Lego Marble Run – with educational upgrades!

We made a lego marble run today, inspired by this one and we ended up adding some upgrades that I wanted to share, since I think they’re super fun =]

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First, we added numbers to this simple marble run to make it a little bit more complex, the goal was to roll the ball over each of the numbers in order. Just took regular scotch tape and a sharpie and presto! A counting toy :) Initially I just had it go from 1-5 but he kept insisting for more numbers and by the end we had 20.IMG_7730

I imagine we can do this again with any number of things, colored dots, alphabet, etc :)

 

After that got too repetitive, we added more interesting places for the ball to go, like a garage, and some extra obstacles

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According to Rand this was a lemon tree
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Once the people were added as obstacles, he inadvertently knocked over one of them while doing the puzzle and, of course, that became a whole new game.

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Bonus, this is the hospital that we took our lego guys to after they got knocked out

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Definitely a very fun, simple, and cheap activity. 10/10 will do again. :)

Hungry Caterpillar Toddler Footprint/Toeprint Craft

After I saw these amazing hungry caterpillar toeprints on Pinterest (don’t know what site they came from :( ) I felt like I had to do it, but instead of just having the toe prints, I decided to take it a little further and make my own version of the book for Rand’s wall. Then, we made prints of his feet in purple/blue/green hues on the yellow paper and put them together to make the butterfly. This was a long project, but so worth it in the end!

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Spontaneous Testimony

Sometimes I hear people express disbelief at how people can keep faith in a church. Sometimes I respond.

I think my belief in the church is somewhat like my 1995 car. I have very little idea beyond the basics how it works — not being a car person I only know about the stuff you need to know to keep the car going — and if you take a look at each of its parts you probably would say it shouldn’t be working because some of the parts are so corrupted that it really should be impossible.

For 15 years (bought it used) my car and I have been together, while none of the parts of my car seem to be right, it still works for me and every time I set foot in my car I have faith that I’ll be able to get where I want to go because it has never let me down.

Maybe one day I’ll get in and I’ll realize it’s not right anymore, I always realize it’s a possibility — but not today, regardless of whether or not people think I should throw away my car I love it and it’s a part of me at this point.

Happiness incline

Some days I think about the rage I seem to naturally harbor all the time and wonder when I became an incessantly angry person. Reminiscing about my days in college, I idealize the idea that I had it easier then — and then I read my blog posts. Then I think, ah, I had things pretty easy in high school — and then I read my blogs and diaries.

To be honest, I think despite the MS, despite the living in the middle of b***f*** nowhere, and despite my waves of irritation and anxiety (possibly caused by the medication I’m taking for aforementioned MS) I might just be the happiest and most content I’ve ever been in my life.

This both pleases me and saddens me at the same time. While I’m happy that I’ve reached a state of peace never before achieved — it’s kind of depressing that I’m the happiest now in my entire life while battling a degenerative disease, its suppression and almost complete isolation for at least 8 hours a day from non-virtual people on a daily basis (and even outside of that 90% of my time is spent with either the nanny, my son, or my husband).

If I were to be an optimist I suppose I could say that at least my happiness has been at an incline since childhood so if trends follow as they have been I’ll be in a complete state of nirvana when I finally kick the bucket. Thanks to modern medicine and hospice care I think I’ll definitely have that going for me.

Ah, there’s so much to look forward to in this life!

15 years

This August will celebrate the 15 year anniversary of my ownership of this domain.  Throughout the years I, and this site, have changed and been remade hundred of times over.  However, the name remains the same.  I feel like I should do something to commemorate this seemingly inconsequential but ultimately momentous event in my life from 15 years ago.

Too bad I have no motivation and no ideas.

Freebie: Number Tracing Worksheets

I’m constantly looking for worksheets and learning games to do with my son, but most of them are so ugly that I end up stealing the ideas and making my own so that I can live with starting at the games day after day.  These worksheets are some number tracing worksheets that I made recently.  What I’ve been doing is printing them out and then laminating them and having Rand trace the numbers with the lovely crayola dry-erase markers.  He loves the colorful pictures and these worksheets have been great in helping him with the concept of writing.

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Still needs some work

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St Patrick’s Day Toddler Craft

After seeing the heart toilet paper toddler stamp on pinterest I immediately went into the bathroom unraveled the rest of my toilet paper roll, turned it into a heart and did a stamping project with Rand.  Today I was thinking about what to do for St. Patrick’s day and realized that a shamrock is nothing more than 4 hearts put together!   This was a lot of fun and I never cease to be amazed at how much can be done with stuff that normally is thrown away.

