The Zika Virus: Should it affect your travel plans?

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If you’ve been making travel plans, are pregnant, or have looked at your facebook’s trending section, you’ve probably seen something about the Zika virus. If you’re wondering what it is, the CDC says the “Zika virus … is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes).” It’s not deadly in and of itself, the symptoms only last for a week or two, and once you have it you’re likely protected from future infections, though they’re not sure how long the protection lasts.

So, what’s the big deal then?

The issue is, there may be a link between the Zika virus and microcephaly, which is a birth defect where a baby’s head is smaller than average, which can result in the inability for the brain to develop fully resulting in seizures, developmental delays, disabilities and more. As of right now there is no concrete evidence, but it is looking more and more likely that they are somehow connected. The worst time for a pregnant woman to be infected is during the first trimester, when the most development is happening. In addition to that, while the disease only lives in your blood stream for a couple weeks, it has been found in semen nearly 9 weeks after one man fell ill, and they’re not sure how long it can live there.

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So, those are the facts. The reason this came up is because the little prince and I were planning a possible trip to Costa Rica this summer, and it is one of the countries dealing with a Zika outbreak. In fact, most of central and south america are dealing with them at the moment, and the CDC has put out travel warnings on many countries in those areas.

Everyone is at a different risk, so I’ll break down our thinking into groups. First, the two easiest ones:

If you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant:

Don’t go! It’s really just not worth the risk any way you look at it.

If you’re definitely done having children:

I’d say go and don’t worry! If you do get it, the only real risks of passing it on is sexually and through a mosquito bite, so keep up your mosquito protection (or if it’s not mosquito season, relax) and don’t have sex with someone who does plan on having children.

If you’re considering having children in the future:

This group is a little trickier. My partner and I fall into this category and so we had to have a talk. There was different thinking and risks for each member of our family, so I’ll break them down below:

Men: After proper mosquito protection there is a small chance of getting infected during a short stay. If you do become infected, there’s a small chance of the infection staying in your semen for an extended period of time.

Women: After proper mosquito protection, there’s a small chance of getting infected. If you do get infected, after a couple weeks the infection should be gone and you should be immune. As long as you avoid getting pregnant during those first few weeks, even if your partner were to still have it present in their semen when you do later become pregnant, you should be immune, and if you aren’t, there’s a small chance of it transmitting to your child (1 in 100 from the latest study, if they’re truly related).

Children: For girls, the risk is the same as for women. For boys, it’s highly unlikely for the virus to last in their semen for years until they decide to have children. Even then, by the time either gender is an adult the virus could be widespread anyways or we might have a cure.

Put simply, to us the risks were as follows:

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If sex is avoided during the first and second trimesters, the chances are even smaller.

But, there’s still a chance. No one can be sure if it’d be larger than the current microcephaly rates (2-12 in 10,000 live births in the US). To us, that’s not a big enough chance to keep the little prince and I away from those countries. We’d be a little more wary if my fiance was coming with, but he isn’t, so we don’t have to make that decision. Maybe it is a big enough chance for you, in the end, only you can decide what’s best for your family.

After all, there are plenty of other countries to visit in the meantime!

What would you do?

 

Here are some of my sources:

http://www.livescience.com/53704-zika-virus-semen-sexual-transmission.html

http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/birthdefects/microcephaly.html

http://www.cdc.gov/zika/

The best advice my midwife gave me

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When I was pregnant I wanted so badly to be the best mother that I could be that I researched everything as well as soaking up the advice I could get from friends and family. Despite my best efforts, I still felt incredibly confused about certain subjects and could feel myself filling with anxiety.

In one example, towards the end of my pregnancy, I knew that we had family making the long trip out to see our new baby. I wanted to take them around the tourist sites as I knew it might be their only visit to the pacific northwest, but I wasn’t sure how old a baby should be before we left the house, especially in winter. I tried asking friends and family, but no one seemed to have an answer that would ease my anxiety.

