Thursday, June 28, 2012

Framed Sonogram Picture

For my previous four children, I did manage to get their sonogram pictures put into their baby books.  I never got them framed or anything.  However, for our fifth, I wanted to do something special.

We were shocked to discover that Isaiah had passed away during the sixteenth week of pregnancy.  I was 15 weeks, four days along.  I went in for my routine prenatal visit, and my doctor could not find the heartbeat.

I was 15 weeks, four days along.  I kept repeating that to myself over and over again.  Babies don't die then.  Sadly, however, a sonogram the next day confirmed our fears--our little boy had died.

Keeping his memory alive has been important to me, and I wanted to get his sonogram picture framed and on our wall.  I also wanted to involve my kids in projects to remember their little brother.

My son, Evan, painted the wooden letters that I ordered online from Hobby Lobby.  I searched and searched to find a frame that we could glue the letters to.  (I finally found this one at Hobby Lobby as well.)

Evan painted the letters, I had the frame, I had the sonogram picture.  And there everything sat in my closet for months.  I don't know why it was so hard for me to get this done.  I mean, I wanted to, but it also meant dealing with the pain of our loss again.

Finally, I got the sonogram picture custom-framed.  Again, it sat in my closet for a week.  I moved it out to the dining room table so that maybe I would get the letters glued on.  It went back into the closet.

Today, though, was the day.  It was time to embrace my grief and get this done for my son.  I applied the letters using my low-temp hot glue gun.  I used my clear rotary cutting ruler to help line up the letters 2 1/2 inches from the bottom edge of the frame.  I used a toothpick to remove the extra strings of hot glue from around the letters.  It only took a few minutes.  Now to get it on the wall. . .

I have found with this miscarriage that I tend to stuff my feelings down and "put things in the closet," so to speak.  I don't want to deal with how I feel or I don't know how to.  I mean, my kids need me.  I need to get the house cleaned.  I need to make supper.  It's hard to take care of those things when you are an emotional wreck. 

I have come to realize, however, that getting things out of the closet, expressing my feelings and dealing with them is a much better coping mechanism.  I feel more at peace, and I am much less likely to explode at my kids over some trivial something that comes up.  Somehow, too, it is not as hard to just do it as it is to think about doing it. 

Today, I finished a framed picture project that I have been planning on doing for about eight months now.  I wanted it to be done, but somehow, I didn't want to "do it."  But there it sat, undone, haunting me.  So, I did it!  Turns out thinking about it was harder than actually doing it. 

Growing up, I had trouble showing my emotions.  I didn't like to let others see me cry--I guess I viewed it as a weakness, or I didn't want to make others sad.  Now, though, I think it is important to let others know when I am sad, especially my children.  It is not a bad thing to be sad.  It is not a bad thing to cry.  It is not a bad thing to miss Isaiah.  I want them to feel like they can talk to me about anything, even things that make them sad.  The best way to encourage that is to model it for them. 

If you have experienced a miscarriage, you may be struggling with trying to "be strong."  In this culture, that basically means that you go on almost like nothing happened.  You are a strong reed alone as others are bending under the pressure.  May I tell you that being strong is not going on like nothing happened?!!  No matter how far along you were, this was a child. 

People may try to minimalize what you are going through.  I think one of the hardest things I have had to deal with is people not recognizing that this was a loss of a "person."  It is hard to hear your son referred to as a "fetus." 

I was talking to a friend this morning who has also been through a miscarriage.  We both agreed that it is a life-changing event.  No matter what the circumstances were in your situation, you are different than before.

I know that God has used this situation for good in my life.  Nothing allows you to understand another person's grief than actually going through a similar situation.  I hope that I am able to be there for others as they cope with loss as well.  I hope that, over time, God will continue to use this experience for His glory and for mine as He continues to refine me.

