A Happy Three Years







Today my sweet Wyatt-Boy turns three years old!

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He is the sweetest little three year old I know.  Favorite things right now include trucks, cars, Thomas the train, Winnie the Pooh, chocolate milk.  Balloons (especially filled with helium) are his favorite, and he asks for one every time we go to the grocery store.  

He has been chattering for weeks about how his "birthday is comin' soon", and he has asked about his birthday "cek", and birthday balloons, and birthday presents - he was definitely wanting a party, so a Thomas the Train party it was!

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He holds conversations with Derek and me, and he loves to make us laugh.  He crawls into bed with me in the mornings to snuggle.  He tells me he loves me without being prompted and gives me sweet little hugs and kisses that melt my heart.  

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He asks sometimes to "come up da stairs" with us at church instead of going to his class, and he sits next to us, with his blankie and truck, through the church service.  He likes to help put Gwen to bed, and always shouts "G'night Gwen, I love you!" on the way out the door.  He likes to brush his teeth.

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I call him Pumpkin Pie, Bugaboo, Bug, Wyatt-Boy, and any variation thereof, and he knows I'm talking about him.  He likes to point to my stomach and announce that "New bebe is getting bigger!"
  
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He tries to bargain in more time at night by asking to "sit wif you for few mimutts."  He giggles and shouts with glee when Dad plays "rocket ship" with him, launching him into bed at night.  When he sees someone fall, or a car crash, or similar things on TV (which we try not to let him watch too often) he always looks at me and says "he's okay though. He's okay," until I reassure him.  


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He likes crafts, especially anything involving glitter.  He asks for us to sing "Jesus Loves Me" to him every night.  He is quiet, but when we read Bible stories together at night I can tell he is taking a lot in even if he doesn't say much.  

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He has such a sweet, soft heart.

I can hardly believe sit was already three years ago that we packed up our bags and headed to the hospital, knowing we would be coming back with a baby.  I was nervous - nervous about being a good mom, nervous about meeting my son, nervous about how a baby would change our lives.

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But then he was here.  The doctor handed him to me and I wasn't nervous anymore.  Just so, so grateful for this precious little life.  

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And I am still so grateful for the privilege of having him as my son.  Back then I had no idea how much joy was in store for me, but I know now.  And I thank God every day for that little boy who made me a mama.

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(For more pictures of his party, click here.)

Valentines Printable

This year I decided I really wanted to send out Valentine's to all of Wyatt and Gwendolyn's little friends!  There are a ton of homemade Valentine ideas on Pinterest, but none of them seemed quite right for me, so I decided to make my own.



I got these fun little airplane gliders (I think they came out to about 11 cents each?), and I made my own printable to go with them.

I painstakingly created that little paper airplane graphic myself (yes, I did).  I really like the way the valentines turned out!



For the actual valentines I just printed them out on some card stock, then cut them out and taped them to another piece of card stock with some cute wash tape.  Then I made little labels to wrap around the gliders.


I tucked it all in an envelope, and off they went.  We had a little hiccup at the post office (it turns out the airplanes were a little too thick - ah!), but the mail-lady let me stamp them all as non-machinable letters, and I think most of them got through to their destinations.

You can download these printable valentines here.  I recommend printing on card stock, or dressing them up with notecards and wash tape like I did!  Free for personal use only.  Enjoy!



DIY Social Media Buttons

Today, I want to talk about social media buttons.  I've written about social media buttons before, but I thought it was time for a little refresher since that was several years ago and I have been using a different style of button more recently.

Social media buttons and/or subscription buttons are important because:


1. They make it simple for people to find a way to follow your blog.

2. They make it easy for people to find you other places on the web.


If you want to connect social media accounts like Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook to your blog, social media buttons are a must.  And if you don't want to have social media accounts associated with your blog - it is still helpful to have buttons that make it easier for people to subscribe or contact you (like a Bloglovin button, a button for your feed, and a mail button).

So if you are a blog design DIY-er (like moi), how do you create those cute little social media buttons that line up in your sidebar?  It's actually really simple once you know how to do it!

