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Quick to Judge

Critics are everywhere.  I think having a judgmental bone in your body is almost natural.  That’s what we do.  That’s what society has taught us.  You judge first and learn later.  Is this right?  No, not at all.

I’ll be the first to admit that I judge people after first meeting them, heck even after first seeing them.  This isn’t always in a negative way.  Sometimes people “look” nice and this in itself is a judgement.  To judge is to form an opinion or conclusion about something or someone.  Sometimes it is negative though and this is when it’s the most hurtful.

I’ve been following the story of the mother who lost track of her 4 year old son at the zoo.  The little boy fell into a gorilla enclosure.  I’m sure most of you have heard about this fiasco as well.  My initial reaction to hearing about this was, “how the hell does a mother let this happen?”  I mean, I always have my eyes on Andrew.  I don’t trust anyone and half the time I don’t trust myself to lose sight of him.  So how did this child fall into a damn gorilla exhibit at the zoo when his mother was supposed to be watching him?

Is there something wrong with this picture?  Absolutely!  Why wasn’t I first concerned about the little boy?  Why didn’t I think to myself, “that poor mother!”  Why did I automatically assume that the mother is a bad mother because she let this happen.  She let it happen.

Man.  Is this what the world is coming to?  Have we completely lost all compassion and sensitivity for one another?  Have we lost remorse and dare I say it, love?

Let me tell you about my recent experience with my son.  Granted, this is a little different because I’m basically comparing a 19 month old to a 4 year old, and these two ages have very different developmental progressions but nonetheless they’re still children who wander.  Okay here goes:  The last two weeks or so my own son thinks it’s funny to run away from me.  He knows he isn’t supposed to do this but he doesn’t REALLY know.  He doesn’t understand why he shouldn’t run away from me.  He thinks it’s a game.  It doesn’t matter how many times I tell him no and how mad I get, he still thinks it’s fun.  The kid will literally run into the street if I set him down on the sidewalk.  He laughs and he’s fast.  He’s 19 months old but the kid is quick!  As soon as I set him down at the park he takes off.  The first time this happened it scared me.  Since then, I don’t set him down near a street.  That’s when common sense kicks in.  However, I do still let him run around at the park.  I know to watch him extra closely because I know he runs away from me but what about the “what if” scenarios.  What if I set him down and somehow get distracted for just a few seconds.  So much can happen in just a few seconds!  I try not to let this happen.  I try to focus all of my attention on him at all times, but you know what?  We’re human!  We make mistakes, and if you honestly say you haven’t taken your eyes off of your kid for a few seconds then frankly, you’re a liar.

Ok, yes a 4 year old should know right from wrong better than a 19 month old.  Yes the 4 year old should listen to his or her parents better than a 19 month old listens.  Yes parents should always keep a close eye on their kids at any age but especially when they are young, and yes 4 years old is young.  But do we really know what happened?  Do we really know how we would react to a devastating situation?  No.  We don’t know.  We won’t know until we are put in that same situation, God forbid.

Maybe this poor mother got distracted for just a few seconds and lost sight of her child.  Maybe her son was throwing a temper tantrum and ran away from her.  Maybe she walked away from him for two seconds to try and grab his balloon that he accidentally let go of.  OR, maybe she was on her phone and totally not paying attention to him.  Maybe she really is a shitty mother who wasn’t watching him and that’s why he fell into the gorilla exhibit.

My point is, we don’t know! Most of us weren’t there when all of this happened and even the people who were there probably weren’t paying attention to some random family walking around until the kid fell.  Maybe she’s a crappy mother, but maybe she isn’t.  Maybe she’s a fantastic mother.  I don’t know, neither do you, unless you know her personally.  What I do know is that if something tragic like this ever happened to me, and of course I hope it doesn’t and I’ll do my best to make sure it doesn’t, but if it does, I would reallllyyyy hope to be treated differently than this woman has been treated.  I would hope that people wouldn’t just assume the worst about me.  Tragedy occurs daily.  Kids get hit by cars all the time.  Kids run away from their parents all the time.  This is all the same.  Different locations but same type of thing.  People never think that things like this would ever happen to them, but things like this do happen.  Accidents happen.

