Thursday, July 31, 2014

Pediatrician Interview Checklist

As we get closer to our due date, we've started the process of interviewing in hopes of selecting a pediatrician.  We are delivering at a hospital that is over 30 minutes away, but I had a friend who used the hospital pediatrician (although at a different hospital) and absolutely regretted it.  She said that he had no bedside manner and was always just in and out.  So we decided that we have friends who live on that side of town and we wanted to make sure we had a good pediatrician who would take good care of our baby girl while we're in the hospital for a few days.  So we decided to take the time to interview and select a pediatrician on that side of town, and will stay with them for the first few months since my husband works on that side of town.  Then he can still come to the doctor appts with us even though he has already gone back to work.

So in doing so, I compiled a good list of questions that I felt were important to ask each pediatrician and I tried to break it up by type of question: whether it was related to the practice, the doctor, or general.  There is also a specific question related to my experience about a reaction to a vaccine I had when I was little and I wanted opinions from each pediatrician about how they would handle that situation with our daughter.

I've uploaded the PDF version of my questionnaire.  Feel free to use it exactly as is, or pull info from this checklist to create your own.  Picking a pediatrician is a very important task, so I wanted to share!

PS: I know this is not the prettiest way to share it. I'm trying to figure out how to upload a PDF to my blog! For the meantime, this works...but if I find a better way, I'll fix it! If you have any suggestions, let me know! Thanks!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Book Review: The Miserable Mill (A Series of Unfortunate Events #4)

The Miserable Mill (#4)
by Lemony Snicket
Date Read:  7/22/14
Rating: ★ ★ ★

Ok, I’m first going to rant about the quality of this audio book.  The author narrates in a very soft voice, but when the adult characters start talking, he almost shouts them.  We listen to these in the car on the way to work, so the narrating part is a bit hard to hear over the road noise….but we had to try to find a happy medium so that our ear drums didn’t burst when it went to dialogue.  Also, I didn’t feel that he pulled off the humor in the book very well. I actually expected these to be more humorous in audio book form than when I just read them...but they were not.

Ok, on to the review of the actual story: It was decent; along par with the rest of the books in the series.  I’m not really sure why these have such high ratings.  Sure they’re kind of fun, but they are also very repetitive and dark for children’s stories.  One thing that I actually liked in this book was that Count Olaf was NOT the main bad guy in this book.  He actually didn’t make many appearances in this book which was a relief.  While he was still the mastermind, the author found a different way to create miserable situations for the children.

Another thing that I liked in this book as opposed to the previous books was that the roles were mixed up.  Violet ended up having to do research and Klaus had to create an invention.  I thought that was a nice change.  They still used their own wits to get themselves out of trouble, but it wasn’t the same monotonous way.

I like that each book always has at least one character who is friendly to the children…but it’s so frustrating that they can’t ever just end up staying with one of them.  But I guess the series would be much shorter otherwise. 

The setting of this book was a bit strange – a lumber mill.  But I suppose when you go to write a 13 book series, you have to make up some strange places for the children to go live – there are only so many times you can put them in a house with a strange guardian.

These books are a good way to pass the time on the drive to work.  I can’t stand listening to the radio anymore because they are either playing commercials or the same songs over and over again.  So this is a good way to pass the time.  I think I’ll continue listening to them (I’m borrowing them from the library), even though they’re not my favorite stories.  I have a secret wish to see a somewhat happy ending for the children at the end of the series.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Brooklyn's Nursery Project #2: Decorative Letter B in Frame

The second project I tackled for Brooklyn's nursery is a decorative letter. I saw a really cute idea on Pinterest where someone put a letter inside a frame.  I loved it, so I decided to make my own version. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, though this project was more work than the first.

Here's a sneak peak at how it turned out...follow the instructions below to see how I put it all together!

I went shopping at Michaels and Hobby Lobby.  I knew sort of what I was going for, but I wasn't sure exactly how I wanted it to look. So I bought a bunch of scrapbook paper and wrapping paper that I thought fit with the theme and colors I wanted (black and white for the B and then some pink accents - again, this will be hung on the pink part of the wall).  Then in the dollar bins I found some pink ribbon that I thought might work, and some 3D flowers that had sticky pads on the back to attach.  I also bought some pearl looking things that are sticky.  I bought it all and figured I will return everything I don't use. Now that I have the shopping out of the way, I'll show you how I ended up creating it and what I ended up using.