Diysocialmediabuttons


1. You need to start out with some images to use for your social media buttons.  These usually include the appropriate social media or subscription icons, and they should all be the same size (or really close).


Hint: If you are creating your own icon images and want them to look like the icons are laying flat against your background, either make sure the background of the image is the same color as your blog background (most commonly white), or put your shapes against a transparent background and save as a .PNG.  (.PNG files keep the transparency when you put them on your blog).


2.  Get them sized the way you want.  If you want them to line up in your sidebar, you need to make sure they are sized so that they will all fit - my sidebar right now is 360 pixels wide, and I have seven social media icons - I have my icons sized to 35 pixels wide each to ensure they all fit with plenty of space.  I might be able to get away with 45 pixels, but 50 pixels would probably be cutting it too close because Blogger likes to put a buffer space on each side - so if I did 50 pixels Blogger might push one of them into a second row.  You'll have to experiment with the sizing a little bit depending on your sidebar width.


3.  Upload them to a photo hosting site.  I use Photobucket.


4. Find the direct URL for your images. This is what that looks like on Photobucket:


Directurl


5.  Plug the following info into this bit of button code:

<a href="url of your social media site" target="_blank"><img src="direct url of your social media button image" /></a>

Replace the red words with the appropriate URLs.  Make sure not to alter other parts of the code or it may not work!  You'll need to create a copy of this code for each individual social media button, with the appropriate URLs.

Hint: For a button that will open email, put mailto:youremailaddress where you would normally put your social media page link.  Obviously, inserting your email address in that space.

Hint, Hint: Go To Feedburner.com and set up your blog to get a url you can use for your RSS feed.  There are probably other ways to establish/find this URL, but that's just the way I did it.


6.  Next go to the Layout tab in your blog dashboard and create a new gadget.  Choose "HTML/Javascript" and then insert the codes into the gadget.


Addagadget

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7.  When you insert the codes you created, make sure there are no spaces between the end of one button code and the beginning of the next.  This will make them all line up in a row.


8.  Save and view your lovely new buttons!  I recommend going through and testing each one to make sure the links work.






Now the big question - where do you get social media button images?


Option 1: If you have Photoshop Elements, it's pretty simple to create your own - you can save images of the logos for each of the social media sites to your computer, open them in PSE and use the magic wand selector tool to "grab" the logo shapes and move them into your button images.

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Option 2: There are certain fonts that look like specific social media icons.  Check out this Facebook font and this Twitter font.


Option 3: You can also create text buttons in Picmonkey, kind of like this:
Pinterestexample
I messed around with it a little bit and didn't see a good way to extract social media logos to use in Picmonkey, but this is a good alternative.


Option 4: The final option for getting social media icons is to search for free ones that you can use.  Which leads me to a fun announcement . . .

I'm posting my first blog design freebie today!

Here are some social media icons that I'm giving to all of you, for free!  I made these little heart icons in honor of Valentine's Day, since it's a week from today!






If hearts aren't your thing, I'm planning on creating more free social media buttons to include with future posts - so comment with any ideas you have and stay tuned!

These social media buttons are free for personal use or commercial use (crediting me isn't necessary, but appreciated).  They may not be redistributed or sold though, so don't even go there - please just send people back here to download for themselves if they would like to use them.


How To Use These Icons:


1. Save the image by clicking on the images above and then right-clicking and saving to your computer.


2. Pick the size you want to use (I've provided 35 pixel, 50 pixel, and 65 pixel buttons).

3. Crop each icon you want to use out of the whole image and save individually to your computer.  Just in case you haven't seen some of the symbols before, the buttons are for:

Facebook
Twitter
Email
Pinterest
Bloglovin'
Rss feed
Instagram

4.  Follow the above tutorial for turning the images into social media buttons for use on your blog!

These are .PNG images, so they should let whatever background color you have on your blog show through.  I'm including the color codes I used in case you want to use the color scheme other places on your blog.

Enjoy!

Update On Gwen

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(Please request to follow my photo blog and then click here to see more pictures of my sweet girl!)