I have no idea what kind of mother this woman is and I’m trying not to make any further judgements on this situation.  I just hope that people start feeling a little more empathy and little less judgment.  I’m going to try harder and I hope you do, too.

Note:  This post is simply about the effects of judgement.  In no way does it refer to the killing of the gorilla.

Talk to you soon

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Just Be… (and do some laundry while you’re at it)

Last night I made a list of everything I had to do today.  It was a long list.  I organized my day in my head.  Wake up, make coffee, play with Andrew, feed Andrew, feed myself, get Andrew dressed, clean myself up, get out the door early to start running errands, get home by 11 so Andrew can take a nap before his appointment, Andrew’s doctor appointment at 2, groceries, come home, make dinner.  I had to run to Target, the grocery store, pick up something from a friend, pick up something for a friend, clean the house before we have friends over tomorrow evening….and a few other Christmas related things.

This morning Andrew woke up at 5:15 and my day had begun.  I made coffee, played with him, dressed him, fed him, fed myself and started getting ready.  Andrew seemed extra sleepy this morning so he went down for a nap around 8:15.  Sometimes he takes two naps.  That’s okay.  I just rearranged my plans for the rest of the day.  I had time to shower and get ready so that was nice.  He woke up around 10:30.  Perfect.  I could give him some milk and a snack and head out.  I figured I could run a few errands, come home for lunch and then off to the doc.  So we came downstairs and I grabbed his milk out of the fridge.  Just as I was handing it to him he starts to vomit.  It was horrible.  I was not prepared at all, but no one ever is.  It just kept coming!  All of his egg, and spinach, and sausage…I know, sorry for that visual.  I did get lucky as he was standing on the small patch of tile in front of the door instead of the surrounding carpet.  Easy cleanup, yes!  I stripped him right there, took him upstairs and gave him a bath.  Ok, so just a slight change of plans.  Once he was all cleaned up I cleaned up the floor, rinsed his clothes and called the doctor.  He was supposed to get his vaccines today but I wasn’t sure if they wanted to give him any if he was sick.  They told me to just play the next few hours by ear.

He seemed fine after he threw up.  He was running around and didn’t have a fever.  Good!  So maybe it was just a weird stomach thing and now it’s over!  Ok, I’ll just run a few errands AFTER his appointment and do the rest tomorrow morning.  Noon rolled around and Andrew already seemed very sleepy….odd.  He was also getting pretty whiney.  I put in a movie and laid on the couch with him on my stomach.  The kid NEVER sits still, but he laid on me for a good 20 minutes.  I thought he might fall asleep.  He started to wiggle and whine and lifted his head up to look at me and…….blahhhhhhh!  Yep, he threw up all over me.  It went directly down my shirt and I could feel it running down my neck into my hair.  I thought, “well, it’s already all over me so I might as well save the couch”.  I just let him continue throwing up on the front of my shirt and pants, why get it all over the couch and carpet right? Right.  Ok so here we go again.  It’s all over him and all over me.

I know some people who shower with their kids.  They say it’s much easier that way.  I’ve never done that and neither has Kyle.  Even Andrew’s doctor suggested it to save time.  Let’s do this!  We lasted about 3 minutes in the shower so I switched it over to a bath.  That was an experience as well.  How do people do this?  He was trying to stand and was slipping all over and there was enough water in the tub to cover him but not me so I was freezing.  Long story short, or somewhat short, I just decided to get out and figured rinsing ourselves off was good enough.  My hair did not appreciate this decision.

I called the doctor back and rescheduled our appointment for next week.  We sat down on the couch again and I decided to enjoy this moment.  It’s horrible to see him not feeling well and I hate that I can’t make him better, but he gets so cuddly and it’s so wonderful to just sit there with my cheek on his little head.  He fell asleep on my stomach and I did not move until I realized I reallllyyyy needed to go to the bathroom.  So I put him in his crib and I’m currently writing this and watching the monitor very closely, making sure he stays on his tummy and that he’s still breathing :).

Last night I made a list of everything I had to do today.

