Alphabet Wall

I have been seeing the adorable alphabet walls all over Pinterest, so, I decided to tackle one for baby’s room. Truth be told, I couldn’t be more indecisive this pregnancy, so this has been a much harder project than it should be.  I have gone back and forth 100 times on what color I want to do the room, what fabric to use, etc.  That being said, if you know what you want and don’t change your mind every 3 days, this is an incredibly easy project.  Here is how I got my ABC Wall:

  1.  Find 26 frames – Start looking everywhere for frames.  Garage sales, online buy/trade sites, and The Dollar Store are all great places to look.  Don’t worry about color of the frame, because you can spray paint them.  Look for the sizes and design you like.  I didn’t have much luck at garage sales, so I used what I had around the house, found a few at Dollar Tree, Hobby Lobby, and HomeGoods.
  2. Spray paint all of the frames.  I wanted white, so I grabbed a can of white spray paint, removed the glass, and sprayed all of them bright, shiny white.
  3. Design the background for the frames – The bedding and window’s treatment in baby’s room was made by hand, so I used coordinating fabrics for the background. You can use scrapbook paper, fabric, or anything else that has the color/design you are looking for.  I had 3 fabrics that I really liked, so I alternated them for the background of the letters.
  4. Start laying out frames – I measured how big of a space I was going to use above the crib, and then I made a similar rectangle out of blue painter’s tape on the floor. This gave me an easy way to move the frames around and get them just right.
  5. Once I knew what order I wanted the frames to be in, I started matching fabrics to the frames. While this part is personal preference, I arranged them so that the same fabric wasn’t next to or above each other, wherever possible.  When you have the fabrics matched to frames, you can start cutting fabric. I used the glass of the frames as a template, and cut the fabric about an inch bigger on all sides.  from there, I hot glued the fabric to the cardboard backs of the frames (or if needed, I used card stock to glue it to).
  6. Up next – get the letters to go in the frames.  I decided I would print out the letters and stick them to the fabric.  I found a few fonts that I really liked, and mixed them up throughout the alphabet. Click here to download the list of fonts I used on my wall. In order to keep the letters white, I messed with the font settings to only outline the letters, instead of filling them in with black ink. If you are using Microsoft Word, you can use these steps to outline your letters:
    1. Highlight letters and right click on them
    2. Select ‘Font’ in the drop down list
    3. Click on the ‘Text Effects’ button on the bottom of the pop-up box
    4. Select ‘No Fill’ on the ‘Text Fill’ list on the left
    5. Click on the ‘Text Outline’ option on the left
    6. Select ‘Solid Line’
  7. Print the letters – I tried to put a few letters per page to minimize the paper I used, but you could certainly do each letter on its own page.  Want to know how my letters looked before I printed them and hung them on the wall? Here is a Word file with how my letters looked before printing.  I grabbed a ream of card stock from Staples and printed everything out and then started cutting.  Once all of the letters were cut out, I glued them to the fabric with super strong fabric glue.  I used E6000, but I’m sure any fabric glue would work.
  8. I then put the glass back and my pictures got ready to hang my masterpieces.  Since I didn’t want 26 holes in my wall, I used Command Velcro strips to put my frames on the wall.  Not all of my frames had picture hanging kits on the back, so the velcro worked great.
  9. My ‘K’ is a crooked and needs to be straightened out, but otherwise, I LOVE my new wall.

Dear Kindergarten Dads

Dear Kindergarten Dads –

With back to school time approaching all of us, I want to make a plea to dads of kindergartners everywhere – please give us moms a break this week. I don’t know what it is about our babies starting school (after all, I have had my kids in daycare, preschool, and have no problem leaving them with a babysitter on Saturday night), but something about this right of passage makes us all emotional – unreasonably emotional. I am generally a pretty calm parent, but even I found myself tearing up tonight thinking about my little buddy getting on the school bus.  I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is that makes us upset…

Maybe it’s that we know that we just lost some of the best quality time with our son/daughter.  That reoccurring mom guilt rears its ugly head once again, and we think about the time that we spent working when we could have been hanging out on the playground.

Maybe it’s the fact that we know that they are going to meet new friends and while they have been wanting to spend every painstaking waking minute with us for the last 5 years, those days may be nearing the end as they find ‘cooler’ people to hang out with.

Maybe it’s that we know that this is the beginning of a long road of structure, schedules and expectations for our little guys.  Their completely carefree days/nights are now on hold while we have earlier bedtimes on school nights and have pre-planned days ahead of us.

Maybe it’s because we will miss them, their silly faces, questions and stories.  We will miss their craziness and the piece of our lives they have been every day for the last 5 or 6 years.

Maybe it’s the fact that we are losing a little bit of control.  Up until now, most of what our kids have learned, we have been a part of.  We are always there to help pick them up, reassure them, and make sure they were ok.  What will happen if our kids are bullied or have a bad day without us?  Will they be ok?

Of course they will be ok. I know that.  I am not scared for them.  I know that they are going to have the greatest time meeting new friends, learning, and exploring the world around them.  I know they are ready for this big day – I just hope I am.

