Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A sorta merry Christmas

Dear Elliot,
Last year I wanted nothing to do with Christmas. I banned the Christmas music radio station in the car, refused to put up any decorations, and basically tried to pretend that the whole thing wasn't really happening.

This year, I am definitely feeling more in the spirit of things, but I wouldn't call this time 'the most wonderful time of the year' just yet. While last year's was an all out crappy Christmas, I have a feeling this year's will be a sorta merry Christmas. Yes, the pain is not nearly as fresh or intense, and having you with me this year helps quite a bit, but that doesn't take away from the fact that I should have an 18-month old daughter to spoil this Christmas; that I should be out searching for the perfect play kitchen, or maybe her first baby doll, and toiling over which ruffly Christmas dress she should wear to church on Christmas Eve.

It will be a sorta merry Christmas this year because even though you've brought so much new joy and excitement into my heart, it still breaks into a million little pieces when I think of should have, could have been.

I'm still not in the mood to go all-out with decorations and stuff this year, but I do want to start letting some of that Christmas magic back into our lives. The first step was getting a tree. We have a big artificial tree down in the basement somewhere, but Dad and I decided we really wanted the smell that comes with a real pine tree. But I didn't really want a full size tree in the living room, so we found the perfect three-foot tall potted fir tree at Bachmans.

I pulled out the tote full of ornaments that sat untouched in the garage last year, and gathered all the Stevie ornaments I got as gifts from people last Christmas. I had forgotten how many of them there were!  While I unwrapped ornaments, Dad put up some lights (and was apparently really happy about me taking a picture of him doing it, ha):

I wanted to eat something 'Christmas-y' while we decorated, but I also had a craving for bacon guacamole (seriously, so good). In the end we decided that guac is green like Christmas, so it worked:

We also busted out the first egg nog of the season:

And in no time at all, we were finished trimming our little tree:

Yes, it's small, a bit uneven, and kind of tips forward like it wants to fall over, but it's ours, and I love it. Baby steps, right?

Here's a little picture of you during your first (of what I hope is many) tree-trimming experiences:

Even if all we get is a sorta merry Christmas this year, I'll be grateful. Sure beats a crappy Christmas, right? :)

I love you, Little E. Can't wait to see you again on Tuesday!


PS. I had a lot of people ask about the mother nest necklaces I've been making, so I decided to put them up on Etsy! If you are interested in ordering one for yourself or someone you know, click here to go to my little shop. I still need a shop name (Foxy Lady is my default screen name for like everything, and no it's not because I think I'm hot stuff, it's after my dog Foxy!) The necklaces are a nice way to include any lost babies. I made one for myself and actually included four eggs--one for Stevie, one for Elliot, and one for each of my dogs (yes, I am obsessed with my dogs). Anyway, check it out if you want! Thanks!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Let it go.

Dear Stevie,
I saw this picture on Pinterest (where else?) and it really struck a chord.

Three simple words, so hard to do. I try not to talk about it much here, because I never know who is reading this blog, but there are some people in my life that have really let me down this last year and a half. People (family, even) who seem like they couldn't care less that you died--have never mentioned you by name since it happened, have never acknowledged the 'important' dates like your birthday, even when I know they see these things all over facebook, and now, don't appear to be interested in your new little brother either. It just makes me really sad (and okay, mad) that so many people out there who haven't even met me take the time to remember you and are so excited about Elliot...and these people that should care, just don't (or at least don't show it at all). 

I am trying really, really hard to not let these few people get me down, but it's hard. It's hard not to hold onto the anger and become bitter toward them. I don't want to be that person, I really don't. 

I guess what it comes down to is that I can't change them. I can't make them act the way I wish they would. All I can do is let it go, by letting them go. 

I really miss you today, baby girl. 

Love always,

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Weekend

Dear Elliot,
Going into this year's Thanksgiving, all I knew was that it had to be better than last year's. Last year, my Thanksgiving consisted of eating boxed stuffing in bed and watching Bones on Netflix, all by myself. My family was out of town visiting my grandma, who was dying, and I was just didn't have it in me to spend the day with the in-laws. Spending that first 'big' holiday without your sister was absolutely awful.

