Made in Mechanicsville: DIY Earrings

Hey, guys! I’m poking my head out of the new-parent-haze to bring you a really fun guest post from my friend, Lauren, of Made in Mechanicsville. I adore her handmade jewelry (I own two pairs of these…and these…and these…and just picked up these as well…) and I’m so thankful she’s agreed to help me out with a guest post as I continue to adjust to our new normal :) Do yourself a favor and check out her shop and follow her on Facebook and Instagram – she is always hosting awesome giveaways! Thanks again, Lauren! 


Hi everyone! Lauren here from Made in Mechanicsville. I’m guest blogging for Colleen today and am really excited to share a fun and easy DIY you can create using just a few tools you have around the house and some polymer clay. The end result? An awesome, handmade pair of modern earrings for Mom, just in time for Mother’s Days.

DIY Colorblock Earrings

Prep Time: 20 Minutes

Bake Time: 15 Minutes

Dry Time: 24 hours

 Tool List

  • Sculpey Polymer Clay in Mom’s favorite color
  • E6000 Industrial Strength Adhesive
  • Small Paintbrush
  • Testors Metallic Enamel in Silver
  • Earring Backs and 6mm Flat Stud Settings
  • Mini Metal Cutouts
  • Roller
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Baking Pan
  • Oven

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First, protect your work surface with aluminum foil. Then, remove the clay from the plastic wrap. You can either cut a piece with a sharp blade, or just break off a piece the way I did in the photo. Soften the clay by manipulating it in your hands for a few minutes.

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Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 3.33.34 PMWhen your clay is soft and pliable, roll out your clay to approximately ¼” thick. I used the end of a small whisk in my kitchen because I don’t own a rolling pin. Improvise! You can use a glass cup or any round smooth surface.

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 3.35.11 PMChoose a mini metal cutout shape that you like — most packs come with at least 4-10 options to choose from. I chose triangles and circles for a modern look.

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 3.36.55 PMRemember that handmade doesn’t mean perfect. Don’t beat yourself up if your shapes aren’t quite perfect! That handmade touch of unique, organic quality isn’t found in some big box retail product, which is what makes your pair so special.

Pre-heat your oven for 275 degrees. Bake your clay pieces for 15 minutes and allow them to cool.

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Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 3.40.58 PMUsing a small amount of E6000 (this stuff is strong!), apply the earring backs to your baked clay pieces. I like to do this prior to painting because it allows you to easily hold the clay piece while you paint.

Allow earrings to dry at least 30 minutes.

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 3.42.33 PMThis next step requires your imagination and concentration. Use the metallic paint to gently create a color block look, paint dots or whatever your little heart desires! The Testors metallic enamel is extremely thin, and doesn’t require a ton on the paint brush. Be conservative when you dip at first, adding more if needed.

Allow to dry overnight. When ready to package, create fun packaging with kraft die-cuts or scrap paper. Punch holes with small hole punch to create earring card. Write Mom a handwritten and heartfelt note, and wrap with pretty packaging. Your handmade-with-love DIY is now Mom’s favorite piece of jewelry.

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 3.45.12 PMNo time to create this DIY for Mom? Made in Mechanicsville is a handmade jewelry shop based outside of Richmond, Virginia. Head over to our brand spankin’ new website to find something special for Mom this year!

We can’t wait to see your finished gift! If you Instagram your DIY Colorblock Earrings, tag The Lunchbox Diaries (@lunchboxdiaries) and Made In Mechanicsville (@madeinmechanicsville)!

xoxo,

Lauren

Owner + Designer, Made In Mechanicsville

www.madeinmechanicsville.com

Why I Haven’t Written Jack’s Birth Story

Becoming a mother has been better than I could have ever imagined. The love I have for this little boy is beyond indescribable. I love everything about him. I laugh at his silly faces and weird sounds. I literally sit and stare at him for hours on end, simply in awe of the fact that I grew this perfect person. 

IG2

But, honestly, I think that’s the boring shit that no one wants to hear about. Because, duh, everyone loves their own child.

I know I want to hear the stories and experiences women seem to keep to themselves; the not-so-pretty ones. The real-life ones. The ones that prove we’re not superhuman.

The ones like yesterday morning, when I found myself walking around my house singing made up songs about poop and crying babies, checking Jack’s diaper, holding him in every way imaginable, putting him in his rocker – then his swing – then laying him on his back – then his stomach (praying, Please, God, will this one work?) with no avail.

