Cabin Fever

We have cabin fever here REAL BAD.
Everyone is a little impatient (what a nice way to put it) with each other.

I have started my annual PURGE this week.  I don't know how far I will get.  I know that I had planned to originally wait till Lent, but that seems far far away, and I need a project now.  I feel like if I start a little Spring cleaning, then Spring will arrive earlier.  Oh, I wish it worked that way.


Baby Basics

I am writing this because I recently attended a shower and it got me to thinking about baby essentials.   If I could choose only 10 things to make it from birth to 6 months what would I choose?  What did I use the most?

Here's my list:
1. Swaddling blankets.  I am a huge fan of swaddling.  Especially after reading this book.  I can't pass an unswaddled baby without having my hands get all itchy.  And I know there are lots of fancy swaddling blankets out there now, but my absolute favorites are waffle weave blankets.  They are stretchy and light enough to get those babies all tucked in. They wash up nice and soft and guess what?  They are cheap!

My other favorite are the blankets my sister-in-law Julie gave me for my last two...cable knit cotton.  You still get that nice stretch factor and for winter babies, that added warmth.  Patrick still loves his.

I also loved the muslin blankets for Janey.

2. Pacifiers.  I had one baby that wouldn't take one, and it just about did me in.  Being a human pacifier is no fun.  I'll pay the orthodontia bill later, it's worth every cent to me.

3. A sling carrier.  (That's my 16 year old Isaac in there. Sob.)

4 . Good old cloth diapers for burping and and handy on the changing table too.  I like the old-fashioned kind because my mom used these for diapers.  The diaper man would come and pick up the icky-smelly ones and leave the ones that smelled so divine I will remember that scent forever.

5. I wore out (maybe one or two was "accidentaly" popped by a child?) 4 exercise balls bouncing fussy/colicky babies.  I couldn't live without one.  It beats walking the halls. 
6. I love Dr. Sears and have a well worn copy of The Baby Book.  I think he is the father of Attachment Parenting, before Attachment Parenting was something you were supposed to capitalize.

7. I had fun dressing my first and second baby in all sorts of cute things.  When I had my third and didn't have time for fussy clothes, or matching outfits, I decided that I loved a pair of clean Carters terry pj's and that's what my babies wore the majority of their days and nights.  It made things simple, and cuddly.  

8. A monitor.  I'd be a nervous Nellie without one.  

9.  An exersaucer thingy.  Anything to be entertained, upright and looking around, while I did all the stuff I had to do.  I would have loved to have one of those little bumpo seats everyone gets now...they are much cuter and don't take up so much space.

10. A good nursing bra.  Maybe that should have been #1.  You'll have to pay a pretty penny for it, but finding one you like is worth every cent.   There is no photo to go with this one.  That would be weird.

What did I miss that would be in your #10?


In The News

We had a chance to go ice skating this winter, and we had such a great time.  Andrew and Patrick are begging to go back even though they spent a lot of time like this:

I love this next picture.  A bored winter weekend picture.  This was taken WAY before the stairway injury....nothing but proper walking up and down the stairs is happening here now, be assured.  But way back then, it was pretty fun.  Desperate fun.


Day By Day Come What May

So do not worry about tomorrow; 
for tomorrow will care for itself. 
Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:34

A couple night’s ago I had a case of insomnia.  I felt so overwhelmed by motherhood.  You know how your head can hit the pillow and you can allow yourself to start thinking about all have to do?  I can do this easily when I think of all the duties, obligations and energy I need to store up and fulfill all year long in one lump sum.  I know by now that thinking of a year’s worth of anything, especially parenting, will give me a massive case of anxiety and worry and insecurities and helplessness.  If I worry about the future, (and boy can there be a lot of worry about the future, as you see the “future” with teenagers being years away, not a decade or more that seemed forever when they were little toddlers) I lose confidence in myself.  Of course, there is nothing wrong with future plans, or goals or dreams, or thoughts.  But when those little things all become ONE giant looming mountain of “Make sure you, You have to, What if, When are we, Will he be able to, Will she remember,” my role seems daunting at best, impossible at worst.

When I take this important job I have day by day, sometimes week by week, I feel a sense of peace and purpose and joy in what I do and the anxiety is chased away.  There is nothing wrong with planning for the future, but when I think of decades, when I dream up all the what if's, it doesn't get me anything but a bucket of worry.