During one of my appointments with my midwife I voiced these concerns to her, and she gave me the best advice I’ve gotten so far about being a mother.

While we have to change our lives and homes to accommodate the additions to our family, the new baby needs to “learn” to become a part of the family too.

Before you start yelling at me that a newborn doesn’t need to learn anything, let me explain what I mean! Every family has their own culture, priorities and lifestyle; these things don’t go away when a baby is born! In fact, the more you can incorporate them at a young age the better.

To our family, travel is important. So as long as we made sure he was warm and safe, there was no reason to avoid getting out of the house right away. Now, at 3 months old, he’s very content for car rides, getting in and out of the stroller, and loves to go around looking at new things!

Maybe to your family it’s hiking. Then bundle them up, put them in a stroller or wear them and get out there and hike those mountains! Do you run 5k’s? Take them with on the next one. Play video games? Let them play with a controller and “join in”. Whatever it is, there’s usually some way to incorporate them into it.

While I definitely still do my research to make sure I’m doing things in a safe or appropriate way, it’s helped me to let go of the guilt and anxiety that would come from trying to figure out the “best” way to do things.

What’s important is that there is no “best” way to do things, there are multiple best ways.

As children become such a large part of your family, parenting decisions can become a part of your family’s culture too: cosleeping, baby wearing, discipline methods, etc. Remember that the next time you see someone parenting in a way that you wouldn’t. That’s their family’s culture: just because you do things differently doesn’t mean either of you are wrong.

Sample sleep schedule

I know when I was figuring out sleep training I was always curious what was “normal” for my child’s age, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. I still don’t know if this sort of day is “normal” for his age or not, but maybe some one out there can relate to it and feel better about their kid’s schedule because of it. Every baby is different, so just because a schedule doesn’t seem to fit your baby’s habits doesn’t mean something’s wrong!

For those wondering what our sleep schedule looks like in a typical day, here is an example. I used Baby Daybook to record all of this, if you’re still learning how your baby’s schedule works I highly recommend it! If you’re interested in the details of what’s worked for us in sleep training you can read about it here.

Lately daytime naps have been rough since he’s been learning how to roll over. All that stimulation means frequent short naps and rougher bedtimes, but that’s life with a baby. If things seem like they’re extra rough any day, just remember it could mean he’s going through a growth spurt, about to have a large developmental leap or any other number of temporary things! That’s why my best advice is: be flexible!

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Our Little Prince at 3 months old:

2 am: Wake, diaper change, feed
2:30: Sleep
6 am: Wake, diaper change, feed
6:30: Sleep
8 am: Wake, play, diaper change, feed
9 am: Nap
9:15: Pump for donation
(Make sure to follow the blog to receive an email for a future post with advice about donating breastmilk!)
10 am: Wake, play, eat
11:30: Nap
12:00: Wake, play, eat
1 pm: Nap
1:15: Wake, play, eat
3 pm: Nap
5:15: Wake, play, eat
7:00: Bath, bedtime routine
7:30: Bedtime

Bedtime was rough this day, I don’t know if he wasn’t feeling well or if it was because of his developmental point, but he would not sleep outside of my arms! After a couple hours of trying to get him to sleep in his bed without success, we gave in, and by 9:30 he was finally fully asleep and didn’t wake up until well past midnight.

I’m not going to give you a pretty polished version of our nights, sometimes we have nights like this, and sometimes we have nights where he sleeps more than 5 hours on his own. That’s the thing about babies, just when you think you have things figured out they throw you for a loop!

 

168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think

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“There are 168 hours in a week. This book is about where the time really goes, and how we can all use it better.”