After 45 minutes of Jack screaming for no apparent reason (you know, other than being a two-week old baby…) I curled myself up in a tiny chair, on the verge of tears, and snuggled him close and tight to my chest. Then it happened: silence.

It was 7:02 am.

And I took to Instagram

IGI tried writing Jack’s birth story for the blog, because it’s a doozy, but I just haven’t finished it.

I haven’t finished it because it seems like I’m writing a novel, and I can’t figure out what’s TMI and what’s not. I haven’t finished it because I’m sleeping in 3 – 4 hour increments, broken up by 40 minutes of breastfeeding and burping and lulling back to sleep, and I’m absolutely exhausted.

I haven’t finished that birth story because it makes me cry. Actually, lots of things make me cry. Not because I’m actually sad or miserable or depressed, but because yeah, some moments I do feel sad or miserable or depressed.

I haven’t finished that post because I haven’t had two minutes to sit down since Cory went back to work a week and a half ago. I haven’t finished it because I’m recovering from that emergency c-section and I’m in pain. But, being in pain doesn’t matter when you have a little baby crying and all you want to do is fix it.

And lastly, I haven’t finished that post because I’m trying like mad to figure this first-time-parent thing out. No one tells you, New Mom, that the beginning is tough. It’s a beautiful, wonderful, blessed toughness, but I’d be lying if I said that in-the-moment when you’re covered in spit up, baby tears, your own tears, and you haven’t slept in what feels like 800 years, it doesn’t feel anything but tough as hell. 

But before you know it, the moment of madness turns into a beautiful, cooing baby and you simply cannot imagine your life any other way.

 

It’s a BOY!

So, if you follow me on Instagram, you’ve heard the news: My sweet baby Jack arrived a little before midnight this past Wednesday, March 25th!

jack

If you’ve followed along this pregnancy journey with me, you know that I was not a major fan of any of it. From 26 weeks of straight morning sickness, to being constantly uncomfortable; I just wasn’t one of the lucky women who glowed throughout her pregnancy.

But, OH. MY. GOD. 

I’m here to tell you that feelings during pregnancy and feelings about motherhood are not correlated. Guys, I am happier than I could have ever thought possible. I am head-over-heels in love, and would gladly endure a my wretched pregnancy a million times over if it meant I’d end up with Jack.

He’s perfect.

And while I have never been so exhausted or unsure of “doing things right,” I have also never felt such an overwhelming sense of pure love and happiness.

He’s five days old, and I already feel like I have so much to tell you! Once I can formulate actual, cohesive sentences about Jack and our experiences thus far, I’ll put together some posts. Until then, hang in there with me as I begin to navigate what is sure to be the most incredible experience of life!

If there’s a question/topic you’d like to read about (i.e. ‘did you write a birth plan?’ or ‘do you still look pregnant?’ ;) ), let me know!

OMG I Can Meditate

One of the things I’m pretty open about here on the ol’ blog is that I struggle with anxiety. Everyone has their thing and for me, anxiety is it. I’m also open about the fact that anxiety medication was a game-changer for me, but I had to discontinue use once I got pregnant.

Once I stopped using Celexa, it was so important to me that I practiced natural coping mechanisms to deal with my anxiety. I’m open to trying just about anything when it comes to relaxation and centering myself. Yoga, acupuncture, essential oils, calming teas…you name it, I’m game.

It was kind of a no-brainer that when I was offered to try out a new meditation app, I jumped on the chance. Now, let’s be real here: meditation is something that I was kind of on the fence about. Mainly because I took a meditation class once, and the last thing I remember was the instructor telling me to cleanse my third eye before I fell asleep. Like, the instructor had to wake me up at the end of class. I was literally drooling, which made things even better.

Anyway, back to the app.

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What I like about this app, OMG I Can Meditate, is that it makes meditation doable for anyone. It’s not intimidating, nor does it require the user to have any sort of experience with meditation whatsoever (thank God!) It’s seriously like having your own mediation coach in the palm of your hand, who you can access at any time. Annnd you can do it in 10 minutes.