St. Patrick’s day is pretty special to me because it’s the day after my birthday, so I’m glad that I was able to come up with something fun and easy to celebrate with.

St Patrick's Day Toddler Craft - Toilet paper shamrocks + pop up art

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The Great Munny Exchange

This is a repost about a project my friends and I did 5 years ago for Christmas.  Have you guys ever heard of a Munny?  I think they’re pretty popular these days – they’re basically a vinyl toy that you can customize and make your own.
Click here for more information on Munnys
Since Christmas is around the corner, I thought this would be a good idea to put out there for anyone looking for an affordable and original way to do a Secret Santa!

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So my group of friends and I were sitting around one day around Christmas time and were talking about doing a Secret Santa exchange… Somehow it became a secret Munny Exchange instead…

And here’s the result.

9 people. 8 munnys completed.

A whole lot of good fun.

Here’s the lineup, before gifting.

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A Matter of Perspective

Rights vs. Privileges.  These are always argued, right?  What is a right, what is a privilege?  Is having a roof over my head a right or a privilege I have?  Is having delicious food to eat something I’m entitled to as a human being, or should I just be happy that I’m well fed?

Being a spoiled American, growing up in fairly affluent areas, I tend to think that I’m entitled to a lot of things.

I think that’s why it’s been so hard for me to deal with MS.  Before this, it was my right to do whatever I wanted, go wherever I wanted.  Because of MS, it’s no longer my right to drive to work every morning when I wake up — it’s now my privilege to work from home.   It’s not longer my right to drive to the store to buy a pair of shoes — it’s now my privilege to be driven there.  It’s no longer my right to feel normal — it’s now my privilege to have a day with minimal dizziness and fatigue.

Sure, I should be happy.  I should be grateful that the MS was found before I started to lose my vision… Thankful, that I’m not paralyzed… But a huge part of me is not.  That huge part feels like I should just be able to live life normally without having to choose between not being able to drive right now or paralysis in ten years.  It should have been my right to be able to play with my baby for longer than half an hour at a time without feeling fatigue.  I should have the right to go to work, the right to pick up dinner, the right to run errands, but these stupid brain lesions have stolen that right from me.

The question I have to ask is this:  can I deal with freedom from and let go of my need to have freedom to?  Right now, I have freedom from responsibility, freedom from driving, freedom from blindness, freedom from paralysis.  If I think of it that way it seems pretty great.  What I’ve lost is the freedom to choose, the freedom to drive, the freedom to do strenuous activity.

In conclusion, all in all, despite the list of benefits I listed before, I probably wouldn’t recommend developing multiple sclerosis to anyone.

Top 10 benefits of having MS

Ever since I was diagnosed with MS, I’ve struggled to deal with the impact that it and the treatment have had on my life.  Today I wanted to take a look at things on the bright side.  Here are top 10 things that make MS more bearable.

  1. I’ve lost 17 lbs. Nuff said.
  2. Since my feet are really numb, I can wear any kind of shoe that I want, even 6 inch heels for an entire day at a convention without feeling even a tiny bit of pain afterwards.
  3. I have a Dr’s note that says I can work from home whenever I feel dizzy – which is pretty much all the time in the summer since heat aggravates my symptoms.
  4. I have medication that I have inject weekly — and while that sucks,for the month before I got the injection pen Brent had to inject me in the butt which made a great story.
  5. After my spinal tap I was ordered by the Dr to drink coffee and tea for a week.  This might not be a big deal to you, but I’m a converted Mormon so drinking that expresso felt dangerous to my salvation, but oh-so-delicious.
  6. Since heat aggravates my symptoms I can justify keeping the air condition blasting all the time in this huge house during a heatwave.
  7. I’m participating in a study, so one day I’ll be a part of one of those medical journal articles that say “in a study of X people along the course of 10 years…”
  8. Numb fingers mean that if I one day get diabetes I can check my blood sugar all day without worries.
  9. I got to see the inside of my brain and have 2 CD-roms full of pictures of my insides.
  10. I can blame any stupidity that falls out of my mouth and into the air on brain lesions and not my actual thoughts.

My MS Story

It all started when I started to notice that there was a cellphone stuck in my abdomen. I remember clearly I was driving to an job interview on one of the days where I had 6 interviews in 2 days and I suddenly had a distinct vibrating sensation, right below my bellybutton. My husband was a med student at the time, so I immediately reported it to him and asked him what he thought it could possibly be.

“It’s probably gas.”