Well, I am very happy to report this year was much, much better. Of course she was still on my mind, and I missed her like crazy (just like every other day), but this year I felt like I had a lot to be truly thankful for. The biggest thing being you, of course.

Anyway, Thanksgiving weekend actually started out with a bit of a scare. I had been experiencing some fairly frequent (like 5-6 times a day) tightening of my uterus/lower abdomen for a couple of days. Dr. Google told me these were probably just Braxton Hicks contractions, and nothing to worry about, but of course I was worried anyway. I spoke to the triage nurse at my doctor's office on Wednesday morning about my concerns. She basically reiterated everything I'd read online and said everything was "probably just fine." Thing is, I don't trust the word "probably" anymore, so I asked if I could come in and get checked out, just to be sure. They were able to fit me in for that afternoon.

My regular doctor wasn't in the office that day, so I saw a new person. She was very nice, but I kind of felt like a total idiot because everything was completely fine. She said my cervix was super long and high and closed (like it should be), and that unless the contractions I was feeling started to become more regular/consistent, or if I was having more than four in an hour, that they were a normal part of being pregnant. It was honestly a less than five-minute appointment. I tried to apologize for wasting her time, but she said, "no need to be sorry--that's what we're here for." That made me feel a little bit better. Better to be safe than sorry, right?

So anyway, it was nice to go into the long weekend knowing everything was all well pregnancy-wise.

Thanksgiving morning Dad got up super early to run in the Turkey Day 5K that was going on downtown. While he was out working up a sweat, I was sleeping in and taking a nice long bubble bath. :) Around lunchtime we drove up to his parent's house for the big Thanksgiving meal. Can I just say I love being pregnant on Thanksgiving? I ate until I literally could not fit another bite in my stomach, and it felt great.

The girls also ate until I thought their little tummies were going to explode. Here they are, begging for food:

And again:

And again:

In addition to all the amazing food, it was also really nice to spend some time with Dad's side of the family. Both of his sets of grandparents were there (one set all the way from Colorado!), and your Auntie Katie (Dad's little sister) got to spend some good quality time with her 'nieces':

Later that evening, we headed to my parents' house for Thanksgiving Part II. We took you to see your first Muppet movie, and it was awesome. I have been excited to see this movie for almost a year, since I found out Jason Segel was behind it, and the guy from Flight of the Conchords was writing all the music. Judging by the way you were dancing right along to 'Ma nah ma nah' and all the other songs, I think you liked it as much as I did!

After the movie, we went back and had a pretty epic spread of appetizers (sushi, crackers and dips, pasta salads, chicken wings, cheese, etc etc) while we played Trivial Pursuit:

Over the course of the weekend, we played seven games and Dad and I beat your Grandparents four of those games, making us the Trivia Pursuit World Champions. Considering my parents have like 30 years of experience on us, and are pretty well-known as the team to beat, this is a pretty big deal. I'm already looking forward to the rematch on Christmas Eve!

Since going out shopping the night and/or morning of Black Friday sounds about as appealing to me as, I don't know, scrubbing my toilet, we slept in the next morning and had leftovers for lunch (the best part of Thanksgiving, if you ask me!). Later that afternoon we did hit a couple of stores, but they weren't crowded by that point, and since I'm trying to make this year a "handmade-only Christmas," I didn't buy anything.

That is until we went to Joann Fabrics. 50% off all beads and beading supplies! 60% off all canvases! 50% off fabric remnants! 40% off my brand of yarn! I was in craft heaven. For under $60 I got everything I need to make presents for everyone on my list this year.

One thing I've been making for a lot of the women in my life are these mother 'nest' necklaces:

I've seen them all over the place to buy, but they are super easy to make (thanks again, Pinterest!). The beads/eggs represent the number of babies. I think they are just so sweet. I made the one below for your Great Grandma (Dad's Grammie)'s 80th birthday and gave it to her yesterday. Three eggs for her three sons, including the one who died shortly after birth 50 years ago. I know from experience how special (and rare) it is to have those babies included. I think she really liked it.

Over the weekend we also hit 22 weeks. I feel like I am getting bigger and bigger every single day at this point. I love that I'm at the point where I look obviously pregnant. When I walked into an elevator the other day, the lady standing in it took one look at me and said, "I sure hope that's not contagious!" 

