Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Name Pillow tutorial

I had the best kindergarten teacher.

Her name was Mrs. Arnold. She taught me how to read and drilled phonics with our class. Because I went to a small Christian school, she was able to do a few special things with everyone (individually) in the class. I remember getting to go get ice cream at McDonald's with her and my best friend, Mary Katherine. We also did something called an M&M walk where we went to the local botanical garden, walked around, and periodically ate M&Ms. (I'm not sure what the purpose of this was, other than walking and eating M&Ms. But hey - isn't that enough?)

In addition to doing all these fun things in the classroom, she also made for all of her students, every single year, a pillow and pillowcase with each student's name on it in felt. We kept these pillows at school until the end of the year when we could take them home. I still have my pillow. Probably if you took a poll of everyone who she made one for, you'd find nearly everyone still has theirs. My little brother, a member of her last ever class before retiring, still has his.

Since I have always loved mine, as soon as I got pregnant I knew I'd be making one for my child eventually. And I realized that they make great gifts. They do require some sewing, but this could be easily done by hand if you wanted. To start, I bought some travel pillows from Target. They were around $5. Then I bought a pack of two plain white pillow cases. I got the king size. You could totally do this with just some plain white fabric, but the premade pillowcase made the project much simpler. I feel like this is a really easy project that doesn't need a tutorial, but maybe any beginning sewers out there might enjoy a few pictures to see what I did.

From each king size pillow case, I was about to make 2 travel-sized pillowcases. Since the pillows I got were 14 X 20 in, and the pillowcases were just a bit over 21 inches wide, I only had to cut them in one direction to get something the right size. I measured 15 inches from the closed end of the pillow case and cut across, then another 15 inches from that cut to make the final cut.
Then I used my seam ripper and gently opened up one of the side seams.
I then ironed this fold once and then folded it down and ironed it one more time, to give a nice, clean-looking edge that would become the opening for the pillowcase, which I then sewed down.

Next I turned the pillowcase wrong side out and sewed down both of the openings in the long side.

Turn right side out and now you have a nice, travel-sized white pillow case. (For some reason I didn't photograph it plain. Oh well.)

Now you get to cut out your letters. I used the font called "Century Gothic," sized to 440, which I printed and used to cut out my felt. So far I have only made pillows with five letter names or less, so if the name has more letters then you will need to shrink it down. I splurged and got some nice 100% wool felt since I want these to last. I bought mine from this etsy shop, and felt that they had pretty good prices and a wide selection of colors.
After your letters are cut out, pin them onto the front of the pillow case. To get them level, I ironed a crease into the pillow case as a guide.

Sew around each letter. I used white thread because I didn't want to change between every letter, but certainly a coordinating thread would also look nice. You kind of have to go slow to make sure and stay close to the edge of the felt. I actually tried to use wonder under to iron the letters into place on the first one I made, but had a hard time getting it to work with the felt. Using the pins really seemed to work fine.

Repeat for each letter and then admire your handiwork.

For Judah's I used all primary colors (you can kind of see it behind Jack's), and this one I made for my nephew Jack had a nice teal and orange. Honestly I think I like the more diverse colors a little better than just primary. I just made one this week for my other nephew, Caleb, and did his name in reverse rainbow order (Blue "C", green "a", Yellow "L", orange "e"...). This might be my favorite one so far. (I did not photograph it, though. But I'm guessing you all can use your imaginations.) Obviously for girls you can do it in really girly pinks and purples or whatever are the favorite colors of said girl.

It's a nice, fairly quick project you can do in an afternoon and end up with something very personalized that any birthday boy/ christmas girl/ valentine's day cousin would be happy to have. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Good Links.

A few interesting things I've run into traipsing through the world wide web....

1. Really cool/creepy insect portraits.

2. Another excellent and encouraging post about motherhood at Desiring God.

3. An awesome wet bag tutorial. I'm not sure why it took me so long to make one of these. Great for cloth diapers, buy also great for swimming, potty training or any other time when kids get wet or dirty. I made two last night in less than an hour. You could also easily adapt this to make smaller lined snack bags, which are next on my list.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Things I hate....

