Thursday, March 29, 2012

A day at the farm

Today we went with some friends to A Day at the Farm, a half hour away in Cove City, NC.  It is really just a morning at the farm, which is perfect for us.  We arrived at 9:30, took a tour of the animals, a hayride, sat down for a little picnic, and then had some of their homemade ice cream right before we left.  It was a beautiful day and we had a lot of fun.
"Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur.."
The girls were saying, "Shoo, bees, stay away!"
Lily, one of Delaney's preschool classmates, was saying, "This is my friend Delaney," and trying to hug her.   But Delaney was having none of it.
The lady leading the tour told us we could bring home a young male peacock for $40.  Also for sale at McCoy's Dairy: a dozen farm fresh eggs for $2, and a kitten for free.  You could also sign up to buy a third of a Heringford cow (I don't know how much for).  We saw the cows on our hayride, and the tour guide said, "Who likes hamburgers?"  A few other people there were signing up to buy portions of cow, and I briefly considered it, but we don't have the freezer space for something of that magnitude.
The peacock decided to show everyone his behind, and Delaney said, "Here's mine!"
"I don't want that turkey to get me!"
Timmy watched everything from a safe distance above the ground.
The girls were excited for the hayride.
Lots of happy faces on the hayride
Yummy ice cream
Timmy was not OK with watching me eat ice cream right in front of his face.  He grabbed my little wooden spoon and would not let go of it.  So I let him have it.  He licked the little bit of ice cream off and then happily gnawed on it.  I grabbed a new spoon and kept eating my ice cream.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Timmy's room

One of the things Tim and I couldn't wait to do when he got back from deployment was decorate Timmy's room.  We searched for inspiration in blogs, Pottery Barn Kids, Etsy, and Land of Nod.  Making a huge fuss over our kids' rooms is something we really enjoy doing together.  Then I discovered Pinterest, and had all kinds of fun pinning all of our ideas on a board and seeing them come together in one place.

Here is Timmy's room before:
At this point, it was just a blank slate.  This room has been through a couple transformations in the year-and-a-half that we've lived here.  First we turned it into Annie's room, not knowing at the time we would be moving her in with her sister in only 6 months.  It would have been practical to put the girls in a room together from the start, since we knew we'd be adding to our family soon.  But I was very reluctant to do that, and with good reason -- those two started making all kinds of trouble once they started sharing a room.  When Tim painted the room again last March, we picked colors that would be suitable for both a guest room and a boy's room.  We were trying to use a little bit more foresight this time, as Tim doesn't enjoy painting all that much.
We settled on an old-timey sports theme for Timmy's room.  It was an easy choice since we already had a few sports-related knicknacks.  The baseball clock was made by Tim's godmother and aunt Jayne as a gift for him in 1981.  It is signed and dated by her.  Tim had to order some special parts for it to get it back in working order, because when he got it out of storage at his parents' house, the hands were gone.  I think once we dusted off that old clock and got it working again, our minds were made up we were going to design the whole room around it, as tiny as it is.  
The piece de resistance is the scoreboard.  Tim got the idea for it, as well as the 'how to' from a blog called That Village House.  It took us a couple weeks to complete, and was a lot of work, mostly done by Tim.  I was an extra set of hands and eyes.  (Thanks to me, the tail on the apostrophe is on the bottom.)  First we got a big old piece of half-inch thick plywood, and Tim found the size and font of letters and numbers to make.  We did not have a Silhouette machine, like Lindsay from That Village House.  We made our own stencils after the kids were in bed, with X-Acto knives and card stock.  That part was pretty tedious, and I might have complained a lot throughout that process.
I was laughing because Tim said he was taking this photo as evidence that I'd done any work on this project.:p
Next, Tim painted the board dark green and white.
Then Tim became violently ill and we had to take a hiatus for a day or two.  After that, it was time to trace the letters and numbers onto the board and paint them.
Tim had to remind me that this was supposed to be made with love, not with curse words.  I had a lot of trouble painting in the lines, and for some reason the paint was drying mid-brushstroke, making it very rough and bumpy looking.  I felt better when I took a step back and looked at it, and saw that it still looked really good.  This was a two-day process, and even though it took a lot more patience than I normally have, I had to admit I really enjoyed sitting down at the table with Tim and working on this.  I wish we did stuff like this more often.

After we'd put a couple coats of paint on the letters, it was time for the finishing touches.  Tim put little hooks next to 'visitor' and 'home,' and drew and painted on the little "lights" at the bottom.
Tim also made the little number cards for the "score" and hung them on the hooks.  We both thought about having the numbers be of some significance, like "725", but in the end Tim picked them at random.  We decided not to overthink it.
It has many flaws when you look at it closely -- or even from far away.  But its flaws give it charm and make me love it more.  