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The first time I tried it, I kind of failed. I’m not kidding you when I say that the meditation coach, Lynne Goldberg, has the most soothing voice. Like, so soothing that it put me to sleep. [We can see a trend here, obviously…]

It was my fault because I didn’t follow the rules. I was laying down, elevating my cankle, and Lynne specifically tells you not to be lying down. Sorry, Lynne! 

Anyway, Lynne talks you through the meditation with calming music playing in the background. This sounds so weird, but I love guided meditation, like savasana at the end of a yoga practice. You know what I mean? Well, that’s exactly what this app is like.

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There are even meditations specifically for morning and night [finally, one I’m supposed to fall asleep to], as well as certain speciality meditations like stress & anxiety and meditation for pregnancy (under ‘women’s issues.’)

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I’ve genuinely enjoyed using the app over the past few weeks. Like anything, it takes some time getting used to, but I’ve found it to be worth tackling the learning curve. If you’re looking for ways to naturally reduce anxiety, or you’re simply interested in cultivating mindfulness, I highly  recommend this meditation app.

It’s not free, but thankfully I have 10, 3-month membership trials to give away! I’ll be picking 5 winners on the blog, 3 on Facebook, and 2 on Twitter. Make sure if you’re entering the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter, you’re following me! (Or, for more information, head on over to www.omgmeditate.com)

To enter here, leave a comment telling me why you want to try this app! Head over to my Facebook and Twitter to enter, too!  

“No Baby” + Labor Signs

“NO BABY” is how I have to start every phone call and/or text with my family and friends, so I thought I’d bring you in as well ;)

I don’t know if this is normal or not, but it’s at the point where all I can think about is this baby arriving. Every day I wake up thinking, “is today the day?!” and then I’m disappointed by bedtime because I am so over this. I’m just wildly uncomfortable and sleep deprived, really.

I haven’t talked to the baby throughout my pregnancy, but I’m doin’ a whole helluva lot of talkin’ these days. Mostly like, “I’M READY FOR YOUUU!” and “WHY ARE YOU STILL IN THERE!?”

over it

I’ve arranged everything for maternity leave at work. I’ve gotten my car cleaned (the Penny hair was outrageous.) The car seat is installed. I’ve packed my hospital bag, and the “thank you” basket for the nurses… What I’m saying is: everything is ready – expect for this baby, obviously.

outfits

Which outfit will we get to use?! While we won’t be posting identifying pictures of the baby, follow along on Instagram and Facebook for baby updates!

My newest thing is Googling “indications labor is near” which makes me feel like a complete and total basket case, yet oddly relaxed at the same time. I’ll tell you: this and old wives tales regarding gender are the only things I’ve Googled throughout this pregnancy. I tried my best to stay away from Googling aches and pains and other things that would freak me out!

According to ‘The Google’ a few more things have to happen, but I’m hoping my doctor can give me some clearer insight this afternoon! ;)

If you’re a mom (or are more familiar with labor than I am), play along with me. Looking back, what were your indications that labor was close?!

For everyone: Do you Google signs and symptoms for anything? I’m pretty sure WebMD should be called “You Have 24 Hours to Live.com” 

 

Weekly Reads Wednesday #5

Happy Wednesday, my friends! I hope you’re neck of the woods is warming up like it is here in Richmond. I’ve gone on two walks this week, and it’s been glorious! I am so ready for Spring!

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Don’t forget to check out Clare’s post today today, too!

Life + Lessons

Essential Oils 101 <— So worth the read!

Humor + Happiness

Guy Writes Down Things Urban Kids Say When He Takes them On Hikes < — HILARIOUS!!

WWII Vet Celebrates 90th Birthday with 4-Year-Old Best Friend <— OMG.

19 Dog Friendly Stores Where You Can Shop with Your Pup <— Who knew?!

31 Times Celebrities Gave the Best Damn Responses to Sexist Questions

Parenting

I’m A New Mom – What if I Never Work Full-Time Again?

Can We Please Be Honest About How Breastfeeding Changes Your Marriage? <— I see valid points within this article, but I don’t agree with the majority of what she’s saying.

Why My Husband Always Comes Before My Child <— This is the article caused the response of the above article. What do you think?

The Disturbing Facebook Trend of Stolen Kids Photos <— If you post pictures of your kid online, I think this is worth a read!

Mental Health

Letting Go of “Letting Go”

Love + Relationships

I Married the Wrong Guy <— As a mental health professional, this story is all too common. This woman shares a brave story!