My daughter Maddie has also painted a larger set of wooden letters spelling Isaiah's name that we are going to hang in the hallway.  They sat in the closet for quite a while as well.  But, today, I began.  I got them out and got some ribbon attached to them for hanging.  Of course, I ran out of ribbon and will have to get some more.  But it was a start. . .

If there is something that you have been waiting to do, something that you want to do but are somehow holding back, let me tell you that I have been there.  Maybe today can be your today, too!

See here to read more about Isaiah's story.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Speedy Stovetop "Spasagna"

I love lasagna.  I probably have over ten lasagna-like pins on Pinterest.  Though I have not tried to make them yet, I am fascinated with those lasagna roll ups.  I think that the "no boil" lasagna noodles are a great invention--they have become one of my pantry staples.

While I love traditional lasagna, I also enjoy dishes that allow you to achieve the same taste without the time required to make it.  These days, it seems I don't start thinking about supper until thirty minutes before it needs to be ready.  Also, with the temperature reaching 110 + degrees today, there was no way I was going to turn my oven on.

So, I was delighted to see a pin for a Twenty Minute Lasagna Skillet.  See the original recipe here.   I made my dish with just a few modifications.  I used some cottage cheese instead of the sour cream called for and also added some parmesan cheese.  (Yes, I love cheese, too!)  I mixed my cheeses in with the hot pasta in order to get them incorporated well.

Looking yummy already!

Speedy Stovetop "Spasagna"

1 pound lean ground beef
1 (12 oz) package bow tie noodles (or any other kind of noodle), uncooked
1 (26 oz) jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce (or pizza sauce)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning (or more, make it to your taste)
3/4 cups Mozzarella cheese
3/4 - 1 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Brown ground beef in microwave. Meanwhile, cook noodles according to package directions.  Heat spaghetti sauce and seasonings in large skillet; add beef when cooked.  After noodles are cooked, drain; place in pan you cooked them in and drizzle with olive oil.   Add cheeses and stir until melted.  Stir pasta mixture into meat sauce and heat through.  Serve with additional Parmesan cheese if desired.

My family loved this one--I will definitely make it again.  It was very quick and easy to put together.   Hope you like it, too!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Lickety-split Bandana Dress

I found a link to this super easy dress/shirt off of Pinterest.  I had to show my picture because I thought it turned out so cute.  I made this for my niece Aria this morning, and it did not take more than 15 minutes! 

I found these bandanas at Walmart.  They were in a pack of three--one zebra, one pink, and one purple--so I had to buy two packs to get matching ones.  I think the pink and purple will make cute dresses, too, especially with some patterned ribbon.

Here's the link to the tutorial for the dress.  If you are new to sewing, this would be a great project to start off with!

And here it is on my niece.  What a cutie!

Swim Teacher Gift

Maddie, Evan, and Anna just finished private swim lessons a little while ago.  Their instructors did a great job with them and worked them very hard for a week.  (They definitely slept well at night!)   I was wanting to get their teachers a little something, so I was thrilled to find this idea for a gift.  See here for instructions on assembling and also to download the labels.

I followed the instructions with the following changes:

We used blue tissue paper in the bottom instead of paper grass because I couldn't find any.

We used stickers instead of washi tape (again, I couldn't find it nearby and did not want to wait on shipping.)  I found lots of fish stickers in the scrapbook area at Walmart, and my kids picked the ones they liked.

I placed the fish inside a baggy because it was recommended by the manufacturer of the paint cans I ordered.

I did find the Swedish fish at Walmart--I had never seen them before so I was not sure they would have them.

If you live far away from Michael's, Hobby Lobby, etc. as I do and are looking for these plastic paint containers, you can order them online at The Container Store.  They are so cute that I ordered several in different sizes.  (More gift ideas in the future!)  I used the 4" by 4" size for this project.

My kids had a great time putting the stickers on.  I was surprised at how meticulous my four year old was with it.  They were so proud to give their handmade gifts to their teachers as well!

