A Sweet Baby Girls Room

I’ve been wanting to share our baby girl’s bedroom since before she was born.

She’s 10 months old.

Procrastinate much?

I guess she’s still a baby…it still counts, right?

Decorating a baby girl room is so fun, but I also find it more challenging than a boy’s room. So much girl stuff seems overly gaudy – with more frills than this mama could handle.

I was shocked by how expensive baby bedding can be – so much money for such tiny things! Many sets come with accessories you don’t plan to use, and who wants to pay for that?

It took hours of searching online to find the Babyletto In Bloom bedding – sweet and girly, but not frilly. I love the combination of coral and navy. If you like it, shop around. It comes in different combinations of accessories, and is carried by quite a few stores. (I snagged mine for about half the price at Kohls using a 30% off coupon and a Kohls Birthday $10 off reward)

Crib and Artwork

Now for artwork.

ABC Photo1

First, we used the Etsy ABC digital artwork we already purchased for our other daughter’s Ballerina and Flamingo Bedroom.

 

 

 

 

 

All Gods Grace 2All God’s Grace Wooden Sign from Hobby Lobby when we found out we were pregnant (Always, always use a coupon or buy on sale at Hobby Lobby).

Every time I look at it, it makes me smile.

 

 

 

 

Ok. Enough money spent! Now for some free stuff.

You guys, there are SO many free printables online from amazing and talented bloggers, photographers and graphic designers.

Amazing stuff.

Just look at what I printed and framed at home!

You are Capable 1

This You are Capable of Amazing Things printable from BrePurposed is adorable and really compliments the In Bloom bedding. She has many more beautiful options to choose from.

 

 

 

 

 

Changing Table ArtYou can’t go wrong with the Psalm 4:7 and 1 Peter 1:6 printables from Danielle Burkleo.

So pretty!

I also love her Bless The LORD Oh My Soul printable and may still frame it to use somewhere else in the house. She has so many fun options, for boys, girls, or anywhere in your home.

 

 

Baby Bedroom2

We love how the bedding, decals and artwork look together, and Audra sure seems to like it.

baby girl

Minnie Mouse Birthday Cake

Minnie Mouse Cake

When my daughter told me she wanted a Princess Sofia birthday cake, I thought…uh oh. That sounds like a stretch. 

We’ve had trouble finding a nut-free bakery, so I have been making birthday cakes in recent years. So far, they’ve turned out fine, but Sophia is far beyond my limited skill set.

I was grateful a week later when she decided she wanted Minnie Mouse instead.

Minnie Mouse? Phew, I actually think I can do that.

My talented best friend made a Minnie Mouse cake last year for her daughter’s first birthday. She sent me pictures and it was so pretty! It was her cake-making skill and encouragement that gave me confidence to make this cake for our daughter’s Ballerina third birthday party. With a little practice under my belt, a Minnie Mouse cake seemed reasonable to attempt.

The process is pretty straight forward. Bake, freeze, assemble, and decorate. I carefully took a ton of photos while making it only to have my trusty camera memory card meet its untimely and frustrating death…along with those photos. Ugh. Such a bummer!  But, I think you’ll be able to figure it out from the description below and I’m happy to answer any questions.

The birthday girl couldn’t decide between Funfetti or Chocolate cake, so I made a two-layer cake. One layer Funfetti, one chocolate. I am so grateful to Rose Bakes for her Crusting Cream Cheese Buttercream Recipe {Great for Decorating}. It is quick, easy to work with and tastes delicious.

You guys, you need to make this Buttercream. It’s fantastic.

One box of each cake mix was divided between one 10″ pan (head) and two 6″ pans (ears).  After cooling, each baked cake was wrapped in cling wrap and frozen overnight. Freezing makes them easy to handle. Cutting a semi-circle from each 6″ cake so they fit snugly against the 10″ cake was easy. The bottom layer was Funfetti, the top Chocolate.

A generous layer of frosting was used to secure the ears, head, and layers together. For a little extra flavor, Santa Cruz Seedless Red Raspberry Fruit Spread was added between layers with the frosting. Who would have thought a little jar from the jelly section of the grocery store could taste so decadent?

