Tuesday, June 30, 2009

My Mom's Scrapbook - Part 2

Last week I shared a brief overview of my life until high school, and this week I introduce you to the cast of characters that make up my family.

This was intended to be a 2-page spread, so pretend along with me that I am showing you the pages side by side. If you are creative enough in your brain, then you will envision a headline that reads, "Ties That Bind."

The picture of my brother and I (don't you just luv that blond hair?!) was taken with my Aunt Viola because my mom didn't want her picture taken. She sent our aunt in as a substitute mom. But that is okay, because Aunt Vi is cool. She used to listen to Little Feat and bought me 10 LPs for my 10th birthday. At the bottom right of this page is a great picture of my late, great-grandma Rosalind. She passed in 2006 and is now praising God in heaven. I miss her in a nostalgic sense, but otherwise know we will meet again.

Oh, and here I am staring as the Flower Girl in my Uncle Joe's wedding. I have no idea how old I was, 5 maybe?? And the bottom right picture just screams early 80's to me! The car, the clothes, the hair! Ugh! Thanks for helping me remember who I was Mom!

Next week, we'll take a look at my family after a divorce and remarriage... don't worry though, it won't be depressing. I can always find some way to make fun of my Dad!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Recent Videos of Charlotte

I've been less video-y recently, but am trying to make up for that today. After posting the "Hot Wings" video, I thought I'd share a few more with you.

Here is Charlotte explaining where we will be going in just a couple of weeks. (Translation = "Nicaragua")

And video proof that Charlotte isn't the perfect angel her grandparents think she is. What I find so funny though, is how she can turn the tantrum off so easily!

This is Charlotte playing "1-2-Jump," one of her current favorite games. I received a BabyCenter.com e-mail at her 21-month birthday saying it would be a couple of months before she would be capable of jumping on both feet. Guess Charlotte forgot to check her e-mail! :) She's been jumping with both feet for a couple of months already!

I've already shown you how Charlotte likes order, and this video is more evidence to demonstrate that exact thing. Notice how she carefully selects only the squares to stack.

And finally, now that Charlotte has learned the sign for cook, anytime she hears me in the kitchen she runs around signing 'cook' and 'chair' so that her Daddy will bring a chair into the kitchen so she can 'help' Momma. Her cooking repertoire mostly consists of carefully supervised stirring and the sprinkling of cheese.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Legacy of Missions

Ever since Bruce and I decided to start a family, it has been our desire to create a legacy of missions for our children. We are always looking for opportunities to share missions with Charlotte. She was named after a missionary after all! Any cash gifts she has received in birthday or Christmas cards have been put into a missions fund for her. We have prayer cards for missionaries on our refrigerator. We talk often about people we know who are missionaries. We even pray that she might be called to serve as a missionary someday.

Before that though, we have been praying for an opportunity to take her on a mission trip now, while she is still young. And for Bruce and I to go on one together (we've been separately). This Spring, God presented us with that chance. My heart is thrilled that we get to spend 10 days together as a family in Nicaragua. Nagarote to be exact.

Our time there will include running a Children's Festival with puppets, games, crafts, and face painting. As well as time spent ministering to children in the local orphanage and patients in the local hospital a local school and families in a remote village. (The itinerary changed last night, see blog sidebar for updates.)There will be a nightly revival meeting and a showing of the Jesus Film.

As with most short term missions, though I know we will be able to minister to some of the felt needs of the people of Nagarote, I am sure the greatest impact will be on those of us going. I am looking forward to coming back and tell you all about it.

In the mean time, please begin praying for our group. More details about the trip and specific prayer needs will be posted at our team blog, Mission: Nagarote. We also plan to post daily updates during our time in Nagarote. If you use a blog feed reader, please add Mission: Nagarote to your reader so you don't miss any of the news!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Basic Photo Editing Class

I signed up this week to take a basic photo editing class from Jessica Sprague. And so far, I've had a lot of fun learning how to use the Photoshop Elements 7 program. I wanted to show you some of the straight-out-of-the-camera shots compared to my edited versions and get some feedback. The unedited shot is first, followed by, hopefully, the new and improved version.

The first one is a photo I showed you yesterday. I edited it after the 2nd lesson when I was learning how to adjust exposure, brightness, and color cast. My favorite part is how her skin warmed up and her hair color was more golden, which is more true to life.

 And this is a picture of Charlotte when she was just 3 weeks old. I was camera happy back then but had no idea I would ever be taking a photo editing class! I edited this one during the black and white lesson. The increased contrast and the way the colors aren't an issue (since she was laying on a jungle themed pillow) make this one an improvement in black and white, in my opinion.

