Thursday, January 15, 2015

An Unlikely Party Planner

Party-Planner Ben taking a break from
his rigorous schedule.
After all these years of schooling and months of military training, my husband comes to me a few weeks ago and tells me that his commander put him in charge of all the details for the coming military ball.

I thought he was kidding and I laughed.

"I'm serious."  he tells me.

Oops.

"Did you tell him that the only party planning experience you have includes balloons, pizza, and party hats?"

"Well, no.  But it doesn't matter.  This is different."

I roll my eyes as soon as his back is turned.

"If I pull this off, it could boast my career," he says.  Or break it... I say to myself.  Ben is the most unlikely guy he could have picked.  We are talking about the man who wanted to take me to Burger King for our ten year anniversary.  (Seriously, not a joke)  And I know that balls are also very political for the officers, and well, Ben just doesn't think like a politician.... so I knew this was going to be interesting.

So, Ben has been spending HOURS at work setting up this ball that is taking place in a couple weeks down in Nashville.  I can't go.  There is no way I can get away with the baby's feeding schedule and I'm not taking him to the ball.... not to mention that I can't fit into any of my formals right now.  So Ben is on his own.

But he is coming home super late, because he was taking care of details... and when he's home he is on the phone saying stuff like, "No, we can't shoot off a cannon in the ballroom.  Well, tell him that isn't going to happen!" or "No, the headless ones won't work.  We need the ones with heads... well, call around and see if they have any nude ones they aren't using...."

Yes.  He was talking about mannequins. Apparently, they are working on some sort of uniform display.  Ben came home last night and told me that half the day he was driving around on post with naked mannequins in his car and he was really glad he didn't get pulled over.  Then he complained that the Privates he gathered up to help him unload wouldn't stop groping them -- which was apparently, very disturbing to my poor Ben.

The BEST part is that he is in charge of the alcohol being served.  Let me rephrase that, they put a MORMON in charge of the alcohol.  Whose brilliant plan was that?!  Still chuckling over that one....

Then I find my dear husband, this is the man who thinks there is no room in the world for couch pillows, is stressing out and upset that the place settings weren't working out and talking about color schemes, caterers, budgets, the color guard, and VIPS....

I don't think I like Party-Planner-Ben much.  Party-Planner-Ben is weird.  Party-Planner-Ben isn't the husband I know and love.  Party-Planner-Ben is more concerned with mannequins than our baby's feeding issues and Sam's teeth problems.

I can't wait until Party-Planner-Ben is gone and my real husband who talks about blowing things up and jumping out of helicopters is back!  Only a couple more weeks..... Hanging in here!

-Cat

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Skinny Baby & Disapointments

Since having my very first baby, I daydreamed of nursing him.  I was going to have a little guy that depended on me for nourishment and health.  I was going to be the perfect nursing mama.  And we were going to bond and be super close and cuddly.  But when they put little Sam in my arms, he refused to nurse.  Just turned his head away and screamed.  He didn't want me to hold him, he just wanted to be left alone.  It broke my heart in a million pieces.  He was in the NICU for a couple weeks with pneumonia and jaundice and had to have a feeding tube.  And I would go in every couple hours and we would try to nurse him as well.  I had doctors, nurses, and lactation specialists swarming around me telling me what to do, what I was doing wrong, how to fix things, and nothing worked.  I felt like a total mom failure.  Nursing mom's would tell me that there was no excuse for not breastfeeding when they would see me feed Sam with a bottle of formula.  I would hide in bathroom stalls to feed him out in public to hide from the criticism I would receive and to cover up the shame I felt for letting my baby down.  There was no explanation I could give the zealous nursers that was good enough reason for "poisoning" my child with formula.  So naturally, I cried... a lot.

With my second baby, I was set and determined to nurse full time.  Nothing was going to stop me.  The first time was just a freak thing because Sam had issues.  This time was going to be different.  Then once again, the baby got jaundice and me nursing him wasn't kicking it and he was still losing weight.  So I was told to just supplement.  It wouldn't affect my milk supply if I did it right... so they said.  Well, Nephi preferred the bottle.  He didn't want anything to do with that booby business once he discovered the convenience of the rubber nipple.  Once again, I went to see a specialist... who was about as helpful as my husband in the kitchen... which isn't saying much, sorry, sweetie.

But number 3 was going to be a charm right?!  RIGHT!?  Wrong.  Jaundice struck again, and this time I flat out refused to supplement... but his weight got dangerously low and the doctor told me I really needed to.  And told me to go to a lactation specialist who single-handedly dried me out when I took her advice.  It was SOOOO depressing.