A 36" x 48" sheet of half-inch thick plywood is no small thing to hang on the wall above a baby's crib.  Tim was ready with the drywall anchors, but then surprisingly, when he went to drill holes in the wall, he found studs.  Tim said, "That's crazy.. you can never find a stud when you're looking for it."  I couldn't resist saying, "Where's a good stud when you need one?"  (haha)

Then he made the baseball stitches.  He took a nail and string with a pencil at the end to draw an arc at the top left and bottom right corners of the wall.  He painted the line black.  He wanted to make small red stitches along the lines with the edge of a paint brush, but I felt the stitches needed to be big.  We looked at the vinyl wall decals we'd seen on Etsy to get an idea how big they should be and what shape.  Once we knew what we wanted them to look like, he Googled an image of a boomerang, then printed it off and made a cardboard stencil.  I guess cardboard isn't the best material to make a stencil out of.  Tim was very frustrated at how much paint oozed underneath.  Then he had to try to wipe off the stencil before coloring in the next stitch, so it took a little longer than he thought.  He'd tell you not to look too closely at them, but when you take a few steps back, they look perfect!
And here it is all done!
The sun shining in makes the curtains look pink, but I promise they're red!
The pillow was made for Timmy by his 8-year-old cousin Alexa.  The sheet is from Pottery Barn Kids.
The quilt was made by, Grandy (my mom).  The pennants are from The Land of Nod.  The painting is from Etsy.
We're really happy with how it turned out.  It is a little boy's room more so than a nursery, and will grow with him a few years.  Everything in it is something we can take with us when we go and enjoy for a long time.  At one point I asked Tim, "I wonder how old he'll be when he looks at the scoreboard and goes, 'Ugh.'"  Tim said eventually it can go in a garage or maybe a finished basement family room.  Wherever we wind up, the scoreboard will have a place.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Timmy at 8 months

When Timmy is happy I call him my 'Sunshine Boy.'  When he is smiling, life is good.  We all laugh when he laughs.  His sisters are giddy to hear his giggle.  But when he's in a bad mood, watch out.  His bad moods usually happen in the afternoon, and sometimes last until bedtime.  Either Tim or I will carry him on our back in the Ergo when he's having a bad time and doesn't want to be put down.  Sometimes he even complains in the Ergo, and to that we say, "Buddy, it's either this or bed, take your pick!"

I put him in the bathtub with Delaney and Annie for the first time this month.  I hadn't been planning on it, but it was the girls' bath time, and Timmy was up and about.  He kept heading for the bathtub, and seemed very determined to get in.  I decided it was easier just to put him in there than it was to have to keep fending him off.  The girls eagerly made space for him, and Annie promised to be "vewy gentle" with him.  Since that first time, I've done it a few more times.  Timmy gets so excited when he sees them in there.  If I'm holding him on my hip, he kicks his legs and lunges in the direction of the tub as if to say, "Me too, Mama, please..?"  It's hard to tell him no, even though the whole time he's in the bath with them I've got to divide my attention between washing them up and keeping him from flipping around and falling on his face in the water.  I still prefer separate bath times for him and the girls, but it does make me smile to see my three kiddos happy as they can be, together in the tub.
He doesn't laugh all that often, and when he does, we'll do about anything to hear it again.  One time after a meal, Delaney picked up the wet washcloth I'd used to clean him up, and lightly swung it into his face.  He laughed.  We all laughed.  Delaney did it again and again, and it was very funny.  At some point in the next day or two, Delaney picked up a wet washcloth while we were all sitting at the table, and said, "Can I smack him with it, Mama?"  I said, "Yes, gently," shaking my head.  I hope she doesn't go to school and tell everybody how she slaps her baby brother with a wet washcloth.  I guess that for him, the kiss of the cold wet fabric on his cheeks and chin must be a surprising and funny sensation.
He has begun to crawl, and after a few paces, he flops onto his belly and propels himself along using just his arms.  Imagine how strong our arms would all be if we did that all the time!  We are having to watch him more closely now, as he gets around fast, and wants everything that's NOT a toy.  Books and magazines are his favorite, and he'll chew the pages to a pulp if you don't catch him.  He pulled himself up to kneeling on the coffee table today, and I whisked him away from it before he could either figure out how to pull himself up all the way OR bang his face into the unforgiving wooden edge of it.  Yes, I know it's only a matter of time before he bumps into something and/or learns how to pull up on things.  Just not today.
He is still not sleeping through the night, and he gets up anywhere from one to three times on any given night.  I trek across the house to nurse him and I'm back in bed in about 7 minutes, but I am a grouchy mama bear on many mornings because of my interrupted slumber.  Tim has suggested that maybe it's time to give him some "tough love," but I don't feel quite ready yet.  With the girls, I just knew when it was time, and I have a feeling it will be time soon for young Timmy.  I've been brushing up on The Sleep Lady again, and I have a plan, but I'm not ready to commit to implementing it.  We'll see.  One of these days, I'll make up my mind.  Push might come to shove.