Tomorrow morning I have an appointment with an asthma specialist. I've had pretty bad asthma almost my entire life, but it's getting worse and worse as this pregnancy progresses--like to the point where I can't make it up a flight of stairs without feeling out of breath and in need of my inhaler. I am really hoping this doctor can help me get it better under control. This is probably the understatement of the year, but feeling like you can't breathe is not fun!

Well, happy belated Thanksgiving, little E! I am so beyond thankful to have had a part in making and carrying not one, but two perfect little babies. I love you more than you'll ever know.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

22 weeks

Dear Elliot,
Happy 22 weeks (yesterday), baby boy! I want to a big Thanksgiving weekend wrap-up soon, but since the weekend isn't over yet, I think I'll wait until later. So for now, here's a little belly comparison:

What a difference 16 weeks can make, right?! I remember taking the 6-week shot and thinking my "belly" looked big then. Ha! I seem to be expanding everywhere this time around. Kind of hard to believe we still have another 16 weeks (or so) to go!

Keep growing big and strong. Talk to you soon!


Monday, November 21, 2011

21 weeks

Dear Elliot,
We hit the big 2-1 on Friday and I kind of can't believe it! The first 12 weeks or so of this pregnancy seemed to just crawl by, and now, it's all happening so fast. It seems so surreal that Thanksgiving is this week, and that Christmas is just a few weeks after that. The unusually warm (and awesome!) fall we've had here in Minnesota may have something to do with the fact that it just doesn't seem right. We finally had our first snow on Saturday, so I suppose that's helping it to sink in, at least a little bit!

Here's my 21-week belly shot, outside in said snow:

There's really not much new to report on the pregnancy front, but I will say this: I am no Beyonce, or Jessica Simpson, or any other lucky girl who has "never felt sexier" than during pregnancy. Well, unless of course you count prepubescent-type breakouts, and puking, and a puffy face (and legs!) as "sexy." I mean, I literally haven't shaved my legs since August. I can't make it up the stairs without huffing and puffing like an old lady. I get daily random nose bleeds and Charlie Horse leg cramps that hurt so bad I wake up screaming in pain. For whatever reason, my body just doesn't enjoy growing little humans inside it. I swear, it's punishing me or something.

But you know what? In spite of all the not so pleasant physical side effects pregnancy bestows upon me, I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to have gotten to experience it--twice. For the chance to hear your heartbeat for just one brief second, to feel just one of your kicks, I'd gladly take all the aches and pain and puking in the world.

And those little kicks of yours? They just keep getting stronger, and more and more frequent. You already seem to have a schedule down even. It's to the point where you are super active at 10am, after I eat lunch, 4pm, after I eat dinner, 10pm, and at least once during the middle of the night. You switch positions a lot--I'll go from feeling you way down low, to right around my belly button, to back down again, all in a matter of minutes sometimes. If I am laying down flat on my back, we can even see your kicks from the outside now. So amazing, seriously. I don't know if it's because you're a boy, or because this is my second time being pregnant, but your movements at 21 weeks seems stronger and more consistent than Stevie's, even at almost 26 weeks. I'm thinking you must have inherited some of your dad's athletic abilities :)

Anyway, I'm excited to continue to work on getting your nursery ready this week. I found an adorable old wooden rocking horse at the Goodwill yesterday ($4.99!) that I am going to refurb for you:

I'm not sure why, but I'm like obsessed with this thing! I love simple wood toys and have been keeping my eye out for a rocking horse. I can't believe I found one, and for so cheap!

Alright baby boy, I suggest you start gearing up for an epic feast on Thursday :)

I love you so much,

Friday, November 18, 2011

Nursery progress

Dear Elliot,
Well what do you know, it's time for another crafty post!

Call me obsessed, but getting the chance to use my artsy side again has been amazing. I was telling someone the other day, it's become almost like therapy for me during this stressful pregnancy. It's a few hours each day where I can turn off my mind and focus on simply creating. I was always really artistic as a kid, and in high school, I was that girl who ate her lunch in the art room most days. But I kind of lost that part of myself once college and then "real life" began. Anyway, I'm really happy to be rediscovering something that makes me feel so good.

