Monday, October 31, 2011

Potty Training: Day 7

We've made it one week! And nothing really too out of the ordinary today. The potty has become a regular old part of the scenery around here.

One thing though, is that Adrianne went public for the first time today since we started potty training! We went grocery shopping and she made it the whole time without an accident. Although, she didn't even seem to have to go potty until about 30 seconds before we arrived home.

But that does mean that our diaper bag has officially transformed into the portable potty seat bag, with an emergency pair of pull-ups and panties (and pants) as well. I don't expect to ever need them, though. As I've mentioned yesterday, Adrianne hasn't had an accident since the very first morning.

We are still working on getting her out of the bathtub, but still I am in no rush to get her out of it. I want potty training to go how she wants it to go, especially since she is cooperating so angelically. If she wants to take it slow, that's fine by me.

I'll probably stop documenting her progress daily now though, since we've hit the one week mark. But I'll update occasionally as she hits some bigger milestones! Thanks for all the support!

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!!! How could I resist dressing Adrianne up and posing her with some pumpkins? Poor thing.

She sure did love her props though! I gave her a cute little flower and carrot from when she was a baby. Actually the carrot was the prop that came with her costume from last year, she was a bunny!

Flashback! Look how adorable she was! Obviously, she still is.

She makes a pretty darn cute gnome too, though. I recently saw a trailer for the movie "Gnomeo and Juliet" and I have a feeling that's what this costume was based after.

This little cutie loves her pumpkins. She plays with them all the time! And look how cooperative she is. She sat still for me, played with the props I gave her, she even smiled! What a good sport!

And off comes the hat and shoes...Well, it was fun while it lasted!

Trick or treat!!

Origami How-To: Paper Gift Basket

I just love origami! Perhaps it's inbred in me. Who knows? But one of my favorite origami projects is this super easy paper gift basket. It's perfect for the holidays! And here I will teach you how to make it.

Don't forget, you can always click on any of the images to make them larger!


  • A square piece of paper. The size will depend on what size basket you want. A regular old piece of origami paper makes a very tiny basket. About 3 inches wide. This is great for a bunch of small party favors, if you are up to making a whole stash of them.

For a small gift though, I like to use scrapbooking paper. These are huge square pieces that are sturdy enough to hold a small present.

For the purpose of this tutorial, though, I will be using some brightly colored origami paper. Hopefully, you will be able to see clearly what I am doing and such in the pictures.


Start out by folding your paper in half, diagonally, as shown in the top left picture here. This should give you a nice triangle. Now, fold the triangle in half, as shown in the top right picture here.

The end result should look something like the small triangle I have in the bottom picture to the left.


Next, lift one of the flaps of the triangle and push down on the crease. When you push it down flat, it should create a diamond or square folded shape as shown in the picture above.


Flip it over and repeat on the other side. Lift the triangle flap, push down on the crease, and press into a diamond/square shape. This should leave you with a square or diamond shape instead of a triangle.


Now, with the open side of the square facing up, fold the top flap down in half so that it looks like the middle picture above. Fold it back to return it to the original shape, this time with a crease halfway down the diamond, as shown in the picture above on the right.


Now, fold the flap down so that the point goes down to the crease you've just made. Continue to fold this flap in half down to the crease, until you do in fact fold over the crease again. Use the pictures above to guide you. When you are finished it should look like mine does in the picture below:


Simply flip the paper over, and repeat steps four and five on the other side.


Next, fold over one of the side flaps. It's like turning the page of the book. You want to be left again with a diamond shaped paper that is flat on each side, as shown above. So fold over a flap on both sides.


Now, fold the flaps down so that the outer edges are in line with the center crease of the diamond. Do this to each edge flap, then flip it over and repeat on the other side. The above picture on the right should be your end result.


Fold the bottom part of your paper upwards and then back again to make a crease at the bottom of the folded flaps. If you want, for extra crease-iness, flip it over and crease it in that direction as well.