I've played with some other pictures, but they didn't turn out so well. Some pictures just don't convert well to black and white. Want to see an example? I knew you would. No one can resist a train wreck!
I'll share some more images when I finish the class. I have lessons on cropping, and sharpening left.
Oh, and you can sign up for a free course to learn about frame ups and special effects at JessicaSprague.com when you visit her website and use Gift Code FREECLASS062009. I'm signed up for that one too!
This post not sponsored by anyone. I just liked the class and wanted to show off my photos.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Charlotte Eats Her First Hot Wing

Are you as manly as my 1-year old daughter? Can you handle eating (medium sauce) hot wings? :)

She liked it and would have eaten more had I given them to her.

Pregnancy Symptoms

This post is for people who have been, currently are, or who might be pregnant some day. And it might also be for the people who are close to someone who falls into one of those categories. If you aren't represented in any of those groups, well then, you just won't get what I'm about to share. And if you are my Dad or Brother, well, read at your own risk. :)

Of all the pregnancy symptoms I have experienced, admittedly very few, hemorrhoids have to be the very worst. See, everyone gets morning sickness. Vomiting might be gross, but well, we know that happens to some pregnant ladies. But hemorrhoids, those are taboo.

So taboo in fact, I didn't even really know what they were until I was pregnant with Charlotte. And I certainly didn't blog about it during my 1st pregnancy! Being a mom now, I am almost completely over my initial hesitation to talk about all things body related. I mean, I have to look at poopy diapers at least once a day, so I can talk about hemorrhoids, right?

Now that I have conquered this idea that we can't talk about hemorrhoids, I am here to help pregnant women all over the world. I don't know the statistic, but I bet a majority of women experience hemorrhoids as a pregnancy symptom. And who wants to walk into the drug store and stand there while trying to figure out which remedy to purchase? Not me!

Being the internet search genius that I am, I starting googling my problem. And I realized that Tucks is the perfect solution. They make these nifty little round pads that can sooth the burning and itching that hemorrhoids bring. You can also buy medicated ointment to calm it all down, down there. Trust me, you are going to want that. And you probably aren't going to want to dawdle in the drug store trying to figure it all out.

I know you can buy the generic "witch hazel pads" as well. And I've done that, but the Tucks brand has these conveinent "take-along packs" that fit discreetyl into your purse.

In the interest of full disclosure, I want you to know, I was already planning to write about this awful pregnancy symptom and the relief Tucks can bring, when I received an opportunity to do so for Mom Select. In exchange for linking to them, I will be able to make a $20 donation to GlobalGiving.com.

What has been your worst pregnancy symptom?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What Should I Do With Sewing Scraps

After my quick success sewing up a few skirts for myself last week, I decided to tackle a small project for Charlotte using my sewing scraps. I sincerely had no idea what I would end up making her when I started. A dress? A skirt like mine? A summer shirt? I just started throwing some pieces together, trimming them, and adding a couple more pieces until I liked it. I added some eyelit to dress it up a little too.

Fortunately, I had a willing model and these photos are the result.

 This dress is so far from perfect it is funny. I can't even begin to list all the mistakes and problems with it. Overall though, I like the concept and will try it again with far better execution. What do you think? What do you do with your sewing scraps?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

My Mom's Scrapbook - Part I

So, I thought it might be interesting (or at least entertaining) to share with you the pages of a scrapbook my mom made for me when I was preparing to marry Bruce. At the time, she told me that the scrapbook was to be a reminder to me of who I was and where I came from... after looking at some of the pictures, I have to wonder, "was she trying to torture me?"

I'll share a page or two with you at a time over the next several weeks, with some stories to go along with the aforementioned photos. I hope you find it entertaining and want you to know, you'll be laughing with me. I've got a pretty good sense of humor about it all now. :)

Here is the first page of my scrapbook. This picture was taken of me in the 10th grade. In case you can't read the words on the heart it says, "A Mother holds her children's hands for a while... their hearts forever." Isn't that a sweet way to start? Let's all say "awwww...."

Then, to jump right into the meat of my life, we have a timeline in photos. What you don't see in the "2 weeks" photo is me holding a can of Winn-Dixie Baked Beans. Apparently, the photographer thought it would be a good idea to put something Winn-Dixie related in my lap since that is where my father had just started working. Good call Mom, leaving that picture out.

You can see though, by the time you get to 4 years old, I had an angelic smile! And then came high school! Does anyone like their high school pictures? Does anyone else regret their painful bang choices? At least though, I made it to graduation...

