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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sam is 7 months!

Seven months old. We are on the downhill side toward a year. I know that sounds like crazy talk. That's because it is. But tell me this, is it crazy that I have started planning his first birthday party? That I have started one of his handmade gifts? That Z and I had 'The Christmas Talk' (you know the one) on the way home from IA the other day?
It is? It is crazy? Well, we have officially boarded that train and we are on the way to crazy town with our 7 month old, thank you very much.

Sam @ 7 months


at birth: 9lbs 2.7 oz
  at seven months: 20lbs 14.5 oz


Your favorite activity! You sit at the table with us for three meals a day and eat everything from boiled eggs and toast, to apricots, cucumbers, grilled meats, spaghetti, and icecream!
Daddy snuck you a completely illegal french fry the other day and you were stoked. Mama tried to remain calm and tell herself that one french fry wasn't going to hurt anyone... but Daddy did get a nice long lecture.
You are a big fan of fruit of all kinds, berries being your favorite and blueberries--hands down--your favorite berry. We love to watch you carefully pick them up one at a time and pop them in your mouth then smile as you squish them between your gums. You can eat more berries in one sitting than your mama can (impressive because I also have an obsession with those blue guys!), and (brace yourselves, I am about to talk about poo which I swore I would never do on this blog!) they turn you poo blue-- many of your diapers are hopelessly stained blue, and it kinda makes me laugh.
You still have several formula feedings a day, mostly before naptime and bedtime.


Sleeping was rough this month, but that was kinda our fault. Mama was in a musical and you were with Grandma S until at least 9:00 every night and didn't want to sleep when you got home and saw Daddy for the first time all day. You would stay up 'til 11:00 (and sometimes later!) then sleep untill 10:00 the next morning. I don't have to tell you that threw off nap schedules.
We'll get you back to normal soon, buddy!


Watching videos of yourself online. It's true... somedays it's the only things that calms you when you are having a screaming fit. Mom pulls up a video of you and you coo and giggle at yourself.
Playing "Where's Sam" and "tent" with the blankets in your bed.
Feeding the dogs. They sit on either side of your highchair during meals, and you happily drop things off the side for them, then lean over to watch them scramble for it. Sometimes thats more fun than eating. Stinker. 
Your penis. I don't mean to be rude and crude here-- but you kind of are. You discovered it during bathtime a while back, and reach for it obsessively at every diaper change. It's your favorite thing. Sometimes, even when you are fully diapered, you reach down and pat your crotch-- just to check for it. Funny little boy.

Teething. (who doesn't?)

This heat. It's oppressive and nasty, and you yell out your protest-- especially in the car.

When we try to entice you to crawl by placing things you want just out of your reach. You yell about it for a little bit, then take of rolling across the room, then roll back and pick up whatever it was you wanted. You outsmart us. You DO NOT want to crawl, thank you very much.

Not being able to play with our computers or phones. You try, oh do you try.


Can I get a hallelujah and an AMEN! Holy moly, we've been working on that for months. He's a handsome little guy, and sharp too! And you are so proud.

Special talents.

Singing in about 14 different octaves. Your mouth is changing and you are exploring your voice and making all kinds of fun sounds now. You also love to 'pop' your lips.

Destructo Baby. You can crumple a blanket, rip up a paper, or destroy a pleasant photo setup in about .02 seconds. Then you look at me and smile-- look what I did, Mama!

Swimming. Seriously. Watch out Michael Phelps. You get in the water and instinctively start kicking your little legs and going to town. You love the water and are fearless. 

Things I don't want to forget
Daddy discovered the book Blueberries for Sal on your bookshelf. So he pulled it out and read it to you at bedtime one night-- only he replaced Sal with Sam every time, and you enjoyed hearing your name over and over.

Your new smile is precious with that little tooth... but I loved your big gummy smile. And especially that little ridge in the middle of your top gums. (Will you have a gap between your front teeth?) I love when you throw your head back and laugh showing off your pink gums.

You on your first 4th of July. The adults were all staying up to watch fireworks, and you knew something was about to happen, and you didn't want to sleep either. When the fireworks started you watched with wide eyes-mesmerized-- until they were over when you promptly fell asleep still gripping your light-up toys.

And here's some footage of you at seven months old, and if you pay attention, you can even see your little tooth!

Samuel, you are charming, curious, and clever. You love to kick, move, play, and chatter-- you are constantly busy. You bring so much joy to your family and friends... and even people you have never met (but who are dying to meet you soon!). We love you so much!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Blackberry Cream Cheese Coffeecake

You had me at cream cheese.
I had a bunch of blackberries that were nice and ripe and ready to fulfill a life accomplishment... and I couldn't eat all of them in one sitting without a tummy ache, so I searched the internet for inspiration and decided upon a coffeecake. I found a recipe that looked yummy, but you all know I don't follow direction well. I tweaked a few things, reflected in the recipe below.  But enough chitchat, let's get to what you really want here...

