Tuesday, March 31, 2015

DIY - Sunburst Mirror

Plastered all over decorator's blogland these days are one particular item that can be found in any respectable design blogger's home...the sunburst mirror. And for good reason, because they are pretty awesome if you ask me.

The only problem is these things aren't cheap, and I am. :)

Obviously we turn to the internet in times like these, and I knew one quick search on pinterest would turn up something for me. Boy was I right. There are tons of tutorials on how you can make one of these for yourself at a fraction of the cost. One mirror in particular caught my eye, both in looks and materials. I knew it would be easy peasy to recreate!

As you may know, I love paper crafts, and here was a sunburst mirror made out of craft paper. I mean...awesome. And the end product is actually much sturdier than you might expect. All you need is a small round mirror, a pack of card stock, scissors, and a hot glue gun.

The original designer of this mirror used more steps than I did in her creation. She made her own mirror base out of glass and a ceiling medallion. But I found an already-made mirror that was just the right shape and size at Target and for a great price (especially after several coupon codes!) I ended up paying about $8.00 for it. After using eighty cents worth of craft paper I made a great new mirror for less than $10.00!

The process is simple:

Take a piece of paper and draw a template for your sunbursts that look like this:

Making two different sizes will give you lots of visual interest. (I actually ended up using four different sizes, but more on that later. If you want a mirror that looks just like the original, you will only need two.)

It's totally up to you how wide and long you want your sunbursts to be. My larger pieces were 3/4" across the bottom, 1 1/2" across the top, and about 4 1/2" tall. The smaller pieces were the same widths but only 3 1/2" tall.

Once you have the templates you like, begin tracing onto heavy card stock and cut them out! I used 20 large and 20 small pieces and chose two different card stock patterns (10 large and 10 small pieces in each pattern.)

When all of your pieces are cut out, fold them in half to give them some dimension and begin arranging them around your mirror until you are happy with the pattern.

All that's left now is to hot glue the pieces onto the back of the mirror! I layered the smaller pieces in front of the larger ones, like in the original.

I was really pleased with the way this simple project turned out. My version is a more casual and less elegant version of the original, but the sky is the limit. You can use your creativity to dress it up any way you'd like.

The mirror was awesome as it was (I had already made a before and after collage with it....)

But when it found it's final home on my bedroom wall it just didn't seem right. I lived with it for about half a day before I realized that it just wasn't big enough to fill out the space where it was hanging. So I took it down, made a couple more larger sunburst templates and just started gluing them on until it was more filled out and I was happy with the design.

The final FINAL product looks a little less like the "pinspiration" mirror, but I love it! And you can't beat a new sunburst mirror for under ten bucks. I like it so much that I'm debating picking up another mirror so I can make one in the colors for our dining room.

Another look at the original and the copy!

It was a fun project that I encourage anyone to do! I'm all about being trendy on the cheap. If you make one of your own, please let me know and send a picture!! :)

Monday, March 30, 2015

Feeling Fabulous

Well I'll be honest, I didn't intentionally take an entire week off of blogging, but that's what happened. It was a nice break to get just a tiny bit of extra rest and cuddles in with my baby in the mornings without having to use my brain too much. :) I needed it! Miss Charlotte has realized there's a lot to see in this big world and consequently we've been seeing her eyeballs a little more than before - both during the day and at night. Haha. So rest...rest is good.

I can't really complain though, she's still a stellar sleeper by newborn standards. :)

I have been bitten hard by the spring cleaning bug lately, and for me that means more than just tidying up around here. I may have been doing just a little bit of shopping for our house. The kind where you decide to change the colors of your decor and start all over. I never do anything like that, but boy that bug...he took one look around this place, clucked his little bug tongue, and ordered me to go shopping. So it wasn't really me. We needed some sprucing up! I've also been getting my craft on a bit, something I haven't been able to do in ages. Perhaps I'll show you some of these things later this week!

Life just continues to be so swell at the moment. It feels great to see the sun shining longer, I have way more energy than I did when I was pregnant (and that's saying something with a new baby), Eric is sooo close to the end of his Master's degree and graduation day, and fresh air is doing everyone some good.

In between the cooler and rainy days there have been bbq's and days outside with the family...