Kitty’s Brownies: A Divine Recipe

My friend Kitty makes the BEST brownies.  They’re really easy and taste divine.
You need:

-a box of brownies 13x9 size.
-3 giant sized Hershey Symphony bars

Mix the brownies according to the directions on the package. 
Divide the brownie mix in half and spread 1/2 on the bottom of a 13 x 9 inch pan.
Place the three bars on top of the brownie mix.

(I am purposely cutting off the pan in this photo because I only had 2 Symphony bars.  I bought 3 of course, but a certain teenage son of mine begged for just one bite.  And of course, I had a little one too.  And then he had another, and then me too, and the next day, when it came time to make the brownies, there was only a tiny piece left.)

So once the THREE bars are place on top, pour the other 1/2 of the brownie mix on top of the bars.  (You will have to spread it around with the spatula...it will be a thin covering.)

Bake the brownies according to the directions.   Sometimes it takes a tiny bit longer to be done in the middle.  This batch though, was right on time, so I usually just eye it and see.

Cut in little pieces (they are very rich) and enjoy.
Last time I brought these somewhere, I didn’t even get one for myself they went so fast.
Which means I just have to make them again, right?


Peanut Butter Birdfeeders: An Easy Winter Activity

1. Gather pine cones.

2. Spread with peanut butter.

3. Roll in birdseed.

4. Tie on a wire or string.  (Best done BEFORE the sticky mess.)

5. Find a branch to hang.
6. Check often.066


Peace In Routine

We've had a quiet beginning back into daily life after the Christmas season.  At Mass Sunday the priest mentioned that it was the First Sunday of Ordinary Time.  "Ordinary Time" sounds delicious to me.

We have melted into our daily routine.  With the help of a new resolution or two of mine, I have felt so much calmer and in control of my days.  I am loving the quiet during the day, I am appreciating the routine that I've established to help me get all my housekeeping done, and I'm soaking up the play time and sweetness of my new 3 year old.

Patrick brings me a stack of books and plops them down in my lap, or takes my hand and sits me down in a chair, so I can watch him shoot hoops.  He looks to make sure my eyes are watching him.  Undivided attention is what he is looking for.  Hard to come by for #5 I guess, but I love the chance to give it to him...I look at his little legs jumping, and can almost see them growing longer.   I try to squint my eyes and remember when the older ones were 3 and as much as I'd like it to, it doesn't come back to me.  This age is so precious, but gone too fast.

 I feel like a hibernating bear, safe and warm inside my home, puttering about, only going out for food and a quick pick-up from the older kid's basketball practice or sewing lessons.  It is much easier to shut out the hustle and bustle and noise of the world in the snowy months I think.  And if there is anything to love about winter, it's that, for sure.


More Scrapbooking With Picasa: Using Digital Scrapbook Papers (For Your Blog Headers Too!)

I am catching up my 2010 scrapbooking these boring months of January and February.  See my handy dandy spreadsheet Jeff made for me?  (I am refusing to attempt to learn how to make an Excel spreadsheet…I don’t want to learn, I just want other people to do it for me.)   The little schedule on the bottom of the spreadsheet is the reminder I need to print out my photos for my albums.  Last year I missed a date and ended up printing out 6 months of photos and that wasn’t too fun.

Here are a few pages I made with Picasa:SCRAPBOOK BACKGROUNDS-2SCRAPBOOK BACKGROUNDS1A two page layout:Collages2
I just love doing this and I’m so glad I made the switch from paper to digital…it saves me SO much time and money.  Here’s what the pages look like when they are inserted into the actual scrapbooks.  They look just like I pasted, and glued, cut and framed and all that other work that I didn’t do!  I just pressed a few buttons and WALLAH!
For BEGINNING Picasa collage tutorials go:
HERE…a written lesson from me with photos and screen shots.
HERE….a video lesson series. (Thank you Chari…these are excellent video tutorials that will take you through everything from downloading Picasa to making a beautiful scrapbook page step by step.)

HOW TO DOWNLOAD THE SCRAPBOOK PAPERS INTO PICASA When making a scrapbook page, Picasa allows you to choose a solid color, or an image as your background (like the page above.)  Did you know you can download digital scrapbook papers and use those as your background image?  It really opens up the ability to get a lot more creative.


