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  1. Emoji Birthday Card

    August 20, 2017 by Michelle

    My daughter was going to see “The Emoji Movie” for a birthday party. We needed a birthday card, so she helped me design this card and I cut it on my Circut Explore Air. (Love this thing, thought I’d use it for fabric and felt applique cuts, but have been using it more for paper!)

    For the envelope and the card base I used Congratulations Card #M4CF65 from Creative Everyday Cards. It was available with Cricut Access. I deleted the “congratulations” part, but used the envelope and the circle shaped card. I love how the envelope is square but has curved edges to make it work nicely with the circle card. The default size was pretty small so I scaled it up.

    I found two free svgs for the emojis at The Craft Chop. In design studio, I looked at the size of the second smaller circle that was part of the original card design, and scaled the emojis to the same size. We did one each on the front and back of the card, and another on the envelope.

    My daughter selected the violet Cricut metallic pen to write “Happy Birthday!” on the inside. The font is “Saddle Up” also available with Cricut Access. She also picked all the paper colors.

    Turned out pretty nicely.

    BTW, the movie was awful, but Emoji’s are still cute.


  2. Peach Chia Pancake Topping

    August 13, 2017 by Michelle

    I’ve gone processed sugar free for about 8 months now. I’ll write more about that later, but there was one thing I was struggling with – pancake syrup!

    I hadn’t made my high-protein pancakes for months, but last week I had a craving for them. I had the smallest amount of pure maple syrup with them, and while it’s not a processed sugar, it was still sweeter than I wanted or even enjoyed. So, when I decided to make them again I came up with this very simple topping that you can make fresh while your pancakes are on the griddle.

    Ingredients:
    1 fresh, ripe peach
    1 Tablespoon apple juice
    1-2 Teaspoons chia seeds

    Directions:

    Rinse and dice the peach and put into a shallow bowl. Use a potato masher, mash the diced peach until you have some juice but still have small chunks of peach. Add about a tablespoon of apple juice (a little less/more depending on how juicy your peach is. Add 1 teaspoon of chia seeds and stir for several minutes. The chia seeds will probably stick the edge of the bowl as you stir; be sure to push them back down into the juice mixture. Let the mixture sit for at least 5-10 minutes while the chia seeds absorb the juice. Now scoop up some of the mixture and let it drop off the spoon back into the bowl. It should fall off the spoon smoothly, but not runny. If too juicy/runny, add more chia seeds, stir, let sit, and check again. If you’ve made it too thick for your taste, you can add a splash more apple juice.

    That’s it. Use atop your favorite pancakes and enjoy!

    Variation: If you don’t have a fresh peach, you can use frozen (though it’s not quite as good.) Warm them up on low in a small sauce pan and mash once fully defrosted and warm, you shouldn’t need to dice them.


  3. Making a Camp T-Shirt Smaller

    June 30, 2015 by Michelle

    I came home tonight to a huge hug from my daughter. Bliss. A few minutes later my husband let me know camp had sent home a t-shirt she needed to wear tomorrow for field trip day. I knew what to expect, but today, I guess I’d just had it.

    I pulled out a youth small. The same size as the last camp t-shirt and the size used whenever she’s gotten to dye-tie t-shirts for one thing or another. On my 5-year old, a youth small is a baggy potato sack dress.

    I had her try it on (even though I knew it would be huge) and went nope, she’s not wearing this. No more tying it 80s style to the side. Who cares about length? The neckline and arm holes are so huge she can’t possibly be comfortable in this t-shirt. That is the exact opposite intent of a t-shirt! So I spent a couple hours making a shirt that started the size of the one on the right, into the one on the left.

    I am very greatful right now that I 

    1. Know how to sew.
    2. Own a serger.

    If you have a small kid and art at all crafty, knowing how to sew comes in handy a lot.

    So I’ll try to think more about how I’m happy I could make this a decent t-shirt for her and less about the fact that I can’t just order a camp t-shirt that fits!

