Dr. Seuss Themed, Book Week, Door Decorating

Dr. Seuss Themed, Book Week, Door Decorating

I volunteer in my 6 year old’s class once a week to help with extra reading and his teacher asked if I could help with a book week door design – oh yes I can! Lol. I went on Pinterest and looked for ideas as to how to encourage young readers to get excited about reading and found some awesome ideas, including varied options for the “I will read” saying, inside of an extended version of Cat’s Hat.

Credit from Pinterest (I can’t find the site again to give proper credit)
The beginning drawing
A close up of Cat’s face – though I did edit him a tad during the painting phase

Everywhere I looked there was the Cat’s hat, but what about Cat himself? I grabbed one of my son’s books and freehand drew the cat. He turned out pretty great! Lol. I honestly don’t know how to help you draw him other than to say it might help to look at the picture in grids and draw each grid independently, sometimes baby steps are the best, rather than looking at the bigger picture.

The drawing was the easy part though, trying to copy the font for the passage on the right had to be the most time-consuming! Painting was certainly no easy task either, but the rewards are immediate! I did however make a mistake and tried to erase my pencil marks too quickly (see photo). But all in all, I was very happy with the results!

I did everything at home other than the handprints of course! This afternoon I had the lovely pleasure of assisting each first grader in dipping their hand in paint thereby adding their personal touch to this door cover. It was so much fun! The teacher had photos of each and every child that we stuck in the middle of their handprint. It worked out really well and I love it! I’ll never have another first grader, but I’ll always have this amazing memory! Even the teacher put her handprint on there!

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Miscarriage – Mourning the could-have-beens – part 2

If you haven’t read part 1 of my story, please use this link: Miscarriage – Mourning the could-have-beens – part 1 and head over to it.

The second time I miscarried was about 7 months after my first miscarriage. I was 11 weeks, 6 days pregnant.

Facebook was a fairly new thing and I had just begun to connect with a whole heap of people online. As with the first miscarriage, I had been to the doctor and had the pregnancy confirmed. It was standard practice in Texas to come back at 12 weeks to hear the fetal heartbeat and do various first trimester blood tests, etcetera. We were excited. After the first miscarriage, I bought a fetal Doppler so I could find the heartbeat myself & after a lot of searching and much panicking, we did find it. It was all very exciting. I would go and try to find the heartbeat almost daily though, which was probably unhealthy in itself. Anyway, we were excited. We were expecting & at 11 weeks, 5 days, I announced it to the world via Facebook, what could it hurt right? My appointment was in 2 days, things seemed to be coming along nicely.

The following morning, Texas started going in to panic mode as there was a big ice storm coming. The entire city of San Antonio began to shut down. We got a call from the doctor’s office saying we would have to reschedule our appointment (it was meant to be for the next day) as the city had closed everything. They would call us back after the ice storm to find another time for the appointment. The timing was incredible.

That afternoon, I began spotting all over again. I couldn’t believe it but read that it can happen, even during a normal pregnancy. I was trying to be calm but when we couldn’t find a heartbeat, something kicked in and I knew in my heart of hearts that this was happening all over again!

It was very different this time. It’s really tough for me to explain and to tell this story, but I pretty much started to go into labor (I had a child, so I knew what that felt like). Everything was wrong. Hubby was at work again – he worked for a home improvement store so had to make sure people got the supplies they needed for the ice storm, ironically.

Our little girl was amazing! She just sat out in the living room watching tv, being the sweet, responsible, almost 3 year old, that I was so incredibly lucky to have!

But what I went through was awful! It didn’t last for that long. But imagine actually giving birth to something that doesn’t resemble a baby at all. I know you can find photos on the internet that look like a tiny baby when you are almost 12 weeks pregnanct, but this was a lump. I couldn’t mourn it, I couldn’t stand looking at it. It didn’t have limbs, it was just a lump. And in some ways it made it easier to move forward and in other ways, far more difficult. That fact that I had been through the whole process of a miniature labor, was very tough to swallow, the fact that it didn’t remotely resemble what the books showed you, made it a tad easier, I guess.

For 3 days San Antonio was shut down, even hubby stayed home for 2 of them. By the time the clinic called back to reschedule, I knew it was all over and told them as much. They wanted me to go to have a D&C (a clean out to make sure everything is out of you so you don’t have any chance of getting an infection) but I knew everything was out of me. I knew my body had done its job. I just knew.