Now, with number 4, I was just going to say screw you all, I am going to nurse this little guy and NO supplements AT ALL.  PERIOD!  I was going to make the necessary sacrifices (limit running and eating some foods my body liked to store on my thighs) and be the perfect nurser!  So when this little started showing signs of jaundice, I told our doctor that I wanted to ride through it with nursing only.  She told me she would feel better if I supplemented but she was respectful of my decision.  I nursed like crazy!!  My friends and neighbors hardly see me out because I am always at home nursing this little guy.  I was determined to do this!  But as the weeks went by, my confidence started wavering when I noticed all my friends babies were looking big and plump and my little guy was pretty much exactly the same.  He didn't seem to be growing.  His arms and legs got a little longer, and he just looked so skinny.  His diapers, size newborn, were falling off his non-existent butt. At a little over 2 months he was still wearing the newborn clothes as well.  I started feeling this horrible guilt that my pride and stubbornness were harming my little guy.

We went in for our 2 month appointment today, and I was right.  He wasn't getting enough from me.  No matter that I did and ate everything right, my body just isn't cutting it.  Joseph was 8 lbs at birth, he lost a pound with the jaundice, and today he is only 8 lbs 6 oz.  Not even on the growth chart!  I cried.  I felt like the worst mom in the world.  For not supplementing when I should have, and then for not producing enough to feed my baby properly.  What a loser.  And not just a one time failure... or a two time... a FOUR TIME breast feeding failure.

So tomorrow, I have to take him in to see a specialist... again.  They are probably going to tell me the same stuff I have heard before... give me the same advice I always get... and I hesitate to even write this post because I KNOW there are a bunch of well meaning readers out there that would love to give me their two cents... which, I know I have already heard a hundred times before.  So I am going to help you out, what I really want to hear from my friends is "That sucks!" or "I understand" or "Hurting for you..."  I don't need advice, I need hugs and listening ears.  And one day when you need the same, I will return the favor.

Now that my pity party and rant are over, I want to point out a few silver linings.  The most important thing is NOT the way I feed my baby, but it's that I do... and I do it the best I can for his optimal health.  I love my boys, and I wouldn't do or not do anything that would hurt them, ever.  I'm not a perfect mom, but I feel that I work hard to be the best that I am capable.  My boys well-being is the number one important thing, and I will do what I can to fulfill my mommy role and raise these boys to be healthy and strong men, mentally, physically, and emotionally.  It may not always go how I plan, but we get there in the end... eventually.

-Cat

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

In Which I take all 4 Boys to the Dentist... ALONE

My boys embracing their inner nerd with style at the dentist.
Since moving to our new place, I have been a little lazy about the whole dentist thing.  Which totally isn't me.  I am an every 6 months kind of girl, and since it's been a year since our last cleaning, I finally got around to getting the boys and me an appointment.  In a moment of total brilliance, I decided to make appointments for the 3 bigger boys and me all at the same dentist and at the same time.  I just want to start of by saying, never again.

Getting the boys there wasn't the problem, it all went smoothly until they called us all back.

While I was getting x-rayed, Jacob was screaming "STAY AWAY FROM ME" in the cubical to my left, while Sam was having some sort of melt down to my right -- he was freaking out about each object the dental assistant was using.  Then the baby starts screaming because his brothers are screaming... and Nephi was blissfully ignoring the drama by being good.  Between x-rays I am cubical hopping trying to bribe coax my kids into minding.

It totally wasn't working.

And I didn't blame the boys... oh, no.  I was ticked at Ben.  For some reason it was all his fault, and he wasn't even there!

When it was all said and done, the hygienist came and told me that they were referring the boys to a pediatric dentist.  Because they felt that they would be more accommodating to my children's needs. Which is the nice way of saying take your brats somewhere where they can sedate them, lady!  And truth is, I would rather take them somewhere where they know how to deal with kids.  The hygienists just didn't know how to talk to kiddos very well... I think my boys were stressing out the other patients.

So the verdict?  No cavities for me or Jake (my most defiant brusher), and 4 cavities for Nephi who is my lazy brusher and rare flosser.  But my poor Sam, who is my most faithful brusher and flosser, has some serious issues.  He has like 6 cavities, and his teeth coming in are WAY too big for his mouth so he has to have 4 MORE teeth pulled (last year they pulled 3), and he is going to need some other pricey work done as well.  Poor guy.  Sometimes no matter how hard we try, genetics win out in the end.

