Thursday, December 26, 2013

Nine Months

Nine months--both the shortest and longest period of my life!  On the one hand, March seems like years ago.  On the other hand, this time has gone by so quickly that parts of it are a blur, almost as if they passed by in my sleep and all that remains is a sweet dream memory.

This month's picture of Kate is not the most technically perfect (even by iPhone picture standards), but it does capture Kate exactly as she was in her ninth month--

Standing!  (and very excited about that fact)  Kate is a great stander.  She didn't learn how to stand this month, but she has been working to perfect it.  She pulls up on everything--furniture, strangers' legs, walls, she stands herself up in the middle of the room by herself--a sign of great core strength, we've been told, she even stands (with some success) on soft surfaces like our bed and the couch.  While she doesn't stand for long periods of time, she has started to perfect what we call the 'baby squat'.  After standing for a few moments, she will drop down to a squat or crouch for a second, then stand back up. It's insanely cute, and I am sure that our unencumbered enthusiasm each time she performs this skill explains her own enthusiasm for practicing it.

Kate continues to grow along her own curve, adding almost another pound this month (she is nearly 19 pounds now) and measures 28 inches tall.  She uses the words mama and dada (sometimes with intention) and babbles a great deal, too.   She is learning to ring handbells, and still enjoys her weekly music class (though we missed a couple weeks due to Thanksgiving and mama's work schedule).  Here is Kate in her nine-month progression (months one through four on the left and five through eight on the right).

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Eight Months

Our precious baby girl is eight months old today--how on earth did that happen??  Kate is such an active, curious child, and we are so incredibly blessed to have front row seats to her discovery of the world around her!

Kate gained another pound this month and is right on track.  Still no "official" numbers as we graduated to a three-month check-up.  We did have a quick doctor's visit at the end of the month to confirm that her mama and daddy are paranoid first time parents.  All is well; we are.

After the major movement milestones of last month, Kate's motor skill development slowed this month.  Her biggest efforts in this area were put into finding her balance.  She stands independently for about 3 seconds (sometimes up to five; more often more like 1.5) every day.  We started music class one day a week last month, and late this month, she met two goals as a result: first, she played with the jingle bells briefly before chewing on them (typically, this is all she does) and second, she clapped on her own one night.  We clap a lot with Kate, both in and out of class, so it was very exciting to see her clap on her own while we applauded something she did.  

In place of rapid movement developmental changes this month, Kate has devoted her developmental efforts to verbal skills.  She says mama and baba regularly, though I don't think she has said either with intention.  Also, she has learned and uses correctly the sign for milk.  Her face has become so expressive, and I almost can't wait to hear a little about the thoughts going on in that little head.  As you can see in the progression picture below, she is eager to tell us all about it!

The other big milestone this month is societal, rather than developmental. Kate was baptized in the Episcopal Church this month.  She did great, and we were so happy to share the experience with family and friends (and friends who have become family)!

So that's our eight-month-old!  We certainly have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Getting crafty with pumpkins

So y'all know we love a good trip to the pumpkin patch (see these posts from 2008, 2009, and did I not blog about the 2010 trip? and how did I miss the pumpkin patch altogether in 2012??).  Anyhow, this year brought an extra special opportunity--Miss Kate's first trip to the pumpkin patch!  The places we've visited previously sort of specialize in more grown-up fun (corn mazes, etc), and I knew this year was really more of a photo-op kind of trip, so we chose the patch that I see most often in pictures on Facebook--Boyd's Orchards over in Woodford County.

From a picture taking/fall foods purchasing standpoint, it did not disappoint.

(Yes, that's a butternut squash in our cart.  It turned into a most delicious butternut squash soup later that day.) Honestly, from a 'fun to be had' standpoint, I wasn't particularly impressed.  The play area had a ton of fun looking things to do (huge slides, swings, and hay pyramids), but they charge $10 per kid and $7 per adult to get in and the adults can't even take part in the sliding fun.  Obviously we didn't pay $25 to watch other people's children play, but I'm not certain we would be up for spending that much when Kate is old enough to play there herself.

It might be worth going back for the pictures, though.