Hopscotch and strawberry shortcakes (with ice cream!) have made their way back into our lives.

Spring rocks my world.

Allergies have also come to our house, but we don't need to talk about that now do we? Nope. Keeping it positively positive here.

The older kiddos were able to go to an egg hunt this weekend and spend the afternoon with grandma Joan, while Eric and I got back in the swing of date nights. Oh date nights, how we have missed thee.... (thanks mom for watching the kids! Where would we be without our moms?)

The kids were giving me fake smiles, so I told them to say "Fartfignoogan!" and that did the trick. Works every time, you should try it. :)

And this week we are gearing up for Easter! I'm 90% done with all of the shopping for the festivities, and I just hope the weather holds out for outdoor activities and all of the cute dresses I'm sure so many of your lovely girls will be wearing. :) If any of ya'll are looking for a church to visit Easter Sunday you just let me know and we'll save you a seat!

It looks like we are going to have a beautiful first part of the week. It totally puts me in the mood to take more pictures and do more fun things again. Feels good to be back to normal, and I hope you all are getting a nice shot of energy, too!

I'll leave you with my beautiful Charlotte and her pal, Pinworthy the bear.

This is what happens when big sister Evelyn is in charge of "keeping the baby happy" for two seconds while I step away. She has a long-standing history of decorating her baby siblings, haha.

Hope you have a great day, and I PROMISE we'll be back tomorrow! ;)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day 2015!

St. Patrick's Breastplate
"Christ be within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ inquired, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger."

Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone! A day that should remind us of the importance of forgiveness and what can happen in this world when we truly follow the command to love our enemies. Easier said than done...but no one ever said it was easy. History rarely remembers "easy."

This morning as I was ladling spoonfuls of green batter into a frying pan Evelyn was given a brief history lesson of St. Patrick by her dear old dad. The story of an unexceptional teenage boy who was kidnapped, taken from his country, forced into slavery, and treated poorly for several years in Ireland. This boy wasn't sure if he believed in God, but in his years of capture it became clear to him that God was very real and he became a true Christian in the midst of his struggles.

Eventually the boy escaped on a ship back to his own country. Instead of spending the rest of his years bitterly resenting those who had hurt him, he felt compelled to go back to the place of his imprisonment and share the faith he had acquired with those he should have despised. He planned to become a missionary to his Irish enemies. And that's just what he did. Patrick took the good news of Christ to a pagan people, and in doing so he changed history and was a vehicle God used to change the eternity of thousands of people.

Things could have turned out so differently. He could have gone on with his life and never returned to face his adversaries...that's exactly what the world would have expected him to do. No one would have blamed him, and history would not have remembered anything about this ordinary boy's life. But look at what happens when we follow God's advice instead of the world's advice. Miraculous things happen. Imagine that!

We all have someone in our lives who has wronged us. Someone who doesn't deserve our forgiveness. Forgive them anyway. We don't deserve forgiveness either, but God gives it to us every day. Even when we curse him and aren't even sure if we believe in him. His patience with us is inconceivable. That is the message of St. Patrick's Day. Who knew it wasn't really about leprechaun's and pots of gold? ;)

But while we learn about the true meaning of this day, we still have fun with it around here. My kiddos are very Irish, after all. Even though...Patrick wasn't and the Irish were sort of the "bad guys" in this story...but whatever. Haha.

We started our day with green blueberry pancakes and scrounging the closets for anything green for Evelyn to wear to school. One thing this day always brings to my attention is how very little green we have in our wardrobes. :) I usually think for about five minutes to buy shirts just for this day, but then I talk myself out of it, haha. "I'll come up with something," I think. (And I never really do.)

The girls are so pumped for the activities they'll be doing at school today. Here's how Gracie's leprechaun trap turned out yesterday....

We added a rainbow to the top and some things to the back, but other than that, it's exactly the same as it was when Gracie was a little baby. I would have never guessed she'd be carting this thing off to preschool someday. :) I honestly have no idea what they are doing with these traps at school, but Grace is extremely excited to find out this afternoon! It's all she talked about last night.