I spent my next few weeks in a daze and thought our daughter would end up being an only child. Obviously I was too old or I had done too much damage in my earlier days through smoking and drinking. It was a tough pill to swallow as one thing I adamantly didn’t want was an only child! But I put thoughts of another baby on the back burner and focused on the child I did have. I gave up smoking (yes, I still smoked – outside – after having our first child – obviously I stopped during the pregnancy-but I stopped completely this time). I started to exercise and even started making some friends. Hubby introduced me to some of the spouses of his college cohort and we all started to socialize on a regular basis too. It was a really fun time in our lives and we made the most of the family time we got together and the quality of life our daughter had.

About 1 year later, I was fortunate enough to get pregnant again and everything seemed to be different from the get go. It was meant to be. And my second little girl is 10 going on 18. She’s a handful, but an absolute joy.

I even got a surprise third baby about 4 years after she was born, when my husband was waiting for a vasectomy of all things! Had I not though, there wouldn’t be any Hunter-isms! 😁 Check out my Facebook page to find out more info about those!

I hope you’ve found this blog helpful and in your time of need, you know that you are not alone. Please feel free to share so others understand how many of us have been through this. Come on over to Aussie Mum’s Adventures on FB and like my page: Aussie Mum’s Adventures. You can find me on Twitter: @ozmumsadventures, on Instagram: Ozmumsadventures, on Pinterest: Aussiemumsadventures.

If you or someone you love has experienced a miscarriage, please remember there are resources out there to help you.

In the USA:

https://www.gopinkandblue.org

In Australia:

https://www.pregnancylossaustralia.org.au

In NZ:

https://www.miscarriagesupport.org.nz

In UK:

https://www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk

 

Screen Shot 2019-02-20 at 10.53.02 PMMiscarriage, it’s the kind of word that comes with lots of stigma. It’s the kind of word that seems to hush the room when spoken, no-one knowing what to say, yet statistically, it happens often.

According to March of Dimes:

“Miscarriage (also called early pregnancy loss) is when a baby dies in the womb (uterus) before 20 weeks of pregnancy. For women who know they’re pregnant, about 10 to 15 in 100 pregnancies (10 to 15 percent) end in miscarriage. Most miscarriages happen in the first trimester before the 12th week of pregnancy. Miscarriage in the second trimester (between 13 and 19 weeks) happens in 1 to 5 in 100 (1 to 5 percent) pregnancies.

As many as half of all pregnancies may end in miscarriage. We don’t know the exact number because a miscarriage may happen before a woman knows she’s pregnant. Most women who miscarry go on to have a healthy pregnancy later.”

This might be a tad tough to read, it’s certainly tough to write, but sometimes we need to share our stories to help others through their struggles. it’s that spoken about, yet unspoken thing that so many women have to endure. The United States is currently in the midst of an abortion debate, but we seem to forget about those who tragically lose a fetus, particularly when they are trying to conceive.

Unfortunately I know this from experience, twice. The first time, I was 8 weeks pregnant, we were super excited. Life was good. We had moved to Texas from Italy, my husband had left the Navy and started school to earn his bachelor’s degree. He was working a part time job, our eldest daughter was two and we were ready to increase our family. Money was tight and we didn’t have great insurance coverage but it was good enough to cover a pregnancy and we knew that once my husband had finished his degree, we would be ok. Life had other plans at that point in time though. 

I was approximately 8 weeks pregnant. We had confirmed the pregnancy at a doctor’s appointment when I was approximately 6 weeks pregnant. They told us to make another appointment at 12 weeks, we were delighted. One of my hubby’s friends was having a party and I was designated driver (obviously). We were having a good time when suddenly something didn’t feel right. I went to the bathroom and had some fairly prominent spotting. We left the party shortly thereafter. I was concerned, but tried to remain as calm as possible.

The following morning, I dropped my husband off at work and was driving home when all of a sudden the bleeding became fairly heavy. It was scary. My two year old daughter was in the car. I was alone. We got home and she saw the blood and started crying asking if Mummy was ok. I was more scared for the scarring this could do to her than anything else at this point in time, so I tried to reassure her I was ok. Even thinking about it now makes my heart beat faster. With only one car, it wasn’t even like I could physically go and pick up my husband from work, so I sat there with my little girl and cried and miscarried throughout that day. Alone, in a foreign country, not knowing anyone close by. 

When I did go and pick up my husband, who was blissfully unaware of all that had transpired throughout the day, he saw me and seemed to understand something was terribly wrong immediately. We decided to go to the emergency room to make sure it was a miscarriage and that nothing further was wrong. Unfortunately, it was all but confirmed (another blog to come about this whole ghastly experience) so I went home with a heavy heart. 

