Saturday, February 26, 2011

new posts

I'm not a fan of publishing a bunch of posts at once, but I desperately needed to catch up on our weekend fun. I've past-dated them to show up chronologically closer to when they occurred, so if you are checking my blog for new posts (as opposed to reading them on your Reader page), here are the links so you don't have to scroll through old posts to find them:

Weekend 9

Weekend 8

Weekend 7

Weekend 6

Weekend 5

weekend fun 9:52

Today we ventured south. First we ate funnel cakes and chocolate-chip banana bread at the Frisbys' house in Morgan Hill. Yum. The men watched basketball (I guess as a Cougar I should have cared that BYU was playing?), the ladies chatted, and the kids and dog got into mischief. I, for one, was happy to have a dog around so that I didn't have to pick up any stray cheerios.

And I made out like a bandit. Well, a bandit who gets extremely excited about free branches. Hey, I need to put up some posts in the back yard to support my sweetpeas, because they are planted along a cement wall. The Frisbys happened to have a huge pile of branches to get rid of. Win, win. I only wish I could have made a bigger dent in their pile.

Forgot to take pictures. (I seem to be good at that.)

Then we went even farther south to my parents' house in Hollister. And guess what? IT SNOWED! Lucky us! I love hanging out at my parents' house.

{Video of Graham in the snow.}

{Watching the snow fall.}

{Graham not so sure about being so cold.}

{Toys at Grandma's house.}

{Graham playing with the same ladybug magnets I used to play with when they were on my Grandma Adrian's fridge.}

{My mom and Liam}

daddy talk

One of my favorite things to do is eavesdrop on Christian when he is getting Graham and Liam dressed in the other room. Here are a few samples of what I hear.

"Resistance is futile! Mua-ah-ah!"

"Look! You're all dressed and ready to go to the ball! The playa's ball..."

"Graham, I have to get up, so you need to stop leaning like a cholo."

Never ceases to entertain.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

weekend fun 8:52

Rain, rain, rain. It wouldn't stop! So we packed up the boys in the double stroller, strapped on the rain guard, walked the boys over to the church building, and had a little fun in the gym.

Liam and I pulled a comfy chair in from the foyer, and Christian and Graham flew Christian's remote-control helicopter. It was a great rainy day activity. We may or may not have played with some of the nursery toys. Don't tell.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Photo from my mom's phone. I love her garden. And the view.

Monday, February 14, 2011

weekend fun 7:52

A little party time at the Cutlers'! Christian got to eat lots of yummy meat, Graham got to play at Maisie's house (and play with his new BFF--Nate), Liam hung out on Daddy and barely made a peep, and I got to chat to my heart's content. And my heart is truly content when I'm chatting with friends.

Really, does it get any better than that?

I, of course, forgot my camera.

In lieu of pictures of our weekend, enjoy a photo of the men in my life. I'm a lucky girl.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

phonetic phrustration

When my students try to pronounce "would," they say "gwould." We spent almost 10 minutes practicing the "w" sound versus the "g" sound. To get technical, one is a bilabial glide (translation: smooth sound made with your lips--at the front of your mouth). The other is a velar plosive (translation: explosive sound made at the back of your tongue). So we practiced the sounds. Front of the mouth: would. Back in the throat: good. Would. Good. Would. Good. Etc. It took quite a while, but most of them got it.

The best part about it? Almost all of them can say "wood." I think I'll pull my hair out now.

Let's move on to orthography.

While teaching present progressive (I am writing, She is running), one of my students asked why you have to add a "t" when you make "put" into "putting." She was obviously discouraged by the fact that I couldn't give her a good (simple) answer at that moment.

I could, in a matter of words, tell her this tomorrow:

With words that end in consonant-vowel-consonant and whose stress/accent falls on this last syllable, you double the consonant before adding "-ing."

pat -- patting
grin -- grinning
can -- canning
run -- running
begin -- beginning
occur -- occurring
forget -- forgetting

And then she would ask why.

And I would say "Perhaps it's for phonetic reasons, because if you wrote pating, grining, or caning, you'd change the short vowel sounds (ham, bed, lip, rot, gun) to long vowel sounds."