168 Hours takes a look at successful people and asks the question “We all have 168 hours in a week, why do some fit more into their weeks than others?” While the majority of the book is aimed towards professionals balancing their work and home lives (of which I am not) it still had some valuable advice if you’re like me and feel like you lose control of your time. If you feel like you have a good handle on your schedule that’s great! Skip the book, but if you feel stressed out by your schedule, stretched thin, or like you’d kill for a free 15 minutes, you can probably benefit from the book. Here are the things I found the most helpful:

List your priorities

The easiest step, but something few people take the time to really think about and do. What are the most important things for you to spend your time on? Some of these are fairly easy: family, work, faith, exercise, etc. but think about the lesser priorities too. If you had an extra 15 minutes right now, what would you spend it on? Relaxing and taking some personal time should be a priority as well, so don’t forget that. Make a list, and keep it handy for the next few steps.

Track every hour for one week

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You can download the time sheets here, here and here

She has a form in the book as well as on her website you can use, or you can use the colorful version I designed above, but the point is to keep track of your hours for one week. You don’t have to account for every minute, but try the best you can to get a general idea for how you spend your week. Once that’s done, analyze it by adding all the numbers up. How many hours are you spending watching TV, browsing pinterest/facebook/etc. each week? It might not seem like much in a day, but the average american adult watches 25-50 hours of TV every week. How much of your week is spent on your priorities and how much on things that aren’t important to you? I was surprised just how little time I was spending on the things most important to me.

Delegate or ignore what someone else can do better than you (if you can).

This step is the hardest, and not always possible for everyone. Spending massive amounts of time on things that someone else can do better is a waste of your time and talents. Most of the time these things line up with your priorities: no one but me can be a better mother to my son, partner to my spouse, improve my physical fitness or spiritual state. But usually a clean house isn’t a priority so maybe you could drop your standards, or minimize the amount that needs to be cleaned through decluttering, downsizing, etc. to free up more time for your priorities.

That is not easy to do when you judge yourself as a mom/wife by the cleanliness of your house!

A friend of mine uses a grocery shopping service for her family because she’s recognized this fact, and not only does she save the time and stress of taking a large family out grocery shopping, but the money she’s saved by not impulse buying has more than paid for the service.

One of the areas I’ve realized this in is cooking or baking everything from scratch. Certain foods, mostly baked goods, not only taste better when I buy them pre-made, but are cheaper than the ones I’ve made from scratch. I once tried comparing cupcakes from a box mix to cupcakes from scratch and the box ones blew mine out of the water! Letting go of that demand on myself can free up time to focus on the party planning, which is definitely something I do best.

There is so much more in the book, but the best advice from it can be boiled down to this:

Stop saying you don’t have time for something.

You have plenty of time!

Think of it instead as “That’s not a priority to me”

After all, so much of changing your life for the better is just changing your perspective!

If you’re interested, you can read the first few pages on Amazon before deciding whether to buy or rent. It’s filled with valuable advice, especially if you’re struggling to manage your home and work life

Why I wish I’d bought a video baby monitor

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I’m cheap.

Before I had a baby, I saw those expensive video baby monitors and thought “What a waste of money, a traditional baby monitor will be just fine!”

After I had my son, I was so laid back I thought “Well, it would be nice, but it’s still not a necessity, I don’t feel the need to check on him every 5 minutes to make sure he’s still breathing, and that’s what those are for, right?”

Our system, it works great! It just doesn’t do video.

Then my son started sleeping longer periods in his own room, our inexpensive, non-video baby monitor showed up and we started using it. If you’re on the fence about dishing out the extra cash for one (or registering for one), let me share some of the benefits of them that I’ve learned by not having one so you can learn from my mistake:

 

  • You can see if he’s awake or just stirring

    If you have a baby who gently wakes up like I do, sometimes it’s hard to tell if those noises mean the baby is awake or just stirring in his sleep. With a video monitor I could see if his eyes were open, and it could save me many trips into his room in the middle of the night.