    —-

    I wasn’t planning to make this a tutorial when I was working on it, but I’ll provide an outline of what I did so those of you out there who know how to sew have a starting point. (And for my own reference when/if I do this again.)  Baisically, you cut the shirt apart & sew it back together. The only thing you don’t have to redo is finish the collar and hem the sleeves.

    1. Find at shirt the right size for your base.
    2. Fold both t-shirts in half.
    3. Cut the sleeves off on a curve, close to the seam.
    4. Line the top of the shirts up and draw a line parallel to the side of the small shirt allowing for a 5/8 seam.You may want to put this on your child to get a sense of how much of the neckline to take in. 
    5. With right sides together, line up the collar so you won’t have a gap when it’s sewn.
    6. Sew across 1/2 inch to an inch depending on sizing needs. (Try on your kid again, you can always rip out the stitching at this point if you made the neck too small)
    7. After you have the sizing right, if you have a serger, resew/serge the seam. (Or reinforce and trim if no serger)
    8. Next I remeasured against the sample shirt and noted where the armhole would start. Either with a French curve/pattern ruler (or eyeball best you can if you don’t have one) measure out the armhole on the sample shirt and then mark the equivalent on your large shirt, and cut.
    9. Serge the side seams.
    10. Try on your kid again. If those arm holes aren’t right, now is the time to make adjustments
    11. Measure against the sample shirt the size of the sleeves. Again using the French curve, measure and cut to reduce the sleeve length.
    12. Draw a parallel line to the existing seam on the sleeves (right sides together) measuring the width on the size of the armhole.
    13. Serge the sleeves along this parallel line.
    14. Pin the sleeves to the armholes.
    15. Sew/baste the sleeves in place on your normal sewing machine. Serge at seam (or reinforce within 1/4 inch and trim the seam if no serger.)
    16. To hem, first serge a single layer fabric around the base of the shirt to desired shirt length. 
    17. Fold under 3/8 inch and use a double needle to finish the hem.

    I have a few photos I’ll add later when my WordPress app stops crashing.



  4. Sunday Reading Hour

    January 4, 2014 by Michelle

    So let me start by saying I don’t like New Year’s Resolutions. It’s not that I don’t like making life changes, it’s just that making a New Year’s Resolution sets you up for failure. You’re bound to slip, and then since it’s no longer the New Year it doesn’t stick. But I had an idea today, and I want to try it, and since it starts around New Year’s….bah. Putting goals in writing helps you stick to them so here it is anyway:

    Sunday Reading Hour – For one hour on Sundays, I will read a book, for me.

    Now I read every day, out loud to Bunny, and I love it. But somewhere in the last couple years I stopped reading for myself as much as I used to. And as much as reading to her is important, I want her to see me read again. My reading has migrated mostly to times she doesn’t see: rare baths and 2 sentences in bed before I pass out. More recently, I’m not even reading before bed (well blog posts and news articles, many very good ones, but not a book.)

    In the past I’ve set goals to finish a certain number of books in a year. But here’s the thing, I’m a slow reader, so if I get on a book that’s longer and taking a while, finishing it to hit my quota took some of the fun out of it. So by just setting aside an hour for reading a week, I can just enjoy it and not worry about how many I finish.

    Also, to clarify, it’s not that I’ll only read 1 hour a week, it’s that I’m dedicating that regular time to myself to read.

    I have several books in queue, but any suggestions? What books are in your 2014 queue? Anyone want to join me in Sunday Reading Hour?


  5. High Protein, Greek Yogurt Pancake Recipe

    December 3, 2013 by Michelle

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    My bunny LOVES pancakes. She’ll eat them for breakfast everyday, and a lot of them. But the frozen Giant brand mini pancakes weren’t cutting it in the nutrition camp for me. So after much experimenting, I’ve perfected this high-protein, high-fat pancake recipe that meets her high calorie nutritional needs & taste buds standards. (Plus she loves to make them with me!)

    I make them a few times a week, placing leftovers in a ziplock bag with a paper towel in the fridge. Then on mornings we don’t have time for a fresh batch, we’ll wrap them in a fresh paper towel and microwave for 30 seconds. Just as good for a couple days after, and better for her than the pre-packaged.