Stay tuned, next week I'll get to show you pictures of all my crazy relatives!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Maternity Clothes Suck!

Why does it have to be so hard for a short girl to find well-fittting maternity clothes? Seriously? Is it too hard to make maternity clothes in petite lengths? I don't think I am asking too much here folks.

After finally being frustrated with the state of maternity clothes for short people, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I made myself 5 new skirts (inspired in part by my friend Katie) with on sale fabric. Each of these skirts cost me about $5 and took less than 35 minutes to make (once I got the first one done, which required 2 redos).

Are they going to win an award on Project Runway? Not a chance. Tim Gunn would be all over the fact that I used black thread for all three skirts. But the first two skirts were black and I was too lazy to switch the thread out. However, they are long enough for me to sit on the floor tailor style while playing with Charlotte and still cover me. Plus, I made them super comfy, giving my belly plenty of room to grow.

To the right is a picture of me wearing one of the skirts to church yesterday. By the time I asked Bruce to take it, I had been sweating way too much in the hot, FL sun and decided I wouldn't subject you to my crazy hair and sweaty face.

The short story of how I made these was to find a skirt I own with a good fit and length. I laid it out on the fabric I bought and cut around it. A real seamstress would have done things like pin it down to get an exact measurement, but, well, I'm not a real seamstress and I won't fake it for you.

Once the skirt was cut, I sewed the 2 pieces of fabric up the sides. This was the easy part even though my lines were not cut perfectly straight. I hate pinning fabric, so instead, I ironed down a casing at the top of the skirt and sewed it down. Don't forget to leave an opening for your elastic... if not, well, then you will have to dig through you sewing bag find your seam ripper and pull some stitches out. Not that I'd know anything about that!

After the casing came the hem. I like a double-folded hem so I don't have to worry about strands of the fabric pulling loose. So, I ironed down 1/4" and then folded it again before sewing the hem up. My hems are never perfectly straight, but then again, I am not trying to sell my clothes to anyone!

After the hem, it is time to thread the elastic and sew the skirt up. There are tons of easy skirt tutorials to be found on Google. Just take a look at several of them and you will have a good idea of how to do this. Don't waste your money on a pattern though... you'll basically be given instructions for how to cut out two trapezoids.

Later this week I'll show you what I did with the scraps from the three skirts. Good luck! Let me know if you decide to make a skirt. I'd love to see your pictures!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Charlotte Has Her First Passport

Today was a big day in the Sabin household. Charlotte was given her "Ticket to the World" - a United States Passport. And just in time too, because we are taking a 10-day trip to Nicaragua in just over two weeks. I'll share more details about our trip soon, but didn't want to waste any time showing you these pictures of Charlotte enjoying her new international freedom!

She put on her coolest sunglasses and hoped onto her speedy, pink 4-wheeler. She looks ready to go somewhere fabulous, dontcha think?

And I swear, this photo is totally straight-out-of-the-camera (SOOC)! Don't those eyes just make you want to sweep her away to far away lands??? I ain't leaving this babe anywhere! Watch out boys...

Happy Father's Day Bruce

Since we don't buy each other fancy-schmancy Hallmark cards, I decided to create a video montage to show how far you and Charlotte have come since her very first day with us. I am so glad we get to do it again with another little baby later this year! I love you for being such a good father! Enjoy! Jennifer

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Had to Go to Key West

Marathon is only one hour from Key West and it would have been a shame to drive the seven hours to Marathon without making at least a day trip to the southernmost point of the United States.

While in Key West, we visited the Botanical Gardens (which were free) and a few other famous landmarks (scroll down to find out which ones).

Here is the happy group walking around the gardens. It was 10:30 am when we got there and already VERY hot and humid. The young lady in the background is Carolyn. She came with us because we enjoy her company and because we wanted someone to watch Charlotte a couple of times.

There is a neat collection of boats used in the Mariel Boat Lift in 1980. It certainly made the 90-mile journey from Cuba to the US seem more dangerous when we considered the types of vessels some people traveled in. One boat we saw was simply made of styroforam and foam insulation (like you buy in a can), all bound together with tarps and steel bands.

In a less sober section of the gardens, we found this recycled mermaid and tiny baby turtles.

On most of our nature walks, Charlotte likes to find a rock or a stick to call her own. This walk was no exception.

And what would a trip to Key West be without a stop for lunch at the original Margaritaville? Click on the picture to see those happy faces up close!