I would like to do a special dinner tonight, but I haven't decided on anything just yet. Do you have anything special you do this day? As you can see, I'm not exactly organized at the moment. Still very much in the taking one day at a time phase - no time to plan these things! Everything is festive if you add green to it, right? I wonder how I could turn spaghetti green and convince everyone its traditional Irish fare...totally worked with the pancakes. ;)

I'll leave you today with a popular Irish quote that I hope is true for you and yours!

May neighbours respect you, trouble neglect you, the angels protect you, and Heaven accept you!

Monday, March 16, 2015

I Adore the Number Four

Morning cuddles with this lovely....

I couldn't choose just one photo, so I chose six. I'm not in love with this child or anything.

Few people get to see her with her eyes open, but when they are, she's the smiliest little thing. :)

Charlotte did find a piece of her inner diva this weekend. On her two week birthday she decided to throw a little fit, and in a highly appropriate place - the place where all children go to throw their fits: Walmart. Our ordinarily quiet baby worked herself up right in the ladies underwear aisle...wasn't having any of that business.

Oh, it was a great weekend! I got out and about and life just feels totally real and normal again. I can't even express how thankful (and lucky!) I've been to have four babies and never once had the baby blues or anything like that. I've had the "Oh crap what have we done??" panic attack before, but never the blues. :) 

So on Friday Eric got home from work late. We had a late dinner and hung out at home - a typical Friday evening for us. But my Saturday was very full. I was put the test getting myself and four kids ready to go out for the day. (It will be glorious when Eric doesn't have to work on Saturdays anymore!) Charlotte and I were heading to a baby shower while the other kids hung out with grandma and grandpa Robert for the afternoon. 

It was Charlotte's very first public excursion, and just the right one. I'm so excited for my friend Monica to have her very first baby. And...she picked an awesome name for her baby girl, I must say. One of the top three we had picked for Charlotte, haha - Caroline. I'm so glad to know someone using that name! I don't have any pictures from the shower, but I did find these ancient ones on our computer....

Childhood friends are the best kind...and we've known each other since singing "Jesus Loves Me" in preschool Sunday School class. :)

On Saturday evening we celebrated my brother's 24th birthday at my parent's house with tacos and cake. I'm not sure if there will ever be a time that we stop celebrating birthdays in my family, haha. We haven't stopped yet. (I'm trying not to think about my birthday this year...it sends a little shiver down my spine.) It was a full and fun day, and as usual, our baby slept through most of it.

Sunday was our first trip back to church, and I'd say it went quite well. It's always nice to introduce family to family, and that's what we did with our little Miss all morning long. That afternoon Eric and I ran our weekend errands with Charlotte in tow. That's when said fit throwing went down...but in her defense, it was towards the end of our trip and baby girl was hungry. After grocery shopping we had to make a stop to pick up an order for a second double stroller...because we've entered that crazy territory now.

We got in a really nice walk in the pleasant weather yesterday! 

It's so funny having four kids. When you have three kids and people see you in public they get a good chuckle, smile at you, and say things like, "Looks like you have your hands full there!" When you have four kids, people do a double take, pull strange faces, and you can tell their internal dialogue is either "Are all of those kids theirs??" or "Are they old enough to have that many kids??" I'm not even exaggerating. I've made jokes about us being a side show before, but now I truly feel like we are one, haha.

But I've gotta say I'm an advocate of four. If you're debating how many kids you should have - four. It's a swell number. ;) Everyone I know with four kids says the same thing, so I swear it's not just me. Something magical in that number four - it just feels right.

Ah...family is such a beautiful thing, no matter the size!

Today is picture day at school, and I promised Grace that I would straighten her hair. We also have to put the finishing touches on her leprechaun trap for preschool. Do you remember this from years ago? Yep, totally using it again with a few upgrades, haha. So I'm signing off to spend some time with one of my other favorite kids this morning. Leaving you today with full and happy hearts!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

This is just so beautiful....

Seems like so long ago already!

With each of our children we have created videos after their birth to remember our very first minutes with our new babies...those precious first moments that are so easy to forget in the blur of all of the activity and exhaustion. When Gracie was born we had her video finished before we even left the hospital, haha. We weren't so on top of things this time around, but we have finally been able to sift through the pictures and video clips to put something together for our Charlotte.