1. The fact that I can spend all afternoon cleaning the house and kitchen, cook one meal, and realize I can't even tell I cleaned so much. Sigh. This makes me think I should stop either cleaning or cooking.

2. No matter how simple or straightforward a sewing project is, I am never able to finish it without using my seam ripper at least once. Or twice.

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, August 26, 2011

An oldie, but a goodie...

I was trying to delete a bunch of draft posts I have currently saved on my blogger dashboard, when I found this post. Just a couple of pictures of some flower/weed. I cannot say when or where I took them, but I still appreciated their beauty. Since I enjoyed seeing them, I thought you might, too!

i

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Good desserts.

A few recent favorites.

1. S'mores pie. I made this pie once for a church social, and then made two more of them to take to our family reunion. I cannot stress enough how delicious they are: super dense and chocolately with a toasted marshmallow topping. I even used a store bought graham cracker crust, so they probably would be even tastier with homemade.

2. Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream. My cousin Aaron made this at the same family reunion. This was the perfect chocolate peanut butter ice cream: sweet and chocolate-y with just a hint of saltiness. I always like when I find ice cream recipes that don't involve cooking a custard because that means they are quicker to put together. This will definitely be made again.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Catechism

The denomination we are currently a part of, the PCA, uses the Westminster Catechism as their preferred catechism. As someone who didn't grow up in a denomination that stressed a catechism I have enjoyed having a list of questions and answers I can see and read to find out what exactly my denomination believes. Now, I like that catechism, at least the parts of it I've read. The first question is a fairly famous one, and honestly the only one I have memorized. But over the years I have found that it does help me in thinking about the purpose of my life as a whole and giving me a good perspective on things. So here it is:
Q: What is the chief end of man?
A: Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.

It is short and sweet and yet a good reminder of what I should be about.

Our Sunday school curriculum at church is produced by the ARP, a different presbyterian denomination, that uses the Heidelberg catechism instead. As much as I like the Westminster catechism, there is something great about the Heidelberg, too. I especially love the first two questions, which make the catechism as a whole seem much more pastoral and encouraging than the westminster.

Q: What is thy only comfort in life and death?
A: That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ; who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him.

Q: How many things are necessary for thee to know, that thou, enjoying this comfort, mayest live and die happily?
An: Three; the first, how great my sins and miseries are; the second, how I may be delivered from all my sins and miseries; the third, how I shall express my gratitude to God for such deliverance.

I feel like I should print this off and tape it to my mirror. There is so much encouragement all contained right there in that short paragraph.

I just thought that since I so often need to be reminded of these truths, maybe you all do too.

Anyone else with any favorite catechism questions or answers?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Offering

My son taught me a lesson today.

We've recently been trying to keep Judah with us during the first part of the worship service so he can start learning how to sit and listen. I do not think that a 16 month old can reasonably be expected to sit quietly for an entire 30 minute sermon, but I do want him to be able to listen to the singing and enjoy being part of a believing community.

We also have decided to give Judah a dollar to put in the offering plate. (The only reason it's a dollar and not a quarter is because we can't quite trust Judah not to put it in his mouth. And while both a dollar and a quarter in the mouth is gross, I decided that a quarter was grosser.) Today was the first time we remembered to bring a dollar to give him. He took it and was admiring it and then seemed to gladly drop it into the offering plate.

As soon as we passed the offering plate back to our elder, Perry, Judah quickly realized that his dollar was gone for good. He immediately started pointing and grunting (his preferred communication method) in the direction of the offering plate, as if to say, "Hey! That was mine. Bring it back!"

I was quickly reminded of how often I do the same thing. I give something to God (although honestly, he has it all along), promise that I want him to take charge of it, but as soon as I feel it slip out of my hands and go in an unexpected direction, I am left pointing and grunting, suddenly certain that I could have done it better myself.

As Judah fussed, Jeff gently told him that the dollar was his gift to God - an offering. We don't get it back. Instead, God takes that little dollar and grows it and blesses it and uses it to support his work all over the world.