One thing we did teach Charlotte while at Margaritaville was how to pretend to be a shark. She sure does make a cute shark!

And finally, the Southernmost Point. Which really isn't the southernmost point. That is on the military base behind us. for civilians, this big red concrete buoy-like structure is as close as we are gonna get.

Well, this wraps up my blog coverage of our trip to the FL Keys. Hope you enjoyed it... stay tuned for pictures from another upcoming road trip (if I have time before we take our first airplane ride!). More details to follow...

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sombrero Beach - Charlotte's First Beach Trip

One of the reasons I was excited to take Charlotte to the Keys was so that we could visit a beach together for the first time. Then, I remembered that there aren't too many beaches down there due to the nature of the reefs and all. Fortunately, Marathon has a beautiful man-made beach that was absolutely perfect for this momma and her little Charlotte.

The water was exceptionally clear (which is why *I* liked it) and there were no other people on the section of beach we choose. Here are the photos of Charlotte's first trip to the beach.

Her first tentative steps into the ocean, holding on securely to Daddy's hands.

Getting in and giving Daddy a huge smile!

Totally comfortable hanging out on her own in water that was the perfect temperature.

Sitting down to look at all the tiny fish.

But here is one, not so tiny fish. Isn't the water perfectly clear too?!

I like this picture Bruce took more for the colors and way I am lit than for the actual representation of me in a bathing suit.

Bruce posing for the camera after retrieving beach toys that were floating away. Charlotte did ride on that tiny board for a while too while Daddy pulled her around. Until she fell off, then she wouldn't get back on it at all.

And what would a day at the beach be without shovels and buckets? She didn't mind getting sand all over her, or anyone else who happened to be nearby. :)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Crane Point in Marathon, FL

Last week we snuck away to Marathon, FL (in the Keys) for some R&R. On our first day there, we took Charlotte to Crane Point to check out native animals, walk along some hammocked trails, and see a couple of old houses.

Here are a few (okay, several) of my favorite pictures from that morning (because it was TOO hot to be outside in the afternoon).

Hanging out with the fake alligator...

Checking out the sea anenomes and hermit crabs in the (do not) touch tank.

Pirates are part of the history of the Keys, so why not traipse around on a fake pirate ship?

There was a cool room along the trail with drawers full of things we could touch. Charlotte has a piece of coral in her hands and also got to hold a soft sea sponge.

Two cool creatures we got very close to.

Checking out the birds in the rehabilitation center.

And finally, a family portrait at the actual point of Crane Point!

Stay tuned, I'll be sharing pictures from the rest of our trip in the next couple of days.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Proof That Kids Can Entertain Themselves

Don't worry G-ma, the trash can was clean!

Visit 5 Minutes for Mom for more Wordless Wednesday photos.

To Be Fair...

In case you missed it, I shared a story about Charlotte's first three-word phrase but, in my haste to publish. left out some important details.

Bruce pointed this out in a recent comment, but I wanted to make sure the whole story got fair representation.

He wrote, "You forgot to mention that Charlotte said "Happy Mama Day," and even now you forgot to mention that her Daddy taught he that as a Mother's Day gift. And while you say it was music to your ears, you forgot to mention that you spent a good portion of the morning mad at me because I didn't say Happy Mother's Day to you soon enough in the morning. I waited until after I taught Charlotte to say it, so she could say it first. But, by that time, you were already mad at me, thinking I had forgot the day. Seems like you're the forgetful one here. :-)"

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Small & Mighty

This giveaway is now closed. Winners (comments #15 & 20) have been contacted.

Charlotte has a new word - heavy. She uses it when she tries to pick something up that is hard for her to lift. It is so cute to hear her little voice and see her strain to lift something that is as big as she is!

When I got this bottle of the new all Small & Mighty 96 loads she decided to pick it up for some reason. Maybe she wanted to help me carry it up the stairs? She is getting independent like that.

Well, once we got it upstairs, I put it to good use cleaning all of our vacation laundry. I wasn't surprised that it got my clothes clean, but I was impressed that it took so little to do so! It only takes 1 ounce to do an entire load of laundry. While I tried out Stainlifter (and it did get my chocolate ice cream and dirt stains out), it also comes in the following variants - Wild and Fresh®, Fresh Rain HE®, Relax®, and Free Clear. Something for everyone.

So, if you have some summer vacation laundry piling up, leave a comment because I have 2 coupons to give away to 2 lucky winners so they can have their own bottle of all Small & Mighty!

