Look what the cat dragged in…

Coming back to my site after a year and a half is sort of picking up a conversation with an old friend. It is familiar, yet a little strange. I have started this post in my head several times over the past few months but I got bogged down searching for the right words to break the ice.

Last week I decided to go all in and register for the Blogging 101 course offered through Blogging University at WordPress. This post is courtesy of my first assignment and serves as the kick in the butt I needed to begin again and get back in touch with the reason I started this blog in the first place; to chronicle the events in the life of my new family.

I have come to miss writing monthly love letters to Kaylee, and plan to pick those back up again starting on her 5th birthday next month. I imagine this place will become more important now that we are living so far away from friends and family. It will be good to catch up now and look ahead to big things on the horizon like my baby’s first day of kindergarten!

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I’ve been looking through the new themes and plan to make some changes to the overall look and feel in the next few days. Hopefully I won’t break the whole darn thing in the process. Fingers crossed.

Packer land here we come

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I’m a proponent of not ‘biting the hand that feeds you’ so I rarely speak about work online. The truth is that my level of workplace satisfaction has been on a steady decline for quite some time, and downright miserable for the past year and a half or so. I’ve lost track along the way. I realized part of the reason I was so conflicted about going back to work after Kaylee was born was because there was considerably less to love about the job I was going back to. Maybe I’ll share more on that later, but probably not. Coupled with the current state of Illinois economy, the time is right for a change. And, change sure is coming.

Scott landed a new job a few weeks ago just outside of Green Bay (300 miles away up in packer land). Initially we planned on him going and me staying with the kids until we sold the house. We agreed to try alternating weekend visits for a few months at which point we’d regroup. We even traded in the FJ for a VW Bug to save on gas mileage while we braced ourselves for the very real chance that we will go into debt while paying a mortgage in one state, rent in another, and full-day daycare for both kids for the first time. I can’t say i wasn’t a little freaked out at the prospect of becoming a suedo single parent with a six month old in tow, even if it was just temporarily. I was pretty sure I could hold out until Christmas but I’m not sure how long I really would have lasted. I didn’t even give it a second thought. Supporting my husband and an opportunity for better jobs in our field was a no brainier. Living the sacrifice in the meantime while everything (hopefully) came together is another story. I hear sanity is overrated anyway…

Then, I got a job offer too. Now we have two weeks to find a place to live and daycare for the kids before we start work. Oh, and Kaylee’s party is this weekend…I’m up to my eyebrows in boxes, party supplies, and chaos. The debt thing is still looming. We’ll put the house on the market after we’re out and begin the process of trying to sell out-of-state. Finger’s crossed, we’re not underwater yet. Go big or go home, right?

I’ll have lots to talk about soon, but I’ll be away for a while first until life settles down again.

6months old

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It doesn’t seem like it has been six months already, then I put my now sitting baby down and realize just how fast time has moved for this sleep deprived, working mommy of two.  Charlie has been sleeping great for several months now, waking once at 4am for a snack before finally rising for the day around 6. He has been a bit fussy with teething but is generally happy most of the time.

He still adamantly refuses a pacifier, so we have given up trying. He’s still nursing and has claimed me as his love of choice along with Kaylee’s Foofa doll.

He tends to be a very serious baby, quite bothered by noise and strangers. Unfortunately there is little peace to be found sharing a house with a rambunctious soon to be three year old girl Who thinks stomping her heels means tip-toeing And a broken inside voice (I can’t sleep while she is awake either, buddy).

Charlie is very much a boy. thoroughly enjoying being tossed into the air, tickled, bounced. He enjoys a rousing game of peek-a-boo, silly fart noises, and pulling his sister’s hair. He prefers savory to sweet foods and would much rather suck on a piece of steak than eat anything resembling a fruit purée. That’s my son!

We are settling in to being a family of four with hearts overflowing with love.

4 months old

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Charlie is almost 18lbs now despite refusing to drink from a bottle in my absence most of the time. He is starting to eat rice cereal with bananas mushed in (because of the whole not drinking from a bottle thing). He’s super chatty, just like his sister. He squeals when he’s happy and doesn’t mind tummy time so much anymore. Now that he has control of his hands, he puts them, and everything else within reach, into his mouth all the time.