So far, so good.

Then I started to decorate the cake and things got a little messy. Literally, frosting was getting everywhere. The cake board is a mess (see those greasy spots?). Next time it will be covered while decorating since I’m apparently incapable of not making a mess.

That is when I began to panic. It had been a while since I piped frosting and I was quite rusty.

I decided this was going to be the ugliest cake attempt that ever was.

At that point, I may have asked, er…demanded that my husband remove the children from this house. He may be a saint because he patiently and kindly obliged, asking no questions and reassuring me it was going to look great as he swept them out the door. True story – he’s awesome.

20 minutes later in a silent house, I stood looking at a finished cake feeling foolish for freaking out.

My husband was right, the cake did turn out fine and was delicious.

In the coming weeks I’ll post the Minnie Mouse party decorations but in the meantime…

sunshine girl 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday Sunshine Girl.

‘Hey, You’re Not My Friend’

A normally joyful girl leaves preschool happy then immediately succumbs to tears in the car when asked how her day was.

‘Today the kids were laughing at me, but I WASN’T being funny!’

Hugs, encouragement and more questions reveal that several children laughed while pointing at her in line.

Her feelings were hurt. My heart hurt.

I told her how sorry I was. We talked about possible reasons they laughed – maybe they weren’t laughing at her.

We discussed what to do if it happened again – ask them why they are laughing, and if needed, tell them she doesn’t like what they are doing and please stop. Then if needed, find an adult to help.

She calmed down and didn’t bring it up again until dinner. This time she told the story differently. She decided someone else must have been funny. We may never know for sure, but for now, she’s not hanging onto it.

Phew. Crisis averted.

But maybe not?

The thing is, this is not the first time she’s been upset after school. Several other afternoons she sadly told me no one would let her play with them. Further questioning revealed that in those instances she did play with one or two other kids, but not in the group.

Initially, my husband and I figured it was the result of little misunderstandings. But the repetition and escalation of hurt feelings made us decide to ask her teacher about it.

The next class day, I spoke to her teacher. Our concern was well received. Apparently the kids often play in groups with one or two ‘leaders’ who like to direct play during free time. She explained our daughter is easy-going and often bounces between groups. She does often play one-on-one outside of the group. They had not observed her being upset or any direct exclusion but agreed to be watchful going forward.

I felt heard, and we had a plan – I felt relieved. 

Then, a child still in the hallway looked directly at our daughter and declared,

‘Hey! You’re NOT my friend!’

Thankfully, our daughter was not paying attention. She was busy entertaining her baby sister, so we quickly left. I was so grateful to hear the child’s shocked mom intervene behind us. I am certain she addressed it well.

Now I was the one choking back tears in the car. All those other sad moments were validated with five powerful words.

I feel deep sadness that at the age of just three, we need to teach our child how to deal with rejection.

Truthfully, I’m not sure why the age surprises me so much – I’ve heard our kids say things like ‘you can’t play with me’ to each other and to other kids before. No age is too young for other kids to try to exclude another – they are testing boundaries. We address it and move on. I think what saddens me most is that it seems to be happening to our daughter repeatedly and is causing increasing hurt.

Rejection is a feeling most adults can identify with – we’ve all felt rejected to a varying degree. We have adjusted our behaviors and internalized feelings in positive or negative ways after feeling rejected – whether deserved or not.

Regardless of the cause, rejection leaves a stinging wound – one I am sad our children will experience.

We can’t prevent it, but we can proactively EQUIP them to cope with it. Over the past week, I’ve been pondering and praying how to do that. Another day I’ll flush these ideas out – for now they are best summed up by these three main points:

  1. Encourage kids to share their feelings about circumstances and relationships with us – whether those moments were joyful, hurtful, concerning, confusing, or exciting. We WANT to listen, validate, comfort, encourage and help.
  2. Our words and actions matter. Knowing what it feels like to be hurt helps us remember not to treat others that way. Teach our kids to be kind, defend others if they can, and be quick to apologize and then change their behavior if they cause another to be hurt.
  3. Instill and confirm who they really are to us, and to God.  This experience confirms that no age is too young to start. They need to know these truths about WHO they are deep in their hearts:
    • WHO made them – and who HE is
    • HOW loved they are – by us and by God
    • No person determines your value – only God
    • Jesus knows about rejection and offers comfort and understanding