Total Cost:
Approximately $30 using coupons for Michaels and Hobby Lobby

1 decorative letter (8 inch size)
1 Decorate frame without glass or a back
Scrapbook paper
Black paint
Sponge paint brush
Small paper cutter or scissors
Exacto knife
Mod Podge
Floral accents
Hot glue
Picture hanger
Small level

1) First I found the cardboard letter B at Hobby Lobby for $1.99.  It was the best price and I needed the 8 inch size to fit inside the frame that I bought.  (I'll show you what it looks like in the frame at the very end).

2) Next, I painted all the edges with black paint. I knew I was going to use a black and white patterned paper, so I wanted to make sure all the edges that weren't going to be covered with paper were covered with paint - and it would have been a waste of paint to paint the entire letter black knowing I was putting paper on it.  I just used acrylic paint black paint that I had on hand. It didn't take much to cover all the edges - don't forget the edges inside the cut outs either!

3) Once the paint was dry, I selected which paper I wanted to use as the main background for the letter. Since we are trying to stick with the fairytale type theme, we like use the fleur-de-lis type patterns. I found one inside the pad of scrapbook paper I bought. I used my mod podge ($3.99 at JoAnn) as glue.  Using a sponge brush, I sponged on Mod Podge across the whole letter.  Then I carefully placed the paper on the letter, ensuring that it covered the whole thing.  NOTE: You need to do this quickly but carefully. The Mod Podge will dry relatively quickly and then you will not be able to adjust the paper location after that. I just barely missed the very bottom of the B (you can't tell since I painted the edges black - thank goodness!).

4) I let the Mod Podge dry over night and the next day I used an Exacto knife to cut off the excess paper. I place the B upside down on a cutting board (be careful not to use one that has a lot of knife cuts in it already because it will mess up your knife and you'll end up not cutting straight). I cut along the outside edge and then the inside cut outs of the B.

5) I then decided that I wanted another style of paper to give it some interest. In the same pad of scrapbook paper, there was a black piece with some different accents on it that gave some texture. I measured out how much I wanted it to cover and then using my paper cutter, I cut the paper in a straight line.

6) Once cut, I also used Mod Podge to glue this piece along the left side of the B, ensuring it lined up on the edge.  Once it was dry, I used the Exacto knife again to clean up the top and bottom edge.

7) Next, I wanted to add some pink to it.  The ribbon I bought ended up being perfect (and it was in the $1 bin at Michaels!). It was solid down the middle, but sheer on each side. I liked that you can see through to the paper on the edges, but the solid middle actually covers up the seam between the two types of paper. I used scissors to cut the correct size ribbon. Using Mod Podge, I glued it on.  The ribbon did end up bubbling a little, but over all, it just gives it more texture rather than looking bad. I used scissors to clean up the edge to get the ribbon as close to the end as possible.

8) Once all those pieces were dry, I decided the only thing left that I wanted to use were the flowers. So it was time to seal the paper. Using my foam paintbrush again, I put on a thin coat of Mod Podge across the entire project (I admit I was a little scared because I've never done this before! But I promise it does dry clear!!).  I let each coat sit over night, and I ended up doing about 3 coats. I also made sure to seal the edges of the letter also - this helps keep any pieces of the paper that were 100% glued down the first time from peeling up later.

9) Next, I used a level and hammer to attach a picture hanger ($1.99 at Hobby Lobby for a 5 pack) to the back of the letter. I wanted to do this while it was still flat so I didn't smash the flowers once they were attached. I used a level to ensure the hanger was put on level so it doesn't hang at an angle on the wall.  NOTE: Make sure your nails for the hanger are not thicker than your letter. My nails were a little bit too long and started poking through the front side! We were able to bang it back in, and I used a sharpie to cover the part of the paper that was affected - now you can't tell unless you know where it was.

10) The final step was to hot glue the flowers (I used a pink and a white pack that I found for $1.50 each in the dollar bins at Michaels) on to the corner of the letter. Even though the flowers had sticky pads on the back, I didn't trust that they would stay on. So I used a hot glue gun to glue them on.  Once the flowers were on, it was a finished project!

And here is a picture of it in the frame (I used a 40% off coupon at Hobby Lobby so the frame only cost me $17.99!), so you have an idea of what it will look like on the wall!  I can't wait to hang it up!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Book Review: Hawkeye, Vol 1: My Life as a Weapon

Hawkeye, Vol 1: My Life as a Weapon
by  Matt Fraction, David Aja (Illustrations), Javier Pulido (Illustrations), Alan Davis (Illustrator)
Date Read:  7/13/14
Rating: ★ ★ ★

I admittedly only read the first 3 comics in this book, as they were recommended by my husband. He read the whole book and said that these 3 were the best and the other ones were mediocre at best.

I did really enjoy those first 3. The whole flashback thing was a little confusing at first - I wasn't sure what was current and what was flashback, but I finally got used to it. My favorite story was the one about the dog. And I loved that the dog came back in future comics as a side character.