Thing is, serious oral work was not in our budget for the year.  It's going to cost us a pretty penny plus a couple thousand.  So, I put my creative thinking hat on and came up with an idea to raise some money to pay for Sam's teeth.  More details to come later.

For now, I am just taking deep breaths and telling myself that it will all work out.  Right?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Year's at the Nutshell

I know I have been MIA for a couple months, and I feel terrible.  But between the holidays, sicknesses, adjusting to having 4 boys, and some much needed ME time, 5, or should I say 6 Nuts in a Nutshell, has been put on the back burner.  However, one of my resolutions is to get my butt back on here and get my writing thing on!

So here are a few highlights of the holidays at the Nutshell:

Thanksgiving:

My mom flew out for a couple weeks to help with the new baby and spend Thanksgiving with us.  We also had the little guy blessed (Christened) while she was here.
My mom on the left, and my aunt and uncle on the right.
My aunt Annie and my Uncle Bruce drove up from Alabama for the occasion.  It was sure fun to see them!

***

In other news, I made a baby wrap for $15!  Score!


****

My talented mother, colored my hair and gave me a great winter look!

****

Ben graduated from Air Assault school!  Go Ben!!


****
And Sam FINALLY got to start cub scouts... with Ben as his Cub Scout Leader.

*****

Christmas:




The boys got new suits.  Joseph got a new hat (I made it).  And Ben and I finally did an updated selfie plus one pic.

****

 Jake got to ride the mall train... the ultimate fun for a 3 year old.

*****
Ben and I celebrated our 10th anniversary!

*****

And the boys rocked their Christmas PJs from Grandma:

And I snuck that pic of Ben and baby... sooo sweet!

*****

We had the best Christmas EVER in our new house!!!

Sam, Nephi, and Jake all got Kindle Fires for Christmas.  Life has been SO MUCH easier since they got them!!  We now have leverage... Mwhahahaha

*****

New Years:

Completely uneventful.

But I made some goals.  Which I will share with you... in another post ;)

Happy Belated Holidays, my friends!!

-Cat


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Introducing: The Pumpkin!!

Ever since the beginning of the pregnancy, and even after KNOWING his due date was November 12th, I just had this super strong feeling that he was fated to come closer to Halloween.  I usually don't put a ton of stock in my "strong" feelings because, in all honesty, those feelings are right only half the time.  But I couldn't help but tell people he was due around Halloween because I just KNEW....

Last Tuesday night, I had the first of the real labor contractions.  As exciting as it was, I was nervous because the last time (with Sam, my first) I went into labor on my own, it lasted 4 days!!  It was miserable.  But now, I have had 3 previous ones, I was hoping my body would know exactly what to do this time around.  I had contractions all that night, about 10-20 min apart, and when Ben showed up for PT on Wednesday morning and told some of the guys I was home and in the beginning stages of labor, they sent him home to be with me.  Which was nice, but it made me worry because I knew it could be several days before the baby actually came and I didn't want him to get in trouble if they saw him with me several days later and I was still pregnant!

Then not long after he got home, the contractions stopped all together.  I was super frustrated.  Here I was thinking that baby was on his way, when it just stopped!

So I decided to embrace the suck and just work hard to get the house cleaned, dress the boys up for school (who were having a Dress as your Favorite Storybook Character Day), and the boys' Halloween costumes all put together for the big Truck-or-Treat party at our church that night.  I constantly reminded myself that I had a healthy pregnancy and baby will come when he is ready.

We came up with some Harry Potter costumes for school:

On our way to the Trunk or Treat, the contractions started up again.  Yay!

But we still had fun! Love my Doctor Who Fans!!
As the party went on, the contractions felt stronger, but they were still only 7 min apart.  I had my OB/GYN appointment the following morning, so I knew I would get some answers soon.... which was comforting,

I had random contractions all that night, but around 4 am, they just stopped.  And nothing....

Again, frustrating!  But I was determined to have a positive attitude about it!

Thursday morning, 30th of October, I went into the OB/GYN after the day and a half of strong contractions only to find out that I was only dilated to a 2 and 25% effaced.  What a bummer!  All that work for so little!

Good news was that the doctor didn't think I would need a c-section after all... but that she was SURE the baby wouldn't be coming until at least the 5th of November.