Even though I'm no longer doing monthly updates for Gwen, I wanted to post on some of the things she's been up to!  It seems like so many new things have been happening with her this month.

The biggest thing is that she has learned how to stand up! On the 6th she stood up for a good 10 seconds all by herself, and then a few days later on January 9th she all of a sudden figured out how to push herself up from a sitting position to a standing position.  It was so weird because it all happened in a matter of days!  She's been standing for longer and longer periods of time - the other night I was putting the kids to bed, and I came back into the room and she was just standing there, as casual as can be!  We usually clap and tell her good job, and she gets this huge, proud grin on her face!  Then she sits down.  


Since we've been clapping so much while she's standing she learned to clap her hands, and she's really into it now - it's one of her favorite things!  She has really gotten into peekaboo, and thinks it's so fun.  The other thing she loves to do is shake her head "no".  I think she thinks it's some sort of game - I tell her no, and then she shakes her head and laughs!  She usually listens and stops doing whatever she's doing, but I'm not so sure it's from obedience as it is from distraction by "the no game".  One of these days I'll have to make sure she knows that "no" is serious, but I don't have the heart to yet.  It's too cute to watch her get excited about shaking her head.

She got another tooth in in the last few weeks!  Her upper left lateral incisor.  Also, can I just say that I love the gap between her two front baby teeth?  I think it's adorable, and so Gwen.

She has formed a serious attachment to one specific blanket.  The other day I had to wash it and she was distressed the whole day.  She would not nap until we gave it back to her.  It surprises me that she picked that blanket, because somehow I thought she would gravitate toward her softest blanket, but it has to be that one.  It's pretty cute.

She has been giving kisses more and more.  When she wants a kiss she presses her lips together (actually it's more like pressing her lower lip over her upper lip), and then she goes "mmmm".  It's so cute, and she'll do it at random times, wanting me to kiss her.  I love it!  Sometimes she'll lean in to give me a "kiss", then lean back, then do it over again - it's our little game.  I love it so much!

She  learned to say "uh-oh" on January 2nd, adding to "mama", "dada", and "dog" ("da").  She also started saying "doll", but it sounds exactly like her noise for "dog"!  I know she means doll though, because she is referring to her dolls when she says it.  "Duck" may also be a word, but it sounds like "doll and "dog" too, so I'm not sure.

She is still really into cars and rumbles her lips for a car noise, but she has also started showing an interest in her dolls!  She gets a big smile on her face when I give her one of her baby dolls, and she loves her Glow Worm (which kind of looks like a baby doll).  In fact she seems to be forming a little attachment to her Glow Worm too.  It was the only thing that calmed her down at all that day I had to wash her blanket.  I think she likes it so much because it lights up and plays music.

On Sunday the 19th she took two steps without any assistance!  I can't believe how fast she is picking this up.  It's what comes from having a big brother to keep up with I guess.  She'll be walking before I know it.

My Baby Doll girl is growing up.

Heart Spillover

When I saw the announcement for this "Speaking Life"  linkup on Whitney's blog (which you should most definitely check out - she's one of my new favorites!), I knew I wanted to participate!  Lately I've been realizing more and more how my words and attitudes matter and can make a huge difference in my relationships, especially in my marriage.

However, I'm having a really hard time narrowing down a topic for this post, because I feel like "Speak Life" encompasses so many different things - things that I want to work on.  Maybe I'll pound out more of my thoughts about this in the next few weeks, but for now the central idea that keeps coming to mind when I think about speaking life is this verse:

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I could sit here and write about gossiping, keeping complaining in check, encouraging others, etc.  All those topics are good ones and worth writing about.  But the bottom line is that what I say is a reflection of what is in my heart.  If my heart isn't right, there is no way for me to learn to "speak life" to others.  It isn't going to happen.

Even if I do succeed in using my words to build up in one setting, the ugly overflow of my heart will spill over in some other setting.  I mentioned a couple weeks ago that for me, the ugly spillover usually ends up being in conversations with my husband and mom.  That ultimately it's not healthy for me or for them, and it's definitely not honoring to God.