I’m pretty sure I cried for the next week or so. I felt lost. I felt like I had failed. I felt alone. I wanted to give my Mum a hug and have her tell me everything was ok, but unfortunately she was on the other side of the world. Thank god I could at least talk to her on the phone! My husband tried to be there for me, but he didn’t really know what to say or do. I couldn’t help him either, I was a little lost and trying to hold my shit together for our daughter. He was doing his best to hold down the fort in every possible way. 

What do you say when someone has a miscarriage? Well here’s what not to say, “it was obviously for the best as something must have been wrong with it.” Um, no. Just no. (and yes, people felt the need to say this to me). That might be true, but when someone dies after suffering incredible pain, you don’t tell their family that it was for the best, it just doesn’t work! Just listen. Say you’re sorry. If you’ve been through it yourself, share that information. Tell the person you have some understanding of what they’re going through. Remember that everyone feels pain differently, your experiences are probably different to theirs and if you’ve never been through it, then you honestly don’t understand. Be honest. Let them talk or sit in silence. Its similar to grieving for a loved one. You didn’t know that child, but you lost the promise of all that could have been. When you find out you are pregnant, you are excited, you can’t help but wonder what this child will be like; is it a girl? A boy? Twins? Will they be a prodigy? Will they be funny? Sweet? What sort of mother will you be? How many adventures will you have? So many things run through your head the minute a pregnancy is confirmed. And it’s all the could-haves that break your heart when you miscarry.

I mentioned earlier that I had a second miscarriage and I will share the details of that in part two of this blog. Miscarriage can be terribly lonely. Women feel ostracized by it. But you are not alone and it’s ok. You will get through. You will be ok. We will be ok. More than likely, you did everything right. No-one can really explain why miscarriages happen, but what we do know is that everyone experiences different emotions when they go through a miscarriage; you doubt your own body, you question what you’ve done to deserve this. Some people grieve immediately, others later. At the end of the day, it’s painful, but you are very much allowed to mourn your loss; to mourn the could-have’s. 

I hope you’ve found this blog helpful and in your time of need, you know that you are not alone. Please feel free to share so others understand how many of us have been through this. Come on over to Aussie Mum’s Adventures on FB and like my page: Aussie Mum’s Adventures. You can find me on Twitter: @ozmumsadventures, on Instagram: Ozmumsadventures, on Pinterest: Aussiemumsadventures.

If you or someone you love has experienced a miscarriage, please remember there are resources out there to help you.

In the USA:

https://www.gopinkandblue.org

In Australia:

https://www.pregnancylossaustralia.org.au

In NZ:

https://www.miscarriagesupport.org.nz

In UK:

https://www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk

Resources:

March of Dimes

Shut the French Door!

Shut the French Door!

When it comes to French doors and privacy, there are only so many options. I started researching some of them when we installed our French doors on our house here in Virginia. We have a larger lot (over 2 acres) and are surrounded by woods, but in the winter, the trees take their deciduous steps and distant neighbours have now got much better views into your domain. This bothers me, particularly at night when it is so dark outside and the house is lit up like a small supernova. I definitely like my privacy. What to do on a budget? Well, given I had no clue how to make French Door curtains, I purchased some and they’re fabulous and cost about $30.

We have another set of French doors in our basement and it has always bothered me that my kids could be down there playing (the video gaming is set up down there) and anyone can see into those doors too. I had originally planned to buy another set of the same style of curtains for down there, but then I remembered I actually have a ton of curtains from our various moves – yes, when you move like we do, you acquire so many things – some of which are a metallic Grey and would match the decor down there absolutely perfectly! The curtains I had purchased (pictured) looked very easy to copy the style of, so with a few modifications, I set out to repurpose my existing curtains into practical ones for the French door.

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The first thing I did was measure the window opening in the door to ensure the curtains I had were long enough, they were. Then it was a matter of taking approximate measurements of the existing French door curtains to match up my gray ones. I measured the width of the curtain and realized I had to cut quite a lot off it. This is a little scary mind you as you are ruining, I mean restyling, something perfectly good. I found the best thing to do was to measure all the way down putting a small sharpie mark along the length then getting a ruler and joining these marks together, then it was just a matter of biting the bullet and cutting (if I ruined them, well I did have another back up pair that weren’t so perfect but would do). I made my curtains 26″ (66cm) wide with a half inch hem on the side that needed a new hem. Therefore, my marks were made at 26 1/2 inches (67.3 cm) across ensuring the 4 circles (normally what would go on a rod) became the feature top of my French door curtains and were evenly spaced on both sides.