And the yummy fall food.  We ended up buying three pumpkins--one large one for the front porch and two small pie pumpkins that serve as the subject of today's post (I'm getting to that)--as well as the butternut squash and a small gourd that Kate took a liking to.  Oh, and a half dozen pumpkin donuts and a half dozen apple cider donuts.  Mmmmmm....

So anyhow, back to that craft I mentioned. We aren't typically pumpkin carvers around the MP, but I felt like we should have pictures of some sort of pumpkin related thing for Kate's first Halloween.  After a quick google search, it became clear that knives and babies don't really mix, but that water-based craft paint and babies totally do.  So I grabbed a bottle of black craft paint from my craft room, prepped one of the pie pumpkins with a contact paper stencil and let Little Miss go to town.  Dear Lord, it was a mess.  I spent more time in the bathtub cleaning her up than she spent "painting".

At least the picture turned out well, right?  Also, on the right, you'll see the pumpkin that I had a little fun with after Kate went down for her nap.  (We did buy two pumpkins, after all.)  These pumpkins will be sitting out looking seasonably festive for a couple weeks then we'll wash them down, roast them up, and enjoy some pumpkin pie!

Oh, and a little bonus craftiness--after picking out Kate's outfit for the day, I decided she looked like a little boy.  So I grabbed some purple tulle and black ribbon from the craft room and folded/stitched it together with a couple buttons to make a cute little "girl" hair bow.  Kate did a great job keeping it on her head!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Seven Months

Kate is seven months old today! She is (unofficially) 27.5" long and 17 pounds. 

You'll note she is standing up in this picture.  I didn't do that.  Our little nugget is particularly mobile, now able to roll, sit herself upright, crawl and pull herself to standing (it was a busy month in terms of movement milestones!).  She is working on cruising--stepping sideways while holding onto furniture or the side of her pack n play.  

Kate likes to babble and is quite conversational.  She also loves eating and is quite the social eater! She is a very curious child, which seems to have something to do with both her early mobility and interest in eating.  She is still exclusively breast fed for nutrition--food is just for fun (and to ease teething pain which we have faced a fair bit of--Kate's first two teeth popped through her lower gums this month!). 

We still love her cloth diapers, too, though adding solid food to her diet has certainly made them more interesting.

Kate's favorite toys still include Sophie the giraffe, Lambie the Lord's Prayer lamb, and Murray the sock monkey. She also likes her collection of board books which she particularly enjoys gnawing on and a set of magnets that we call her chemistry set after Fr. Johnnie stayed with her one day and taught her how to make molecules with them!

Here is our progression picture--months one through three are on top and four through six are on the bottom.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Lipstick on a pig...

Back at the end of July I decided I couldn't live with our kitchen any longer. I'm not entirely sure what changed, but I think the breaking point was the day that the sprayer broke for the third time in less than a year, the drainpipes completely gave up draining any water into the sewer in favor of our lower cabinets, and the second piece of peel and stick tile cracked, broke free of the un-primed sub floor and revealed yet another issue with our long suffering kitchen.

Whatever it was, I cracked. I actually threatened J that if one more thing in the kitchen broke I was going to light a match, throw it over my shoulder, and walk away. (Not really. The bathroom we spent nearly a year remodeling is next to the kitchen and apparently it's poor form to run out of your burning house not with your dreamed-of, prayed-for, and much-loved baby but with your dreamed-of, prayed-for, and much-loved bathroom vanity in your arms.)

So I started dreaming and sketching, imagining the kitchen I would love instead of the kitchen I live with. Believe me, it is fabulous!  It is also, if my initial calculations are even close to correct, fabulously expensive.  Even pared down, that kitchen is outside our budget. Rather than mope about the kitchen we can't afford I sat down an made a list of the five things I like well enough about our kitchen and the five things I couldn't stand.  The list of the things I like got me out of the kitchen doldrums. The list of things I hated helped create a budget-friendly remodel I've taken to calling the "lipstick on a pig" plan.

The what?!?

You know the saying that you can put lipstick on a pig, but that it is still a pig?  Well, in our case, we are applying some pretty finishes on our least favorite parts of our pig of a kitchen. At the end of the day, it will still be a pig, a kitchen we dream of replacing. But it will be a pig we can live with for a few more years.