The problem with this heart spillover is that it's not something I can change by sheer force of will.  Humans cannot change their own hearts.  

If we are going to get better at using our words for good and not for harm, it has to start with heart change.  And heart change has to start with honestly recognizing what is in our hearts, and taking all the ugliness to the Lord.  Asking Him to fix it.  He is the only one who can.

When your heart is in a good place, when you give up any lingering bitterness or jealousy or unforgiveness or selfishness . . .when your true heart's desire is to honor Jesus and show love to others, good things will spill out of it.  And speaking life will be natural.  That's the place I want to be.

(For a free printable of the above verse, click here and save the image to your computer.  For personal use only.)


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Little Book Of Bedtime - Review and Giveaway!

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Our bedtime routine is one of my favorite times of the day - not for the reason you think!  Sure, I like having that couple hours of quiet time with Derek at night, but the process of putting the kiddos to bed is so sweet.  They are usually snuggly and giggly and so much fun.

Every night we read the kids a Bible story before we put them to bed, and if we have time we read them another book as well.  i was excited to see that Tommy Nelson was offering "Precious Moments Little Book Of Bedtime".  I love precious moments, and I thought this would be a perfect wind-down book before bed!

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I was very pleased when I got the book in the mail and looked through it.  Each page includes a beautiful Precious Moments illustration, a poem, and either a Bible verse or a quote.  I like that the format is such that you can read as much or as little of the book as you want at a time.  The entire book isn't terribly long either - I sat down and read the whole thing to Wyatt and Gwen before bed one night, and they enjoyed it.

I love that there are poems in this book - I remember so many poems from my childhood, and I love having good ones to read to my kids as well.  

And bonus - this is a board book!  Which is a good thing because Gwen especially loved it, and she could carry it around and look through it without ruining the pages.

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Tommy Nelson is kind enough to offer a copy of this book to one of you as well!  Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Note: I received this book for free from Tommy Nelson in exchange for this review.  This is my honest opinion.

I Don't Sleep Like I Used To

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I push the hair out of my eyes and squint at the clock on my bedside table, barely registering a number starting with 4.  A little voice comes squealing through the baby monitor, and I bite back a sigh.

I flip the covers back and climb the stairs, the dog following close behind, thinking about how soundly I used to sleep back in the day.  I open the door and turn on the light and she gives me a squinty-eyed look and desperate little whimper.  I go pick her up and hand her a blanket, ready for screams when I tell her she's fine and she needs to go back to sleep.  

But before I can say anything she tucks her head into the place between my chin and my collar bone, eyes closed, sucking away on her tiny thumb.  I melt a little and forget what I was going to say.

All of a sudden I can't put her down, so we stand there and rock for a few minutes.  I think I could stay there forever, but I know I better get back to bed myself, so I lay her quiet form down and tuck her back in.

I collapse in my own bed and fall asleep again almost immediately, but a couple hours later I hear a familiar, thump, thump, thump, coming down the stairs, the signal that my rest is almost over.  I roll over and open my eyes, and two little brown ones stare back at me over the edge of the bed.  

I ask if he wants to climb in bed with me, and he nods his head - this is our routine.  I hoist him off the floor and deposit him into the spot next to me where he always sits after his daddy has gone for the day.  I settle him against the pillows and pull a blanket up to his chin, but he isn't satisfied because he "f'got blanket".  His favorite blanket isn't in sight.  I tell him I'll get it and climb the stairs again in the dim beginnings of morning light.

Once he has his blanket he settles down with his toy car, his balloon, and his thumb in his mouth.  This is our time together before the day begins.

As I close my eyes with my son curled up next to me, not all is quiet - another son of mine tosses and turns and kicks, trying to get comfortable inside my womb.  Only I know, his movements and habits our secret for now.  

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He settles down, and I settle down, and the house is quiet until the sun bursts through the window a little while later.  One little voice calls from upstairs again, one little voice jabbers about brushing teeth, and one little kick greets me with "good morning, Mama".

No, I don't sleep like I used to.  But I wouldn't change a thing.
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