Appliqued Rag Blocks

I made these blocks for my daughter, Anna, a couple of years ago.  It was before I started this blog, so I didn't take pictures as I went along.  However, I think I can explain their construction well enough to be able to share this fun idea with you.

I got the notion from another site that featured fleece blocks.  I thought it would be neat to do the same thing with flannel and denim and then rag the edges.

Here's what you will need for each 4 inch block:

6 six inch squares of coordinating fabric.  I used two denim, two yellow polka dot flannel, and 2 red monkey flannel squares.

Additional fabric for the applique.

Wonder under to apply the applique.

Stabilizer to place under fabric you are going to applique.

To make, print 3 inch letters, numbers, or whatever you want to applique on the blocks on cardstock.  I put A N N A on one side of the blocks, and 1 2 3 4 on the other.  Apply wonder under to fabric according to the instructions.  Trace your applique backwards on the paper and cut out.  Remove paper and apply to your square.  Applique in place using your preferred stitch.  I used a decorative applique stitch.  You could use a zig-zag or simply a straight stitch slightly inside the edge of the fabric.

Assemble the blocks.  See this tutorial for instructions on assembling the blocks.  You will sew them together using a 1 inch seam allowance.  The seams will be on the outside of the block.  Sew all seams, leaving a small hole on one side to stuff.  Stuff the block, then push the stuffing over to the side and use your machine to sew the hole up. 

At this point, snip the seam allowance about every 1/4 inch, being careful not to cut the seam.

Wash on gentle in your machine and dry.  You will want to clean out the lint trap often.  I washed and dried the blocks 2 times to get the desired amount of fray on the edges.

You will probably want to do this project for kiddos with shorter names or else use their initials. I opted to use "ANNA" insted of "ANNABELLE" for my little girl. I wasn't sure I could get 9 of these puppies made while my child was still young enough to play with them.

Hope you enjoy this fun project!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Father's Day Picture

I saw a picture like this on Pinterest, so I decided to recreate it with my children.  I used washable markers to write on their feet--this was a bit tricky because they were ticklish.  Then I took pictures of them individually and also together with their message for Dad.  I was blessed that day to have all children cooperate--it's rare to get them all looking at the camera and smiling when I'm trying to get a picture.

I put the individual pictures into a collage on the photo center at Walmart.  I had to keep shuffling the pictures until I got them in the right order. 

The day we took the pictures, I didn't get the heart washed off Lyla's foot before my husband saw it after lunch.  When he asked her about it, Lyla started yelling, "Pictures!"  Luckily, the word was hard to understand, so I don't think he figured it out.

Of course, today at lunch, Maddie mentioned something about Daddy's surprise for Father's Day.  Anna chimed in with, "Mommy really tickled me when she wrote on my foot with that black marker!" 

Needless to say, I recommend doing this as close to Father's Day as possible to help keep things under wraps! 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Li'l Cheddar Meat Loaves

Here's another quick and easy favorite for my family--Li'l Cheddar Meat Loaves.  It's another recipe I use often from one of my church cookbooks.  My son, Evan, really enjoys them.  I think he at two of them last night. 

Li'l Cheddar Meat Loaves

1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I use colby/monterrey jack blend)
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup chopped onion (I omit)
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound ground beef


2/3 cup ketchup
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard

First, mix all ingredients except meat in a large bowl (note the fingers of my little helper nearby!).  I used a large bowl because I was making a double recipe.

Crumble meat over the top and mix with your hands.

Mix ketchup, mustard, and brown sugar in a separate bowl or pitcher.

Shape meat mixture into eight oval loaves and place in greased 9 by 13 inch pan.  Top with sauce.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until meat is no longer pink.

This also freezes well.  Don't bake; just wrap with press and seal and freeze.  To bake, thaw in refrigerator overnight and bake as directed.  It may take a little longer to get done.


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Anna's Fourth Birthday

We celebrated Anna's fourth birthday with family and friends in May, but it has taken me a while to get the pictures up.