So what's the plan?  I started with a list of five things I couldn't live with:
  • The back door looks awful. Zep used to scratch at it, and his nails did a number on the soft wood.
  • The sink drains into the base cabinet. That's a problem. And the faucet sprayer keeps breaking.
  • I strongly dislike the four-inch ceramic tile counter. And I hate the grout lines in between those tiles. Seriously. No one should ever use tile for a kitchen counter, as there's no way to keep the grout clean. Ever. Even if you are great about cleaning it every day. Which we aren't.
  • The cabinets. Ugh. The doors are weird off-white laminate. Trimmed in yellowing oak. Which matches the cabinet frames, but little else.
  • The peel & stick tile is not my favorite to start with. The fact that it's cracking and popping off makes it worse. The thought of our baby crawling on the floor makes my skin crawl. (The thought of our baby crawling period makes my skin crawl, but apparently that's going to happen whether I like it or not.)
...and using that list of problems, I created my lipstick solution:
  • Skim coat the hideous ceramic tile counters with concrete and seal
  • Replace the back-splash which, also made of that four inch ceramic tile, won't match the new counter
  • Fill the scratched up back door with wood filler, sand and paint
  • Fix the faulty plumbing under the sink
  • Prime and paint those awful laminated cabinet doors (and frames)
  • Replace the cracked peel & stick laminate floor
That's the plan. Stay tuned for progress updates!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Six months!

Our little nugget is six months old.  Half a year!  How on earth did that happen?  It's not just the sleep-deprivation, I'm sure, that makes this time feel as though it passed in the blink of an eye.

We will get 'official' numbers at Tuesday's doctor's appointment, but Miss Kate has unofficially reached her goal milestone for weight (twice her birth weight) and loves playing with solid food which we started introducing a couple weeks ago.  J and I are using a method called Baby-Led Weaning, which is really more about baby self-feeding rather than any kind of weaning.  For now and the foreseeable future, Kate will continue to receive the majority of her nutrients through breast milk.  The motto we've adopted is that food is for fun until baby is one.  In other words, we give Kate what we're eating, or even order her own plate of food at restaurants.  She plays with the food, figuring out how to feed herself and if anything goes down, that's great.  If not, it's no big deal--she still relies on mama for her nutrition and I'm okay with that.  At some point we'll introduce utensils and let her figure those out, too.

I'm almost surprised to report that Kate is a scooter, but not yet a crawler.  She has been on the verge of crawling for two weeks now, slowly figuring out the different parts of crawling, but not having put those parts together.  I don't suspect we will make it another month without reaching that milestone.  She does roll over almost immediately when laid on her back, which led to a rather interesting photo-shoot this month.  In fact, the big picture below happened right after I laid her on her back for our standard photo.  There were no back pictures to be had this month.  Every shot I tried resulted in her rolling over before I could sit down to snap the picture.  In fact, many of the pictures were taken much closer as I was afraid she would tumble off her chair with me just out of reach.

Join us in celebrating six sweet months!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Five Months

Yes, I'm writing Kate's five months post at five and a half months.  I figure that's close, right?  Kate turned five months the day she and I (JE) left on our first road trip without Daddy along to help out if things went poorly.  It went really well, but I didn't get right to her post and then it quickly fell to the bottom of the list.  

So first, let's look at the progression picture:

The top two pictures (left to right) are her one month and two month pictures.  The bottom two are (left to right) three and four month.  I picked that four month picture because she'd just discovered her toes and kept grabbing them.  If I could have gotten one, her five month picture would have shown her toes in her mouth, as they spent much of her fifth month that way.  I chose the center picture for her five month picture because, in fact, she spent the month with whatever she could get in her mouth.  Fingers (her and everyone else's), toes, teething rings of all kinds, and even chair arms are likely to end up in her mouth!

Kate's fifth month was mostly one of recovery from her busy fourth month.  We did take a weekend trip to Nashville to meet her uncles D and E (J's best friends from childhood) and their wives, children and their mom, as well as another of J's friends from college and his wife.  By Sunday's drive home, Miss Kate was rather worn out, and we had our only rough road trip.