My goal is to hand-make as much as I possibly can for your nursery. I figure handmade is a) cheaper and b) more special, so since I have the time, why not use it. So this week I finished the canvases for above your crib:

The best part about it is the 'leaves' are attached with velcro so we can change them out during the different seasons! I wish I could take credit for that brilliant idea, but it was actually your Grandma's (my mom's). Does it surprise anyone she was a preschool teacher for many years?? So I started out with fallish colors to match some of the other things I've made for your room, but I am also going to be making blue and white circles for winter (snowballs!), little buds for spring, and lots of green for summer. I really hope once you're older we can have all sorts of fun changing out the circles together :)

At first I was just going to paint the whole mural, and actually got as far as painting a blue background on the canvases before deciding I didn't like that look at all. So I went to Goodwill and bought a couple $0.99 old books (some sort of catholic saints book, and one titled "Dealing with Difficult People." I kind of felt like a weirdo when it was time to check out!) I covered the front and sides of the canvases with the torn book pages, and used Modge Podge to seal it, giving the background a cool antique-y look. Again, I didn't think of this little fact myself, but my dad pointed out that books come from trees, so I'll just pretend that was my reasoning all along, ha.

After the background was done, I drew a simple outline of a tree, then painted it (using acrylics):

For the circle leaves, I used scrapbook cardstock, cut out circles in a variety of sizes, and attached them to the canvases using stick-on velcro dots:

I am super happy with how this project turned out. I absolutely love it, and I hope you will too. A little whisper of Stevie, above you while you sleep.

Just so you can see how things are coming together, here are the nursery projects I've completed so far:

Things still on the list include deciding on a paint color for the walls, making curtains, and finding crib bedding I actually like. I really just want something very simple and plain (like a solid brown/beige, or maybe a quilted look?), and am having a hard time finding anything that doesn't have animals, or cars, or sports crap all over it! I also still have a few more tree-related projects to get done, too. This is seriously so much fun.

Well, happy 21 weeks, Baby E! I am getting so anxious to meet you.

Love always,

PS. Thank you so much for all the amazingly supportive comments on my last post. You all made me feel about a million times better (and less crazy!). I love you guys.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The night terrors

Dear Elliot,
During the day, I am doing okay. Good even. You're always moving around (so much actually, that I think you might have inherited your mom and dad's 'ADD tendencies'!) so my anxiety is at a pretty easily managed level. I mean, I have my moments, don't get me wrong, but I mostly feel pretty positive and confident that you are doing alright in there. I haven't even had to use my doppler in over a week, because now I can just poke you and get you to poke back if I'm ever in need of some reassurance.

So daytime is good, but nighttime is a different story. Once it's dark and quiet, and Dad is snoring next to me, and the dogs all quiet and cuddled up at my sides, and I'm laying there in that awful state of being really super tired but unable to fall asleep, my mind starts to wander. It goes to those dark places I try to avoid all day long. I start to think about things like "what if my blood is clotting up right now and I don't even know it," or, now that I'm past the 20-week mark, "what if I end up being that girl that has two stillbirths?" I've even all but written out the words I would post on this blog to let my readers know it was all over...again.

It honestly makes me sick to even type this right now. I am absolutely terrified that by thinking those thoughts, I'm going to make them all come true. When my mind starts to go there during the day, I can stop it. But at night, it just gets away from me somehow. It's like I need to be fully awake in order to control it or something.

I think as I get closer and closer to the week we lost Stevie, it's getting worse and worse. The last few nights have been especially bad. You're less active at night, so I spend hours in bed obsessing over every movement (or lack thereof). I feel like I'm constantly rolling onto my back and shaking my belly around to make you kick. I'll literally plead, "come on baby, just one kick so Mama knows you're okay," and lay as still as can be until I feel it. What kind of horrible mom wakes her baby up multiple times during the night for her own piece of mind? It makes me feel like a total psycho to be honest.

Then the morning comes and I feel like a different (much more sane!) person. I'm back to feeling happy and normal and confident again.

These 'night terrors' are really making me dread bed time.