  • You can tell if he’s spit out his pacifier

    For us, sometimes the pacifier was the difference between whether he’d go back to sleep or not, and was a key part of our sleep training. Figuring out whether it’s still in from only sound is just plain impossible. With a video monitor I’d be able to see in a quick glance, which could also save me trips into his room.

 

  • Future uses

    When I was thinking about buying a monitor, I only thought about what I needed it for now. I didn’t think about what I uses a video monitor might have in the future! For us, independent play is pretty important. When my son’s older, I plan to create a safe play environment where he can play on his own for periods of time. A video monitor would let me check in to make sure he’s alright and not getting into something he shouldn’t without him feeling like I’m hovering all the time.

  • You can have some peace of mind

    I know what I said before, I didn’t feel the need to check in on him every 5 minutes. Well I didn’t, until my baby started sleeping in his own room for extended periods of time. A definite contributor to momsomnia is all the new tragic things your mind can obsess over now that you have a little being to care for, and I definitely had to keep myself from going in and checking on him some nights. A video monitor would let me push those thoughts away and get back to that much needed sleep.

 

These are just the ones I’ve noticed in the first few weeks with our non-video monitor. Eventually I’ll probably cave and buy a video monitor, and then I’m sure I’ll discover more reasons they’re a good idea to buy! Has anyone else discovered a reason that I haven’t yet? If you have a video monitor, any recommendations for us? I’m sure we’ll be buying one soon!

 

Sleep training: What works for us

Sleep training is such a hot topic in mom groups. Either you do it and you’re a neglectful parent or you don’t and everyone wonders how you’re not a walking zombie (seriously though, how on earth do you do it?!).

The internet is filled with so much contradicting advice it becomes a chore just to sift through it all. I briefly considered not sleep training, but believe me when I say our whole home is a much happier place when momma gets some sleep. The biggest difficulties for us were deciding which methods were healthy and which would work for us.

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The unhealthy ones are fairly easy to spot. A baby’s stomach is only so big, so anything suggesting pushing out the distance between feedings was out. Also, anything that proclaims it makes babies sleep through the night before 8 weeks, as babies aren’t designed to go that long without eating. Eventually, we plan on using the gentle CIO (cry-it-out method) but from what I can see babies don’t develop the ability to safely and healthily self-soothe until 3-4 months and we wanted to start incorporating good sleep habits and start easing into sleep training before then.

I cannot emphasize enough that finding what works for your family is key. Just because this works for ours doesn’t mean it’ll fit with yours. If something just causes more stress, let go and move on, try something else, because it’s not worth it. So, after all that, here’s what works for us:

  • Setting a bed time

This seems to be something that’s going out the window for a lot of families these days. I know some parents who don’t seem to care when their kids go to bed, and that’s so foreign to me. I was raised where all kids had a bedtime, and I feel like that’s one of the contributing factors to us not having an overtired cranky baby so far. Our goal is for his bedtime to start at 8pm, and to put him back to sleep (after a diaper change or feeding) if he wakes up before 8am. We’re not very strict with that, after all, he is just a newborn still, but we aim for that time every night to try to give him and us some consistency.

  • Bedtime routine

Every night, starting about a half hour before our goal bedtime of 8 pm, we start our routine. Our routine consists of a bath, changing his diaper, wrapping him up in his swaddleme wrap (these things are lifesavers!), reading him a story, nursing him to sleep and laying him down. Personalize the routine with something that works for your family, but the whole goal is that eventually he’ll get used to the routine and be able to start learning that we’re winding down for bed in the hopes that we’ll have less bedtime fights in the future.

These swaddles come in different types depending on your baby’s size or development and are a total sleep-saver!

 

  • Good sleep environment

Around 2-3 months babies start losing that adorable ability to fall asleep anywhere and start becoming more alert to their environment. It’s recommended to have a dark room (you can even put black out curtains up) with a sound machine at night and for naps. Not only do these help your baby go to sleep and stay asleep, but it’s another thing that can send your baby the signal that it’s bedtime. We dim the lights for story time to send his brain the alert that it’s bedtime, and I’ve noticed that if I leave the lights off during nighttime feedings he goes back to sleep faster.