 

Infant ‘Silent’ Reflux is NOT Silent: 5 Survival Tips for Parents

silent-reflux-is-not-silent

1. MAKE Time For Sleep

Duh-this may seem like a no-brainer if you haven’t had a hurting baby. But our baby hurt, and could not sleep. We rarely slept more than 4 hours per night, and those were non-consecutive 40 minute spurts. Sleep broken up like that is not restorative. As days months pass, the need for any solid chunk of sleep becomes desperate.

Here are a few ideas to schedule sleep:

  • Trade off – one parent goes to bed early while the other takes the evening shift. Take turns during the week.
    • If your child cries most of the night, use a loud fan, ear plugs or noise machine to block the noise so you CAN sleep while the other parent is awake.
  • If you are a working parent, allow yourself one day a week to go home and sleep for an hour or two before picking your child up from daycare.
    • If daycare isn’t a possible outlet for you, ask a trusted family member or friend to come hold the baby while you sleep. And when they come, don’t do anything else. Just sleep.
  • Do whatever it takes to help your child sleep – I held our son on my chest in a big chair with pillows propping my arms up so he couldn’t fall for his first 3 months of ‘sleep’.

2. See a specialist

No matter how good your pediatrician is, see a specialist. A pediatric Gastroenterologist (GI) just knows more because of their specialized training. They see more cases of severe reflux than a pediatrician and have resources and ideas even the best pediatrician may not.

3. Be Honest and Transparent

While no one wants to complain about their child, it is not complaining to admit or explain what is really going on. Take time to explain why you can’t volunteer, go to an event, or why you might be late or need to leave early. Being open and honest will help others understand, give grace, and even offer to help. People who don’t know you need help will not offer to help.

Another reason to be open and honest is that sharing your experience will add a new level of authenticity and trust in your relationships. You may be surprised which relationships thrive in this time and which ones do not – true friendships are forged in fire. These are the people who walk through struggles with you. Life isn’t perfect and we shouldn’t pretend it is – don’t be afraid to share the hard stuff.

4. Seek Experienced Reflux Parents

In addition to a great pediatrician and GI specialist, others have been in these trenches before you. They have spent their days and nights loving and doing everything they can to not only soothe their child, but also to learn how to do it better. As a mom who has gone through what you are going through now three times – I know the advice and encouragement from seasoned veterans is invaluable. If you don’t know any such moms, here’s a few resources that may help:

5. Pray and Then Pray Some More

In the middle of the night, all day long, when your ears, back and arms hurt from rocking and soothing the screaming, prayer is your lifeline to the God of all creation. He made you, your baby, and He knows exactly how hard this is for all of you.

He listens, He answers, and He equips. Reach out to Him for strength, comfort, and peace.

I recently studied John 11 and was so moved by Jesus’ compassion and how deeply troubled He was over the death of Lazarus. He comforted Lazarus’ sisters Mary and Martha and wept beside Lazarus’ grave. Even though death had to happen for Him to show His power over death as He raised Lazarus from the grave, He took NO joy in seeing the sorrow of those He loved. And, He felt His own sorrow over the situation. Cry out to Him, He hears you. He is your help and holds you both in His good, sovereign hands when there is simply nothing else you can do for your child.

On my bed I remember you;
    I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
    I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
    your right hand upholds me.
Psalm 63:6-8 (NIV)

DIY: Wood Mudroom Bench

When I shared a couple of weeks ago that we bought thirty common boards for our winter organization project, what did you guess we were making?

If you guessed a bench, you were right!

Our mudroom is a disaster of boots, shoes, backpacks, coats, gloves, hats and well, you get the point…

Walking in there, we can’t help but feel overwhelmed – the ‘stuff’ just doesn’t have a place to go. Shoes, coats and bags get shoved into the closet only to pour back out. Or, it all just gets left all over the floor (mostly that). None of us can quickly find what we need before to get out the door.