So, back to you Dads – help us out this week.  Bear with us as we are a little extra emotional.  Don’t make fun of us when we cry while making our little one’s first lunch.  Give us an extra hug.  Save the Valentine’s flowers and send us flowers for the first day our house is a little quieter.  Understand that while we may not have logical reasons on why we are emotional, it is just a hard week for us moms out there.

And moms – hang in there.  Your kids will do great – and so will you.  MOM ON!

Who Knew?

Today, as I drove through the drive-thru for my daily dose of caffeine, I began to think about how I completely and totally underestimated the beauty of drive-thrus before children.  After all, without a drive-thru, I would have to drag my crazies into a restaurant, fight with them about what they can’t have and then wrangle them back into their car seat.  No thank you.  I think I’ll starve.

As I went through my day, I noticed many other things that I appreciate much more now that I am a parent. Here is a short list of some of things that just don’t compare in value BC (before children):

  1. Spray on butt cream – are you kidding me?  Why did it take us so long to come up diaper-rash-spray5
    with this fabulous idea?  After all, who wants to smear butt paste on their baby’s bottom?  The kid screams, it gets in your fingernails, it’s just nasty.  This awesome new method is long overdue and makes me smile every time I spray my little one’s tush.
  2. EZ Pass – just like drive-thrus, this allows me to keep my children ezpassconstrained while traveling.  As anyone who travels with children knows, it only takes one quick stop to wake a perfectly sleeping baby.  Being able to fly through toll plazas without having to stop means many more hours of sleeping children which means many more children will survive the trip.
  3.  Squeezey Pouches – Pureed food that my little one can feed them self – perfect! gerber While I didn’t completely get it with my first kid (after all, why not just sit down and feed your kid), by kid #3, I completely got the convenience of it.  They are perfect for an in between meal snack, a meal on the go, or whenever I feel guilty for all of the crap my youngest has eaten through the day (they are vegetables, after all.) Thank you to the genius that invented this brilliant packaging.
  4. Fixed temperature facets – I never gave two thoughts about these before kids, but facetthese are great for little ones that want to shower themselves (otherwise known as getting wet, but not clean in my house).  I don’t have to worry about them scalding their skin, because the kid bathroom is always set on the right temperature.
  5. The stroller strap on your diaper bag – this beauty made it so much easier to shop.  Sometimes I had the baby in a bjorn, while shopping, so the last thing I needed was to be carry something else.  It also meant that I didn’t ever have to lose space in the cart for my bag, since it sat outside.  With baby #2 I thought I would be trendy and just carry a big designer bag instead of diaper bag.  That was very short lived once I realized there was no stroller strap.  Game over.  Back to ugly mommy world.
  6. Rock and Play – as a mom of kids that all had horrible reflux, the invention of a sleeping contraption that that kept the boys on an incline was incredible.  I’ll admit I didn’t think I needed one originally.  After all, I had a swing, a bouncy seat, and so much other stuff.  Why would I need another baby item?  Well, I was wrong, dead wrong.  My babies all felt so snug in them and each and every one of the kids loved them.  It didn’t hurt that they are couch-height, so I could lay down next to baby when I was exhausted and rock them.  I would not have another baby without one.
  7. Fruit snacks – otherwise known as ‘when all else fails’ in my house.  If we are desperate to have a well-behaved child in church, the Dr. office, or anywhere that requires them to sit quietly for long periods of time, we bring out the heavy artillery.

What mom essentials could you not live without?

Our crazy, but good life

Today as I was driving to work I had a rare opportunity to think. For the first time in a long while, I was not on the phone with my husband figuring out what was for dinner, I wasn’t talking to my mom about how the kids were behaving, I wasn’t reading emails, I wasn’t on a conference call, I was just driving to work. And as I drove to work, I thought of all the things that needed to get done and all the demands on my time  – the kids, our parents, our colleagues, our work, our community and so on and so forth. I was thinking about my schedule for the week. How I would squeeze in 50 hours of work, a workout or two, baseball practice, a night with the kids, getting ready to go out of town for a week etc. ?

As I thought of all that needed to get done in a week, I began to get a little overwhelmed. There just was not enough time in the day. I want to make the most of my time at home and enjoy our kids that are growing up way too fast, visit with my friends and family. Just then I realized how lucky I really am.  My life is crazy. My family is crazy, but I love every minute of it.  I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I am lucky these are my ‘problems’.

It isn’t a bad thing to try to figure out how to squeeze everything.  It’s just the opposite – I am incredibly lucky I have so much good in my life that I can barely squeeze it in.  I have kids that are healthy and happy and want to spend time with me. I have an incredible mom that lives right down the road from me. I have the sweetest most charming niece and sister and brother-in-law are in town that I get to spend quality time with on a regular basis. I have a rewarding career.  I have friends to relax and recharge with.  I am so lucky to have all these demands on my time.  And while I have generally look at it as overwhelming and incredibly demanding, I sat there today and just felt blessed. This is a good life. This is what it is all about.  It is so easy to cut up get caught up and how demanding life can be sometimes we forget what the demands are really for.  Now I can’t promise I will never complain again, this brief moment of reflection has been enough to make me feel at peace today. I am so lucky.  I love my crazy, lovely life.