3rd birthday bonanza planning

Kaylee will be 3 in August! That means another excuse to plan a party…and planning is in high gear. This time around we’re throwing a pony party. I decided on the vintage cowgirl theme after stumbling across Alexander Henry’s Pin Ups From The Hip line:

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I’m totally not into cowgirls, or pin-ups, but I fell in love at first sight.

I’ve spent the past month scouring Pinterest for everything I could find related to cowgirl, western, and pony parties and I am just about done sorting out all the details. I have several projects on my to-do list over the next two months, including making 6 stick ponies for the party girl and her friends.

I just finished up the invitations last week and I’m pretty happy with how they turned out. (I shot the pictures on my phone, sorry in advance.)

There are three pieces in the envelope. The invitation itself (created in Publisher, inspired by this and this), a personalized “Wanted” poster with the invitee’s picture, and a  ticket for pony rides (based on a template I found on Office.com for Word).

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Here is what it looks like assembled, wrapped in a bit of burlap and twine.

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A close-up of the ticket. I added a picture of Kaylee and Scott that was taken last fall. She rode that pony at least 5 times that day and we had to pry her away, crying, when it was time to leave. Kaylee’s love of ponies is the whole reason for the theme of this party. I wanted to give her the gift of some pony time without the huge lines. Booking the ponies for the party was the first thing on my to-do list, and while I’ll admit it’s a bit extravagant for a 3 year old’s birthday party, it was actually not out-of-this world expensive. My hope was adding a ticket to the invitation would let the other kids get excited about it as well.

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I had originally planned to make a wanted poster of Kaylee for the invitation but I ended up liking the vintage cowgirl design more. I still wanted to include the idea somewhere though, and as a last minute addition, decided to create personalized wanted posters for each of the kids. Luckily people overshare on Facebook, so getting the pictures of each kid was easy. I ran some filters on them in Photoshop to make them look more like drawings then pasted them into Word to add the text. I used Rosewood Std Regular and Giddyup Std fonts to add flare. They read:

WANTED
the notorious “name” ‘the kid’ known accomplice of Kaylee ‘spitfire’ Ryan
Reward
grub, games, & goodies

Aging the paper went pretty well. First, I printed the posters on regular 8.5×11 white copy paper, two per sheet, then cut them apart and roughed up the edges. I worked with them one at a time once they were cut apart.

First, I crumpled the printed paper into a ball and put it into a cup of water along with a tea bag. I experimented with soak time, and ended up liking the stain at the end of 30 minutes the best. After soaking, I squeezed the ball to get the excess tea water out, then carefully unraveled the ball. This was the most challenging part. The wet paper is really weak and tears VERY easily. This can add to the effect, or ruin the whole thing if you rip up a key part of the picture.

After unballing, I placed the wet paper between two dry sheets of paper and put a heavy book on top. This draws out the extra water and presses the poster flat. I had to change the paper twice during the process. It took about 2 hours for the posters to completely dry.

I plan to make 8×10 versions to hang up at the party.

(note: I was working with sheets printed on a laser printer. If you decide to try this and only have access to an inkjet printer you’ll need to stain your paper first, then iron it, then send it through the printer otherwise your ink may run off the page.)

I had a lot of fun putting these invitations together and I’m looking forward to sending them out soon.

[ Here’s a Word template for the wanted poster if you’d like to use it Wanted TEMPLATE. You’ll need Microsoft Word, Rosewood Std Regular font, and Giddyup Std font to make it work. ]

her obsession with rudolph

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Our girl loves her some Christmas, in particular, Kaylee is Rudolph obsessed. She starts most of her mornings talking about some dream she had related to Santa and Rudolph before she even gets out of bed. We sing Christmas songs every night before she falls asleep – Rudolph the red nosed reindeer and Jingle Bells are her favorites. She watches the movie on YouTube at least once a week (down from her daily dose around Christmas). We have to skip past the scene with the snow monster though because she totally freaks out when he gives old rudy the smack down. Kaylee also really enjoys Annabelle’s Wish (a cute, but depressing and way too long, story full of hokey country music).

She sleeps with two deer toys too, one with a light-up nose that chases monsters away, and the other just a stuffed animal that has been christened Rudolph and follows her everywhere. She is already counting down ’till next christmas and often comments about how she can’t wait for Santa to bring back the Christmas tree. Her dedication is unwavered even when told it is still months away. Instead, she builds them little houses out of blocks while humming her best rendition of holiday tunes all mashed up together.