Now, spread the two sides apart and carefully begin to push the paper out along the crease you just made in step 9. Push the bottom point up to help flatten it and make it more basket-like. I sometimes will use a chopstick to get into the inside corners and crease it outwards better. If you are using a sturdy paper, this may be helpful. You should be left with this when you are done:


Finally, use a bit of glue to secure the two branches up at the top to create a nice basket handle. And voila! You have made an origami basket!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Potty Training: Day 6

Remarkable! Adrianne has actually kind of gotten over the whole sticker thing! She leads me proudly and excitedly to the bathroom when she has to go potty, does her business, then storms off to go back to playing with her toys without even giving the stickers a glimmer of a thought.

They got her through the tough times but now...the reward is in the triumph, I suppose.

She still asks to sit in the bath tub but she hardly even needs the water now. So this whole bathtub method has gone quite smoothly. It seems like it's been a very long phase, but in all reality it's only been a few days. So I definitely support the bathtub method (that I thought I came up with as an original idea...oh well).

Also, number 2 on the potty has been a breeze today! comparison to previous days, at least. But still...she has made wonderful progress! She never ceases to amaze me!

Oh, and I would also like to point out that Adrianne has not had an accident in her big-girl underwear since the first few hours of Day 1! Yay!

Halloween Color-Me-In Activity Pages

I've made some printable coloring book-like activity pages with a Halloween theme just for your little ones! Click the link below to open the file and print!

Download Now

((If that link does not open or is taking too long to load, you may also download the file here. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have further problems!))

Oh and by the way, the answers are "Trick or Treat" and "12" for the two puzzle pages, just in case your munchkin can't figure it out. Give 'em a hand!

Potty Training: Day 5

Adrianne is doing so much better! She can go without the bathtub now thanks to being at my mom's which has no bathtub to use for potty purposes. She still likes warm water on her feet though, and if the bathtub is around, she definitely asks to be in it.

We have pretty much conquered peeing in the potty now, we've just got to master peeing on the potty without warm water on the feet. We also need to master going number 2 on the potty, since Adrianne has only done that once since Day 1 and she is still a little scared to do it.

This is Adrianne's collection of success stickers so far. She's got lots!

But I think we will have potty training down rather soon. Now it's just a matter of getting more comfortable on the potty. I'm so proud of Adrianne! She is so smart and brave!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Potty Training: Day 4

So we decided to take the risk of traveling two hours to visit Adrianne's Grammy for the night. Despite the fact that Adrianne had yet to conquer going on the potty without being in the bathtub, we took the plunge. It turned out to be a fairly good thing for us because Adrianne finally overcame her fear and went potty on her potty chain in the car when we were about halfway there.

She was so proud of herself! Not as proud as her Daddy and I were, of course.

Then! She was even excited and willing enough to try using her special new potty for Grammy's house, and successfully went potty on that too.

Our main snag of the day was Adrianne was afraid to go number 2 on the potty before bed. Fortunately, she managed to go in her diaper before she fell asleep when I put her down for bed. Sometimes I find myself wishing I had never started the whole potty training thing, but now it's definitely too late to turn back because she absolutely cannot stand the idea of going in a diaper.

But then again, I know I will be very grateful for Adrianne's admirable cooperation come second baby time!

Well, wish us continuous luck!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thankful Thursday

I am going to try and start dedicating my Thursdays to writing a little bit about the things that I am thankful for and the things that make me happy. So here we go.

I am thankful for having such a perfect little girl. She is so smart, funny, kind, and quirky. She is perfectly well behaved, adorable, and mature. I love the way she mumbles to herself in her own little baby language. And I love the way she puts up with some things (like potty training) as if she were truly an angel sent from above. She is constantly amazing me with how intelligent she is, and she never, ever disappoints me, no matter what happens. I am always proud of her.

I am also thankful for ice cream. There is just something about ice cream that makes my troubles melt away. Mmm...

Speaking of food, though. Yummy homemade quesadillas. Nothing beats my quesadillas! And they're easy to make, I'll tell you how.

Butter up one side of a flour tortilla real good. Plop it on a medium-high heat frying pan and cover in a decent layer of cheddar cheese and mozzarella, grated. Throw on some chopped up tomatoes and pepperoncini's and wait til the cheese melts. Fold it in half with a spatula and cut it in half with a pizza cutter (or knife, whatever). yummy.... I am thankful for rainy day afternoons and being able to sit on the couch with my hubby eating up these bad boys.