Something I need to remind myself daily - even the small bits of myself that I slowly release as He works his way into the cracks - can become something much bigger and better that I could imagine.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Lessons from the family reunion.

1. We eat a lot of dessert. Last night at dinner, we cut into a cake that was a perfectly-iced, five-layered thing of beauty. Within 5 minutes, it was nearly demolished, along with cookies, brownies, and cupcakes. Tonight there will be several pies, brownies, and cakes AND no less than 6 flavors of homemade ice cream.

2. The ease with which I cry? Yeah, that's totally genetic. We had sharing time this morning where people were talking about important life events and no kidding, every single person who shared started to cry. (except me!) I had forgotten what an emotional bunch we are. I wonder if anyone has ever researched into what I'll call the "crybaby" gene. They would need to look no further than my family and they'd find it.

3. I read something recently about how Prince William and Princess Kate were at sort of a disadvantage in their  marriage since they don't have very many examples in their families of what a long, healthy marriage looks like. I do not have that problem. I am surrounded by numerous aunts, uncles, great-aunts, great-uncles and cousins who have been married for 50+ years. I am blessed.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Everything's better with Nutella.

As much as I love peanut butter, if I get a choice between that and nutella, I'll pick nutella every day. I mean, nutty goodness PLUS chocolate?? Yes, please.

Anyway... I recently realized that if a dessert calls for peanut butter, substituting nutella pretty much always equals extra deliciousness.

For instance: Especially in the summer, I love to make chocolate no bake oatmeal cookies. When I have nutella around these days, I now use that instead of the peanut butter for a delicious hazelnut flavor.

And what is better than peanut butter pie? Nutella pie, of course. This is a super easy (and not even that bad for you) recipe and again, just use nutella instead of peanut butter. 

And if that's not enough nutella ideas for you, don't forget Nutella Ice Cream!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Questions.

Lately I've been having lots of questioning thoughts about fertility.

I've written before how my struggle with infertility continues even though I now have a baby. In many, many ways things are much easier now. The Lord has already blessed us with our beautiful boy. But Jeff and I both are the second borns in our families, and we both have older brothers who are less than 2 years older than we are. We both grew up one school year behind our brothers, and while being a part of a sibling group so close in age can sometimes lead to bickering, we both love how close we are to them. I used to imagine having a couple of kids who were close in age like that. Now I know, of course, that unless God unexpectedly gives us a child through adoption, Judah will never have that. It grieves me. The grief is not like the grief I felt at not having a baby, but it is still something I feel. I see sweet pictures of toddlers kissing and holding their newborn siblings and want for Judah to have that experience.

I trust God knows what he is doing. There are many things about my life that I might have planned differently (like the whole detour we took through infertility in the first place) but now can see God using for his glory and my good. And as much as I want another baby, I remind myself that even if Judah is the only child we are blessed with, we have been greatly blessed indeed. I know there are many benefits of having a little more time between children. I also grew up with brothers who were 5 and 7 years younger than me. Although they occasionally could be a little loud, they brought more excitement to our family and I also loved being an older sister.

Sometimes, I see my friends who have two or three small children and I wonder if I could manage. I'm fairly certain that trying to take care of a 16 month old Judah and a newborn would be more than I could handle. Even though I think I would have been thrilled to unexpectedly get pregnant while breastfeeding, I am thankful for getting more time with Judah one on one. Days when Judah naps poorly or is extra fussy I often wonder if I even have enough patience for another one. Then I think about our current situation and how hopefully we will be moving soon. Is this even the best time to get pregnant? The idea of trying to move while great with child kind of stresses me out.  I suppose most women have similar anxieties when thinking about how to try to time pregnancies and when the best time would be to have another baby.

Being infertile adds a few more stresses to the mix: When should we pursue further treatment with the infertility specialist? Since they never found anything wrong should we keep trying the old-fashioned way? Do I even want to do another IUI? Some days I think maybe I'd rather not - the stress of that month was high. Then when Judah smiles at me or comes over and hugs my legs, I realize that he was worth every minute of it. But should we adopt this time around instead? What is God calling us to?