At five months, Kate was 15.4 pounds.  She is quite vocal, having discovered her shriek.  Mama's not exactly a fan of that. She also started to enjoy Sophie (her rubber giraffe) and Lambie (her Lord's Prayer stuffed lamb) more.  Kate finally settled in to going to work with Mama every day, together with Thomas (our mother's helper/babysitter) on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  She loves the volunteers at church, and is fairly sure that people come to the church just to see her!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Productive Weekend

The one thing I love most about summer is the empty weekends.  The activities that keep us busy throughout the year tend to take summers off, which leads to quiet and unscheduled weekends like this most recent one.  This one in particular started off when J got home from work and practically tripped over the extension cord and drill that I'd strategically left right in the path from the front door through the living room.  Turns out, as handy as I like to think I am, I simply don't have the muscle power to wield the big drill while simultaneously holding a screw and a mailbox number plaque.  So he changed clothes and ran out front to install our numbers--the last step to calling that project complete!

Then, after he cooked me dinner, I convinced the poor guy to accompany me to Home Depot to look at flooring options for the kitchen (lucky him, I know!).  We came home with a bunch of samples and started crafting our weekend to-do list.  Chief on the list?

My clothesline!  When we started talking about adding a pergola to the deck plan, I got excited about adding a retractable clothesline to make it easier to sun Kate's cloth diapers (among other things).  We bought a 50' line that easily wraps all the way around the pergola when we need that much line, then conveniently coils away (and even comes down completely if we want) when we don't!

The rest of the weekend included a shopping trip to Sam's, prepping the week's lunches, baking cookies and muffins, walks and watching movies.  Oh, and a fair amount of staring at this little angel, seen here snoozing through church.

In all, a rather productive and especially enjoyable weekend.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Fiscal Fitness and Automatic Bill-Pay

When I moved into my first apartment in college, I happily took on the role of bill-payer.  The phone bill was my favorite part, as I hi-lighted calls made in different colors by roommate and calculated the appropriate taxes and fees on the long distance charges.  (Yes, I was--and still am--a huge nerd).  Something about figuring the bills was extra-pleasing to the control-freak within, and I suspect that monthly opportunity to "be green" probably balanced out college stress a little bit.  

Fast forward a bit.  J bought the MP before we got married, so he set up all the utilities.  Everything was on different payment schedules and over time, practically all of our bills have been set up on automatic bill-pay.  These automatic withdrawals are awesome in so many ways--no late fees, no running to the post office for stamps, etc.)  This week, though, I discovered a way in which the automatic bill-pay is anything but awesome!

July/August is the month I typically call our cable company to see if we can save money.  On Wednesday, I did that as usual ("Incentive" rates typically last 12 months so calling yearly keeps us paying about $15-20 less for our service than the average customer).  Then, in a wonderfully warm-fuzzy flash-back to my college-aged bill-paying self, I decided to check out our other bills.  No change to the phone bill (we're one of the lucky few accounts with an unlimited data plan and trying to pay less for minutes would mean paying much more for data); no change to electric or water; but OH! What a change to our garbage collection!!

Here's the scoop.  Back in 2005, the garbage collection service was set up to bill quarterly.  Then sometime after that, the account was set up on automatic bill-pay.  The in 2009 our company was bought by another company.  Then in 2010 or '11, our account actually migrated to the new company's billing system.  Sometime (seriously, we've no idea when, and neither does the new company), we started being billed (and paying) monthly.  Except, when this change happened the only thing that changed was the frequency, not the amount. Now, if this was some huge bill, we probably would have noticed, but it wasn't and we didn't.  

The thing is, those small amounts add up.  Since we don't know when the change happened, we can't guess how much we overpaid.  It's sickening to think about, really. The good news is that it is fixed now--we won't be paying for garbage collection for the rest of the year and we'll be saving about $250 over the course of the year moving forward at the correct rate.  

So here's the lesson of the day:  Automatic Bill-Pay is not a 'set it and forget it' method for getting fiscally fit.  Check your accounts periodically!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Around the point

Shock and amazement, I'm actually writing a non-baby post!  The last few (four?) months have been a bit of a blur, but we've actually been getting a few things accomplished around the MP, too!  Today seemed like as good a time as any to take a look back at our goals for 2013 and see how we're doing at the half-way point.