And then she would ask why you can change "have, give, and live" to "having, giving, and living" and still pronounce them with the short vowel sound.

And then I would tell her that English is messed up and change the subject.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

the mirror revealed

On February 7, 2007, I got a free 4'9" x 5'6" mirror off Craigslist. The mirror was nothing more than a 1/4" piece of glass, and I had grand plans of building a frame.

We planned to store the mirror behind my brother's shed until I bought wood for the frame.

The project was in the forefront of my mind for a long time. I really wanted to build that frame!

Fastforward almost 3 years and 1 baby later. December of 2009. The mirror was still sitting behind Tyler's shed, but they were moving, so it needed to go. So we moved the glass to our apartment where it sat, leaning up against our bedroom wall.

Fastforward another year and another baby. February 2011. Now that we have a garage and work space, we bought vintage redwood siding with faded yellow paint from Wholehouse Salvage in EPA and some plywood to use as backing. I borrowed Tyler's table saw and got to work--measuring, cutting, filing, sanding...

We stayed home from church today since both kids are sick, and, while the kids napped, Christian helped me put the frame together.

By absolute coincidence, on February 7, 2011, four years to the day after I got the mirror, it is finished.

If you want to see how we made it, check out the tutorial here.

Monday, February 7, 2011

tutorial: large mirror frame

Drum roll, please....

Today, 4 years (to the day) after I got this large mirror with plans of making a frame for it, I finally finished the frame. With much help from my assistant husband, of course. Thank you, Christian!

I don't claim to know how to make a frame, but we did it anyway, so here's a little tutorial on what we did. I wanted to share since I could not, for the life of me, find a tutorial online for making a huge frame. Small picture frames, sure, but a big leaning mirror frame had to have strength that those little frame tutorials simply didn't possess.

We bought 10" vintage outdoor redwood siding from a demolition salvage warehouse, Whole House Building Supply and Salvage. If you have a salvage store in your area, stop by and have a look around. It's kind of fun to see what they have.

I borrowed my parents' miter saw, but it wasn't big enough cut the redwood planks, so I used my brother's table saw instead. I knew if I waited until I found someone with a large miter or swing saw, I would never finish the project.

Some of the edges were uneven and/or cracking, so I cut half an inch off of the outer edges of the wood. Yes--I'm wearing pajamas.

However, do you know how hard it is to cut a perfect 45-degree angle on a 6-foot plank using a table saw? Christian had to hold one end of the plank while I carefully ran the other end through the saw. Because of this, the edges of each cut ended up slightly off, so I spent a couple hours in front of the TV one night manually filing down the tips little by little until the frame fit together correctly. It was quite the process.

I wasn't sure about the strength of the redwood siding, so I didn't want to rabbet the back of it in case the leftover edges were weak. If the rabbeted edges cracked off, it would ruin the whole frame. Plus, I didn't have the tools to rabbet the back. Instead, we set it up like this:

First we put down a large piece of plywood as the backing. Due to the large size, we had to use 3 pieces, one large piece in the middle and two smaller panels on the sides.

We glued the mirror onto the backing and glued 1/4" thick plywood strips (the same thickness as the mirror) around the mirror, creating a flush surface. We then drove small finishing nails through the strips to the plywood backing. This secured the mirror into place much like rabbeting would.

As a precaution, we secured the bottoms and tops of the 3 plywood backing planks to each other using corrugated joint fasteners. (We obviously only had to do this because the mirror was too big to just use one piece of plywood for the back.)

We weighed down all the pieces with our dumbbells (and soy milk and kitty litter--whatever heavy items we had within reach) and let the glue dry.

After a few hours, we glued the frame pieces on top, weighed them down, and let them dry.

The following morning, we flipped the entire thing over (no easy feat--with all that wood, this beast is heavy!)and drove finishing nails through all 3 layers of wood, securing everything together. We flipped it back over and I filled in any spaces in the corner joints with wood putty.

As a final step, I painted the frame with a clear polyurethane coat (per my mom's suggestion). Because the wood is old, I can't guarantee that the paint doesn't have lead, and the paint has lots of character--meaning it's peeling and chipping off everywhere. The clear finish sealed things up and put my mind at ease with a toddler who LOVES to bang on mirrors.