Some days it feels like my whole life is a big question. And right now I don't feel like I have many answers. While I am not really sure about the future, I need to remind myself that God has me where he wants me right now.  I can be certain today where he has called me because that is where I am, even if tomorrow is a big gray fog.  And Today, He is calling me to be the best mommy I can be to one sweet, active 16 month old. A good wife to my husband. A good doctor to my patients.

I pray he helps me fulfill those tasks.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Doing a little light reading.

Well, we get our babies started on the theological reading early around here.


And reformed theology, no less.

Next up? Calvin's Institutes, perhaps?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I got what I wanted.

I had a really slow call day on Sunday. In fact, I spent most of the afternoon hanging out in the resident lounge, afraid to go home, because sometimes it feels like as soon as I get home, that's when the pager goes off. Anyway... one of the interns was also having a slow call day, and we had a nice time chatting. I feel like I still do not know the interns well at all, and this intern is also my neighbor, so it was a good chance to find out more about him and his wife. Our conversation was fairly wide-ranging and at one point he asked me if Jeff and I had made any big purchases after graduating, like a "now that I'm making the big bucks" kind of purchase of something we had really been wanting for a while.

I thought for a minute.
"No, we didn't make any big purchases."

I continued to think to myself, though, even after he moved on to talking about other things. What I wanted to say and almost said was that what I spent most of residency wanting was a baby.

And praise the Lord, we brought him home last March. No big purchases needed.

Monday, August 08, 2011

My NPR nerd-dom continues.

A few weeks ago, Gretchen mentioned in a post that NPR was collecting pictures of babies in the classic blue and pink striped blankets that most hospitals use.

Since I love NPR, I immediately cruised over to the website and uploaded a couple pics of sweet baby Judah wrapped in his.

Apparently, they received over 2,000 photos, but Judah and I made the website!! Check us out - we're the second from the right on the top row.

Edited to add: The photos do not appear in the same arrangement each time. I guess each time you load the page they are in different places, and some different ones appear. But if you don't see me (I'm kissing Judah's head and wearing glasses), reload the page a time or two and hopefully you can find me!

Saturday, August 06, 2011

A few things.

1. Yesterday, I set a new personal record for most discharges in one day with 12. I feel like most of my readers are non-medical, but trust me when I say that 12 is a lot. I got another 6 today. Woohoo.

2. Speaking of discharges, I am much less likely to believe your sob story about how bad you are hurting if I already spotted you laughing and happy and buying your own breakfast in the hospital cafeteria before I made rounds. Even though you might try to lie in bed, looking pitiful, I will discharge you anyway because I know your secret.

3. Judah has suddenly become a sort of bad napper. I am not sure what is going on, but the last couple of weeks we are having a hard time getting him to sleep well. Any advice would be appreciated.

4. It is really, really, really hot and humid in SC right now. Some days I feel like any recollection of why I live here has been permanently burned out of my brain. I am definitely ready for fall...

5. If anyone needs a great and very affordable photographer in the Charleston or Savannah area, please check out Sarah Ayers. She came down to the beach house last week and took lots of fabulous pictures of our family. For a peak at what she took, you can click on the "clients" link in the upper right hand corner, and then click on "Rampey Family." The pictures of Judah are somewhat limited given that he was in pretty much total meltdown by the time we were taking the pictures, but somehow she still managed to snap some fantastic ones. And the really cute blue-eyed kid on her front page? Yeah, that's my nephew Ian.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

A Judah update...

Even though I am a slack mom who hasn't yet scheduled Judah's 15-month well child check (and he's now 16 months old), I thought I'd give a little update about what our little man has been up to.

Just under a month ago (I think - weeks run together) Judah was completely weaned. I was a little sad, but honestly, at that point mostly I just felt ready. He had started drinking milk a little more reliably, and we were down to nursing only once a day. It wasn't even difficult. I just started giving him milk in the morning instead of nursing. He didn't even seem to miss it - only once did it seem like he wanted to nurse after that, and when I told him we were going to drink milk from a cup instead, he seemed completely satisfied. Now maybe Jeff and I can plan a little weekend trip away somewhere without him....