Now, I’m not bragging or anything, but I’m pretty well acquainted with gas, and I knew that this was definitely not gas, it was a cellphone in my belly. This continued for a few weeks. I kept trying to feel my stomach when the sensations came to see if I could feel my insides actually vibrating like a GameBoy Motion Pack to no avail. There was even one scary moment where I thought the feeling had moved to my butt as well, but then I realized I had inadvertently sat on my nephew’s Playstation controller.

After a few months I became so used to the vibrating feeling that it no longer freaked me out. I think humans can get used to pretty much anything as long as long as it doesn’t interfere with the things they want to do every day. This has become the story of my life.

Then, one day, the day we were preparing for our fourth move in a week of being nomads, I noticed something strange. The left side of my torso was gone. If I looked down it was still there — but when I tried to ‘feel’ it with my mind I couldn’t place it. Similarly when I touched it with my hands I could feel my torso with my hands but I couldn’t feel my hands with my torso. That was when Brent told me to go to the doctor.

I went to my internal medicine doctor who told me it might be gas but referred me to a neurologist. The neurologist ordered some MRI’s but he didn’t seem to think there would be anything serious going on and told me that it might gas. So, like an idiot, I decided to not get the MRI’s done.

Fast-forward to a few months later, I suddenly started having another odd sensation. Every time I bent my head down (ok, I’ll admit it, i noticed it while texting and driving at the same time), there was a weird feeling that went down my back and my hands and feet went numb. Now I was definitely freaking out. I called Brent again, and he told me I had to go to the neurologist again since my symptoms had changed.

Three days before the day that I had my second neurology appointment, my feet went numb. As the day progressed the numbness spread upwards and by the time I went to the doctor I was numb up to my ribcage. When I reported these symptoms to my doctor he said that these were classic signs of MS and that he definitely wanted me to get some scans of my back done.

I got the scans done and sure enough there were lesions on my neck and in my torso. The one on my torso was leaning to the left, explaining why I had lost my left side for some time. After these results the doctor told me that he was 90% sure that I had MS but he wanted to get a spinal tap and some brain scans to be certain.

This entire time my symptoms had been getting worse. By the time that I got my spinal tap, I hadn’t been able to feel my fingers for a few weeks. I still can’t right now, which makes typing somewhat problematic sometimes since I can’t feel the indicator nubs on the keyboard. I’ve gotten used to it, though.

The spinal tap came back positive for MS markers. The brain scan showed many lesions — they looked like little flames lighting up my brain. I couldn’t believe how many there were… How long had my body been trying to kill my brain, I wondered.

The next step for me is medication to try to stop the progress. I start tomorrow. Let’s hope that it works because I’m tired of being tired and numb and sick all the time. All I can do is be positive and believe in the doctors and Brent when they say things will get better with time.

Mascot Monday – How-to: Pug Ornament (Free Pattern)

In preparation for the holidays, I’m doing a Mascot Monday, where I will post up an instructional PDF once a week on how to do a simple mascot ornament gift.  Last year for Christmas I made one for each of my friends and they were very well received, so this year I’m offering everyone these instructions so that everyone can enjoy them!

This week’s ornament: Pug

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Mascot Monday – How-to: Elephant Ornament (Free Pattern)

In preparation for the holidays, I’m doing a Mascot Monday, where I will post up an instructional PDF once a week on how to do a simple mascot ornament gift.  Last year for Christmas I made one for each of my friends and they were very well received, so this year I’m offering everyone these instructions so that everyone can enjoy them!

This week’s ornament: Elephant

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Mascot Monday – How-to: Squirrel Ornament (Free Pattern)

In preparation for the holidays, I’m doing a Mascot Monday, where I will post up an instructional PDF once a week on how to do a simple mascot ornament gift.  Last year for Christmas I made one for each of my friends and they were very well received, so this year I’m offering everyone these instructions so that everyone can enjoy them!

This week’s ornament: Squirrel

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How-to: 10-Minute Clutch Tutorial

Inspired by this clutch tutorial on instructables, I came up with an idea to make this already easy to make clutch even MORE easy. Instead of using two fabrics for the upper and lining, I just used 1 piece of high quality wool felt. Then I decorated it with a bow made from this adorable bow tutorial

I think this clutch would be even cuter if it was made with a red bow and white felt — it’d be totally Hello Kitty chic!


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Mascot Monday – How-to: Ciao Ciao Ornament (Free Pattern)

In preparation for the holidays, I’m doing a Mascot Monday, where I will post up an instructional PDF once a week on how to do a simple mascot ornament gift.  Last year for Christmas I made one for each of my friends and they were very well received, so this year I’m offering everyone these instructions so that everyone can enjoy them!