That list clearly has nothing crossed off but the one thing it never had on it is what’s most important:  just be.  Just be.  Take care of that sweet boy.  Hug him and comfort him.  Sit on that puke smelling couch that you thought was clean with wet hair, a sick baby, and a granola bar (which is now all you’re eating for lunch) and cherish this day – this time in your life.  Don’t worry about dinner – order a darn pizza.  I love that kid so much and I would give up all of my “things” for a little puke down my shirt because you know what?  I get to cuddle my Tweety Bird all day.

And I get to do lots of really smelly laundry.

Talk to you soon

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Give back this Christmas

A business located in the same building where I work is participating in a “Secret Santa” this year.  They posted flyers all over the place; on doors, in the elevator, and even emailed them.  The Secret Santa gifts go to people in need.  Here’s how it works:  you select a heart from the Christmas tree in their office and this heart has the name and age of the person in need.  It also states what this person would like for Christmas.  My first thought was, well, Kyle and I are on a monthly budget to see how much we can save in one month.  It’s a new thing we are doing and I’m loving it.  You’d be surprised how much money you spend on “stuff” you don’t need, it’s crazy.  However, I went down to their office after lunch with another coworker and definitely changed my mind.  I almost cried like 5 different times.  The lady at the front desk told us that one 50 year old man only wanted tweezers for Christmas.  My God.  Tweezers.  How lucky are we?  Seriously.

I chose a 1 year old girl, probably because I have a 1 year old, and she has a growing disorder.  She likes red and pink and wants musical toys or clothes.  I was only going to choose one heart but I wanted to take all of them.  I ended up choosing one more heart.  I chose a 7 year old boy (man am I a sucker for kids).  His name is Thomas and he wants a firetruck or a glow stick.  A glow stick?  I can pick these up at the Dollar Store for Pete’s sake.  Ugh.  I get all teary just thinking about it.

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While I was reading about all these people I started thinking about my own life.  I started thinking about my husband’s life.  I started thinking about my son’s life.  All three of us are in good health.  We have so many family members on each side it’s hard to count them all.  My husband and I are giving our son 4 Christmas gifts (2 from Santa and 2 from us) and a bunch of stocking stuffers.  There is nothing wrong with this.  That’s not what I’m saying.  I love Christmas and I love buying things for my son, but there are kids out there who weren’t dealt the same hand of cards.  There are kids out there like Thomas who just want a glow stick, and that might be all they get this year.  There are older people who have Alzheimer’s disease and have no family.  There are middle aged people who have health problems and they don’t have any living relatives.

When I got back to my desk I was talking with a few coworkers who were saying their kids don’t understand how lucky they are and they don’t understand that there are kids out there who aren’t so lucky.  One coworker said she should have picked a heart for each of her kids so they could give to less fortunate kids their age.  I love this idea.  I really love it.  So that’s what I’m going to do.  Andrew is just over a year old and I chose a 1 year old girl to give to.  I’m going to give her a gift from Andrew.  Each year I will do this.  Each year I will give a gift from Andrew to another child his age and when he’s old enough to understand then we can make it fun.  So next year he will give a gift to a 2 year old, and the year after that he will give a gift to a 3 year old, and so on.  He can pick out the gift for the other child his age and wrap it and I think it might turn into something very special.

So this year I’m giving two Secret Santa gifts to two children who touched my heart.  I’ll probably spend $20 or so on each one and I’ll simply take that out of my personal monthly budget.  Who cares if I can’t buy crafts from Joanns this month, or order a pizza Saturday night.  I’ll choose to do something crafty with items I already have and I’ll eat a darn PB&J for dinner because even this is something to be thankful for.

If you’re in a giving mood or if this blog post made you think a little about how lucky YOU are, I’ll give you access to a few links where you can easily donate a Christmas gift, or any sort of donation.