We left a little downhearted.  I told Ben that he might want to call his commander and go back to work for a few days -- I didn't need him totally if he was needed back to work.  And I was seriously doubting myself anyway, what if they weren't the real labor pains after all??  I was just having wishful thinking.

I went home and took a nap.  Woke up around the time the boys came home from school.  They did their homework and chores and we all decided to go to the park.

There is this GORGEOUS park on post that has a walking path around the play area.
I decided that while they played, I would walk around the track and see if I could get the labor going again.  I walked about 20 feet down a hill and just as I started up again, the contractions started up again.  As I was walking, I started thinking, you know, I have been running through this whole pregancy, the doctor gave me the okay to keep running, (although, I wonder if she only gave me the okay because she didn't believe me.... ), so I wonder what would happen if I ran through my contractions.  Hmmm....

So I did.  And it was crazy weird but exhilarating!  The contractions seemed to hurt less when I was running through them.  I ran 2 1/2 miles while the boys played with Ben on the playground.

When we got home, we put the kids to bed and I crashed on the recliner.  The hubby and I spent the evening watching movies and he rubbed my feet.  I had a few strong contractions, but nothing that indicated a baby would come soon.

Then at 1:15 am -- Halloween morning, as I was lying in bed trying to go to sleep, I had this excruciatingly painful contraction.  I felt this bubble of pressure right in front of my pelvic bone -- I thought it was the baby's head... until the pressure area popped!!  Better not be my baby's head!!  I thought, what the heck!??  Then I felt wetness.....

I ran to the bathroom.

Sure enough, for the first time EVER, my water broke on it's own!  So after running around packing my hospital bag, calling our sitter, and making last minute arrangements, we were off to the hospital!!

Having "ruptured membranes" is the golden ticket into being admitted to the hospital.  It was nice not having to worry about being sent home to wait anything out.

At this point I was dilated to a 4.  They got me in my room and settled down.  I slept through the first 4 hours.  At 7 am, they checked me again and I was still a 4.  So they gave me a little pictocin to get me going.  I wanted an epidural, but I wanted to wait because I knew it would slow down the labor for me and I just wanted to have this little guy asap.

I got my epidural at 9 am.  The midwife came in at 9:30, just minutes after I sent Ben to go get himself some breakfast, to see how far along I was.

While she was checking she said, "Ummm... where is your husband?"

"He went to get breakfast," I told her.

"You need to call him and tell him to come back right now because this baby is coming!"  Are you kidding me?!  I wasn't expecting him to come until late afternoon!!  That was fast!!

I called him.  He was in the Burger King drive-thru.  And then I called my mom, we had planned to Skype with her for the birth.  She wasn't home... but answered her cell and said she would haul butt home.

It all worked out. Ben got back and we got Mom on Skype and Joseph Benjamin was born just after 10 am on Halloween.  A healthy 8 lbs and 21 inches.  And cute as a button!

It went smooth and fairly quickly.

I got to spend some quality bonding time with him in the hospital... which was great!  I knew once we were home with all the boys, bonding quiet time was going to be hard to get.

The big brothers were SO EXCITED to meet him later on that evening.  They got to spend some quality time with him in the hospital with him the next few nights.

And Sunday afternoon we brought our little pumpkin home!

Feeling so blessed to be home, healthy, not pregnant, and with ALL my boys!  Bring on the holidays!

-Cat

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Pregnancy Update: Rolling Along!

Let me be the first one to admit that this blog has been neglected lately.  In all honestly, I haven't been in much of a mood to write or socialize in many ways -- except for the occasional Facebook update now and then.  I am at that point in my pregnancy, 36 1/2 weeks now, that I just want to keep to myself and do my thing.  I don't want people to ask me to do things, because I hate to say no, but I don't have the energy to do much.

I feel so bloated and yuck, and grown out of my maternity clothes, that I don't want people to see me because I am not feeling pretty AT ALL.  I know it's totally normal at this point, but after trying so hard to be cute pregnant this time around, I feel like I have failed miserably and I have this irrational fear that everyone around me is thinking the same thing about me.  My brain tells me it's not true, but my pregnant hormones make me feel paranoid and bit angry at times.

I know it's silly.  But it's hard to help.

This week I had the stomach flu.  On a normal day, it is unbearable... but with a baby in there kicking at your weak stomach and intestines, it's a bit of a living nightmare... there were times, I was pretty sure I might just die.  Glad I survived... I would have hated to die on the toilet!