    Without further ado, the recipe:

    Michelle’s Greek Yogurt Pancakes

    • 8 oz plain greek yogurt 2%
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/4 cup whole milk
    • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
    • 1/4 cup white flour
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla (optional)

    Spray a pan or griddle with oil and warm pan over medium heat.

    In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, eggs, and milk with a large metal whisk. Add the flours and baking soda, continue to whisk. Add vanilla and whisk until smooth but not runny. If too thick and a little more milk, if too runny, and a little more flour.

    Spoon or ladle onto hot, oiled/sprayed griddle or non-stick flat pan, being careful not to make too big of pancakes, and remember the batter will spread. About 2″ diameter or smaller usually cooks evenly for me. If you make them too big, the thick batter may not cook through, or you’ll have trouble flipping them.

    Cook on the first side until bubbles start to form in the middle of the pancake and top edges start to cook. (It’s sort of like the edges look drier.) Flip and cook a few minutes more until golden brown. Time will vary based on your griddle/pan and stove.

    Makes about 2 dozen.

    Variations

    • Take 1/4 cup frozen fruit (strawberry, peaches, etc.) and blend in blender with the milk, then mix the fruit milk with the rest of the ingredients. (Don’t use water to blend, you’ll make the batter runny.)
    • Use flavored Greek Yogurt. Great way to use up individual cups about to expire.
    • Add whole frozen blueberries to the batter.
    • If you’re making for someone who doesn’t need to gain weight, you can substitute 1% or 2% milk & non-fat yogurt and it should work just as well.

    Tips

    For those of you who haven’t made pancakes your whole life, here’s a few tips I’ve picked up from my mother, books, and just lots of pancake making. Don’t worry, we’ve all filled the kitchen with smoke & covered our spatulas with batter at some point. Making the perfect pancake is much more about honing your cooking technique than the recipe.

    • Place pancakes on a plate in the oven at the lowest temperature, no need to preheat, to keep pancakes warm while you cook. This will also let pancakes you didn’t cook quite long enough continue to cook before you serve them.
    • Spray the pan/griddle after each set of pancakes to avoid sticking.
    • Using a wire whisk instead of a wooden spoon (even when you add dry ingredients) makes it easier to combine the ingredients without over mixing.
    • Use a wide flat metal spatula for easy flipping. I really like this OXO spatula. Wipe it with a paper towel if it gets batter on it between pancakes, and don’t make pancakes larger than your spatula.
    • Cook just 2-3 pancakes at a time until you’re sure you’ve got the timing/temperature of the pan right. Every stove and pan combo will have different cook times.

    Enjoy!


  6. 10 Great Things About Tiny Tots

    May 25, 2013 by Michelle

    I’m way overdue for a post about the wonderful things that come with having a small child. So forgetting about the challenges for a moment, here are 10 things to celebrate about your tiny tot:

    I actually started writing this when bunny was 15 months old, but never felt like it was right. With her 3rd birthday approaching, I decided it was time to finally post.

    1 – Easier to Carry

    Just ask the 2-and-a-half-year-old who keeps picking her up and carrying “the baby” around while I’m writing this. Lighter kids are so much easier to carry.

    2 – The Shock Factor – ‘She’s How Old?!?!’

    From about 6-7 months on, my bunny has shocked many people. “She’s sitting up so well! How old is she?” or “That is the smallest child I’ve ever seen crawl.” and now “She walks?!?” It’s actually kind of fun to walk into a room carrying her, put her on the ground and watch jaws drop as she runs across the room.

    3 – Major Diaper Savings

    Smaller diapers cost less. In her size 2s I spend maybe $20 a month on diapers (thanks to Amazon Mom, too.) We didn’t move to size 3 until 15 months. (And stayed in size 3 until potty trained.) At one point I calculated cloth diapers vs disposables, and I wouldn’t break even until half way or more through my second child (depending on small he/she might be.)