I really need to figure out a way to relax at night (or even better, actually sleep!) This whole experience is really hard. Harder than I ever imagined.

I love you so much, Baby.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Weekend baby prep

Dear Elliot,
This weekend I spent a lot of time doing 'baby prep.' I figure it's going to get crazy busy with the holidays coming up, so why not get some things done while there's nothing going on?

The first thing I did this weekend was finish up blanket #2 for you. Blanket #1, the Charlie Brown blanket, ended up looking exactly how a Charlie Brown anything should look--scraggly and not quite perfect. Totally reminded me of the Charlie Brown Christmas tree! So I decided to try again, and my second attempt turned out much better:

Not gonna lie, I'm pretty proud of myself! I just used the same yarn I had left over from the tree/leaf mobile I made you last month. My friend Brandi pointed out that it kind of looks like a little Rastafarian blanket, and while that wasn't my intention, she's totally right. I really hope you like it, Baby!

On Saturday morning I shopping with two of my good friends from college, Jill and Jenny. Jill's favorite boy name is Elliot, so you might just have a friend that shares your name one day. We decided you can be 'Big E' and he can he 'Little E.' :) Anyway, after walking around a craft fair for awhile, we stopped by this place called The Cottage House. It's basically a house full of awesome, antique-y, shabby chic, unique furniture and decorating items--and the best part is, everything is really cheap! They are only open one weekend a month, and I guess people line up to get the best stuff the first day it opens each time. While I didn't get any furniture (though I was really, really tempted!), I did score some super awesome old suitcases to use for photography shoots (think kids sitting on them in the woods), and this fence thingy (really, I have no idea what it is) that I am going to use in your nursery to hang things on:

I also got a cute little wooden table that I am going to refinish for your room for a whopping $4. Seriously anyone who lives in the Minneapolis area should definitely check this place out (their next sale starts the day after Thanksgiving!).

Yesterday afternoon Dad and I went to his brother Bill's home pottery show (quick shameless plug: you can check out his awesome pieces here!) Your Grandma was there and brought us four bags full of baby boy clothes from one of her coworkers who had her son last March. When we got home last night, we had so much fun going through and organizing everything. Let me tell you kid, you are set for clothes for at least the first six months! We're talking like at least 30-40 onesies, tons of adorable little outfits (T-shirts and shorts sets, etc), lots of PJs, a huge pile of adorable little polos, 10-15 pairs of jeans, khakis, and plaid shorts, about a million little pairs of socks (God, I love baby socks for some reason!), and more. I have no idea if the person who gave us all this stuff reads this blog or not, but if you're out there reading this, THANK YOU! This is going to help us out big-time. What a blessing!

E, I cannot tell you how excited I am to stuff your chubby little arms and legs (believe me, they will be chubby!) into this stuff come spring.

After playing with all your new clothes last night, I decided to work a bit on our online registry (we're also going to do Target, but seeing how often they change merchandise there, I'm thinking we'll wait until after Christmas to tackle that one). It's kind of overwhelming for me to do this again. I mean, part of me feels like an idiot for assuming we're going to actually have a need for all this baby stuff. I spent all sorts of time doing this stuff for Stevie, after all, and never even made it to my baby shower. I guess I will just continue to hope and pray and plead and wish with everything in me that this time we'll have a need for all the bottles and bibs and diapers on our list.

Speaking of diapers: I am leaning toward trying the cloth diapering thing. Now that I am going to be home with you fulltime, I think I might actually be able to do it, but I am pretty overwhelmed by all the different options out there. If anyone reading has any cloth diapering advice/resources, that would be awesome! Right now I am kind of trying to decide between doing regular cloth or one of the hybrid options (ie: Gdiapers with the disposable inserts). I have no idea how much laundry time is involved when you go the straight-up cloth route, and I really hate doing laundry :).

Okay, so this post is sort of all over the place. I'll end it with a few pictures of us at 20.5 weeks:

My view these days

I love you, Baby Boy. Keep growin' and movin' like a champ--I love nothing more than feeling your little kicks and punches each day.