I am almost back to my regular 9 month pregnant self, if that's possible, and truth be told, I am tried of being pregnant.  But my MAIN concern is the health of the baby, so whatever is best for him goes. My pregnancy plan is as follows:  Have a healthy baby vaginally and don't die.  Yep, that's it.

But even then, things still manage to come up that we don't expect.

In my mind, I would have this baby naturally, or with an epidural if he's another posterior punk.  My first two were posterior, WORST LABORS EVER!  With Nephi, I had him naturally because the epidural didn't take.  Not to scare anyone, but I was in so much pain, my contacts literally popped out my eyes and flew across the room!  With Sam, my oldest, I was in labor for 4 days because he was posterior and wouldn't dilate until he finally flipped.  With my little guy Jake, they induced me and he was in the right position... and he just popped right out... not a big deal.  I was HOPING this next one would be the same.

But I guess, fate has other plans for me.

A few weeks ago, I went into see my new ob/gyn and she was really concerned about the size of my belly.  At 33 weeks, I was measuring 39.  So I had to go in and get and ultrasound this last week.  Yesterday, I went in for my 36 weeks, and was told the results.  My "little" guy isn't so little.  He is measuring in the 95th percentile.  "So what does that mean?"  I ask.  "It means you have an 8 and a half pound baby in there right now," she said.

You have GOT to be kidding me!

No freaking way I am giving birth to a 10 or 11 pounder!  And that is what he will be if I make it to 40 weeks!

But the Army has rules.  They can't and won't induce until 39 weeks.  SOOOOoooo.... If this baby doesn't come on it's own, and I make it to 39 weeks, my doctor says that at that point even the baby will be too big anyway, and I will need a c-section.

So not part of my birth plan.

I don't ask for much... really, I don't.

Now before you you tell me it isn't that big of deal to get a c-section, I KNOW THAT.  I have TONS of friends that have had one, and many even prefer it.  But I just don't want one.  Of course I will have one if I need to for the health of the baby... but I for once, I would really like to go into labor naturally before my 40 weeks (or I guess 39 in this case) and have the baby within 12 hours.  That would optimal.

But that just doesn't seem to work for me.  Things don't seem to like to happen according to my well thought out plans and good intentions.

However, I am determined to have a positive attitude.  I can do this!

So for now, I am hanging in there.

Feeling huge and heavy.

But comforted knowing that I only have a few weeks left, if even that.

Here's hoping and praying for a healthy delivery, no matter how it comes!
36 1/2 weeks, measuring 41 weeks.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

DIY Silhouette Art Tutorial

A couple weeks ago, I was snooping around Pintrest for some decorating ideas.  Since I am pretty much decorating impaired, I KNEW I had no choice but to rely on the ideas and innovations of others to decorate my new home in a way that wasn't embarrassing to everyone who walked in my door.

Decorating to me, has always seemed like a colossal waste of time.  I didn't see what the big deal was about spending money to make your house LOOK a certain way.  Who cares?  I mean as long as your house is mostly clean, has a good feeling about it, and you feel safe there -- what does it matter what color your couch or carpet is?  Why does it matter if your picture frames match?  Is my life going to suffer at all because I couldn't care less about my home looking fancy?  Nope.  In fact, I was pretty sure that I would have more time to do more important things, like raising my kids and being a good wife, if I wasn't wasting my time painting stuff and shopping for things I couldn't afford.  Practicality has ruled most of my life and taken charge of my priorities.

But these last couple years, as our little family has prepared to finally be out of the student lifestyle, have a real career to support us, and even have a house of our own... my thoughts have strayed to ideas of decorating.  At first, I dismissed them as silly and trivial... but I couldn't help to look at some of the stuff my friends had in their houses and the things they actually made themselves!  The crafty person within me was piqued!

I am all about saving money.  I have serious remorse when I am forced to buy expensive new things.  So... when I found out that I could buy cheap furniture or stuff and remake it or "upcycle" the things I already had, I was won over.  How fun it could be to have a NICE LOOKING and practical home!  Especially, if I was doing it myself and saving money.

I am a baby step kind of girl.  Especially, being in my eighth month of pregnancy, I have limited physical capabilities. But I have found there are some things I can do to make our new home personal, pleasant to be in, and reflect the creativity of our family.

My first steps were getting curtains.  That's a long story for another time, but suffice it to say that it included me having a total breakdown in Walmart over the prices of curtains and rods and blinds. AND ended with me buying cheap curtains and sticking them up with shower curtain rods to save money and give us some much needed privacy.