Here is a video of Timmy leading his siblings in a workout.  Warning: turn down the volume because my voice is LOUD.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Yesterday was a very bad night around here.  If I had known yesterday what was coming when Tim got home from work, I would have .. I don't know, maybe poured a glass of wine, and hidden in the bathroom with the shower on.

When he got home around 3 -- a little earlier than a normal workday, but it was his first real day back at work since returning from deployment -- Delaney and I were outside to give him a cheerful greeting.  But his face was as white as his truck and he said, "I don't feel good."  Then he went inside, went to the bathroom, came out with his cammies and boots still on, and laid down on the La-z-boy recliner.

He told me that he had been feeling sick all afternoon, and throwing up at work.  As he was telling me this, I started to hear coughing and retching from the girls' room.  It was Annie!   Thus started a night of sickness the likes of which has never been seen in this family.

Annie threw up again and again, and every time I gave her anything to drink, up it went.  I gave her a bath after each of the first two times, and then finally gave up on baths.  I draped a vinyl shower curtain liner over the couch, then laid some towels on top, and then laid her on top.  I held her hair and said, "Poor Annie," while she puked in a pot.

Every time Tim got up I hoped maybe he was feeling better.  I made a little fun of him, calling him an invalid.  But when he laid down on the floor with a blanket over his head, groaning, that ended my feeble attempts at joking.  He rose off the floor only to throw up, and after awhile there was nothing left in his stomach, and he still kept going.

It was everywhere.  I looked around in a panic, wondering what I should deal with first, after the sick child -- carpet, bedding, clothes?

When I wasn't rinsing out the puke pot or tossing more soiled clothes in the washer, I was sharing my misery on Facebook with anyone who cared.

I took Delaney and Timmy to the store with me and we got some nausea supplies -- crackers, ginger ale, popsicles and orange sherbet, per Tim's request.  Thankfully, the three of us were spared whatever nasty bug brought on this Barfageddon.  Delaney was sick for a few hours a couple nights ago, throwing up twice during the night.  Tim thinks her sickness was unrelated to his and Annie's.  But a friend just brought it to my attention that the sicknesses could very well be related.  In fact, she's seen one person catch a bug, a couple days later, another one in the household gets it, and then a day or two later someone else.  She suggested I load up on probiotics, and I just took an acidophilus tablet.  For sweet Timmy, breastmilk is his only defense.  Now we wait and pray.  My prayer goes like this: "Please, God, let this horrible sickness be done with our house.  And if it's not, please let me be sick three times over if only Timmy doesn't get it."

Tim finally started to feel better around 9, and went to bed.  I tucked Annie in at almost 11, before collapsing on the couch myself.  I wanted to be close enough to hear her if she needed me.

Tim was well enough, although still achy and sore, to go to work in the morning.  Annie woke up her normal self, and after one bout with the runs, she was fine the rest of the day.  I really hope we've seen the last of this (at least for a long, long time)!
All better today!

Natural face wash

A few weeks ago, I read about a completely natural and cheap way to wash my face, called the oil-cleansing method.  Yes, it means using oil and only oil to wash your face.  I had already tried and failed at another homemade face wash involving oils years ago.  But this was so easy, I couldn't resist giving it a shot.  It's only two ingredients -- castor oil and extra-virgin olive oil.

As anyone who knows me knows, I am about as crunchy as a Quaker granola bar left out in the sun all afternoon.  I have some crunchy ideas floating around sometimes, but I am also undoubtedly a lover of things packaged and sweet-smelling.  For instance, three years ago while pregnant with Annie, I took an interest in green cleaning and took a workshop.  My biggest takeaway from that workshop was that perfumes and dyes are the devil.  We gave up dryer sheets cold turkey.  Our clothes never smelled clean and always felt rough, but that was OK, I told Tim.  It's better for us all.