With the length I cut off, I measured the amount I would need to make the two pieces that velcroed together, holding the entire curtain up when you wanted to allow daylight in. I did screw up a little bit here as I didn’t take into account the fact that the second piece wouldn’t have any hem on either end, don’t do what I did, make that second piece a fraction longer, it will make life easier and save a burnt finger when it comes to ironing that hem on. I made each of these pieces 19 1/4 ” (49cm) by 2 1/2 ” (6.35cm) PLUS hem – important you don’t forget to factor this in.

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I didn’t even tell you that I wanted to do this entire project without sewing! I had lots of iron-on hemming tape and thought it would be perfect for this job.

If you have never used hemming/bonding tape, basically you use an iron to melt it together, ergo bond the fabric together at your given hemline. The iron has to be hot (so the fabric you use has to be capable of withstanding a reasonably hot iron, and you must turn the steam function off. Be careful not to touch the hemming tape with the hot iron, it will melt immediately and leave a sticky residue on your iron – if this happens, turn iron off and wait to get cold before wiping with a clean cloth that has some rubbing alcohol on it (I do not know this from experience ;)). I decided to double hem my edges because I wanted a clean ‘finished’ look, it did mean a lot more work but it looks better in my opinion. One other thing I did was to cut the hemming tape in half lengthwise as it fitted each of my little, narrow hems much better like that.


Once everything was hemmed and ironed, I folded the front of the curtain over so it gave my front a more professional finish, I used more hemming tape at the top to secure these two folds together.

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I then joined the two pieces on to the back of the French door curtain like so (I pinned everything in place after I had measured it and before I permanently attached it so I could be sure it was all going to work and look nice and neat). My strips were attached 6″ in from the edges on each side.
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Then it was a matter of attaching the Velcro. Again, I didn’t particularly want to sew, not that I can’t, I’m just not very good at it and don’t particularly enjoy it, so I had some sticky back Velcro from another project and just used it. This really is a matter of eyeballing and making sure they will align when joined together. Pinning helps with this too.
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Finally, it was time to attach a curtain to the French door:


I love how these turned out. They match the decor down here perfectly, I had everything on hand so didn’t actually have to purchase anything and now I know we will have privacy downstairs too!


Would you try this at your house? What do you think of this project? Please come on over to Aussie Mum’s Adventures on FB and like my page: Aussiemumsadventures. You can find me on Twitter: @ozmumsadventures, on Instagram: Ozmumsadventures, on Pinterest: Aussiemumsadventures And please subscribe to my YouTube channel: Aussie Mum’s Adventures (I’m still working on it, so please have patience with me!).

The ‘Wall’

Mexico-U.S. border wall prototypes/photo by CBP Photography/Flickr

I understand immigration is a big issue, particularly illegal immigration. I went through hell to get into this country legally, all because I just happened to fall in love with a US citizen!

This isn’t the solution though; a wall that is. The proverbial ladders are already being funded and built. The real costs will be incredible! You’re talking about taking land from farmers, stopping their seasonal workers from doing the laborious jobs no one else will do because the pay isn’t worthy of the labor-intensive nature involved. Fresh produce will increase in price – for all of us, as will law suits because the government is taking private land and there are very few private land owners willingly ready to give up their hard-worked land. Not to mention the incredible environmental impact – the actual production of cement/concrete, creates immensely harmful greenhouse gasses. The Rio Grande is often a scarce water region so locals, neighbours, on both sides of the river, have for years worked together to come up with solutions to share the water resources. They have built dams together, they have, for the most part, been extremely amicable, my daughter literally read a passage out of her fifth grade social studies/geography text book about just this thing last night.

Then there’s the devastating impact on wildlife. The National Butterfly Center located in Mission, TX has had a portion of its property sectioned off to build a part of the wall that was already funded under Congress last year (2018) when it approved the funding of approximately 33 acres of ‘barrier’ costing an estimated $600 million. The Butterfly Center is going to try to fight it, but “Under laws passed since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Department of Homeland Security has said it can override federal environmental regulations to build barriers at the U.S.-Mexico border.” (Texas butterfly center fighting border wall construction).

But, here’s the thing & it’s big! The hatred for fellow Americans has to cease, as does the great big line that has been invisibly drawn between us. You are representatives of a great country, a great multi-cultural country. A country that has developed in diversity because of all the immigrants that have contributed to it. You have the opportunity to show what great people you are! And just how great the UNITED States of America is! We have to work together to find a solution for illegal immigration. We have to stop the hatred between fellow man. We have to be reasonable when looking for solutions to problems such as illegal immigration. We cannot join in with the BS currently circulating throughout this great country. The division, the name calling, the hatred, it has to cease. I don’t have the answers, but I’m certainly willing to keep an open mind if reasonable ideas are put forward for how to eliminate illegal immigration at the US/Mexico border and take care of both our fellow human beings and the animals who populate the world with us. Just not a wall.