Blackberry Cream Cheese Coffeecake
(recipe adapted from Joy of Baking)
Streusel Topping:
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Cream Cheese Filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange zest (or 1/4 tsp. orange extract)
1 tablespoon all purpose flour

Cake Batter:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter room temperature
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup 2% milk
1 1/2 cups fresh blackberries

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 inch spring form pan..
Streusel topping: Mix together the flour, sugar, and ground cinnamon. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or fork (or your fingers, I don't care) until it's crumbly.
Cream cheese filling: With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until creamy and smooth. Add the sugar, egg, vanilla, orange, and flour, beat until smooth and creamy. Try not to eat it by the spoonful and set it aside so there will be some for the cake.
Cake batter: In the bowl of  electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until incorporated.  Throw the flour, baking powder, and salt into your sifter, and sift in about half, alternating with the milk, then the rest of flour, and beat only until combined. Mix in 1/2 cup of berries, stirring untill incorporated and just starting to break up. Spread the batter onto the bottom of the prepared pan. Next, spread the cream cheese filling over the cake batter. Scatter the rest of the fresh berries over the filling and top with the streusel. 
Bake for about 60 minutes or until the streusel is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Your house is going to smell amazing. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool slightly. 
Serve warm or at room temperature, store leftovers in the fridge (if you have any...)

I know there are several steps and several dishes involved, but if you have the time, it's worth the effort. Mmmmm... yummy.
*You could easily use the same recipe for blueberries, or raspberries... or if fresh berries aren't available, you could use preserves.
*This would be great for a brunch, or coffee/tea with friends... or I ate it alone in the kitchen as a late night snack-- don't judge. It's yummy.


This is a few months old, but I finally got it edited and uploaded. This is Samuel's Dedication on Mother's day.
It's a two part video, (and sorta long-ish) the first is his dedication at church, the second is the family blessings. I don't know if this video is significant to anyone else, but it's very special to me.
The second part makes me laugh because it's so... us. Donnie cracking jokes about husbands, dogs running in and out, teary grandmas, the oven beeping incessantly in the background, and Sam sleeping through the whole thing. And through all this chaos that is our quirky family, we were trying to create a special moment...
Watching it all again, I think it's all the chaos and the quirks that made it special... it was us unedited, I love that.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Sam needed a swing.
He's almost seven months, he's sitting up like a pro, and he needed some backyard entertainment for Grandpa and Grandma's big backyard. Besides that, kids love swings. What kid doesn't love a swing? It was time.
But let me tell you what I hate... plastic stuff. Especially plastic stuff that stays outside and gets faded and dirty and gross. UGH. So I researched baby swings and decided I did not want plastic. A stroll through pinterest found several pretty wooden ones, but they just didn't look so comfy for my sweet little rollie baby. Then I found a picture of this canvas/hamock style swing, and I was all, YES! Then I saw that it was $135 plus shipping from Australia... and I was like... um, NO. (But if you have $135 to burn... you can check out Swingz and Thingz they've got some super cool stuff!)

But upon closer inspection, I uttered those dangerous words...

I could make that.

 So I gathered up my supplies:
1 inch oak dowels
25 ft nylon/poly blend braided 5/16" rope
Steel rings
steel carabiner
rope crimps
about 1 yard of outdoor canvas
Some tools: sewing machine, hammer, pliers, saw, drill press
Sturdy tree branch (still attached to the tree, thank you.)

I started by making the seat. I found this beautiful striped canvas at a fabric outlet, and I love it! I think I will start sewing exclusively with stripes, it's super easy to measure stuff... just FYI.
I cut the large piece 36"x14", the top piece is 14"x11", and the bottom leg piece is 6"x11". (I cut all my pieces from the same long strip that started 60"x14") The way they are laid out in this picture is the shape we are creating for the seat part of the swing.
The first step was to hem the sides of the two vertical pieces. You will be hemming the 11" sides. Here's how I did the hem for this project:

1. Iron over a 1/4 inch to wrong side.
2. Iron over another 1/2 inch to wrong side.
3. Sew two straight seams 1/8 inch from each side of the hem. You have a lovely finished edge, the double seam isn't necessary, but I think it looks really nice.

Next you are going to attach those two pieces to the long horizontal piece. Here's how I attached them and double enforced the seams so they would be extra safe for my little boy...
 1. I ironed over 1/4 inch then another 1/2 inch just like i did in the first two steps above. Then I measured and centered the vertical pieces and pinned them, wrong sides together, just underneath that ironed down hem.
2. Sew two seams, just as you did in part 3 above.
3. Now flip the vertical piece up over the hem you just created, and iron it flat.
4. Top stitch over the two seams you created previously, securing the vertical piece in that position and reinforcing your seams.

The next step is to fold over 3 and sew down 3 inches on all 4 sides (which I unfortunately did not take a picture of...) This creates the casing that your dowel will go through for the frame of the swing. This is the last step of the sewing portion, and your completed seat looks like this:
(note: for smaller children you may want to also sew a cushion or pillow to go behind their back. I made a 12x12" square pillow out of coordinating outdoor canvas to go behind Sam, it was the perfect size.)