Another thing I am thankful for is online college. As much as I like to moan and groan about my course work, I am so grateful that I am able to do it from the comfort of my home, where I can nurture Adrianne best.

I am thankful for my wonderful hubby also. He did a miraculous thing today. He babysat Adrianne while I went out for the day running errands, getting extremely lengthy blood testing done, and stopping for a peaceful visit to the library. But I think the best part of that was coming home to my dear hubby telling me he was so glad he did it just so he could understand why I always seemed so stressed when he comes home from work at night! It made me feel so good and appreciated to hear that.

So I will wrap up here because i could ramble on and on about things I'm thankful for all night. But I really ought to save some for all the upcoming Thursdays that I am sure to be back for.

Don't forget to count your blessings every once in a while, too!

Potty Training: Day 3

So I've toned it down a little with the over-praising. Now, when Adrianne has a success on the potty I just tell her "You did it!" And show her what she did. Then I give her a sticker to put in her book and let her flush her deed down the toilet herself (which she loves doing).

We still use the bath tub to go potty, which is totally fine by me. Just as long as she doesn't have to suffer, holding it in. She can use the bath tub as long as she wants.

I just stick the whole potty chair right in there and then turn on the warm water. With a big cup, I pour the water over her feet and ankles. At first she is a little shaky and nervous, but you can tell immediately when she has let it go because she relaxes and gets very calm.

The first night, she sat on the potty in the bath for a minute or more before she relaxed and went potty. I am proud to say that tonight she is able to sit down on the potty and go just as soon as the water hits her toes.

I think she will be able to go on the potty without the bathtub within the next day or so. (Let's hope, anyway!) By now, it's probably safe to say that it's too late to turn back now. Putting her back in diapers would only confuse her and give her mixed signals.

I am so proud of her for doing so well! She is such a big girl, and I so very badly want her to stay little. For the record, she started the whole potty training thing. She was the one who started telling me when her diaper was wet, when she had to go, etc. So I just began pre-training her, teaching her about the potty, about underwear, stuff like that.

I am definitely going to suggest this bath tub method for moms who have toddlers like me, afraid to release on the potty, when all this potty training business starts to calm down! In fact, after searching desperately online, unable to find any advice whatsoever on the matter, I am going to dedicate a whole post to children who are afraid to release on the potty. But that is later, for when I get my head back together after all of this.

Thanks for checking up on us!

10 Things I Want to Remember About Being Pregnant

As I enter my third trimester and the new baby becomes imminent, I just want to take a little time to sit down and record a few things I would like to savor about pregnancy. We don't plan on having any more babies, so I am trying to make these last few months really last. Of course, they are going by faster than ever! I'm telling you, my life has never gone by so fast as it is these days.

1. The way the baby seems to dance when I lay down. It's like the baby is so happy that I am finally relaxing that he makes up for it by doing a little jig. I remember Adrianne danced a lot in my belly, too. All I can think is, "How is he possibly hitting every side of my belly at once?! What, does he have 12 arms? Could it be twins?!" Of course, it's not twins. We have sonograms for that.

2. The way complete strangers will look at me and smile and ask very presumptively, "Is it a boy or a girl?" I am glad that I have had the chance to say both.

3. The way the baby seems to know exactly when Adrianne and their Daddy are around. It makes us already feel like a complete family that has known each other all along.

4. The way I can't even see my feet beneath my belly unless I really lean forward to see them. I was amazed at how quickly after Adrianne was born I had forgotten what it was even like to have a great big giant belly.

5. The way I will just stop everything to sniff the air and ask "What's that?" at things that no one else can smell. I feel kind of like a lame super hero.

6. The way Adrianne knocks on my belly and waves "hello" to Baby Rowan. She is so excited to meet her little brother. She even hugs and kisses my belly when she remembers that Baby Rowan is sleeping patiently inside.

7. The way the anticipation to be able to lay on my belly again feels. I want to remember when I am no longer pregnant not to take advantage of that simple comfort!

8. The way the baby can tickle the inside of my rib cage with his gentle kicking. I didn't even know I had feelings under there...