    4 – Clothes Last Longer

    My bunny was in Newborn size for 8 weeks! Some parents are lucky to get a week out of newborn clothes. Bonus, the smaller size clothing, up to about 6 months, is in high supply at consignment stores and often new or like new as most other kids don’t wear it long. I made out good! (Maybe a little too good. I probably have enough 0-3 month items to dress triplets for a week.)

    5 – More Time to Baby Proof

    I’m reminded of this when friends come over with children about her age. Though she’ll eventually get tall enough to clear all surfaces with speed I can only imagine, we haven’t had to rush to baby proof some higher things. There are still many surfaces in my house tall enough to store items out of reach of little fingers without needs for baby locks. (I do have the truly dangerous stuff locked.) Plus, at this height there’s no way she could crawl out of her crib.

    6 – Car Seat Lasts Longer, Easier To Keep Rear Facing

    I had anticipated a larger child, so our car seat fits up to 32 pounds. She rode in that car seat past 2 until she got to tall. Still, she may be rear facing until 10. Alright hopefully not quite that long for real.) Keeping bunny rear facing until at least age 2 as recommended was a breeze and we continue to because it’s so much safer.

    7 – Most Other Baby Gear Lasts Longer

    Bassinet, bathtub, carriers, Bumbo, etc. We were able to keep bunny in our room in a bassinet until 7 months. Her bathtub gets placed inside our big tub, less water & she still has plenty of play room. We are in no danger of reaching the max weight on our carrier any time soon, and she still fits comfortably at nearly 3! (Sure some carriers are rated for 30-40-50 pounds, that doesn’t mean mom or child will be at all comfortable!) We never actually owned a Bumbo, just borrowed, but I know many a child whose chubby legs would get them stuck.

    8 – Passes for Younger Child Nursing in Public

    At 19 months, bunny doesn’t nurse in public very often, but when she does, she looks like a baby. (Unless she decides to practice her nursing acrobatics.) I’ve never had anyone say anything to me, but I feel the perception that she’s younger may stave off some comments. Of course in an ideal world, this shouldn’t mater anyway. (Still nursing at nearly 3 also 🙂

    9 – Toddler Beds Are Plenty Big

    Much easier to get a frame and keep the mattress to avoid the giant twin bed for a while. She’ll fit this bed well past toddler years.

    10 – Tiny is Just So Darn Cute!

    When they’re infants we marvel at how tiny they are. Tiny and cute are synonymous for many people. Even though she’s growing, I still get some of that infant tiny feeling as I marvel at this mini-person. She can move that tiny little body so well! In a group of kids, she stands out as adorably petite in a land of giants. Plus, she’s the tiniest dancer I’ve ever seen!

    Got a tiny kid yourself? What would you add to this list?


  7. How Does a 2-year-old Understand Death?

    December 23, 2012 by Michelle

    My bunny came into our room in the middle of the night to nurse last night, as she has for more than 2 months now. After she was done, I asked her if she was ready to go back to her room. No response. I asked again and got a sigh in response. “Are you ok, honey?” I asked her.

    “I just don’t feel so good,” she paused, “because I’m sad about my baby sister. I miss my baby sister.”

    In August, I delivered a stillborn baby girl, Lorelai, a day shy of 6 months pregnant. It’s been 4 months.

    I responded, “I miss your baby sister, too. You know her name was Lorelai?” No response. “Do you miss her because you wish you could play with her?”

    “My baby sister died. She’s not coming home.”

    I think I said something along the lines of that’s right and hugged her. Then she asked me if she could walk back to her bed. So I kissed her and lifted her down off the bed.

    She’s repeating the words we’ve said to her, trying to explain what happened. It doesn’t make it any easier to hear them back.

    My husband had been half awake. We just held each other. She was back 20 minutes later to nurse some more, this time when she was done I let her sleep between us until I had to get up and moved her to her bed so she’d sleep longer. I didn’t even ask her if she wanted to leave.