  • Nursing to sleep

This goes against almost all of the sleep training advice, but if we tried to stop my little man from doing this, nights would be miserable for all of us. So for now we accept that nursing to sleep is the best for us at this age, and in a few months we’ll start trying to teach him to fall asleep without it. I don’t feel guilty for ignoring that advice, it works for us now and that’s all that matters.

We got this white noise machine as a gift and I just love the different sound options, they even do whale sounds!

 

  • Cosleeping

Also against most sleep training advice, our little man still sleeps with us in bed every night. Every night when he falls asleep I transfer him over to his own bed and usually he’ll sleep for somewhere between 30 minutes to a few hours. When he wakes after that he usually won’t stay asleep if he isn’t in bed with us. Someday we’ll make an effort to get him to sleep in his bed all night, but that will have to wait until he’s older.

  • Learning his daily routine

We don’t try to manufacture the perfect daily routine, to me that’s just not natural. Maybe he needs to eat in an hour instead of three today, maybe he needs to sleep extra due to not feeling well. Instead, we pay attention to what works for him and try to plan our days around it to prevent meltdowns. The two exceptions are we usually wake him if he’s napped longer than 2.5 hours and try to make sure that he isn’t waking up from a nap less than an hour before bedtime. Baby Daybook is a great app for keeping track of that all if you want to learn your baby’s routine.

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The Baby Daybook app is a lifesaver!

The result:

Obviously, we’re just starting this so I can’t claim for it to be an absolute success yet. Sometimes we have bad nights, and no, he doesn’t sleep through the night yet, but one night we did get 5.5 hours of sleep before he woke up! He doesn’t keep us up at night anymore and he usually goes right back to sleep after eating or a diaper change. I feel we have a much happier, content baby during the day after he’s gotten all that sleep at night, and the additional sleep is making us much happier parents as well. Altogether it has been great for our family, and I look forward to progressing towards even better nights.

If you’re interested in seeing what a sample day looks like for us, that post will be coming up soon, so make sure to follow the blog to get a notification when it gets published! What sleep training methods have worked for you and your family?

Momsomnia

One day, this blog will be about what it was designed for.

One day, there will be posts filled with traveling, projects, parties and more.

Today is not that day.

If I’m totally honest, that day probably won’t come for a little while. Why? Because I have a new baby, and some days I barely find the time to brush my hair, let alone do a project and create a pinterest-perfect blog post about it.

Today is about momsomnia. What is that you might ask?

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I don’t know yet whether this is something every mom goes through or not, but this is one of the most bittersweet moments yet in motherhood for me.  You might think I’m crazy, how could insomnia be bittersweet? Well just stick with me.

The good:

The potential for more sleep in the future. The reason I’m awake right now is because my baby USUALLY is too, but with all the efforts we’ve been putting into getting him to sleep longer periods in his own bed hopefully that is in the past. I have been dreaming of a good nights sleep since he was born, there are nights I would have paid ridiculous amounts just to be able to sleep for an uninterrupted hour.

The bad:

My baby is growing up! It’s inevitable, it is after all what we worked for, but lying awake at midnight without a baby in my arms makes me miss him. It’s all I can do not to go into his room, scoop him up in my arms and just hold him while I memorize his little sleeping face. I mean, look at him! Can you blame me?

Briar

 

So tonight, I celebrate the future nights of good sleep, the success of our efforts and my little man’s development, but when he wakes up, whether it be in 5 minutes or an hour, I’ll be grateful for one more chance to snuggle him in my arms as he falls asleep.

Because I know these days are numbered.

Baby it’s cold outside!