Next, I had Ben put up some of our art work in the kitchen area and I did my very first reupholster project on my bar stools:

 Before:
After:
And yes, they are shiny because I covered them in vinyl for protection and easy clean up.
Not SUPER classy, but nice and practical with 3 almost 4 boys in the house.

For the living room, I bought a new rug and some couch pillows.  But I needed something new and classy for the walls in the living room and for the empty wall above our bed.

I searched Pintrest, and found a few things I liked... but nothing I LOVED.  So I ended up picking my favorite of many things, and came up with my own ideas.  I decided I wanted to do some silhouette art of my kids to go with our family pictures and maybe some of those cool vinyl letters that looked so fun.

I made them and posted them on Facebook, and got such a positive response, that I came up with a new similar idea to do some more for the wall in our master bedroom.  Here are the finished products:
Living Room:


Master Bedroom above our bed:

When I posted these, I honestly thought I MIGHT get a few likes and some back pats like: "Good Job, Cat!  You're getting better... keep it up!"  But I didn't expect was the numerous requests for a tutorial!  Seriously?  Really?  Me make a decorating DIY tutorial?!  Did NOT see that coming... not in a million years.

Good thing I took pictures along the way... only to prove that I actually made them myself if anyone questioned me about it.  Yeah, when it comes to this stuff, I KNOW and ADMIT that I am insecure of myself.

But I am also totally winning to share what I know.  So without further ado, here is the DIY silhouette tutorial:

DIY Silhouette Art Tutorial

You will need:

-a camera
-computer and printer
-card stock printer paper
-cutting board
-scissors and/or exact-o knife
-cute scrapbook paper for background (or you can do what I did and print some out)
-black spray paint (I used the chalk board paint)
-glue stick
-frame

Step by Step instructions:

1. First, I took pictures of my boys sitting sideways:


 Then I loaded them up onto my computer in my photo editing program and selected that I wanted to print them out for a 8x10 size (to fit a pre-made frame).  Also, I didn't want them all facing the same way, so I had Sam's printed with the reverse option.  I printed them out in black and white, there was no reason to waste color ink, and on card stock paper

2.  Next I cut them out with a pair of scissors:


3.  Turn them over, printed side facing down (because when the sun shines on your finished product, you don't want to see remnants of the printed picture behind the black paint) and spray paint them the desired color -- I used black chalk board spray paint because that's what I had.
4.  Find some cut scrapbook paper, or you can do what I did and just Google and print out your own on some card stock.  Next, mount your dry silhouettes with a glue stick or whatever works for you.

(You may notice that 4th one on there... that's the St. George Utah Temple where Ben and I were married and it is a symbol to us of the promises we made to each and the start of our lives together.)

5.  Frame them and hang them!! I bought the $4 cheapy frames at Wal-Mart.

Now, if you are wondering how I did the family pictures for our bedroom, here is that tutorial:

For these ones, the steps are pretty much the same, with a couple of differences.

1.  You are going to want a cutting board and exact-o knife to get all the detail in.

2.  Print out the picture you want to silhouette on cardstock.  Make sure to print it mirrored or reversed so when you turn it over to spray it, everyone will be in the proper place to get it right on.

Original:

Print Out:


3.  Next on a cutting board, use the exact-o knife to cut out the out line of the picture.  To give each silhouette a personal touch and to make sure people knew what was going on in the picture, I also cut out some of the highlights in the picture, and things on Ben's uniform so one could TELL he was a soldier.

On the wedding picture, I cut out his white shirt collar, to emphasize the tux, and made a temple to go behind us (which I kept white.

For the family picture, I cut out parts of Ben's uniform, the collars of the boys, and some highlights between Jake and me so you could tell I was holding a baby... otherwise I looked like I had some weird growth...

For the pregnancy one, I had to cut some stuff in so you could TELL I was pregnant and that Ben and I are in fact two people, not conjoined twins.

This is what I came up with:
4.  Next spray paint them!  Once again I used the black chalk board spray.

5.  Just like the other ones, you mount and frame.
... and hang:
Fun!  Easy! Cheap! Classy!

I had all the supplies already, so all I had to buy was the frames: and I got the $4 Wal-Mart ones.  So all and all, I saved a lot of money making these myself!  (Note: Vinyl lettering found at Hobby Lobby -- I got them 50% off!  Score!) And I can't put a price on the feeling of accomplishment every time I look at them!

Happy crafting!!!

-Cat

PS If you like this tutorial, feel free to share :)