Toys for Tots – giving Christmas gifts to less fortunate children.  Find a location near you or simply mail money.  You can even request a toy for donation.

http://www.toysfortots.org/Default.aspx

Make – A – Wish – giving to children with life threatening illnesses.  Donate money to help make dreams come true for these beautiful children.

http://wish.org/about-us?__utma=209479245.1239819090.1449179229.1449179229.1449179229.1&__utmb=209479245.5.10.1449179229&__utmc=209479245&__utmx=-&__utmz=209479245.1449179229.1.1.utmcsr=makeuseof.com|utmccn=%28referral%29|utmcmd=referral|utmcct=/tag/7-top-charities-that-offer-online-christmas-help-for-low-income-families/&__utmv=-&__utmk=49131941

Salvation Army – gives to needy people all over the place.  You can make online donations or find a drop off location near you.

http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/

Prison Fellowship – gives to prisoners’ children who did absolutely nothing wrong.  Don’t blame innocent kids for their parents wrongdoings.  You never know, helping one of these kids might help keep them out of trouble and give them hope for their future.

https://www.prisonfellowship.org/archived-pages/archived-angel-tree-site/registration/

I hope this post promotes a helping hand.  If you’re reading this I can only assume you either have a smartphone, a computer or a job that provides a computer.  Even ONE of those should make you feel lucky for what you have (of course I know many situations differ so don’t take that the wrong way), but some people aren’t as fortunate as you and I.  I know I’m only giving to two children out of hundreds, thousands, maybe even millions of people who need and deserve something nice, but if we all give just a little, we can make a huge difference.  Remember, kindness can change the world.

Talk to you soon

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DIY Felt Christmas Tree

On Saturday I had to run to the mall to pick up a birthday present for my mom.  Kyle and Andrew came with me and while we were there, we saw that Santa was already set up.  There was no one in line and we were planning on taking Andrew to see Santa anyway, so we decided to do the whole shebang and buy a photo.  I was so excited as this was Andrew’s first time visiting Santa!  As we approached the bearded man dressed in red, Andrew grew fearful.  He gripped my arm harder and harder the closer we got.  Santa told us that with kids Andrew’s age we normally have about a 10 second window before the child starts screaming bloody murder.  I handed Andrew to Santa and in less than a second he cried.  He was NOT excited about asking for toys and presents. We got a pretty comical photo out of it though. 🙂

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So it begins – my excitement for Christmas!  And it’s not even Thanksgiving yet.  I try not to start celebrating a holiday before another holiday.  I HATE when stores decorate for Christmas and play Christmas music before Thanksgiving, but here I am giving in.  Since we took Andrew to see Santa, I figured I would just keep the spirit coming.

Another blogger posted a “how to” for a DIY felt Christmas tree.  See original blog post here:  http://www.thephotographerswife.com/diy-felt-christmas-tree/.  I thought it was brilliant, especially for a toddler just a tad bit older than Andrew.  They get their very own Christmas tree that they can decorate and re-decorate over and over again, hopefully leaving the real one alone (yeah right, huh?).  Andrew is a little too young for this because he doesn’t fully understand things yet but I thought it would at least keep him entertained, which it does by the way.  So once again, off to Joanns we went!

I bought one yard of green felt, which ended up being wayyyy too much for the size of the tree I was making.  A half yard would have been plenty.  My tree is about 12 inches by 36 inches.  Keep in mind that when you buy fabric it is normally folded in half before they cut it.  I also bought a bunch of smaller squares of felt in assorted colors to make the ornaments and presents.  They even sell felt squares in different colored designs, which was perfect for the presents because it kind of looks like wrapping paper.  I picked up some sticky foam squares as well – for sticking the tree to the wall.  At checkout I used a 20% off coupon and walked out of there with all of my supplies for a whopping $11.  Hooray!

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I followed the original blog’s suggestion of folding the green felt in half to cut out the Christmas tree so the tree would be symmetrical.  I didn’t draw any lines or anything, I just cut it out by looking at the original blog’s photo.  As you see here, Andrew was “helping”. 🙂

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Here it is after unfolding.

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Not bad!

Here’s where things got a bit “sticky” (pun intended).  I took my sticky foam squares and placed them onto the back of the tree.  When I stuck the tree to the wall, I noticed that they stuck great to the wall but not great to the felt.  I ended up taking them all off and hot gluing them to the felt, THEN sticking it back on the wall.