Eric and I always enjoy thinking about these videos...making sure to pick just the right song for each one of our children and how we are feeling in the moment - where we are in life. I think this one sums us up quite well right now. I hope you enjoy these small bits of our experience, taken from our family photos and home videos. We'll never forget the day Charlotte made her debut into our family!

And with that our baby posts come to end. Not really, Charlotte isn't going anywhere any time soon. But I think we've shared all we can share about her coming into the world. Now it's just life! And yes, it is beautiful. :)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Weekend Wrap Up - Sleepy Addition

Well whoops, it looks like I missed Monday for a little weekend wrap up! I am losing track of days here...I'm like a cave woman ticking off dash marks on the wall and trying to figure out the time by the placement of the sun in the sky. Or something. Life with a newborn, you know.

So what has it really been like with four kids five and under so far? Honest to goodness...not bad. Not bad at all. And I was expecting pretty bad for at least a little while. :) I would say the worst of it is me, and I totally get that it's me...all of the crazy post-baby hormones. You don't realize they are there...but they are there. I have about half of the patience and no tolerance for loud noise and giant messes, which you know, being in a house with a bunch of little people means that my stress level rises and falls about fifty times a day.

The kids have adjusted remarkably well, Charlotte is amazing, and Eric is a good teammate, so I figure once I'm right in the head again things will be pretty grand around here. :)

So let's talk about this kid for a minute....

Charlotte has to be in the running for easiest baby in the history of babies. She's one of those newborns that I used to think only existed in fairy stories, because I surely never had it this easy before. When Evelyn was born I distinctly remember thinking "I thought newborns were supposed to sleep a lot!" Because she didn't. And the same with Grace and Reagan. They were up most of the day, looking around, checking things out, needing stimulation and to be held. At night they were decent sleepers but I remember pacing the dark floors for hours getting them back to sleep again once they woke up.

Our fourth child sleeps so much I have to wake her to eat. At first I worried she had her days and nights mixed up, but nope. She sleeps just as much at night. When she does wake I nurse her for five minutes before she drifts off again. (It's kind of amazing.) And during the day when she graces us with her bright eyes she is the happiest, smiliest baby I have ever seen. She's always got this sort of punch-drunk, totally content with life lazy grin on her face, and I have heard her laugh out loud at least three times. Never seen anything like it, but I will take it! (No kidding, as I type she is sleeping in my arms and cracking herself up. It's highly entertaining.)

So we decided to test our luck this weekend by seeing if Charlotte's awesome behavior at home would hold true as a traveling baby. I had to get out of this house and do something...even if it meant strapping all of the kids in the car and just going for a drive. And that's pretty much what we did...all weekend long.

No shortage of helping hands here! :)

On Friday Charlotte had her follow up appointment with our pediatrician, and she looked just perfect. The child gained four ounces in just a few days! Can't say I don't feed my children. :) Since Evie and Grace were in school we went out for lunch and took a trip to the store just for something to do. That night we had dinner with Eric's parents at their house...Charlotte slept and nursed almost the whole time.

On Saturday night we drove to the car wash and stopped at Sonic for slushies. Most of us never even got out of the car, we just had to go somewhere. Charlotte slept the entire time.

On Sunday afternoon Evelyn and Reagan got haircuts while Grace, Charlotte, and I waited in the car, Eric ran into the store for some diaper reconnaissance, and...Charlotte slept the entire time.

 Yay for haircuts!

The theme was we were going places but not really having to go anywhere, haha. Lots of time in the car and looking out of the window...just getting some fresh air while keeping a newborn out of a ton of public places during this nasty cold and flu season. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure our baby picked up a cold from Grace and Reagan, anyway. We can't seem to escape that junk around here. Charlotte doesn't even flinch when I use the nose sucker on her. Pretty impressed by that.

Since she has been such a laid back addition to our family, so far having four kiddos has been barely different than having three. Any concerns I had going in have been unfounded. I hope it stays this way for as long as possible. ;)

As for me, other than the lack of patience thing, my recovery has gone very well. I find that it gets easier with each baby. It's a built-in mom reward, I'm convinced. Feeling pretty swell.

We're just livin and lovin!