Important note: Be sure to secure the top of the frame to a stud in the wall using earthquake straps. If this thing somehow tipped over forward (which would really only happen in a big earthquake since it practically takes superhuman strength just to pull it away from the wall), it could absolutely kill a child and seriously injure an adult.

I predict that some day I will tire of the yellow paint and strip it all off down to the bare wood. I look forward to that day, too. It will be pretty.

And just like that, it's finished! Stay tuned. Tomorrow I will post a picture of the finished mirror in its rightful place--leaning up against our wall.

weekend fun 6:52

Okay, so this fun weekend activity didn't include Chistian or the kids, but I think we can make an exception.

To show our support for the Youngs on the one-year anniversary of the passing of their sweet little boy, Cooper, a group of friends and I had a little gardening party at the Youngs' house. Who knew a day in February could be so beautiful and warm (dare I say hot)?

We weeded, the boys made a compost run and mixed in new soil, I had fun pruning rose bushes, and the kids helped Pat sow some seeds in the vegetable beds. Lindsey even dug up a bone...

The best part of the morning? Just hanging out and chatting with friends while we worked in the yard (if you could even call it work).

In memory of Cooper and in anticipation of the upcoming arrival of their baby girl--enjoy your garden, Pat and Lindsay!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

6-week check up

While many of you will skip this post (and that is aaaaabsolutely fine), I know some of you are curious about how my 6-week postpartum check up went. In my opinion, it went well for 3 reasons.

1. Turns out my stitches didn't heal correctly (just like with Graham). Are you wondering how in the world that could possibly be good news? Because that means some of the discomfort can be attributed to that and not the prolapse, which means I will likely feel much better in a week or two.

2. The doctor classified my prolapse as a Stage 1. Based on what I've researched, I would have said it was a Stage 2, but if she wants to call it a Stage 1, I'm all for that. Why fight a good thing?

3. I also found out my pelvic floor muscles are pretty weak. Yep. That's good news to me. That means there's lots of room for improvement. (Aaaand tighten, and release, aaaaand tighten, and release...)

So I've been feeling quite positive. Going to do lots of walking this week and I'm hoping to do some very light walk/jogs in the weeks following. I can't wait to exercise!

Who wants to go on a bike ride? My bike is calling my name...from the garage... Oh, how I love having a garage.

Friday, February 4, 2011

cloth diapers: #3

It's time for another update on the cloth diapers. We are now using them with 2 kids, and we still like them!

First, I made an overall list of my cloth diapering recommendations. Below that is an updated review on the diapers we've used.

* Have we saved money?
We have invested approximately $550 in our cloth diapering stash (diapers, covers, wetbags, diaper salve, etc.). If the average person spends $50 per month per kid on disposable diapers, then we broke even when Graham was 11 months old. Now that he is almost 16 months and Liam is almost 2 months, our savings is at $350 and we're saving $100 per month from here on out. (Note: we don't pay for water--it's included in our rent.)

* How long have we been using them?
We've used cloth since Graham was born and he's now almost 16 months. We also use them with our new baby.

* What kind of diapers do we use?
We use a combination of prefolds with covers and one-size pocket diapers. I recommend using prefolds and covers on a new baby until a couple months old when they grow into the one-size diapers a little better, otherwise the one-size diapers are really bulky under clothes.

* Favorite pocket diapers: Bumgenius one-size with velcro closure. Perfect size diapers would be nice, I'm sure, but who can afford a full set in each size?? As for the velcro, we have seen no deterioration of the quality of the velcro. I prefer velcro over snap waists, because you don't have to pay attention to whether the snap setting you used is a little too tight or loose. We have 15 pocket diapers total.

* Prefold diapers:
Not as difficult as they sound. I like them. Bought ours at Tiny Tots in Campbell and other online stores. 15-20 in each size is plenty (could get by with less but I don't like to run out when I'm behind on laundry). I actually like the idea of getting used ones because they are all washed and prepped, but because the new ones aren't that expensive, we always got new ones. Christian bought some used ones a while back and some work great and some are too worn out.

* Prefold preference:
My kids seem to pee a lot, so I prefer the thicker prefolds (4x8x4).