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I know I’ve taken a few weeks off, the closer we’re getting to the holidays and the baby’s arrival the crazier things seem to be and it’s not going to get any easier once he’s here! However, I was able to make time this week to put together a project I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I had my fiance put together a beautiful wooden wall hanging with some of our leftover fence boards for me a couple weeks back, and in the meantime I’d just been trying to figure out what to put on it.”Baby it’s cold outside” is one of my all time favorite winter/Christmas songs, while admittedly the lyrics can be a bit creepy, I can’t help but put it on and sing along when that chill hits the air. Once I decided on that song, I put together this design that you can download here to use for this project or just put in a frame! One of my favorite things about using this quote is it’s not just for Christmas, so it can go up when it starts to get cold out and stay up until February or March! In the spring I plan on designing something for the other side to use during the warmer months, so all I’ll have to do is flip it around when the seasons change, and I’ll save on storage.

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So how’d I do it? Well I had seen some ideas online about how you could use freezer paper to make a template to iron to a surface. As much as I’d love a cricut machine I don’t have one so I have to get creative and I thought maybe that would work! Spoiler: It doesn’t, at least not on wood. After buying it, painstakingly cutting out the design, I went to attempt to iron it to the wood and it doesn’t really stick. It did in some places, which was nice and ended up doing a good enough job, but it did not work how I really wanted it to. I ended up losing a lot of the detail in the snowflake, but I’m still happy with the final product. Using normal paper and some tape would have worked just as well and not cost as much money, but it’s not a complete loss! I’ve heard the freezer paper can work well for fabric templates and I plan on trying that out too in a future project. So the process was pretty simple: Print out the design in your desired size, cut it out, adhere it to the canvas (or boards) and then paint away! I found that using a dabbing motion is the best, especially on wood, as it gets in all the little grooves and I don’t have to worry about bristles slipping under the template too much.

There you have it! Anyone have a template technique that they use that might work better than this? I’ve used cardboard for a sturdier template before, but cutting that out is such a pain it drives me up a wall.

I Choose You: a quick and easy Poke-party!

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A couple weeks ago my friend talked to me about helping him throw a birthday party for his son Alex. He’s a single dad with three wonderful boys and I wanted to help make this one of the awesomest birthday parties ever. Alex and his brothers are currently obsessed with all things Pokemon, it’s what they’re dressing up as for Halloween and so naturally that was the theme he picked for the party. However, since I wasn’t the one throwing it or in charge, my contributions are a lot more limited than what I would usually do, so I chipped in some ideas and some designs that I’ll share here.

Invitations

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You all know how important invitations are to me, and the birthday boy quite specifically requested poke ball invitations. If I had more time and money I would have loved to figure out how to do actual pokeballs (how cool would that be?) but instead I put together a pretty awesome design for much less time and money. There are two ways of doing this invitation: the simple way and the complicated way and I included the download files for both. The simple way is printing out the front and the back on one piece of cardstock. I left some room for you to fill in details such as date, time and location, but if you don’t feel its enough you can always just leave the back blank and create your own backing. The complicated way involves printing out the front, then printing half of the message on the inside of the first piece of paper, and then printing out one more sheet of paper with the rest of the message. After you cut out the circles you can glue the top halves together so that when you’re finished the invitation will open to reveal the whole message like in the photo below. I’d test it out on a cheaper piece of paper first, to make sure you can get your printer lined up so it prints on the correct side. I also left room in this design to add your own details, but if you need more room feel free to print on the back of the second sheet of paper as well. I think they’ll go over pretty well, I’m not sure I know many children or adults who wouldn’t love getting a pokeball as an invitation!