References

Retrieved from: https://www.dallasnews.com/news/news/2019/02/04/texas-butterfly-center-fighting-border-wall-construction

Chalk Paint Table Makeover

Chalk Paint Table Makeover

I love to DIY and I normally have numerous projects going on at once, which my husband absolutely hates because he is a ‘one tasker’ – you know the type, you could well be one too, complete one project before moving on to the next. Not me. I’m not sure why it is but I’ve always been like that. I get bored doing one thing or waiting for it to finish or have to stop because of budgetary constraints, so I move on to the next thing whilst biding my time.

Currently on my project lists I have the master bathroom project (which has come to a grinding halt until hubby takes some time off later in the month and we replace the counter top and sinks etc). I have also begun with our main floor stair makeover (you can see pics of that in a later blog), I have one painting I’m in the midst of (yes, I’m trying to establish myself as an artist as well, with a store on Etsy, though that now needs to be updated as my paintings have all expired, so I’ll add that to my current projects (here’s the link to it: Le Shez Boutique). Back to the painting; it has me a little vexed as to where to go with it to improve it, so it’s been benched at this point in time. Finally, I have the project that this blog is about: my side table makeover.

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We’ve had this table since we lived in Italy, it wasn’t a cheap purchase but it certainly isn’t of the quality that furniture used to be made of either. It has a veneer coating and has certainly travelled well, having moved with us into nine different houses, including two overseas moves! I’ve always liked the design but the large chips in it and the differing tastes in both houses and changes in tastes in myself, mean I also now find it outdated and ugly with potential.

One other thing I always do is keep an eye out for bargains that may come in handy at some point in time for some particular project I know I will do in the future, or for a project I didn’t even know I wanted to do just yet, and that’s exactly how I came across this chalk paint. LIDL (a German store that rivals ALDI) has so many of these bargain things that sometimes I have to say no to shopping there! But when I saw the below pictured chalk paint for about $5, I knew exactly where I could use it! So onto table restoration I went (in between waiting for coats to dry on said staircase).

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The first thing I had to do was obviously dust it off and remove the handles. If you want to paint them (the handles), spray paint is probably your best option, but I chose not to in this case thinking they were in great condition as is. I then gave the table a very light sanding. I used 220 grit sandpaper. You have to be very careful when sanding veneer that you do not go too deep with your sanding. After I had lightly sanded everywhere, it was on to filling in the accidental scratches and divets that were not helping this table age gracefully! I used MINWAX Stainable Wood Filler, for no other reason than that it was the one that looked easiest to use and was a good price in the store. I needed something that I could paint and stain (for my piano project that will happen one day) and something that could be sanded – this was perfect. I filled the scratches, waited for the filler to dry then sanded it down once more. I also grabbed something I could get all the grime out of the cracks with, the fact that it happened to be a stem from an edible fruit arrangement received sometime over the past 10 years did not go unnoticed by me, but you know that’s why I keep this crap around! You never know when something like that will come in handy!

I cleaned the table once more with damp paper towel then began the process of painting it. I wasn’t too fussed about it looking perfect after the first coat, given I knew it would require at least two coats of my base color.

First coat:IMG_7828

Second Coat (the paint is still drying in this photo):

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Now it was a matter of what to do next. I wasn’t actually using chalk paint for the next part, I had leftover ceiling paint (flat white) and thought it would be perfect for the effect I wanted. I grabbed both a thin brush as well as a foam brush and dipped into the ceiling paint and tried to focus on the detailed areas that I wanted highlighted in the white paint – the grooves etc. I had a wet paper towel on hand to get rid of/blend anything I wasn’t totally happy with, chalk paint is quite forgiving as long as you don’t press too hard. It was really a matter of going until I was happy with the results. If I wasn’t happy, I’d grab the brush for the chalk paint and paint over whatever it was I wasn’t happy with.

I had some Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations Protective Top Coat leftover from our kitchen renovation in Colorado, so I used this to seal the chalk pain in, The whole process literally took less than 7 hours. I’m happy with the results. Hubby and eldest daughter absolutely love it (and were completely surprised because they had no idea this project was on the agenda). Middle daughter isn’t a huge fan, youngest (son) loves it! So I guess a 4/5 isn’t bad right! I hope you’ve enjoyed it too!

If you’ve enjoyed this blog, please share it with your friends and go ahead and like my Facebook page: Aussie Mum’s Adventures. I’m on Twitter: @Ozmumsadventures and you can find me on Youtube also: Aussie Mum’s Adventures, though I’ve got a tonne of videos not yet posted that need to be edited and uploaded and no one to do that for me! LOL.