Time Spent in the Emergency Room

In past three weeks, I’ve been in the ER twice.

The first time was because I’d caught the stomach virus that’s going around, which was just great. (Do you know how difficult it is to barf in the toilet when you have a basketball protruding from your middle?) I became severely dehydrated, which come to find out, is not a good thing for a pregnant woman to be.

The second time was last week, following my routine OB visit. She sent me to the ER because she was concerned about the swelling in my right foot and leg. Swelling is a normal part of pregnancy, but it’s usually pretty equal on both sides.

For me, that wasn’t the case, so she thought it might be a blood clot. (Cue: my panic attack)

ankle

Since I had just been in the ER days before, I kinda sorta started crying on our way out of the doctor’s office. It was the combination of fear and the fact that I just didn’t want to go. (Clearly, I knew I had to; blood clots are serious business.)

We ended up sitting in the ER for for 3 hours before the ultrasound tech was available. All the while, I was gripped with anxiety over this possible blood clot.

You know, 3 hours is a long time to just sit and play the family-favorite “what if” game.

Anyway, the super nice ultrasound tech finally made his appearance. He made some quick small talk and then turned off the lights and began his exam.

Silence.

For 15 minutes (which seemed like 15 days) he searched for this possible blood clot. In silence. I didn’t want to interrupt his flow, but I much prefer when medical professionals talk you through the process. You know what I mean??

He ended his exam, and by this point I was having trouble breathing because I was certain he’s going to tell me I’m dying (hospitals bring out my most rational side.) I’m sure I seemed too eager and slightly crazed, when I asked, “So?”  

“Everything looks great! No blood clot.”

After sending up a major “THANK YOU, JESUS!” prayer and letting out an audible sigh of relief, I realized that we had just spent over 3 hours in the emergency room to come to the conclusion that I have cankle.

The joys of pregnancy, my friends. The joys.

Days Away

Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve officially hit the “oh shit, this is happening” part of my pregnancy. I got a taste of it at my first baby shower. An even greater sense of urgency hit when Cory installed the carseat. But it wasn’t until last night when I was facetiming with my mom and she said, “We’re 19 days away from your due date!” did it actually hit me.

Days. 

Thus far, my pregnancy countdown has really been in monthly (and very recently, weekly) increments. Yesterday was the first time I’ve thought about delivery being days away.

I can’t adequately explain how simultaneously excited and anxious I feel. I get stressed out because I feel like there is SO MUCH left to do, to prepare for; but in reality, we’re as ready as we can be

We’re spending these days relaxing and going out on dates and having conversations about this baby who’s almost here. I’m experiencing all the feelings on a daily basis. I’m probably certifiably crazy at this point.

I have some posts planned, but I can’t promise I’ll be an utterly consistent blogger in the upcoming days. I hope you understand. (Of course you do.)

I’m not going anywhere, but I just wanted to start off the week by thanking those of you who continue to follow along and send me words of encouragement. You are so appreciated!

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Searching for Childcare + Asking the Right Questions

I’ve alluded to the fact that, for me, looking for and choosing childcare has been one of the more stressful aspects of pregnancy and entering the World of Parenthood.

One of the biggest choices we’ve had to consider is an in-home caregiver vs a daycare center. This one keeps me up at night, honestly. Thankfully, one of my very close friends is a Director of a daycare center, and she coached me through the process of what to look for and what to ask when touring a facility.

I found her list of questions to be beyond helpful. I may have looked like a future helicopter parent with my mile-long list, but I was surprised that I didn’t give a shit what anyone thought. I left feeling assured and confident that all the bases were covered.

I know I have several pregnant friends and many pregnant blog readers, so with my friend’s permission, I wanted to post the list of questions that she gave me. [You’ll also notice that her explanations/comments are next to some questions in gray italics.] I hope that someone else in my situation finds them to be as helpful as I did!

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Impressions/Things to Look For

How does the outside of the building appear?
Did you have to ring a doorbell or did you walk right in?
Was the person that greeted you friendly?
If you scheduled a tour, did they appear to know that you were coming?
Does the inside of the building look clean?
Do the classrooms look neat and organized, or messy and chaotic?
Is there colorful art on the walls?
Do the children appear happy?
Are the children clean? [i.e. Can you tell what they ate for lunch because they’re wearing it on their faces/in their hair?]
Do the playgrounds look safe?
Ask to see the entire facility! If you’re touring for an infant or a toddler, often times Managers will only show off the first couple of classrooms. Your child will (hopefully) transition into every classroom. The Kindergarten room is just as important at the nursery.