    We were warned this would happen. We’d asked advice on how to talk to her about it and been told to be honest but simple, discuss it when she wants to, and be prepared for her to seem fine then bring it up again out of the blue as she continues to grasp the concept and think about it differently as she gets older. But I’m still not prepared.

    She’s used “I’m sad about my baby sister” to distract us and get attention at times. Within a couple of weeks I had to take deep breathes and learn to say calmly, “I’m sad about your baby sister, too. But you still have to eat your lunch.” This was not like that. This is even harder.

    My poor bunny has been through so much in the last few months. The loss of my pregnancy, her baby sister, changes in our work schedules, day care, and much more. I barely know how to deal with it sometimes. How can a 2-and-a-half-year-old? As she gets older and her ability to think about the world changes, so does her perception of this loss. That seems like an awful lot of work and burden on such a young child.

    I remember the day we came home from the hospital and told her. She had such a sad face. Nothing like a “I fell down and hurt myself” sad, or a “I wanted that toy” sad. This was one of grief that does not belong on such a small child. Looking from mommy to daddy crying as if to say, “no, this can’t be true.” Then switching immediately to avoidance, asking to play with toys, and for a day or two fighting sleep harder then any normal child does. (Think of your toughest nap time fight times 10.) I think it was the second night, we asked her why she didn’t want to go to bed. As she tried to fling herself from the bed she screamed and cried that she was sad about her baby sister. And we all cried. My milk had just come in so I offered to let her nurse. Her small body calmed so quickly as she nursed and she fell asleep. (She’d nearly self weaned until then, unhappy with the taste of colostrum while I was pregnant.) Honestly, I was grateful to have her nursing, because it calmed me, too.

    And now life continues, though it felt like it should have stopped. So much has changed and it doesn’t get better – I just get stronger. But I won’t let myself get hard. I don’t want to be that type of strong. When bunny wants to talk, I will talk honestly.

    She was supposed to have a baby sister for Christmas. She won’t. But she’s getting toys from Santa and time with family that loves her. I hope that’ll be enough for her. That she will feel loved. I don’t wish that she will forget her Lorelai, but that she will continue to love others for her whole life, the way she loves her baby sister.


  8. Preparing for my Baby to Have Anesthesia

    March 10, 2012 by Michelle

    More than a month of sickness and two weeks after I first called to schedule, it’s done. The endoscopy/lower colonoscopy is scheduled. (The lower colonoscopy is actually called something else I can’t remember at the moment.)

    Getting the call from the scheduler yesterday saying it had made it through the channels and we could set a date was a relief at first. Finally! But anxiety crept in shortly after.

    My bunny will be put under anesthesia.

    It’s real. Less than two weeks away. She’s just 21 months old. And though I know this procedure will give us some answers blood work couldn’t, it’s still stressful. I’m tempted at times to just exercise my parental right to say, “She’s just small, no more tests!” But that would be denying her care if it turns out there is something that can/should be done.

    I’ve met moms who’ve told me they’ve been through rounds of tests to eventually find out nothing is wrong. But I’ve met the flip side also. Gut may say everything is ok, but I’ll feel a lot less guilty if I do all I can.

    I’m told someone will call before the procedure to discuss it. In the meantime questions run through my head.

    • Will I be with her the whole time? And do I want to see the procedure if I am allowed with her?
    • How long will she be out?
    • Will she wake up calmly, crying, screaming?
    • Will she feel any pain afterward?
    • what side effects might she experience?

    A friend knows an anesthesia nurse I may talk to. But I’m curious from you. Has your child ever had anesthesia? What was it like?


  9. How do you Make a Sick Child Eat?

    February 19, 2012 by Michelle

    Cold, double-ear infection, croup (scariest one yet) – my bunny has been sick on and off for about a month. And with each illness comes a lack of appetite.

    When she had her first major cold, somewhere around the 6-7 month mark, the nurse on the phone told me, “A baby’s job is to grow. But when they’re sick, we don’t worry about that. As long as she’s making wet diapers, it’s okay if she’s backing off the solid foods.”

    I don’t feel much like eating when I’m sick either (like now, since she inevitably gets me sick). However, all this illness means several weeks of reduced calories, when we’re already trying to play catch up!