Next you create the frame and ropes to hang the swing.
I used 1 inch oak dowels, and cut them to 16". My dad took them to his fancy shop and used fancy tools to put beautiful radius on each end, but that is not structurally important. You can just cut and sand the ends really well so no one gets splinters.

Next you will put a 3/8" hole 1" from  both ends of each dowel. You will want you use a drill press to get the holes exactly straight. You can stain your dowels at this point, if you so desire.

Okay, time for the ropework! I cut 2 lengths of rope (I used a braided nylon/poly blend that was 5/16") 10 feet. You need to use a lighter to melt the ends of the rope so it doesn't fray. Then find the center of the two ropes and thread them through your steel ring and pull it to the center. (When you purchase your ring, make sure it is weight bearing. Though it will never need to hold that much, ALL the materials I used for this project were rated to hold up to 200 lbs. Safety first!)
Then I used a metal rope clamp to bind the four ropes together. You can see an unused one sitting above the ropes, and I have only hammered two of the four prongs onto the rope. (just wanted you to see how this works.)
The completed clamped rope looks like this.The rope clamp is another important safety feature in this swing, without it, the ropes could slide freely through the ring and topple the swing and the little one inside. So be sure to include that!

Now it's time for the fun part... assembly! I was literally dancing about the house by the time it got to assembly. I was SO EXCITED to complete this project and get it up in a tree and a baby in it! So here's how you do it...
Thread your dowels through all four casings in the fabric seat. The front and back dowels will be below the side dowels.

Thread the rope through the holes of two crossed dowels, and create a stopper knot leaving a 2 inch tail of rope. (A simple overhand knot would likely be sufficient, but the stopper knot is a little more sturdy, and I didn't want ANY chance of those knots slipping out when holding my precious and breakable baby) (By the way... I did a ton of research before doing this project and learned a lot about knots and what kinds are appropriate for securing or bearing what kinds of loads... Anyway, I kinda feel like I earned my boyscout badge in knots. Is there even such a thing?)

Oh my gosh! You have a swing! Now you need a safe place to hang it from.  Pick a sturdy branch or beam. This little picture is from the original website where I copied my swing design from... an excellent and informative graphic so I will save my breath... (fingers?)
Again, make sure your carabiner is a weight bearing one. ours was purchased from the hardware store and rated to hold 200 lbs. Check the rating on any hardware you use--for your child's safety!
My dad also decided that Sam might like to swing on their fancy shady porch where we all like to hang out, so he got and eye bolt and hung that in their pergola. (this bolt, when properly installed was rated to hold up to 300 lbs. I know I sound like a broken record here... but when suspending your child double and triple check that all your hardware and rope is rated to hold weight and is installed correctly and safely.)

Okay, are you wiggling so much you can't stand it??? Because I definitely was at this point... my dad was tying knots to the tree and literally could not hold still from swing excitement! Check it out!

Okay, and now, brace yourself for gratuitous photos of cute baby swinging...


Sam loved it! He spent his entire afternoon just swinging and swinging. Then after dinner my dad moved his swing up to the porch... where he fell asleep, still in his swing.
Okay, take a few moments to recover from your cuteness coma, because I am certain you want to know about the price breakdown. Did we swing it for under $135?

2 - 1" oak dowels each 3 ft long : $10
50 ft nylon/poly blend braided 5/16" rope: $12
Package of 2 Steel rings: $2
steel carabiner: $3
Package of 2 rope crimps: $2
1 yard of outdoor canvas + 1/3 yard contrasting: $11
Total cost: $40
However... you'll note that I had to buy 50 ft of rope, but only used 25... And several things I had to buy packages of 2... and I had enough fabric left that I could make a second seat... so if I purchased more dowels and another carabiner, that would total $53... 
Making the approximate cost PER SWING about $26.50
I'd say that's a heck of a lot better than $135+shipping from Australia. Yes? SCORE.
This may be the favorite project I have EVER made. I know that's a pretty dramatic use of absolute qualifiers there, but I love this little swing so much... and I love it even more watching my little Sam swing and squeal with delight. Happy Swingin'!

(I also linked this too the Summer Pinterest Challenge at YHL if you wanna check out some other cool projects...) 

 UPDATED 3/1/13: Check out OSH Revisited: Swingin' for more pics and updates on the swing, and also for an explanation on how to add pics of your swing to the flickr pool! If you have created a swing for your kiddo, I would LOVE to see it! Would you please please share pics with all of us??? Please?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Outta Storage Space

As I was working on a blog post about Sam's new swing, blogger told me I was out of storage for photos on my blog... that I could purchase more storage for a monthly fee, but I cannot upload any more photos.
What in the world?
Has this happened to anyone else? Is there a way around this? I don't want to have to pay to blog, but I don't want to have to create a new one either.
Totally lame.
I am bummed... any ideas?

EDIT: Post revisited and my solution posted HERE. Check it out, if you need some help, or have some suggestions!