stringent. I mean, they couldn't just keep doing meatless Fridays in Lent, and add nothing else. Back when Catholics abstained every Friday of the year, Lent meant 40 days of FAST, man.

So I'm praying that the US bishops will see the wisdom in this return to traditional practice, and decide to renew it here as well.

3. This one will sound like it's coming out of nowhere, but...okay, so I've always had really HUGE muscular calves. Even during times when I'm not running, or doing sports. I think it's the way I walk. Many people have told me I sorta bounce up on my toes. Well, a lifetime of toe-walking has given me incredibly large muscles. And I really don't know how to feel about's not like they are huge with fat. Having muscle is "healthy", so it seems wrong to be embarrassed or ashamed of them. But my legs will never ever look feminine or dainty.

Despite this fact, I still wear skirts most of the time. And I forget how ridiculous it must look. Until moments like today. When I uploaded our pictures from New York City. And saw this shudder-worthy image.

Okay, seriously. If you covered the top half of my body, you would be certain you were looking at a man's legs!

4. I have this really awesome vintage 60s chip-n-dip bowl. I picked it up at an antique shop a couple years ago, but didn't get a chance to use it until recently, since we had people over at our house! (can you tell that's rare?)

Tom had washed it the night before, and took the little dip bowl out of the metal holder to dry. The next morning, as I was trying to wedge it back in place, it just shattered in my hand (slicing my thumb at the same time). I was so bummed!

I tried, unsuccessfully, to search for a replacement part online. I found one person selling the entire set on eBay, but I really don't think I should spend the money for a whole new one. During my seach, though, I discovered the name of the piece. It's made by a company called Blendo, and the pattern is named "Atomic." Isn't that perfect for something so deliciously retro?!

5. Speaking of retro, earlier in the week, I found myself Youtube surfing (you know what I mean) through clips from the 1950s. A lot of them were education or propaganda-type videos about how to live in the 1950s.

Check out this amusing one: A Word to the Wives. It's about how a wife tricks her husband into buying her a house with an updated "modern" kitchen. tee hee hee

[Sorry, I'm not sure how to embed Youtube videos. I need to try to figure that out.]

6. My friend Mary will be proud, because following her example, I actually planned out this week's meals in advance! I waited until after I came home from the supermarket with a pile of groceries....but still. It's worked out fine so far. The biggest benefit I've noticed, surprisingly, is its effect on Tom. This week, he was able to gauge how much to eat (or not eat) at work, so he would come home appropriately hungry for the type of food we were eating. Also, he was excited all week about last night's "fried chicken" on the menu.

....Hey, I said I planned my meals. I didn't say I planned them all to be healthy :-P

7. Tom has been interviewing for a new position with his company, and they offered him the job today. So "yay!"...I guess. It's a promotion in terms of looking-good-on-the-resume. But pay-wise, maybe not. It really irritates me how his company can pull this stuff off, but basically, they "don't know yet" if they can give him a raise with the new job. And even if they can, it won't be applied until the next financial quarter.

Are there any Saints (besides St. Joseph), who are good with this stuff?

See Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Where Are the Naps When You Need Them?

Okay...what do you do when your baby decides he won't take naps? Sly is about 9 months old...he should be taking at LEAST one nap a day, if not two. But the past two days, he won't sleep during the day at all. I've tried all my tricks. I got him to sleep for maybe 15 minutes today, but then he woke up crying. He doesn't seem sick or in pain. Just extra cranky from sleep deprivation.

And I have things to get done! I need him to take a nap as much as he does!!

Could this have anything to do with him starting to crawl?? I feel like I remember reading something about sleep getting all messed up when they start crawling...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Trip to the Library

Today, my tutoring session ended a bit early, so I found myself browsing the shelves. After only 10 minutes of looking, I had to stop myself from picking out any more. I came home with five books and four DVD's. I realized that most of them fall into two general categories...

Items with the theme "The Past Was Cool"
The Pennsylvania Road Show (DVD)
Do: a little book of early American know-how
Fashions of a Decade: The 1940s
Fashions of a Decade: The 1950s
Fashion in the Forties and Fifties

Items with the theme "The Present is Scary"
The Estrogen Effect: Assault on the Male (DVD)
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

I'm especially intrigued by those two.

[FYI, my other choices were a documentary about the Nazi theft of priceless art (The Rape of Europa) and another about Square Foot Gardening.

In other news: The trip to Philly/NYC went well, and our almost-9-month old came home a CRAWLER!

Friday, May 13, 2011


I've been reading on other blogs today a bunch of complaints about how Blogger deleted everyone's latest posts. And smugly, I thought, "not mine!". Until I looked more closely. And my posting from the other day, talking about how my baby was almost crawling (!), and featuring many took-forever-to-upload-and-arrange photos, is GONE. ugh.

I'll re-post a couple of those pictures again, with minimal commentary. Sighhhhhhh. Stupid technology!

Earlier in the week, Sly was still only able to lay on his tummy, and push himself backwards, getting himself stuck into every corner, and under every piece of furniture in the house. Here he is, crying, because he got stuck beside the toilet.

But by Wednesday, he had figured out perfect crawling posture! He rocks back and forth, but still hasn't managed to propel himself forward.

Transitioning from sitting to crawling position and back again.