Talk to you soon,

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

18 months, 20 weeks

Dear Stevie,
Today marks 18 months since you've been gone, sweet girl. A year and a half. 547 days. Wow, where has the time gone? A year ago today, I wrote this:

If anything, the last 182 days have taught me what its like to really feel. Happiness, sadness, anger, jealously, guilt, hope, strength, weakness, peace, bitterness, vulnerability, empathy, excitement, confusion, clarity, apathy, passion, sorrow, joy, hate, love. I've experienced them all, sometimes at the same time.

The painful emotions cut deeper than they ever have before, but you know what? The emotions on the other side of the spectrum--things like passion, strength, love--I feel them with such intensity now. It's like my capacity for feeling has expanded 10-fold. When I'm sad, I'm sadder than I knew was possible 182 days ago. But when I love, boy do I love so much deeper. 

I feel exactly the same way today. Not only was today your 18-month 'birthday,' it was the day of our 20-week ultrasound at the Perinatal clinic. A chance to see your little brother again. Bittersweet for sure.

Even as I was missing my little girl this morning, I was falling even more in love with my little boy. I was sad that you aren't here, yet so happy to be experiencing the joy of growing new life inside me. Because I know what it's like to hear bad news in the ultrasound room, when it's good news, it sounds so much sweeter. I truly believe because of you, I appreciate this whole experience on such a deeper level. 

I was a nervous wreck (as always) going into the ultrasound this morning. Since this one was at the high risk office, I had an ultrasound tech I had never met before. I was worried she wasn't going to talk me through everything she was doing, and I would be on pins and needles the whole time, but she ended up being really great. Everything continues to look really, really good. E is measuring right on track, has a perfect looking heart (and other organs!), and was moving around all over the place. It was so cool to be able to see him kicking on the screen and feel it at the same time. 

Your baby brother totally has your nose :)

Big feet just like Dad

After the ultrasound tech finished doing all the measurements, a doctor came in to check things out. He was super funny. He kept referring to E as "the kid," and told us everything looked "beautiful." He showed us a super creepy view of E's facial skeleton, where his mouth was half-open and you could see one eye socket really clearly, and we all laughed at loud:

I have a similar picture from your ultrasound where we decided you looked just like the evil queen from Snow White :)

After the ultrasound Dad and I celebrated with lunch at Ruby Tuesday (I had a major craving for a salad bar!), and a little Starbucks drive through (caramel apple cider for me, yummmm):

Today is a happy day, but it would be so much happier if you were here for it. I miss you, and I love you so much. Thank you for coming into my world 18 months ago and for changing me forever.


Monday, November 7, 2011

19 weeks and some feedback?

Dear Readers,
So I've been trying to come up with (or I guess build up) a few different part-time things I can do for income when I'm at home with E, now that I don't have a fulltime job (and don't plan on getting one). The writing stuff has actually been going pretty well, and I still have Faces, too, but one thing I have always, always wanted to do was photography. I love it, and I think I have a pretty good natural eye for it. Then recently I started getting really into crafting, too, and a lot of the crafts I've been doing involve photographs. So it hit me (well actually, my BFF Jersa was the first one to mention it)--why not combine the two? Photography and photography 'art'? Not only could I take pictures for people, but I could give them the option of ordering cool, handmade gifts using the images from their sessions. What do you guys think? Is this a really weird/stupid idea, or do you think there might be some interest? I'm thinking I'd offer things like coaster sets, photo tile wall displays, clothespin photo frames, and hand-transfered canvases.

I started working on a little portfolio website, and I'd love it if you'd check it out and give me any feedback you might have. Here's the link (and please keep in mind it's definitely not "live" or even close to finished yet!) Thank you SO much for your help!

Also, I wanted to share a quick 19(ish) week belly shot:

The wind ruined every shot, but you can tell I am really starting to pop out with this little guy!

Our 20-week level II ultrasound is tomorrow morning. I am incredibly nervous and having a really hard time relaxing today. Any thoughts/prayers/good vibes/whatever would be greatly appreciated! I will try to update as soon as I can tomorrow (with hopefully good news and lots of pictures of little E!)

Thanks again you guys.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Nesting already??