9. The way I will never be able to get away wearing such baggy clothes again. I can finally wear all those unflattering garments and feel no guilt over going out into public in them. No matter what I put on, I can wear my belly proudly!

10. Finally, I want to remember the way it feels to wait in wonder at what our newest family member will be like. It is such an overwhelming feeling of anticipation, excitement, nervousness, and about a million other things all at once, just at the one simple thought of, "We're having a baby."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Potty Training: Day 2

So far, so...good?

Well, there have been ups and downs to our potty training experience thus far. At first, Adrianne was doing perfectly. She wore her panties proudly and knew to tell me if she had to go potty. Of course, about three times in a row, she didn't make it in time. One of those times was my fault, I admit.

However, come night time, I suppose she started to feel the pressure of having to go pee on the potty (literally) and began to feel scared. And so it began: potty fear.

I know she is ready for this because she knows what to do. She knows when she has to go potty, she knows she isn't supposed to go in her pants or on the floor, and she knows where the potty is and how to sit on it. I also know she is ready because she has impeccable bladder control. This little girl can hold it for hours. And she has.

So the problem we have encountered is: Adrianne is terrified of releasing. She is afraid to release while wearing panties or naked because she knows that it is not the right thing to do and she very much wants to do it right. But she is also terrified of releasing in a diaper because she wants to be a big girl and not use diapers anymore. You'd think this would make it easy to go on the potty, but she is terrified of releasing while sitting on the potty as well.

Adrianne will run around in circles for hours, clenching her legs together and busying herself to distract from having to pee. She will even get to the point of running around and whimpering because she has to go so bad. Then she feels ashamed and sad when she leaks and drips onto the carpet.

It is seriously heartbreaking to watch her suffer but no matter what I do, I can't soothe her or convince her that it's okay to pee on the potty.

I eventually did something that I thought was creative, but it turns out it is a semi-common solution amongst potty training parents. I put Adrianne's potty in the bath tub and ran the warm water over her feet and ankles.

Well, it worked. She filled that potty like it was nobody's business! But unfortunately, after that, it was back to potty fear... Hmmm...

After about an hour or so of forum searching, I have come up with a plan for Day 3. I read about a hundred moms testimonies of their child doing the exact same thing as Adrianne (which was extremely comforting and very encouraging since that means Adrianne IS ready despite being so young). And I also read a few of those moms telling their eventual success stories. Few helped, but one thing struck a chord in me.

My plan is to actually stop praising Adrianne so much for doing her business.

I have not been scolding her for any accidents. I didn't want to foster shame by telling her that she was doing something wrong when perhaps she couldn't help it. It's not her fault if she has an accident, she is new at this and much younger than most babies I have ever met being potty trained. I am so proud of her for even giving this a try!

However, I do praise her. Probably way too much... I praise her ridiculously for sitting on the potty and for even dribbling a little on the potty. My theory is that I actually praise her so much that it has been fostering shame anyway. Since I praise her so much for every little thing, it has made her terrified of the idea of disappointing. She claps her hands peacefully and joyfully for herself when she does something right. But when I sit there staring at her, hollering and whooping and clapping and cheering, I'm creating a tense atmosphere.

Adrianne picks up on my emotions very well, and she has more than definitely picked up on the fact that I have been extremely stressed out the past couple of days. How can I not be when she is so blatantly suffering while holding her pee in for hours on end?

Well, perhaps all she needs is a little privacy. Instead of sitting in front of her and holding her and everything else, I will try helping her onto the potty when she asks to go and then going and minding my own business, pretending to busy myself at the bathroom sink. After all, she has had privacy going pee her whole life. Going into a diaper, no one can know you are doing anything at all!

This way, peeing on the toilet can be her triumph instead of mine. So, we'll see how this plan of mine helps her out tomorrow. Wish us luck!

Oh and P.S. These are our triumph stickers! We actually have been doing okay! We just need to work on releasing all at once without the fear!

Double oh! And I'll link back to my Potty Book tutorial once more here.

Home Organization Tip: Storage Caddy

Well, I've been blessed with a tiny bathroom lacking both storage space and a medicine cabinet. All I've got is cramped leg room and a flush mounted wall mirror. So naturally I ran into some problems with bathroom organization. It seemed like no matter what I did, the bathroom always transformed into a chaotic mess of toiletries by the end of every day. Seriously, it was like we had a daily tornado running through the place.