For Anna, I knew that the central theme of her birthday party was going to be PINK!  Whenever I would ask her what kind of birthday cake she wanted, it was always a pink . . . something!  We were going to have a pink spider or a pink T-rex before she finally decided on a pink flower. 

I looked online for ideas on making a flower cake before I decided to just go ahead and get the Wilton daisy cake pan.  I think that I will be able to use this tin again--either for Lyla or even a baby shower.  I decorated it according to the directions that came with the pan.  I even used a strawberry cake mix so that this cake would be thoroughly pink!  I found balloons on Birthday express that were pink with white flower outlines on them.  I also got some green ones for the boys that would be in attendance.

I didn't get a direct picture of the cupcakes, but I used leftover frosting to decorate them.  I frosted them light pink.  Then I used 5 stars on with a #16 tip to make the petals in dark pink.  I put a yellow M & M in the middle.  Finally I put white dots around the edges using a #3 tip.  Nothing too fancy--I was able to decorate 12 cupcakes quite quickly.

I know Anna was pretty excited with her cake even though she is not showing it here!  Once we began eating it, she perked up a little.

Then it came time for presents, which her siblings were all too happy to help out with.


And finally a bit of a smile for the bubbles!  At this point, Anna has decided that she will have a pink spider cake for her fifth birthday.  Time will tell to see what she settles on!  Hope this gives you some ideas for your pink-loving little ladies!
Friday, June 8, 2012

Powercat Appliqued Hoodie Towels

One of my good friends was expecting a third little boy.  She and her husband are big K-state fans, so I decided to make a K-state baby quilt for his arrival.  I wanted to make something for his two big brothers, so I made them hoodie towels and appliqued powercats on them.  I found some great K-state purple towels at Walmart.

To see how to sew the towels, look here. 

I found a powercat image online and enlarged it to the size I wanted.  I printed off two copies onto cardstock.  I cut out the figures on one copy and then cut out the outline on the other copy to use as a template.  This greatly helped with the spacing.

I ironed wonder-under onto my gray fabric and traced the design onto the back.  Don't forget to trace it backwards at this point!

I placed my template on the towel and got it centered.

Then I placed the pieces inside, carefully removed the template, and ironed the pieces on.

I like to place fray check around the edges of the material I am going to applique--this makes the material a little stiffer and easier to work with.  Also, a towel is going to be washed often, and this will help to protect from fraying.

Then I used a tight zig-zag stitch with matching gray thread to applique the powercat in place.  I highly recommend using a tear-away stabilizer on the back side of your towel.  This helps your project to look much more finished.  Without it, my stuff is much more wrinkly. 

My friend, Christina, has an embroidery machine, so I had her add the boys' names underneath the powercat on their towel in gray.  (I'm really starting to want an embroidery machine; I'm waiting until a good time to bring it up to my husband!)

I think they went along great with the K-State blankie for their little brother!

I'm sure little brother won't mind him using it, for now!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

K-State Rag Quilt

Okay, I had to post this quilt because I really liked how it turned out.  My friend Kim just had another little boy, her third!  She and her husband are big K-State fans, so I decided to use K-State fabric to make a quilt for their new arrival. 

This sort of quilt is throw-size, so it would also make a great high school graduation gift.  Just use collegiate flannel fabric and coordinating colors!  For instructions on making a rag quilt, see here.
Saturday, June 2, 2012

Hospital Survival Kit

I found the instructions on Pinterest for making a "survival kit" for new mommies.  My friend, Kim, was scheduled to have her third little boy last week, and I thought it would be fun to put one together for her.  See here for ideas on what to put in your kit along with cute little labels that you can download.  It made me feel very "put together."

Since Kim already had little ones that would be visiting at the hospital, I included dinosaur fruit snacks, toy motorcycles, and bug juice to help keep the boys occupied.  You could also put in books, games, coloring books & crayons--there are lots of possibilities! 

Children are such a blessing--what a great way to help welcome new little ones!

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