 Life is good. Hope it's good where you are, too. :)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Charlotte's Birth Story

As the sun was setting last Saturday evening, the very last thing on my mind was having a baby. We were in the middle of a winter storm, and our Saturday wasn't going to be a typical one. Eric had agreed to host the Lincoln Day dinner in Chester, IL that evening and I was staying home with the kids and preparing for a Sunday School lesson that I was set to teach the next day. My biggest concern was Eric getting home in one piece that night on the deteriorating roads and whether or not I should really put a ton of extra effort into the craft I was prepping for - church services would surely be cancelled the next day.

The night wore on, the storm got worse, and after all of the kids had drifted off to sleep Eric finally walked in the door. It had taken him an hour to get home - twice as long as it should have, but he made it! We were ready to bunker down and spend the next day snowed in at home with the family. It would be the perfect day for the kids and I to finally put together the "Welcome Charlotte" sign that we had bought all of the supplies for and do all of the last minute projects that needed to get done. Both Eric and I stayed up much later than usual that night, and it was after midnight before I called it a night and went to sleep.

Just a couple of hours later I was awoken with an annoying cramp. "Really?" I thought. "I just want to sleep!" I rolled over and tried to drift off, but another wave hit just then...over and over...and these cramps were seriously annoying. It didn't occur to me in the least to think that this was labor. Natural labor just doesn't happen to me. But then...ouch. These didn't seem like my normal contractions, either.

After about thirty minutes of tossing and turning I remembered the storm outside. I got out of bed and looked out of our living room window. There was at least six inches of snow piled on top of our van. The roads had not been touched. It was a winter wonderland. And then another contraction. And the internal struggle began. Should I wake up Eric? Is this the real thing? What if it isn't? I'll feel like an idiot. What if it IS? Then I don't want to wait. Of course she would come tonight!

I didn't debate long. I crept into the bedroom holding my stomach and shook Eric awake. It was about 3:00am at this point.

"Wha wah?" said a startled, groggy Eric. He took out his ear plugs. "Wha's going on? Are you okay?"

"No," I said. "I'm having a lot of contractions."

Eric immediately picked up his phone to start timing my waves of pain. I have to admit at this point that I was still in denial. I was trying to do everything I could to stop the contractions, to will them away. I ran some bathwater and got inside. This always works! A nice relaxing bath would surely make the pain subside and we could all go back to sleep and laugh about it in the morning. But the contractions didn't stop. I was calling out to Eric from the bathroom the stop and start of the contractions...along with a lot of "Ow ow ow ow..."

I got out and Eric and I just stared at each other. What do we do?? Call the hospital? Call our parents? Both of us were so hesitant in the middle of all of the mess outside to make the call, but by this point I was dropping on my hands and knees in pain with each contraction. Instinctively this was the only thing I could do to get through them. We had no hospital bags packed, nothing ready. The car we had planned to take was buried in snow.

"Should I start the van?" asked Eric.

"No, no time," I said. "We'll take your car."

In true Eric fashion he proceeded to take a shower while I dashed around packing things in a suitcase. His gym bag that had all of his regular supplies to get ready for the day would suffice for him. I was running around, dropping down to my hands in knees in pain, trying to do something with my gnarly hair, running around some more...and then it occurred to me that Eric was still in the shower. I opened the bathroom door and there he was just standing there under the water.

"Are you almost DONE?" I called out.

"Yeah yeah," he said.

In the moments following that, between contractions, I promised him that I would never let him forget the night that I was writhing in pain while he was in the shower enjoying the "cascading water falling all around him." Haha...we laughed before I doubled over once again.

Soon after, Eric's dad showed up to stay with the kids while we packed the car and began the journey to the hospital - one of the longest car rides of my life. Our hospital is an hour away on a good day. Thankfully there are about three other hospitals on the way to ours, because in the moment both of us would really appreciate if I didn't have to deliver this baby in the car, in a snowstorm, on the side of the road. :)

As we pulled out of the garage we could see our tire tracks in the freshly fallen snow on our driveway...and they were deep. We crept along our side street and made it to the highway...it was just as bad. At one point we found ourselves behind a snow plow which was both a blessing and a curse. It slowed us down but made the road we were driving on much safer. The last thing we needed was to end up in a ditch.