Inside the house:
  • Get the library all put together Done!  Thanks to help from J's dad, the cabinet doors were installed the morning of March 9th (aka, less than twelve hours before Little Miss made her arrival!).  My mom did a huge amount of organizing in there as well, both before and after the doors were installed, and she rocked Kate while we sorted and placed books in the built-ins!  The room is quite workable now, and we are really pleased with it!
  • Clear the pool table out of the family room and create kid-world:  So the pool table is cleared off (that mostly because we moved the books to the library shelves where they belonged), but we haven't Craiglisted it yet.  Luckily, the little one isn't really demanding her own place space yet.
  • Create a nursery: Sort of.  I mean, we have a lovely room filled with furniture for baby all tucked away and waiting for her.  So...yeah, I guess I could mark that one off.  Except.  I've not put much thought into finishing the mural.  And I've not worked on my lighting concerns.  And Miss Kate has been sleeping in our room and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. So.  Work to be done there.
  • Maybe do a little work to the living room (like tear down a wall!): Hahahaha!

Outside the house:
New deck! Yaaayyyy!

Move the storage building to a less in-the-way spot in the yard:  Not yet.  But really, we should get on that...
Planting bed out front:  See comment about the storage building...
New mailbox:  Yes!  This was another nesting project that we were sure would send me into labor (it didn't.).  Many thanks to Mom and J for putting up with me on this project!  Oh, but we totally want to redo it.  Be warned.

Our word for 2013:  Patience  Hmmm...  I think the fact that I'd completely forgotten this was our word for the year doesn't say too much for it.  I think we did a great job of patiently waiting for Miss Kate's arrival, even pressuring the OB to be patient with us and allow her to come in her own time.  J was an amazingly patient husband getting me through those last couple months and really through the first couple, too.  I think we've both become less patient with each other as time has passed.  We start to settle into routine, then something (my going out of town, Kate changing her sleep schedule, etc) changes things up and we struggle to adjust to yet another new 'normal'.  We are working on it, though, and this check-in is a good time to remind ourselves and regroup.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Four Months!

Happy July, everyone!  Our little four-month-old had a busy month--she's learning to grasp, practicing sitting and standing with some assistance, talking (a. lot.), and perhaps cutest of all:

She's found her feet!!  Seriously, I had no idea that this discovery would be as darling as it is!  Kate's personality reveals itself to us every day.  She is very independent, and I suspect we have years of "I can do it myself" ahead of us!  She prefers to hold a bottle herself, though she did give in and let Daddy help this weekend when she wanted to eat and play with those toes at the same time!

Kate's four-month doctor appointment is scheduled for later today, so I'll be back with official measurements then! In the mean time, enjoy this collage of her monthly pics--

Top left = 1 month; Top right = 2 months; Bottom left = 3 months; Bottom right = 4 months

Monday, June 10, 2013

Three Months!

So...welcome to our baby blog!  I promise, there's more going on around here than twiddling our thumbs until the ninth of every month so we can take a new picture.  Maybe someday I'll even get around to writing it all up!  Without further ado...

If I thought the weeks between Month One and Month Two passed quickly, I had no idea how quickly the time would pass as we moved to Month Three.  I suspect it will only move more and more quickly now.  Miss Kate is (according to our not terribly accurate method of measuring) about 25 inches long and (according to our slightly more accurate method of measuring) weighs about 12.5 pounds.  She's become quite talkative, and rolled from both front to back and back to front this month.  She'd only done this one time each until this weekend, when she performed both tricks a few more times for my parents. She also enjoys pushing up with her hands so she can look around better and occasionally standing with balance support from J or me.

For comparison, here is a side-by-side of our sweet girl--

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Two Months

It is hard to believe that I'm posting Kate's two month picture, as it seems like I posted her one month picture just last week!  Without further ado, I present our Miss Kate, who celebrates her two month birthday today!

Miss Kate is now 23 inches long and a couple ounces shy of eleven pounds.  She likes to coo and smile at us, and she is quite determined to stand up on her own!  It is so fun to watch her turn her attention when she hears J's voice--she is certainly Daddy's girl!  Luckily, she seems to like her Mama, too.

For comparison, here is a side-by-side from last month with today!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A much longed for addition...

Yes, it's been nearly a month again, and once again I've had several posts in mind but have failed to actually type them up.  I'll continue to think about them and might even get some written and posted!