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Decorations

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I didn’t want to go too over the top with these, mostly because I didn’t really know the space I was working with, but I wanted to do something pokemon related for the birthday boy to help spice up the space and add to the theme. We always had a banner proclaiming “Happy Birthday” when I was a kid, and my mom would put it up every birthday and it always succeeded in making my feel special, and I wanted Alex to feel the same. I stuck with a more classic pennant shape for this banner, using grass on the bottom to bring some color to it but also because walking through the grass to find wild pokemon is something all pokemon fans are familiar with. I added the poke ball symbol from the new hats in light blue in the background and a red border just to make sure it pops.  You can download the designs for the letters here: H-A P-P Y-B I-R T-D Y-! (If you print out the H-A sheet twice you’ll have enough letters for “Happy Birthday!”). You can also print out some blank ones here if you want to make some for your child’s name or do any other custom ones. I printed it out on white card stock, two letters to a piece of paper, and then cut those out into triangles, punched holes in the corners and strung them together with some ribbon. You could print any of these projects on regular paper, but if you’re going to use heavier paper on any of these projects, use it on this one. The ribbon through the holes you punch is going to raise the chance of ripping through and it’ll help if the paper is heavier.

Food

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I can’t take all the credit for the food ideas, Alex’s dad is a culinary student and had some amazing ideas, and together we came up with a pretty awesome menu. For the food labels I went along the same lines as the banner design, repeating the grass and the pokemon symbol, and using a pokemon font to tie it all together. You can get the blanks here and the food labels we used here. Some of the dishes we had were Charizard Fireballs, Berries fruit plate, Venusaur veggies, Onix Meatball Skewers and Dugtrio sausages along with a pokemon stadium cake.

Alex absolutely loved his party and everyone seemed to have a great time!

Easy Moss Wall Art Tutorial

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If you were following along with my Harry Potter party series, you might have seen this piece of art hanging up in my entryway. This was one of my favorite projects I’ve done in this house so far, and I stumbled upon it on a pin from Hobby Lobby. No, I can’t take the credit for coming up with the idea, it was hiding among a few other projects, but there were no directions to be seen. I had to wing it and stumbled into a few obstacles so I thought I’d share a tutorial here to go along with it. I fell in love with this because I love having different textures throughout the house, the pattern reminded me of tuscany and the green really makes it feel fresh and vibrant.

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You can do this project any size that you want, the most important thing you need to find is the moss. The poor hobby lobby employee ran around the store with me at least three times trying to help me find what I thought was peel and stick moss. It wasn’t, they don’t carry it (it might not even exist). What you’ll want is the rolled moss mat pictured below that you can find near the floral section (or you can order it here). You’ll also need a canvas for the moss, whatever size you decide to do. This is the most flexible price point, I used a foam core board because it was only a couple dollars, but if you want to you could use an actual canvas and it would be much sturdier. Finally, you’ll need glue, scissors (or an xacto knife) this pattern and an optional frame which I’ll go into detail about later.

closeup

The mat was more than enough for my canvas, which is roughly 2′ x 3′, it probably could have made two, so don’t worry about not having enough. I printed out the pattern, traced it onto a cardboard form and then proceeded to trace that out onto the back of the moss mat what felt like 100 times. At first I started out using an xacto knife, but it was very time consuming, and scissors worked just as well but cut my time in half. I used a hot glue gun to glue these down, but once a good amount were cut out I started gluing as I wasn’t sure exactly how many shapes I’d need. I found it was best to start from the middle and work out, making sure the first one was centered as much as possible and then lining everything up from there as I spiraled out. I was able to get all of this done in one night, the moss makes a huge mess, but luckily it vacuums up easily.

You don’t have to do anything further from there, you can either add a picture hanger on the back (is there an actual term for those and I just can’t recall it?) or you can set it on a table and lean it against a wall. However, I wanted to add some rustic element to it that would go along with a lot of the other elements in our house, so we added a frame. We have a bunch of leftover wood in our backyard from when we replaced our fence that’s just been begging to be used in a project. If you don’t have that on hand, you can usually find tons of old wood on craigslist’s free section, whether for this or any other projects. A few saw cuts and staples later and he had that frame put together for me. Altogether it was a fun project and I have gotten tons of compliments on it!