Sly is getting to be a pro at pulling himself up to standing, and can "cruise" along objects like tables and couches. And yet he STILL cannot figure out how to roll over. Not even from tummy to back, which is supposed to be the easy one. Silly baby.

Vintage Beer Ad

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Almost Crawling!

I can't believe how big my little boy is getting! The past few days, he's really been struggling to crawl. Maybe all those playdates with slightly older babies when I've said to Sly, "now watch how this baby crawls around" have started paying off :-)

This was a few days ago, before he figured out that he needs to be on his knees to crawl. He used to get down on his belly, and push himself backwards in a sort of reverse army crawl. In this case, he got himself stuck beside the toilet. Look at those sad little tears!

Contrast that with his perfect crawling stance in this picture from yesterday!

He's so close!

Peeking out the front "door" (for anyone that lives in a home without a real screen door, I highly recommend these hanging screens!)

Crying, because he's back to his backwards army crawl, and is getting frustrated with not being able to move forward as he wants to!

Then mommy helped him sit up again, and he's happy.

Going to attempt to crawl again?

Nope, he decides to stand instead.

I think it's pretty funny that Sly is really good at pulling himself to a standing position, and can even "cruise" along things like the coffee table or the railing on his crib. And yet he still cannot roll over when he is lying down. Not even from stomach to back, which is the easy one! Silly baby.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Diapers on the Clothesline

Isn't it a pretty sight?

Now that the Spring-that-never-was has finally decided to give way to some warm weather, I thought it would nice to be able to hang the diapers outside to dry. I keep hearing that when you dry them this way, the sun has a natural bleaching effect that helps get rid of, poo stains. A few of Sly's diapers had such stains, so I asked Tom to hang this line for me last week.

The diapers dried very quickly outside, and I think the stains may have faded a little bit. But I don't think I'll do it again. The diapers are stiff as boards, and I can't imagine they will be at all comfortable on my baby's little bottom! I'm even considering re-wetting them and just drying them in the drier with my four drier balls, like usual. That gets them pleasantly soft and pliable.

I will keep drying the covers on the line, though, since I usually hang those to dry anyways. They dry much more quickly outdoors than in the basement.

But seriously - how did people deal with the stiff, scratchy sun-dried clothing back in the days before automatic driers? Is there some forgotten secret to making them soft??

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

An Outdoor Wedding

As I mentioned yesterday, Tom and I went to my cousin's wedding over the weekend. It was only two hours away, but my dad had insisted - and kindly offered to pay - that we stay in a hotel Saturday night, instead of trying to drive home. This was an adults-only affair (isn't that kinda lame? I think kids make weddings more fun!), so we left Sly with my mom overnight.

It was my FIRST NIGHT EVER away from him! But he did really well, and I didn't miss him too bad. At any rate, it was good practice for this weekend when we will again leave him for the night, this time with Tom's parents. We are planning an overnight trip to New York City as a late anniversary celebration!!

The wedding was a good time. I got to see almost all my cousins! Growing up, we saw each other constantly. My dad and six of his siblings all stayed in their hometown of Pittsburgh (just one brother moved away, to Mississippi); and five of those families actually settled in the same township. So we all basically grew up together. When we were younger, Family Parties were regular, huge, and great fun. Additionally, all us cousins saw each other regularly in school, or at our dad's basketball games (they all played on a local team together!) or at our sleepovers, etc.. In fact, at this wedding, my cousin Ted had asked one cousin to be his best man, and another to be a groomsman. Further testament to how tight our family is!

Now that everyone's growing up, though, the cousins are scattered around the country for college or their new careers. We only get to see everyone now at Christmas and at our "Family Week" summer vacation. Okay - I know, I know - that's still way more than most extended families, or heck, even some nuclear families, can say for themselves. But it's still much less than I'm used to!

Anyways, the wedding ended up feeling like one big family party. Here are a few shots.

My cousin Ted with his bride, Nicole. Look at that great vintage-style dress!

The happy couple

My cousin Val (Ted's sister) made the cake! I think the birdy toppers are very cute.

Here's Tina, my awesome cousin-in-law, breaking it down. She homeschools her eight kids, age 13 and under!


My uncle and cousin from Mississippi

Something about going to weddings just puts me in such a cutesy lovey mood. I kept finding Tom to go give him snuggles, and plant him with kisses.

hehe. I think Tom's reaction was more, "groan...I guess I have to put up with this"

Me and three cousins. So nice to get the girls back together.

Throwing the bouquet

Oh, I didn't get a picture of this, but they also did the (awkward!) garter toss after this. And the guy who caught it was a 13 year-old boy who had not been aware of what he was supposed to do with it afterwards. Needless to say, the whole situation was pretty embarrassing for everyone involved!
And that is why the whole practice should just be abandoned altogether!

Aw, how cute :-)

Loving on my husband again (I'm not really that short - I think we were on stairs)

A beautiful 1949 Cadillac (and I only know that because Tom told me) came to pick up the bride and groom.

This was a nice idea. Instead of throwing rice or blowing bubbles, we were given cones of lavender to toss.


My scruffy brother, Dan

Cousins, so happy to see each other again!

Here, they are inserting "Let's Go Pitt!" (the school where half the family has gone to college) in between the lines of "Sweet Caroline"

Ahhh....Family :-)