His favorite things right now are cars, trucks, tractors, planes, and anything else with an engine. He loves picking up his toy cars and pushing them around while making car noises. He often points to cars and trucks that drive by and makes his "vroom-vroom" sound. Adorable.

He still isn't saying too much, although he continues to communicate fairly well through a combination of signing, pointing, and grunting. Last week I decided that in addition to "mama," which he says frequently, and "dada," which he says only occasionally, he also now says "doggy," which comes out sounding much more like "diggy" or "gigi."  I occasionally get it in my head that because he is talking less than some other kids his age, I should be worried. And sometimes I do. But I have to keep telling myself that he is not anyone else. He is Judah, and he is going at his own pace, and he is doing just fine.


Speaking of dogs, he also loves them. At the beach last week we had all four of our family's dogs with us, and he loved chasing, patting, and hugging them. Animals in general also seem to be a big interest for him. We went to an aquarium one day last week and he was enthralled by the fish, turtles, and birds. Once it cools down a little, I'm excited to try out the zoo.

Even though he doesn't talk a lot, he obviously understands a lot. He can point fairly consistently at 4 or 5 body parts and often can point to specific animals in a book when I ask him to. Every day now, almost as soon as he gets up, he is pointing to our little iPod dock because he wants us to play music for him. So we do. As soon as he hears the melody start, he nods his head along. Cracks me up every time.

I don't know his current weight, but I do know that he is definitely growing. I bought some shoes for him at the beginning of the summer that fit well and even had room to grow, but now his big toe is nearly busting out. Some of the smaller-sized 18 month clothing doesn't fit anymore.

He also loves his Nana. At the beach last week, whenever he would see Nana, he would get a big smile on his face and run to her and grab her legs.

The beach was also a huge hit with Judah. He loved digging in the sand, trying to eat sea shells and wading in the water. Our beach house was on the bay side of Edisto Island, and so the waves were very small, and it stayed fairly shallow for a long way out. It was perfect for our little man. I was surprised by how fearless he was in the ocean; he loved being held by Jeff and me and pushed around in the water. He often pointed like he wanted to get out in the deeper water.

In other news, I think I finally finished making Judah's baby book - a shutterfly photo book that is 83 (!) pages long. There were so many good pictures I had a hard time editing. My favorite page (well, one of my favorite) is the last page where I did a collage of 15 pictures, arranged chronologically, of him over his first year, showing how he grew. (Thanks to Christy for that idea.) I think I'm going to see if I can just print a single page that replicates it and frame it.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Recommendations.

Although I managed to do very little during my week of vacation, I did several things that I thoroughly enjoyed and thought I should share with you.

1. Even though I spent a year studying at seminary, I only took one elective on church history, and all we studied was the reformation in France and the French Huguenots. While this was a very interesting topic, the last several months I have been thinking about how little I know about church history. I decided I wanted to find something to read to learn more about it. Lucky for me, I am married to a pastor with an extensive library, and found that he actually had a book on his shelf called Church History in Plain Language. It sounded perfect, and certainly seemed preferable to the 8 or 9 volume series that was another option on his shelf. I found the book to be exactly what its title described - a great overview of church history, written in an extremely down-to-earth, and non-technical way.  If you find yourself wanting to know more about church history, this would be a great place to start. It was also highly readable, interesting, and seemed to be very fair and balanced in its descriptions of the various characters involved.

2. We also spent several evening playing the most fun game I have played in a while. Ticket to Ride is a great game that is made by the same company that created Settlers of Catan. The object is to earn points by building cross-country train routes. It is simple enough that a fairly young child could enjoy it, but also can involve a lot of strategy which means it doesn't really get old. And the game last only 30-60 minutes, so it doesn't drag on and on. I hear there is a Europe version which is even more fun. I am definitely adding this to my wish list.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Change.

The last time I was at the beach with my whole family was right after my medical school graduation. I dug around and found a few fun comparison photos.

Andrew, with his firstborn in 2007.
The two of them last week:

And Abram, playing with his only nephew in 2007:
 Last week:
 Nana, loving on her only grandbaby in 2007:

Reading to the whole crew:
I wonder what it will look like in another 5 years??