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I then took my other small pieces of felt and started cutting out various shapes to make the ornaments, and of course cut out a star for the top of the tree.  I didn’t use a template because I figured Andrew wouldn’t care if it was perfect, and neither did I.  I just starting cutting and they actually came out pretty well.  I hot glued smaller circles onto larger ones, and added strips of one color to another.  I left some plain as well.  I added strips to the “presents” to make them look like they had ribbon.  All in all, not too shabby!

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I had no idea that felt would just stick to other felt.  This was an incredible piece of knowledge for this project because I didn’t have to add Velcro to the ornaments or tape or anything, they just stick to the tree.  You do have to push on them a little to help them stick but not too much.

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It turned out pretty cute!  I’m happy with it.  It’s festive and Andrew likes it…I think.  He likes to take off all of the ornaments and run around with them.  I’m trying to teach him how to put the ornaments back on, but he’s not interested.  Whatever makes him happy is what I say!  He also hands the presents to his dad and I which is pretty cute.  He’s into that lately – bringing us “gifts”.

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!  Cheesy I know…

Talk to you soon

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Slight change of plans

Before Andrew was born, Kyle and I talked a lot about my work schedule and what we were going to do.  I’ve mentioned this before but we decided that I would work 3 days a week.  I was okay with our decision but never felt completely happy or comfortable with it.  Fact is, I didn’t really know what I wanted.

I grew up with a stay-at-home mom and I always saw myself as a stay-at-home mom someday.  I guess I just always expected it.  I know that might sound bad but it’s true.  I never really thought about working after having children.  As many of you know, adulthood brings about a new set of obligations and stress, so staying home full time wasn’t going to be easy.  Finances are the biggest issue but there are other issues, too.  One being that – I love where I work.  I’m so lucky to work where I do and I love the people I work with.  Having some “adult-time” is nice but it’s really mainly about having something of mine, something I can be proud of and I feel accomplished at the end of the day.  I also like bringing in some of our family’s money, it just makes me feel better.  I also didn’t want to lose my job – how could I give up working somewhere so amazing, especially when I want to go to work full time when my children are in school?  So again, there are many reasons to work, but the main downfall is losing precious time with my baby.

It seemed like Kyle and I would re-discuss my work schedule once a month or so, and we always tried to figure out if it would be best if I stayed home with Andrew.  Kyle has always been supportive and has always told me to do whatever is going to make me happy.  The problem was that I didn’t really know.  I didn’t know what I wanted and because of that, I was stressseeeddd ooouuuttt.  I finally had a huge meltdown a couple of weeks ago and realized that I needed to make this decision on my own and once and for all.  What did I want?  If I stayed home would I be happy?  Would it be worth pinching pennies for the rest of our lives (or at least for a number of years)?  Then I started thinking about preschool in a couple years and I really want Andrew to attend Preschool – I want him to have the social aspect of it.  He also loves going to daycare, he never wants to leave!  So would it be worth it to stay home for just a few years?  I finally decided (after an entire night of crying and panicking) that I wanted to work 2 days a week.  Kyle thought I was a little crazy.  How can working one less day make such a big difference in my happiness?  It just does.  I just feel right about it.

So I decided to talk to my boss.  It was really up to the company whether or not I work 2 days a week.  I was confident going into the conversation because I decided that even if they didn’t go for it, I would be okay with 3 days a week….finally actually be okay with it.  I walked into the office and just lost it.  I couldn’t keep it together.  I cried and tried to talk my way through it but it was hard.  I was a basket-case!  Fortunately I work for the best company in the freakin’ world and they went for it!  I’ve never been so relieved in my life.  I talked to our daycare provider the next day and she was okay with it, too!  Yahoo!

For the first time since having Andrew, I feel good about our situation and our future.  I feel right about things.  It’s such an amazing feeling, a feeling that took me a year to grasp but I just had to figure things out for myself.  Andrew still gets to go play with his friends, I get to feel accomplished – even bring in a little money, finances are still pretty good (still have to cut back a bit though) and I get 5 full days with my child.  When we have our next child, I hope to keep this same plan and I feel good about that, too.   The only issue is that they might want me to come back full time before I’m necessarily ready, but I guess that’s not a terrible problem to have right?  I mean, they’ve told me they want me full time and want to give me more responsibility, so when they need someone, it’s up to me if that person will be me or not.  Again, not complaining or anything, just worried that it might happen before I’m ready…but we will cross that bridge later!