Dear Elliot,
I have never been what you'd consider a 'house wife' type. I don't like to cook, I don't like to clean, and I don't really care about things like home decor or hosting dinner parties. But that seems to be changing. It started happening right at the end with Stevie, but with you, my so-called 'nesting' tendencies are already here and in full-swing.

Perfect example: last night Dad and his friend Dan were hanging out, watching movies at our place, when I decided I wanted to bake cookies for all of us. So I did. Now there are three very unusual things about this. 1) I wanted to bake cookies, 2) I didn't ruin said cookies*, and 3) When the cookies were done, I served Dad and Dan a plate of cookies each, with a glass of cold milk on the side (believe me, this might be the first time in my life I've ever served anyone anything without being asked!)

Awesome cake batter pudding cookie recipe can be found here

I also spent about an hour vacuuming and spot-cleaning the stairs in our house yesterday. That sentence alone is probably enough to convince anyone that knows me that something strange is definitely going on.

I don't know if crafting counts as a symptom of nesting, but that's really all I want to do, all the time. Make things. Get my hands messy. Be creative. I promise this isn't going to turn into a crafting blog, but I thought I'd share a couple projects I did this weekend, both using 4X4 $.016 tiles I picked up at Home Depot. 

The first project I tackled was making photo coasters. I figured if they turned out alright, they would make perfect (and super cheap!) Christmas gifts for just about everyone I know. I decided to make the first set for our friends from Australia, Dannii and Eben (if you're reading this, Dannii, sorry for ruining the surprise!)

I basically just printed the photos I wanted onto tissue paper (I'll explain how to do that in a sec), modge podged the pictures to the tiles, added a couple coats of clear finishing spray, and used some spray adhesive to attach felt squares to the backs. Then I stacked them up, tied them all together with twine, and added a little fabric rosette to make the package extra pretty:

I was so happy with how these turned out, I decided to use the same concept to make a name plaque for your nursery:

The first thing I did was go outside, use twigs and branches from my front yard to spell out the letters of your name, and take pictures of them:

Then I got on my laptop and turned the pictures black and white, and then printed them on white tissue paper (just the normal gift wrapping-type stuff you get at Target). It took a lot of trial and error, but what ended up working pretty well was to tape the tissue paper onto regular copy paper before sending it through the printer. It would probably work even better to use card stock, but I didn't have any and the normal weight did just fine. Once I had my pictures printed out, I placed a tile over each one and marked where I needed to cut to make the letter centered (you could also just crop your photos to the exact size of the tiles before printing, but I was too lazy for that!):

Next, I applied a thin coat of modge podge (actually, I used something called 'collage podge' because my local craft store didn't carry the real stuff, lame!) over each entire tile:

Then carefully placed the tissue paper photos as close to centered as possible, and carefully smoothed them down and rubbed out any air bubbles. Once all the photos had been placed on the tiles, I let them dry for about 30 minutes:

I decided I wanted a slightly 'weathered' look, so I took my finger nail and scraped up the corners of each photo a bit:

Then I applied two coats of modge podge on top of each tile. You can't tell very well in this picture, but the tissue paper kind of soaks up the modge podge, giving the photos a darker look:

I didn't want to hang the letter tiles directly on the wall, so I went looking for a piece of wood to attach them to. I ended up finding the perfect piece in the scrap wood box at Home Depot for $.055. I hammered in some little nails where I wanted to hang the tiles from:

Then I used a hot glue gun to attach twine loops to the backs of the tiles:

I hung the tiles on the nails, and viola! A unique piece of nursery art that cost a total of $1.19 (not counting the modge podge, paper, nails, and twine I already had at home). I'm really happy with how it turned out and think it's going to look just perfect hanging in your tree-themed room :)

When I bought the tiles, I got a box of 80 (because it was only like $11!), so I'll be looking for other ways of using them; if anyone out there has any ideas, let me know!

Well, I've got a blanket to finish crocheting tonight, so I've gotta run :)

Talk to you (and see you soon!), baby boy. 

Love you lots,

*I didn't ruin the cookies, but after we all noticed they had a strangely spicy aftertaste, I realized I hadn't completely gotten rid of all the cayanne pepper left on the baking sheet from the butternut squash fries I had made for lunch earlier that day, whoops. So close though!

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