You can buy these pages from many digital scrapbook companies, but I am always on the lookout for free papers. 

Recently I found some beautiful free papers at the Persnickety Prints blog.


Persnickety Prints is where I have had all my scrapbook pages printed…they are the least expensive I’ve found ($1.99 per page), AND the quality of the prints is just beautiful.  Not grocery store quality…professional photo lab quality…trust me there is a difference!  I really researched it all when I began digital scrapbooking and after reading a gazillion reviews, it was quite obvious that Persnickety is on the very top of the list.

So here’s how to download scrapbook papers into Picasa:
1. Once you press the button to download the kit into your computer, you will have to find the file and UNZIP it.  (Look for a button on your screen that says Extract Files…that’s unzipping.)  As of now, you can only import JPG files into Picasa.  Why do you even need to know this?  Because many digital scrapbooking papers come in “kits”…in addition to the papers they come with some cute things called elements.  They are little tags, or ribbons, or frames…cute scrapbooking doo-dads…but they will NOT work in Picasa because they don’t have the .jpg after them.  So just stick to downloading the papers and don’t waste your time trying to get the other stuff in there.

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2. Next open Picasa, and press the Import button at the top of the page.  Go to the drop down menu (Import From) and press folder.  Now find your unzipped file that you downloaded and check them or highlight them, and press Import All and you will see them in your Picasa folders.
Fullscreen capture 182011 84541 AM.bmpFullscreen capture 182011 84551 AMFullscreen capture 182011 84621 AM
1. Go back to your library and choose your images…your papers and photos…don’t worry if you want to add (or subtract!) some once you are creating your Collage you will be able to do so!
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2. You are offered 7 types of Collages.  I like Picture Pile because it allows you to place every photo where you want it to be, and what size you would like also.  But Mosaic makes the collage for you and that is quick and easy.  You can choose your background image on any type of collage.
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3. Select size…I scrapbook the 12x12 size.  You can type in your own custom ratio also.
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4. Select your background image.
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5. Start moving things around.
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6. Create.  For the page below, I selected a collage I had made earlier using the Mosaic type, and I'm adding it onto a scrapbook paper.  Remember you can discard and add selections as you are creating the page.
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7. Add text…remember there are lots of text options…try the Wingdings for symbols, dots, circles, dashes.
8. You are finished!
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You can use these papers, along with my tutorial on making your own free blog banner using Picasa, and get creative with your blog too! 


Winter Days

1. Matthew was under the weather last week, and Andrew, on his own, made him this card.  It made MY day.  I love when my kids get along and care for each other.  When they don’t, it bothers me so much.  I wish it didn’t, or maybe I don’t.  It’s really important to me that they are all kind to each other for the rest of their lives. 
2. Patrick and I went for a COLD walk/bike ride the other day before we got a little bit of snow.  It was nice to breathe in some fresh air. 
3. This house is for sale.  Remember this house?  It makes me so sad that it’s for sale.  The lady that lived there is in a special elder care facility.  Her beautiful house…I know she thought she was coming back to it.   Just saying that makes my eyes well up and my lungs contract and I start thinking all about sheets at estate sales.  I would like to think that a young couple with a little child or two or three, will keep it up just as well and love it just as much as she did.  I hate to think otherwise.  I hope, hope, hope that is the case, because I will be heartbroken if someone doesn’t care for it.
4. I make cookies way too much.  If that is even possible.  Do you have a really good chocolate chip cookie recipe you would like to email me?  I like them thin and crispy and buttery.   I need an excuse to make more.


An Easy Dinner

Lately these have been a big hit at my house.
I thaw the little frozen Rhodes buns that look like this:
And use them make hamburger buns for little sliders that look like this:IMG_2134
I also make french fries in my deep fryer.  I never thought I’d get much use out of my deep fryer but I do use it at least 3 times a month.  Baked fries…sorry, they just don’t do it for me.  The greasy unhealthy kind?  Those are the best.  With lots of ketchup.
Remember my big vegetarian kick last year during Lent? 
Ha ha ha ha.  You can laugh at me.  Well, with me.
Because I’m laughing too.


My Accomplishment Today

We used every Duplo we own.  A work of art is what it is.IMG_2175
After all the hoopla of Christmas, Patrick needed some hours with mommy.  It made all the difference in the world.