    So here’s where we’re at:

    Delayed Tests & Doctor Appointments
    I’ve gotten myself a little break to try to plump her back up. Since she was sick, we haven’t done the colonoscopy/endoscopy yet. And I canceled her GI nutrition checkups that would have been Friday. But they need to be rescheduled, so we eventually have to get back on the scale.

    Eating Everything in Sight
    Once she does start to feel better, she starts eating up a storm!!! And insisting that one of the other older boys the nanny watches feeds her rather than feeding herself, she’s quite the little princess.

    Heavy Nursing
    Being sick, she started nursing a ton more, so at least when I’m home, she’s been getting lots of fatty breast milk. As she feels better she seems to be holding on to that increased nursing, and eating more table food.

    In addition, when she has been sick here’s some of what I’ve been trying to help her eat more. Some ideas from doc/nurses, others my own.

    Foods

    • Breast milk (more frequently, as liquids are easiest and it’s going to give her the most calories & nutrition)
    • Warm apple juice with a little honey
    • Applesauce
    • Popsicles
    • Non-citrus fruit
    • Frozen Peas

    Strategies

    • Stick with favorite & familiar foods suck as blueberries & mini-pancakes
    • Cut foods up into smaller than normal portions
    • Slightly smaller breakfast, or breakfast time a little later, since that tiny stomach is full of post-nasal drip in the morning./li>

    This isn’t an exhaustive list. But I’d love to know you’re go-to foods for sick kiddos.


  10. Sweat Test, Not So Easy

    January 7, 2012 by Michelle

    Ok, so this post is about the sweat test, which we did to rule out cystic fibrosis, but I’ll start with something light from our visit.

    Just before the test, I took Bunny to the family restroom to change her. It’s a nice restroom with an adult height toilet, a kid height toilet, & a changing table. After I change her, I put her down on the ground so I can throw out her diaper. In about 3 seconds, the following happens:

    Bunny dunks her hand in the kid toilet. I hear the splash and say, “No!” quickly pick up and throw her sippy cup (instead of diaper) in the trash. Reach in to get it back and turn around again to her splashing saying, “water!”

    It was almost a nice, funny little moment before we started in on an hour-long test.

    Sweat Test Procedure, 20 Minutes of Screaming

    Once we washed hands after the toilet incident, it was time to get started.

    While the test shouldn’t be a painful one, the first 20 minutes or so was miserable. The test was in a similar room to where they draw blood, so the crying started when the technician started wiping her arms clean with water.

    After cleaning, the technician placed two metal plates, with a piece of gauze in a solution to encourage sweat underneath, on her arm. Then she attached electrodes to each one and turned on a light current (which can cause a tingling sensation) for 5 minutes. I got to hold her and the free arm down, the technician held the arm getting stimulated.

    This is when the technician brought out the iPad. While a cool concept, (they have a few kids apps loaded up and it’s wrapped in plastic to clean between kids) bunny wasn’t interested. We got a few seconds distraction at one point, but it was pretty much red face screaming, crying, and drooling.

    After 5 minutes of stimulation, she removed everything and taped a special sheet to her arm to absorb the sweat. The technician then wrapped the arm in a blanket.

    Then, it was time for arm two.

    Waiting for Sweat

    We left the room, two arms wrapped, and instructions to wait for 30 minutes. I quickly found a place to sit and nurse. Thank goodness for still nursing, cause no saying how long it would have taken to calm her down otherwise.

    After that, we managed to relax and I even got some smiles out of her. 🙂 Here’s a photo from our wait with the giant armbands. She’s looking out into the open lobby area at CHOP.

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    When it was time, the technician came out to get us. Bunny was walking in her direction, saw her, and turned around. Smart kid.

    Anyway, the technician said it looked like we got enough, so hopefully we’ll get a conclusive result this time. Hopefully results come Monday.

    Update Jan. 14, 2011:

    Test results came back normal, not inconclusive, normal. No cystic fibrosis. Phew.