It is long past time for an organization solution.

The long term project will be a bench and lockers. But step one is the bench.

I love the look of a butcher block bench but its so expensive – especially 8 feet of it, so we can do 5 cubbies beneath and 5 lockers above.

I am grateful my adventurous husband agreed to help me make our own bench using common boards. It won’t be as flawless of butcher block, but I was confident hoped it would be lovely. In full disclosure, I desperately need his help (aka. tell me what to do) because although eager to learn, I’m just not experienced or savvy in this area.

The first post detailed the supplies used, purchased and borrowed, so today I’ll just share a bit of the process and where we are so far.

First, we picked the 27 best of those 30 common boards – pretty much every board was warped, had a big chip out of it, or had big knots. It’s good we want a perfectly imperfect benchthis will have character whether we like it or not.

We lined the boards up and arranged them so the wood grain on each board is oppasite the next. My husband trimmed each 9 foot common board to 8 feet.DIY: Mudroom Storage Bench Update | thisgratefulmama.com

Wood glue was used to secure the boards together – half the first night, then the rest the second. We used 4 clamps to squeeze them together for 24 hours. When the clamps are secured, lots of glue dripped out on the plastic table cloth – I’m glad we protected the table or it would have been a mess! clamps-collage

With the boards glued, it was even more evident just how not-straight common boards are. Even with effort to keep them lined up while gluing. Smoothing would take forever with a belt sander. What we really wanted was access to a large wood planer but we didn’t know anyone with the equipment. So, my husband suggested we try hand planing.

Hand planing is kind of fun, although my husband may not agree (he admittedly did more than me). It isn’t exactly a quick process, and requires persistence and elbow grease. We took turns – when one got tired the other took over. It took a couple of evenings after the kids went to bed to get it fairly even. We (read: my husband, with me on kid duty) sanded the boards using a belt sander. The change was amazing – honestly, the before and after pictures don’t do it justice.

So smooth.DIY: Mudroom Storage Bench Update | thisgratefulmama.com

Wood was sanded one last time using a palm-sander before using a pre-stain wood conditioner.  MinWax Espresso stain was applied using a stain pad. In the past I used a brush, but would consider using a stain pad again – less mess and even coverage. We allowed the stain to sit 1o minutes before wiping it off. We did reapply one time to try to darken the color but it didn’t add much. We used grubby old t-shirts to wipe the stain off and let it dry overnight before sealing it.

This bench is going to be used in the mudroom. We live in Minnesota – winter gear will be wet and snowy when it gets hung up, especially by the kids. We want this wood bench to be long-lasting and not be damaged by water. That is why we used Helmsman Spar Urethane to seal it – it is for indoor/outdoor use and is tough enough to endure heavy traffic and moisture.

Spar Urethane requires two coats, with a light sanding between coats. Surprisingly, the odor was less intense than expected. When I used the spray-version of Spar Urethane to seal the DIY Outdoor Vertical Stencil-Painted ‘Believe’ and ‘Grateful’ Sign, the aerosol spar urethane odor was much stronger. I think I may only use the brush-on version going forward.

Here is the top of the bench, stained and sealed with a satin finish.DIY Wood Mudroom Bench | thisgratefulmama.com

Isn’t she pretty?

This project is already so gratifying, even though it took quite a bit of elbow grease. And it was even better to make it with my husband – a gift to work on something together. It will be sweet knowing we made something for our family will actually use and enjoy for years to come.

Next we’ll build cubbies underneath for shoes and boots before adding lockers for backpacks and coats.

Until then…

22 Practical DO’s And DON’Ts To Show Love On Valentine’s Day {and Every Day}

Valentine’s Day is not my thing. While I will never poo poo a chance to go on a date with my husband, I could care less about going on February 14th, when the restaurants are packed. I’…

Source: 22 Practical DO’s And DON’Ts To Show Love On Valentine’s Day {and Every Day}

It Takes A Village To Raise A Child With Food Allergies – Thank You For Keeping Our Kids Safe Even When You Don’t Understand Allergies

It Takes A Village To Raise A Child With Food Allergies - Thank You For Keeping Our Kids Safe Even When You Don't Understand Allergies

During a recent grocery store trip, I overheard a fellow mom on her cell phone. She was asking what on earth to buy in the bakery section for her child’s class room birthday treat. It needed to be peanut free.