About thirty minutes into our drive Eric said he could distinctly tell my moans of pain had changed. I was gripping the handle over my head and facing the window with every contraction, calling out to the good Lord above to make it all go away. One thing I will interject here - real labor, while totally painful, has nothing on the contractions I've felt with an induction. Both hurt, but real labor has a wonderful reprieve of time in between, whereas my drug-induced contractions always came relentlessly one right after the other. I was just so thankful for those few pain-free minutes in between in the car. (And dreading the rise of pain with each new wave.)

An hour into the drive we had reached the row of hospitals. As we approached the exit to each one Eric asked, "Do we need to stop here?"

"No," I would say. "Unless my water breaks, just keep going!"

It ended up taking us two hours to reach St. Luke's. Two long hours of contractions in the car. But I didn't care. I was happy that we made it. We got out, found our way through the maze of hallways to the elevator, and then neither of us could remember which floor the maternity ward was on. We went to the very top and started working our way down...getting out a couple of times only to discover we had guessed wrong. I was in serious pain at this point, hardly able to walk at all. "Just get me to the right floor!"

Finally we found it and were quickly taken to a room. As soon as my nurse walked in she asked me my level of pain but didn't really need an answer. She knew we were in business, haha. I put on that hospital gown so fast and got into the bed. They checked me and I was already at an eight. AN EIGHT. Within thirty minutes I was getting my epidural, the doctor was on her way, and all of the baby gear had been wheeled into my room. Charlotte would definitely win the prize for the fastest delivery.

Thank goodness the epidural worked this time! Both Eric and I were extremely relieved when the lady who walked in to do the procedure was not the same one who had botched two other attempts (with Evelyn and Reagan.) I don't know what kind of magic this woman had, but the epidural hurt less than the IV that had been put into my hand just a few minutes before, and almost instantly I was able to relax.

Eric always snaps a post-epidural picture, haha. At this point I was signing paperwork for things that had already been done, because I was a bit incapacitated beforehand. :)

My doctor arrived at the hospital all smiles, and we were all chatting and happy that I finally got the chance to have a real labor. She broke my water and said as soon as Charlotte dropped down just a tiny bit we could start pushing. We had been checked into our room at 6:00am...after about twenty minutes of pushing, Charlotte was born at 7:45am - on her due date, March 1.

From the first pangs of pain that woke me up at home to holding my baby for the first time was a total of about 5 hours and 15 minutes.

If I had known when I first woke up that night that I would be holding my baby a little over five hours later I would have completely panicked I think, haha. Sometimes it's better when we don't know things. :) But wow, what a blessing that it was quick and (relatively) easy and that, most importantly, everyone was healthy! We praise God for our baby Charlotte! And we're so thankful that every little scare or bump in the road along the way during this pregnancy turned out to be nothing at all. Prayers were definitely answered.

Life at home has had it's moments of serenity and hilarity. The kids have been home from school for snow days for two days now this week. (Bah!) So any hope I had of extra rest or getting anything done went completely out the window. Yes, I am thankful for a district that errs on the side of caution in inclement weather for sure...but...I wanted to wring someone's neck both times school was called, haha. Are you kidding? Just my luck! But the girls just went to their grandma's and now I'm going to get a shower and maybe get this house picked up - finally!

Ready for home!

Thank you all for your thoughts, prayers, well-wishes, congratulations - all of the above! I haven't been on the computer much the past couple of days, and I wish I had more energy to reply to each and every comment. Please know how much we appreciate you thinking of us! We love you, we love our family, we love this beautiful baby!

Looks like we're gearing up for a warm up in our neck of the woods. I can't wait! And Charlotte Rose Robert will never live down her birth story - the night she decided to come in a swirling snow storm. She may have been demanding then, but she has been a dream baby ever since. She sleeps a lot, eats a lot, poops a lot, and...did I say sleeps a lot? She has been very kind to her mama. She's an angel baby! We cannot believe how beautiful she is, and life as Robert baby #4 looks to be pretty sweet for her. Charlotte is a very doted on baby girl. :)

Hope you have a great day, friends. Thanks for reading!


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