* Prefold covers:
I LOVE Thirsties covers. The leg holes cover the diapers well. I've tried other covers and these are my favorites. 4 or 5 in each size is plenty (even less needed as kid gets older because they poop less, which means you're less likely to get poop on the cover).

* Snappi Closures:
You only need a few.

* Storing dirty diapers:
We use a cheap flip-top garbage can (from Target--$20) with large pail liners. We have one of these:, and I think one of these The one with the elastic drawstring is convenient if you want to use cloth diapers on trips. We do a dry pail, not a wet pail (meaning we put dirty diapers in a dry bag as opposed to a tub of water).

* Washing the diapers: We wash diapers on Mon/Wed/Fridays. When it's time to wash the diapers, we just pull out the wetbag, flip it out into the washing machine (never having to touch the diapers) and put the spare wetbag in the can. We do a cold pre-wash, a cold wash with detergent, and a hot wash without detergent. Seems to work just fine for us. Then we throw it all in the dryer. When it's nice out, we line dry them.

* Detergent: We just use Costco's dye- and fragrance-free stuff. Nothing special.

* Tip on poopy diapers:
We put a zippered wetbag in the bathroom for poopy diapers so that we don't have to carry them to the large diaper pail in the garage after rinsing them in the toilet. We hang this on the doorknob:

* Poop stains:
I don't care if the prefolds have stains, but some people do. Just dry them in the sun. It bleaches the poop stains right out. Also works on poop-stained clothes. The sun is amazing.

* Diaper rash cream:
You can't use most diaper ointments with cloth diapers because they leave a film on the diapers and compromise the absorbency. We like to use Northern Essence Diaper Rash Salve. We often put it on them before bed since they'll be in one diaper for so many hours.

And now, a review on the one-size diapers we've used:

BumJoy--They're cheap and cute, but all of ours eventually leaked. Not leaking out the leg holes or anything, but the pee would actually seep through the outer fabric--pretty badly. We eventually threw them away. Sadly, I don't recommend them. They were my favorite in the beginning. Too bad, huh?

Fuzzibunz--I've heard good things about the perfect-size fuzzibunz, but we have the 1-size diapers (that adjust to the sizes as the kid grows). I actually think they were always really big and bulky until Graham was almost a year old, so they weren't our first choice when he was smaller. They worked just fine, but they were just big. We do still use them, though, and we like them. Now we mostly put him in them at night with double the inserts. People love them, and maybe that's just the perfect size ones. But, like you, we can't afford to buy a full set in each size.

We liked these from the start and they are still our favorites. I prefer the diapers with the velcro. With the snaps you have to figure out which snap setting to use and sometimes I'd second guess myself on whether I did them too tight and have to re-do the snaps. With the velcro closures, you just do them however you want. And the velcro still works just fine. We've been using them for 15 months and haven't noticed any problem with the velcro. I've also read about velcro wearing out, but so far it is doing just fine.

Wahmies--The only thing I don't like about ours is the "wing droop" which they seem to have fixed with the newer hook closure. Still, diapers with velcro closures appeal to me more than the hooks.

Happy Heiny--
Looks like they make them with velcro closures now, which I think I'd like a lot more than the snap one I have (since the only thing I don't like about mine is the snaps). In fact, I might buy one since the outer fabric is softer and less rigid than our (favorite) Bumgenius diapers. I might really like these.

Rocky Mountain--
It leaked as a pocket diaper on Graham, but now we use it as a cover over Liam's (newborn) prefolds and it works just fine.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

weekend fun 5:52

This weekend Graham got a tattoo. (And it still hasn't washed off...)

We went to Drake's 2nd birthday party and had so much fun. First we accidentally went over the Bay Bridge on our way up to Albany. We were on 880 and somehow found ourselves heading toward the city. Thank goodness for Treasure Island. And the view was amazing. Too bad this picture ended up blurry.

Drake's rock star party was a hit! Graham wore his rock star fingerless gloves (made by my friend Christina) and got his first tattoo when he picked up his VIP pass at the front door. We had fun chatting with friends and Graham had a blast being a rock star...with a pan flute... Yeah. He's hard core.