I had to think fast. I needed something small and compact that could hold all of the junk that just didn't seem to belong in the under-the-sink cabinet. Some things you just need out and on hand. Well, for these things I made a remarkable discovery.

Shower caddies, sold in pretty much any retail store's home section, are exactly what I was looking for. They are small and compact and can hold a lot of stuff right out in the open where I need them.

Hmm...But I didn't need my caddy in the shower. The solution? A wall hook!

So with the power of these two things combined, I managed to transform THIS:

into THIS:

Here was my outcome, close up:

The reason I love my silly little shower caddy shelving unit is because it is temporary and repurpose-able. I don't intend to be living in this tiny apartment forever. So when I leave, I can take my "investment" with me. Also, as far as DIY home improvement projects go, this was cake. So here was an easy fix to my bathroom chaos conundrum. I'm sure you could use this in any other room of your house too, but I think the shower caddy fits best in the bathroom. Go ahead and splurge on some real shelves for your living room if you need them!

Well, happy organizing!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Commence Potty Training!

So I've decided to start potty training Adrianne. She has been telling me when she has to go potty and when she needs her diaper changed, so I've judged that she seems to be ready.

I went to the pharmacy nearby to grab some reward stickers and bought this little beauty to the left. Over 100 Hello Kitty stickers that say stuff like "Good Job!" Could it get any better? Yes it could, because this booklet was under 3 dollars! If you know me, you know my Adrianne's favorite cartoon character is Hello Kitty.

The stickers will be awarded each time she successfully goes potty on the potty chair or toilet. She has a special page devoted to them in her potty book. My tutorial on how to make the potty training book can be found here.

And so far so good! She seems to just love her "Big-Girl Underwear" and was very interested to start wearing them. I've been telling her for a while now that we would be getting rid of the diapers soon and she seemed to enjoy that idea.

We are going with the cold turkey method, ditching the diapers for good, not even making the transition through training diapers. If she gets wet, she gets wet. Then we have to halt playtime to go change and have a sit down on the potty as a reminder of the right way to go potty for big girls.

I'll keep updating the blog of our potty progress! Wish us luck! I personally find myself very fortunate that I have a little girl so willing and ready for potty training at such a young age. It will make my life so much easier (and more frugal) when baby Rowan is born in January!

Coloring Time

In my opinion, you can never help develop the motor skills too much! I feel that you should get your baby working on coloring as soon as he or she knows how to grip a small object well. I bought the Crayola Beginnings Triangular Crayons, and I absolutely love them. My baby coloring tip would be to buy these crayons! The triangle shape helps to encourage a proper writer's grip and they also always come washable. The wax is extra soft so it is easy for baby to make a mark. I have found that with regular crayons, the wax is too hard, so no matter how hard baby presses on the paper, it just doesn't cut it. This only confuses and bores baby.

If you have been following my blog so far at all, you have probably noticed that I am obsessed with poster board. So my second coloring tip to you would be to get a whole big packet of poster board. You can probably even get it at the grocery store since that's where I buy mine, and a package is only a few dollars.

Paper is much too thin and small. It moves, it crumples, you have to be on a very solid surface, probably taped down so it doesn't move as baby puts the waxy crayon down...Save yourself the struggle and just get some poster board. It's big, it's tough and it is great for sprawling out on the floor with some big washable crayons.

To the right, as you can see, Adrianne is sprawled out on the floor with her crayons and poster board and she is able to go so far beyond a measly 8.5"x11" piece of paper's limits. Even on the carpet she can crawl across the poster board without much difficulty from bending and crumpling. Poster board can admirably take more toddler abuse than most any other toy can, and it will.

Teach your baby by example how to color with the crayon by dragging it across the paper. Then let baby hold the crayon, and guide the baby's hand to color. It won't be long before baby whisks away your help and goes to town.

When your baby is a fairly advanced color-er, get a jumbo coloring book and teach him how to color on the pages, turn the pages, and encourage him to color in the lines. Of course, your baby won't color in the lines for a very long time. But the book will give baby a greater sense of freedom as she can choose which page to color on and where to color, etc. Adrianne has a 400 page jumbo coloring and activity Hello Kitty book. I would have to say that turning the pages to find the perfect spot to color is probably her favorite part!