About five or six months ago, I couldn't take anymore of the roughness of the clothes.  I bought Bounce dryer sheets in the white box.  They were free of perfumes and dyes, but still left our clothes feeling soft.  I thought it was a nice compromise.

Then last month we went to Cincinnati, and while we were there, I did a couple loads of laundry at my mom's house.  With a little bit of hesitation, I tossed in one of the only dryer sheets she had.  Regular Bounce in the orange box.  Just one time won't hurt.  But as soon as I caught a whiff of our drying clothes, I was like that recovering fish-addict shark in Finding Nemo who, upon catching the scent of blood in the water, proclaimed, " I'm having fish tonight!"

I bought my own box of Bounce in the orange box as soon as we got back here, and now I am rewarded multiple times a week for my hard work with the wonderful smell of clean laundry wafting through the house.  Tim is relieved too, that his clothes feel and smell clean.

I am crunchy when it's convenient and cheap.  Anyone who believes in a natural, organic way of life would be ashamed to be associated with me in any way.  That's a lot of people I know.  Gulp.

Having said that, I have been washing my face with this homemade concoction of half castor oil and half EVOO for several weeks now, and my skin is clear and smoother than ever.  To be honest, my skin was clear before I started this regimen, but it wasn't nearly as soft and it was kind of dry.  Success!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Annalise at 2 and 3/4

I'm a few weeks late with Annie's update too, but oh well.

I was too quick to post the "it's over" post about Lovey.  She asked for him at bedtime the very next night, and I fetched him from her memory box on the top shelf of a closet.  They've been inseparable again ever since.  I expect over the next several months, she'll forget about him for awhile, then remember him and want to hold him a lot, then forget again.  For all I care, she can keep him on her bed until she's 18.  We just hope she's done taking him places by the time she starts preschool this fall.  Obviously, she won't be allowed to take him to preschool whether she wants to or not.
Beginning last Friday, she sleeps in a pull-up and wears underpants the rest of the time.  She's done very well, with only a handful of accidents in the first few days.  I'm very happy to not be changing those nasty diapers on her anymore, and she's very pleased with herself too.
I love the cute way she talks.  It occurred to me that before long, she'll talk like a big kid like Delaney, and I'll forget the adorable way she tells me after I help her put on a jacket, "Don't forget to zwip it."  So I took a video of her today, just for the purpose of posting it here.  I always want to be able to see how she talked as an almost-three-year-old.

She doesn't eat much on most days.  She still acts like we're trying to poison her.  I estimate her daily intake of food to be about 50 to 100 calories.  Yet she lives, she poops, and has cheeks that "I want to squish like pizza dough!"  I don't know how she doesn't shrivel up, she and her sister both.  A few weeks ago, she surprised me by eating two big helpings of my chili.  She must be eating every now and then and storing it away in her little body for weeks at a time.

You know what this kid loves more than anything?  Sleep.  She sleeps about 11 hours every night, and takes at least a two-hour nap every afternoon from 1 to 3.  I am very inflexible about that nap.  I dread being invited somewhere important for between the hours of 12 and 2 (which almost never happens, anyway).  I really, really weigh the importance of whatever it is against her need to nap.  I feel a selfish sort of resentment toward whomever issued the invitation, like, Ugh!  Don't their kids nap?  People need to respect the sacredness of the nap!  If it's an event that starts at 3, I can plan for an early nap.  If it starts at 11, I can maybe plan a late nap.  You wouldn't believe the mental gymnastics I go through to try to plan the day around her.  Timmy will catch a nap whenever he can, but if Annie misses her afternoon siesta, everyone's afternoon is shot. 
Annie and I were both needing a nap in this picture.  But since it was our own event we were missing naps for, I had no one to resent for it.:)
She loves books, and she likes for me to point to the words as I'm reading them.  

She still competes with her sister for everything, and that will probably never stop.  Once, I asked the two of them to get the mail for me, and then immediately regretted it as I watched the two of them sprint to the end of the driveway, shrieking like banshees.  I hoped I wouldn't have to pull someone, probably Delaney, out of the ditch at the edge of our yard.  Annie is offended whenever Delaney gets somewhere before she does, or gets anything she wants.  She might not even want it until she knows Delaney wants it.  I didn't breathe until I watched them both running back to me, having divvied up the mail to their satisfaction.

She asserts her independence one minute, with loud proclamations of "I can do it by myself!"  and the next, she clings to me, begging for help with things I know she can do alone.  

She can pedal her tricycle around the driveway now, but her legs are too long for it.  I guess somebody's getting a brand-spankin'-new bike for her birthday this year.