This week’s ornament: Ciao Ciao

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How-to: Make an Origami/Kirigami Bow

I love origami, and when I saw this tutorial at Tweety Atalier I knew I had found my new favorite pattern. I don’t speak or read Korean, but fortunately for me I’ve done enough origami to be able to figure out the instructions on my own. I figure, however, this might be valuable to those of you who don’t speak Korean and would like to know how to make these adorable little lovelies. I also added several extra instructional steps that I thought would help make the instructions easier to use for someone who may be less experienced in origami.

Click to view full instructions
Origami Bow Tutorial

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Mascot Monday – How-to: Adios Ornament (Free Pattern)

In preparation for the holidays, I’m doing a Mascot Monday, where I will post up an instructional PDF once a week on how to do a simple mascot ornament gift.  Last year for Christmas I made one for each of my friends and they were very well received, so this year I’m offering everyone these instructions so that everyone can enjoy them!

This week’s ornament: Adios

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12 Awesome Backpack Tutorials & Patterns

I’ve been looking for a new diaper bag — not because I don’t love the one I have right now, but because I like variety in my life.  At one point, I was thinking about making my own, and in that  quest I ran into these awesome patterns/tutorials.  There are so many free tutorials out there, but really only a few that I personally liked — so I narrowed down to my favorites.

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Project: Handmade Tablet Cover & Stand

My husband gave me a Xoom this year as an early birthday gift.  At that time I was 8 and a half months pregnant (the baby’s birthday is two days before mine!).  In a fit of crazy nesting instinct, I made this tablet cover and stand in less than two hours.  It was super easy to make and to this day I still use it!

This project was very easy and could probably be used for an iPad as well! If there’s any interest, I can probably put up a tutorial, just let me know. :)


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Mascot Monday – How-to: Bear Ornament (Free Pattern)

In preparation for the holidays, I’m beginning Mascot Monday, where I will post up an instructional PDF once a week on how to do a simple mascot ornament gift.  Last year for Christmas I made one for each of my friends and they were very well received, so this year I’m offering everyone these instructions so that everyone can enjoy them!

This week’s ornament: Bear

One of the few photos I have of a completed mascot

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Color Story: Aqua & Red

Red, coral, white, aqua, teal

I love looking at color stories on the web, so I thought I’d start compiling some of my own.  One of my favorites right now is the fresh feeling of red/pink/coral (any red tone really) with aqua/teal.  I love that it can look modern and retro at the same time.

Here is a color palate I came up with on colourlovers.com (my favorite place for color inspiration):


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How to: No-fuss Cupcake Pies

These cupcake -sized pies have long been a favorite in our family.  They’re so easy to make and you can actually get all of the ingredients pre-made from the store!  More adventurous people can feel free to make their own crust and filling — but that adds a substantial amount of time to the project.  I love making these for potlucks because they’re so easy!

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How to: Origami Crane Mobile

There’s something so wonderful about watching a baby watching a mobile.  Maybe it’s the fact that he’s not bothering you, or maybe it’s just great to see simple wonder in their eyes.  Regardless what causes the magic, babies like mobiles so I like them too.

This is one of the easiest projects that I’ve ever worked on.  I actually did this while I was recovering from childbirth and pyelonephritis after Rand was born.

Supplies:

  • Origami paper
  • Thread
  • Pearl beads (or any beads)
  • Tape
  • 1 circle from a cheap wooden embroidery hoop (example) [1 embroidery hoop makes 2 mobiles]

 


Step 1: Make small marking on embroidery hoop.  Then make the same marking directly across the hoop from the first marking.  After that, make markings directly in between the two markings you just made.  You’ve divided your hoop into 4.  Now, make markings in the middle of each of your 4 sections.  Now you should have 8 hatch marks that are equally spaced from each other.

 

Step 2: Fold 8 paper cranes.  Look below for instructions on how to fold a crane.

Step 3: String 20″ thread through pearl and fold thread up at halfway point as shown in picture below.   

Step 4: Thread large needle with doubled thread and poke up through the bottom of crane and up through the middle of crane’s back (where the center of the paper originally was).  Final bird on string should be around 10″ for first bird.

Step 5: Tape the end of the thread to one of the hatch marks on the embroidery hoop.

Step 6: Repeat Steps 3-5, each time making the string about 2″ shorter (final string 1″ shorter).

Step 7: Cut a longish piece of thread, 20-30 inches.  Tie each end on opposite sides of the mobile.  Pull thread up from the middle and knot the piece as far down as you can go.

Step 8: Hang and enjoy!