Notice also that I have a miniature person sized simple white table and chair set for her. She loves this because she can easily (most of the time) get on and off the little chairs all by herself without help. I love this because it is a smooth white, easily washable surface for all those little oopsies. But I have to tell you, the Crayola Beginnings crayons are so washable that I even got them out of my carpet with little more than water.

All our hard work has paid off now. Observe! Adrianne is 15 months old and she already has a nearly perfect writer's grip! Amazing. I think most kids can't brag that until they're 6 years old!

I highly encourage you to start coloring with your baby as early as possible. If your baby is now a child, I STILL encourage you to color away. Creativity is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it becomes. And I think it's safe to assume that I am ALL about fostering creativity.

Have fun, my little artists!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Imported Photography Blog

Well, I've taken the liberty of importing all the posts from my photography blog into this one. It makes it easier to keep track of my posts and comments and helps to keep this blog (my main blog) updated and rich with content. So now the new feature of The Better Nester is more information and pics of my everyday life! I hope you don't mind the lengthy details of my days!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

How To Make Pine Cone Flowers

((Download this tutorial in PDF format here.))

In light of the fall season and upcoming holidays, I have come up with this tutorial on a fun and easy craft you can do with all those pine cones lying around outside. These flowers made of pine cone chips are simple to make and extremely versatile in what you can do with them.



  • Pine cones. Obviously, you are going to need a pine cone for this craft. Any pine cone will do, just keep in mind that different pine cones will make different looking flowers.
  • Scissors. You'll need these on hand for a couple of different reasons. Read on to find out more.
  • Glue. Most any glue will do. Here I am using wood glue, but I bet super glue would make a fine, fast-bonding, fast-drying alternative. I love super glue!
  • Card stock or poster board. You'll need this to make a base for your flower.
  • Paper plate or bowl to work over. Pine cones can get messy!
STEP ONE: Using a small circular object as a template, trace a circle onto your poster board or card stock. The size of your circle will depend on the size you want your flower to be. As you read on, you will be able to figure out how to judge the size of circle you will need for the flower you want.

STEP TWO: Carefully cut out your circle and set the rest of the poster board aside. Also set aside your circle somewhere you won't misplace it.

STEP THREE: Next, take your pine cone. Starting at the bottom, begin to pick away the individual chips of the pine cone. You will probably lose many chips in the process, as they are very brittle and may break easily. That's okay, there are plenty to work with!

STEP FOUR: Work over a paper plate or bowl of some sort to help contain the mess. You may wish to use shears to help get under the chips of the pine cone, picking them off more easily. For some, this may only make the breakage worse. Do what is best for you.

STEP FIVE: Halfway there! You may even choose to stop here and use this remaining chunk of pine cone as a giant flower base. This can be an easy pine cone flower craft for kids as they can glue leaves to the "stem" of the pine cone and base of the intact chips for petals.

STEP SIX: Leave the very last chips intact and twist them off. You can save this end piece as a flower bud for a large pine cone flower display or you can use it as a center piece for your flower later.

STEP SEVEN: Now, take your poster board or card stock circle and apply a little bit of glue to the outer edge.

STEP EIGHT: Carefully begin to glue individual pine cone chips to the outer edge of the card stock. These will make up the outer and bottom most layer of "petals" for your flower. The image below will show you the layers of petals I added to this particular flower. You may layer your flower however you like, based on what look you are going for.
Continue to add layers, as shown above.

STEP NINE: Finish your flower off with a bloom center. For this tutorial, I have used the saved pine cone end from Step Six. You may use anything from nature, such as seeds, weeping grass, whatever you like.

You can make a much smaller flower with a single layer as well. Be creative! When you finish your flower, you can do anything you want with it! Below are some decorating ideas with pine cone flowers. Have fun!

Attach to a ribbon and tie around something (ie. a candle holder, a vase, a lamp, etc.).

Glue onto a homemade card for a unique holiday gift.

Attach to the lid of a box or jar to add a festive touch to your decor.
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