I liked the art in those comics. The story was interesting - and written in an interesting way. I was surprised by how much I actually enjoyed them.

The art did look very different with the remaining comics, and I didn't think it looked as interesting as the previous ones. My husband confirmed it was a different artist.

I can't give a review on the rest of the book, but if you pick it up, I think those first 3 are well worth a read.

Movie Review: How to Train Your Dragon 2

I absolutely adored the first How to Train Your Dragon movie.  What a fun concept and it was executed so well.  I was so excited when I was sitting in a theater watching another movie and a preview came on with Toothless flying through the air and a boy riding his back. When he took off his mask and a grown up Hiccup was there, I almost jumped for joy!  I went in to How to Train Your Dragon 2 with pretty high expectations – but also not knowing much about what the plot was other than that his mom showed up.

Well, I can honestly say that I loved the second movie also.  It’s roughly 5 years later – so Hiccup is now a 20 year old man.  Life has changed in Birk; Dragons are accepted and weapons places have changed to making saddles for the dragons, etc.  It was fun to see the change that Hiccup was able to bring about, and also see the relationship between Hiccup and his father.  Also, Hiccup and Astrid are absolutely adorable. The movie doesn’t focus on the romance at all; it’s just there in the background which I really liked.

This movie focuses on whether Hiccup is ready to take over in his father’s place as chief. Does he even want it? Is he ready? All sorts of shenanigans happen while he tries to prove that he can bring peace by talking.  In the midst of it, everyone ends up captured at some point and Hiccup ends up running in to his mother – the mother that everyone thought was dead (I’m not spoiling anything because it was in the preview!!!).  I really loved learning her story and what happened to her.  And watching a relationship with Hiccup form was really special. 

There was a heart wrenching moment in the movie that I was not expecting. Am I mad? No, I don’t think so – I think it almost needed to happen. Does that mean I’m happy about it? No!  But it added a lot of depth and emotion to the movie.

This movie also introduced us to a new character that was fairly interesting. It was fun to watch him transform.  And the light hearted crushes that everyone has are hilarious.

The movie ends really well. For the most part it’s a happy ending.  I thought they did a great job on it. I still absolutely love Toothless and Hiccup.  And adding Astrid in there is a bonus. I didn’t watch the TV show before seeing this movie, and I don’t feel like I missed out on anything. The only thing is that when he whipped out his map of the world, it was the first time I’d seen it – but I understand that the TV show focuses on him traveling the world with Toothless and finding new lands.  So I think that part would have just been homage to the TV show – but you don’t have to have seen it to know what’s going on.

If you enjoyed the first one, I know you’ll enjoy the second movie.  If you haven’t watched either yet, I highly recommend you do.  My next step? To find the books that the movies are based on!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Brooklyn's Nursery Project #1: Princess Silhouettes

The first project I tackled for Brooklyn's room was the easiest.  While it did take some time, it wasn't very intensive and was pretty easy to put together.  Since we are doing a fairytale princess themed nursery, we wanted to put up some silhouettes.  Our color scheme is pink, black and white.  The walls will be pink with some white bead board on the bottom half and our bedding will be mostly pink with black and white accents. Therefore, we wanted to bring in more of the black and white and thought silhouettes would be perfect.  I'll take you step by step how I put these together.

Total Cost:
Approximately $25 + ink and card stock already on hand

6 - 5x7 frames
White card stock
Small paper cutter or scissors
Laser printer
Computer with Paint (program)

1) I first had to find images of the silhouettes that I wanted. After a quick google search, I was able to find all that I wanted and saved them to my computer.

2) Some of the images were in really rough shape, so I used the program called Paint on my computer to edit the images to make the lines sharper and get rid of some of the blurred gray that appeared.  Here is a before and after of my Paint images.



3) I saved my edited images and then just opened them with the default Microsoft Office Picture Manager to print the images.  Since we decided to do 6 of them, we choose to do them in 5x7 format (8x10 would have been too large).  So when I clicked to print, I chose to print them in 5x7 so they only took up about half the page.  I printed one, and then would flip the pages over and print on the other side, so I ended up with two silhouettes on one piece of card stock.

4) Using a small paper cutter (this is recommended over scissors because you can get a straight cut), to cut it in to 5x7 size so it would fit in my frame.  NOTE: Most of my images worked perfectly, but I did have to resize two of them because once I got them in the frame, their heads were cut off.  Once I resized them, I reprinted them and they fit perfectly.

5) Once cut, I placed each one in a frame to finish it off.  We bought these 5x7 frames at Walmart for $4 each!  Here is the final product. I think they turned out great!

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