I guess I have a hard time making decisions.  I’ve always believed that I’m a fairly independent person and definitely stand by my decisions when I know what I want.  What I learned about myself is that when I don’t know 100% what I want, I panic.  I can’t always rely on other people helping me make decisions because I’m the one who has to be okay with things, and although that’s hard, it’s doable.  I did it.  I decided for myself and I feel wonderful!  Awhhh.  I also feel lucky, so incredibly freakin’ lucky.  Seriously.

When it comes to your kids and your family, make a decision that feels right.  Use that instinct!  Of course many factors always play a role in your decision making process, but you have to feel right.  If you don’t feel right, it will eat you alive.  It did me – and I learned my lesson.

Talk to you soon

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DIY Mantle….or shelf

I love Fall.  I love the colors of the leaves and the cooler weather.  I’m normally a sunshine girl but when the weather turns in November and I feel the wind start to blow, I get excited.  I get to wear my boots and scarves, and sip hot tea on the weekends.  I look forward to family time at Thanksgiving and then of course, Christmas!!  Oh how we all love Christmas!  There’s something about those tiny twinkling lights and snuggling on the couch with a warm blanket watching a cheesy Christmas movie.  Awhhh, I can’t wait.

And then one day you’re walking around the house in your super soft fuzzy socks, you stop to look at your cute little fireplace and you realize you will be hanging your Christmas stockings above that fireplace with red and green thumbtacks.  And depression sets in.

This is not happening, not this year!  I want a mantle.  I want that Santa and Snowman and Reindeer stocking to hang from cute little stocking hooks in front of that fireplace.  So what happens when I want something?  I find a way to get it.

Don’t take that last sentence as me being some spoiled brat.  I’m a bargain shopper and a DIY’er.  I find ways to save a penny because that’s how I was raised.  You work hard for what you want.  Simple as that.  And when you can’t find what you want, you make it.

So anyway, I knew I couldn’t afford an actual mantle.  Did you know you can actually buy those?  Like, actually buy something already made to put around your little fireplace and it looks so grand and awesome.  How cool!  I always thought they were custom built.  But anyway, they’re like hundreds of dollars, so no thanks.  I found that the easiest and cheapest way I could solve my problem was to just make a, well, basically a shelf.  And that’s what I did.  It’s not at all perfect but it does the job and I’m happy.

First, I went to Lowes.  Well, hubby, Andrew and I went to Lowes.  We bought a $17 pine board and had a Lowes employee cut it to size.  I needed it to be 63″ by 9 1/2″.  I already had white spray paint at home from when I repainted all of our bedroom furniture.  I thought I had screws, but it turns out I didn’t, so the hubs had to go back to Lowes the next day for me.  Thanks hunny!  I bought some $16 shelf brackets off of Amazon and I was good to go.

On Saturday I started in.  The wood was already cut for me so all I really had to do was sand it a little, paint it and attach the brackets.  The board took 3 coats of white spray paint and I let it dry overnight.

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The brackets were surprisingly hard to attach, mainly because the screws I started out with were too long so I drilled them in at an angle (because I was too impatient to run back to Lowes myself and get the correct screws).  Once Kyle ran out to get me the screws, things went a lot smoother.  Again, thank you!

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So that’s really it!  I sanded it, painted it, attached the brackets and Kyle helped me hang it over the fireplace.

Here’s what things looked like before we hung the “mantle”.

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Here’s what it looked like after (don’t mind the diaper genie and other goodies- hehe).

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And here it is all decorated to my liking and just waiting for those stockings!  I won’t decorate for Christmas until after Thanksgiving, it’s a rule of mine.  All in all, including the $5 box of screws, total cost was $38.  I wrote that down on my budget sheet for the month (yes we are each on a strict budget this month trying to save money).

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Yay!  Although it’s just a tad bit crooked, it still looks pretty good.  And Instagram makes everything look better!

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Talk to you soon