She went on to say she didn’t understand why, if peanut wasn’t on the label, she couldn’t buy it. Then she mumbled something about the equipment.

I could tell she was in a hurry. Intending to point her in the right direction, I made my way to the display of Lofthouse Nut-Free frosted cookies. I planned to hold them up and just point to the ‘Nut-Free’ label. I didn’t want to interrupt her conversation but knew it can be hard to find a peanut-safe option in the bakery section – especially if you aren’t sure what to look for on the label. It would be easy to unknowingly buy a treat that isn’t safe.

Or maybe just give up.

As I walked up, she released a loud sigh of frustration and exclaimed into the phone, Why can’t those kids just be normal so I can buy a box of cupcakes“. 

Sigh. Normal? Ugh.

Now what?

I felt my face flush. What ran through my head was to educate her – you know, with strong, emotion-filled, angry words. 

But I could see that type of ‘education’ would not do either of us much good. She was already frustrated, and heaping my anger on top of her anger isn’t likely to produce much understanding.

I’m also not real keen on starting an argument in the bakery section of the grocery store. With my kids.

Plus, here she was, trying to read the labels, and trying to pick something all the kids could enjoy. Despite what she said, her actions were those of someone trying to do the right thing. 

She just didn’t understand why.

She didn’t need anger, she needed grace. So instead of marching up with a lengthy defense of children with food allergies, I walked up, smiled, and pointed at the Nut-Free label. She looked, paused and looked up at me.

Relief. Gratitude.

She told her friend ‘just a minute’ and put her hand over the phone. She whispered ‘Thank you. I have no idea how to make sure what I buy is right or not. Last time it wasn’t. They wouldn’t serve it in class and my daughter didn’t have a treat for her birthday‘.

Wow.

As a food allergy mom, I know all-too-well the disappointment when my child can’t have a treat. This might be the first time I realized it also happens to children without food allergies.

I see how this could cause frustration in parents whose children don’t have an allergy.

Sometimes, as an allergy mom, I just wish other parents could put themselves in my shoes – maybe they’d finally understand what its like.

This time, I put myself in her shoes. There was a time when I knew very little about food allergies and food allergy labeling – before I became an Epi-Pen carrying mom and had to take a crash course in keeping our own child safe. If I had gone to the store with good intentions, it would frustrate me if I still bought the wrong thing. Food labeling even confuses food allergy parents sometimes. If I tried to buy something safe for all the children, I’d be so hurt to hear they didn’t serve it because it still wasn’t safe.

Yeah, that would make me pretty upset. And it would make me easily frustrated the next time I’m in a store, again, trying to do the right thing. Especially if I’m still not sure what to actually buy.

So, as she looked up at me, I smiled back and nodded. I whispered that the frosted Lofthouse cookies that say Nut-Free are always a safe option.

And then I said, Thank you for doing your best to keep children like mine safe.

She smiled back, and then looked slightly embarrassed, probably realizing I overheard her comment. But I chose to give her an encouraging smile, a little wave, and move on.

This encounter wasn’t about me. Or my child. It was about simply doing something small to educate another mom who was actively seeking a way to keep other children safe while giving her child a special birthday. Now she knows a safe option for the future. And she has been thanked by one allergy mom for her efforts.

Are you one of the parents out there who try their best to keep all the kids safe?

Thank you, to each of you, who don’t understand food allergies, but try to buy safe options anyway.

Thank you for trying to learn about food labeling, and for asking questions about what to buy. If you ever have questions about what to buy (or why it matters), I’m happy to help.

Thank you for taking time out of your day to make your best effort with good intentions.

I’m sorry when those good intentions have not been rewarded. Please know they are appreciated nonetheless. 

Thank you for doing your best to keep all of our kids safe. We will happily do the same for you in whatever challenge your child or family may face now and in the future.

As I’ve shared before, it truly does take a village to raise a child with food allergies.

Thank you for doing your best – from this grateful mama to you.