Staff

When you walk into the classrooms, do the teachers say hello?
Do the teachers appear friendly? I only add this in because just because someone says hello with a sour-puss look on their face doesn’t make them friendly.
What is the teacher turnover like?
How long has the teacher in your child’s classroom been there? I don’t put TOO much emphasis on this because lets be real, childcare is often known for their turnover, and is even more often out of the
hands of the Managers/school. However, it doesn’t look too good for the school when both the Lead teacher and Assistant teacher were hired last week.
How long have the Managers been there? I DO put a lot of emphasis on this. This job is fucking hard. There are days that I go into the bathroom to cry for ten minutes, tell myself that tomorrow is a new
day and to get it together, then go back to work for ANOTHER 8 hours. Anyone that is that puts up with the shit that we put up with for more than a year, is DEDICATED and invested in the school’s well-being.

Facility/Policies

How long has the facility been open?
Is your facility accredited?
Is your facility licensed by the state? ALL facilities that are licensed MUST have their most recent inspection posted for parents to see. It can generally be found on a “Parent Board” of some sort in the lobby or entrance. All licensing inspections for all licensed facilities can be found on the Department of Social Services website. This is a HUGE indicator if a facility is a tight ship or a bit loosey goosey when it comes to following the rules.
Is there an open-door policy/am I limited to how many hours per day my child can be here?
Are there cameras in all of the classrooms?
– If so, can you watch your child’s classroom from online?
How are the children signed in/out everyday?
Can we authorize family members to pick-up/How do you monitor who is permitted to pick up?
What is the illness policy?
How do you notify parents when there is illness in a classroom?
If my child ends up with allergies, or if we need medication to be administered throughout the day, who is trained to do so? Don’t be surprised if some facilities will not administer fever reducing medicines, like Tylenol or Advil. We do not. Medicines with acetaphetamine are often given to mask a fever when it’s quite likely that a child may be contagious with something else. This can be a frustration for some parents that we won’t give their child Tylenol when they’re teething. Unfortunately, we don’t have the ability to determine if that child has spiked a fever because they are contagious with an illness, or if they are indeed only teething. Because we don’t want to take the risk that a child is contaminating a classroom with something, if a child’s temp goes up above a 101, they will be sent home. It’s then unto that parent to either keep the child out until the fever drops, of if they take them to the doctor to get a note that says they are not sick.

Financials/Logistics

What is the tuition?
Is tuition paid on a weekly or monthly basis?
Does the tuition include meals?
If still potty training, do we need to provide diapers and wipes?
Are there any additional fees throughout the year? Material/activity fees?
What forms of payment do you accept?
Is there a registration fee, and is it annual?
What is the process to enroll?
Is there a multiple child discount?
If we decided to withdrawal, what is the process?

Question: Does this topic stress out any other moms or moms-to-be?!

Weekly Reads Wednesday #4

Hey there! I hope everyone’s had a nice week so far! I apologize for being slightly MIA on the blog and social media; I’ve been a little under the weather these past two weeks. YUCK!

I hope you enjoy these articles as much as I did!

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Head over to Clare’s blog to check out HER weekly reads!

Life + Lessons 

Meet the Woman Who Says, “I’m Much Happier Being Fat” 

I Drank 96 Ounces of Water Everyday for a Week and This is What Happened

27 Charts That Will Help You Make Sense of Makeup

14 Recommendations for a More Authentic, Happy Existence 

Humor + Happiness

Boob Groping and Other Things I Was Oddly Fine with During Childbirth  

21 Changes You’ll Experience Between Yours 20s and 30s <— Too funny!

Parenting 

Do Our Online Lives Affect Our Children?

Tips for Being a Happy Mom

The Parenting Myth I’ve Finally Stopped Falling For

Mental Health 

This Suicide Prevention Site is Really Funny and It’s Working <– YAY!

5 Ways to Get Involved with Eating Disorder Advocacy and Volunteering 

Question: How many ounces of water do you think you drink every day? I’m working on the recommended 96, but I don’t always get it!