How to Enter: There are four ways to enter and you can do any of them you like, for up to four entries:

  1. Leave a comment telling me your biggest laundry struggle,
  2. Subscribe to my RSS feed, and leave a 2nd comment telling me you did so, or already are subscribed,
  3. Link to my giveaway on your own blog, leaving another comment with the permalink to you post, or
  4. Share this giveaway on Facebook and leave a 4th comment letting me know you did (honor system).
That's it. 4 ways to win and 2 lucky winners. This giveaway will end at midnight on Sunday, June 21. Read all contest rules here.

Don't miss any of my upcoming giveaways -
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In other giveaway news, I only had 1 winner contact me for the recent Macaroni Grill giveaway. So I chose two new winners - Comment #10 from Crista and comment #15 from Michelle. I'll be contacting both of you to get your mailing addresses.

Things to Do Around Lakeland This Summer

I've had a lot of people ask me what I planned to do with Charlotte this summer. And given our currently unemployed situation, I tried to find several items that were free or nearly free to entertain us. Of course, I am also trying to limit our trips out by doing more things at home.

In no particular order, are some of the ideas I've found for entertaining children in and around Lakeland this summer.

Explorations V Children's Museum - I have written about this place a gazillion times already, but at $5/day or for the cost of a relatively cheap annual memberships, this place pays for itself in no time flat. We especially enjoy the 10:30 programs each day. They are included with the cost of membership and engage all different styles of learners

Gym Etc - If you've been reading Family Musings for a while, you know Charlotte loves to jump and hang and fly around the local gymnastics studio. $4 for open gym on Wednesdays, 10-11 am

Cobb Theatre - What isn't to like about a free movie? Each Wednesday and Thursday at 10 am, there is a choice between a G and a PG movie. Enjoy the break from the oppressive FL heat and chill out while you watch a free movie.

Ice Skating - I admit, we won't actually be doing this one due to my pregnant condition, but if you aren't pregnant and have slightly older kids, this would be a fun diversion. Held at the Lakeland Center, $7

Free Bowling - We also don't bowl, but if you wanted to make a short drive, there are participating bowling allies within reach of Lakeland.

Kindermusik - Our experience with Kindermusik was nothing short of wonderful. There are several different shorter, summer sessions available at a lower cost than the longer Fall and Spring sessions.

Summer Reading Programs - Free to do if you use an existing home book collection or your local library!
If you know of any other free or low-cost activites in Lakeland this summer, leave a message in the comments and I'll add them to the list!

Area Parks - My friend Minda reminded me to tell you about the parks in Lakeland too, especially Barnett Park and the splash pad!  The easiest way I know to find the area parks (no matter where you live) is the Kaboom Playspace Finder. I blogged about it a while back so read the post about Kaboom and find a park near you.

Also, let me know if you do any of these things! I'd love to see your pictures or hear your stories.


Recently, Charlotte has shown a real desire for symmetry in her world. "Two" is quite possibly her favorite word and she is occassionally VERY obsessed with having two of anything - 2 shoes, 2 forks, 2 fives (as in giving high fives), 2 plates, 2 balls,... I think you get the idea. She always seems to want something for each hand.

Other ways this plays out are in how she puts her shoes away, and my shoes, and her daddy's shoes. For example:
She spent quite a few minutes making sure she found the mate for each pair of shoes above and then carefully placed them in front of the door. It was funny to watch as she considered and then reconsidered how the shoes should be lined up. Sometimes, she will meticulously place her shoes on top of mine, though I'm not sure why. I guess I put my shoes where hers belonged?
Another way we've seen her enjoy an ordered life is with crayons. While we were on vacation last week (yep, we went out of town!), Charlotte and Daddy were playing with crayons. When they were done, she purposefully lined each of the crayons up (from a box of 24 mind you!) so all of the points were on the same side and pushed the crayons up along side each other so there were no spaces.
I don't know why she wants so much order and symmetry in her small world, but I think it is cute and a fun personality trait that I'll be keeping my eye on. I'll also be looking for ways to utilize it so we can keep my house neater! :)

Monday, June 15, 2009

We've Been Busy

Just because I haven't been blogging it doesn't mean I haven't been doing things worthy of the blog. In fact, we've been so busy as a family, I've hardly had any time at all to get online!

Fortunately, my friend Minda is finding the time and shared some pictures and video of Charlotte running around with her church friends at a birthday party this past Saturday. Here is a photo to tease you; there are more at Minda's blog.

I'll try to put together a few more posts about what we've been up to recently. But don't worry, I'll spread them out over the next few days so you don't get inundated with all the Charlotte cuteness at once!