Anyhow, on to the much longed for addition I mentioned in the title.  No, I don't mean Kate this time.  I mean this addition:

Remember when J and I painted our deck and had a miserable time with it?  Well, the following year, when we should have repainted it (apparently once you've made the horrible choice to paint your deck (thanks, PO), you have to do so every year to keep it looking nice), we decided not to.  Quite frankly, I don't remember why.  Maybe because I was in the middle of a career crisis?  Or because the bathroom remodel was too time-consuming?  Whatever the reason, by 2011 we realized that a new deck (one that we wouldn't paint) was needed.  That April, we started sketching ideas and talking about what we had in mind.  Those discussions and sketches continued for months. I had folks out periodically to give us a quote, but I was never happy with the number (or the service, for that matter).

Last fall, when we had the gutters done, I asked the contractor for yet another quote.  We discussed what I had in mind and he said he'd give me a call.  Well, he didn't.  I didn't mind, as we had other things on our minds, but as spring (and the baby) rolled around, we realized that we couldn't put a little one out on the old, splintered deck to learn to crawl and walk.  I started asking around for recommendations and came across Deckadent Designs, a local company who built a deck for some friends of ours.  After nearly two years of waiting, these guys gave me a decent quote and could start quickly.  (By "decent" I mean I completely choked, but acknowledged that in the years of dreaming my plans had grown grander and the quote still came in less than some of our earlier quotes.)

So now, two years after we first discussed rebuilding the deck, we're enjoying this new addition to our home.  The addition prompted J to power wash and seal the fence and me to repaint the entry to the basement.  There are still things to do to the exterior of the house (move/paint/destroy? the storage building and finish the other planting bed out front to name two), but we are feeling pretty good about our progress on the house.

P.S.  I really need to write a complete deck building post, complete with pictures and the obligatory "PO's crazy contributions to the old deck" story.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Yes, it has been entirely too long since we updated here.  I thought we were only a month off, but it turns out that it's been nearly two months.  I blame the first three weeks off on the rush of work and volunteer obligations I wanted to finish before taking off on maternity leave.  I blame the last month on this little one.  I'm sure you'll agree she is worth the absence.

J and I are thrilled to introduce Kate to you all!  She was born Saturday, March 9 after a blessedly short and easy labor and delivery experience.  We suspect that 'short and easy' part was due in large part to our childbirth course, Hypnobabies.  The course focused on relaxation and visualization, and we highly recommend it to prospective parents, particularly those hoping to go med-free.  While our short labor after arriving at the hospital didn't leave us with much opportunity to put our lessons into practice there, I am confident that our preparation was key in getting us to the hospital after a pretty easy (and also short) laboring time at home.

The last month has been quite an adjustment for us, but honestly, we are very aware how easy a baby Miss Kate is.  She sleeps well (and often!), has a sweet temperament when awake,  and seems to be hitting all of her developmental milestones right on schedule.  We are certainly blessed!

If you're interested in the chair above, you can read more about it in this Furnishing Friday post. The chair now lives in her nursery.  I'm planning to take a picture of Kate each month (ideally on the 9th, but we'll see how that goes)  in this chair to document her growth.

We've managed to knock out a few projects around the MP, too, and I promise to take pictures and get those posted sometime (hopefully soon!).

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Saturday smells like... A DAR Meeting

At our DAR Chapter meetings we usually have snacks or a light lunch to enjoy while socializing after the meeting.  We are broken into groups to provide the snacks and each group decides how to best break down the workload.  I'm in charge of February and decided (a few years ago actually) that my group's workload would be best broken down by putting J in charge and letting the ladies put out trays of his yummy food while taking all the credit.  Or something like that.  Anyhow, it works, and the ladies of my chapter seem to be big fans of this plan.  Today is our chapter meeting, and J started prepping food last night!

We're having our usual standby's: roasted pork loin crostinis, salmon-dill crostinis, bacon-tomato cups, brie kisses, veggies and something sweet.  While he prepped the pork loin and the filling for the bacon-tomato cups last night, I only managed to grab a picture of the pork loin.  Feast your eyes:

Seriously, I wish you could actually smell the yumminess here!  Also, since J gave up meat for lent, I *had* to sample everything to be sure it wasn't poison.  It wasn't. I may have tried a few pieces to be sure.  I'll try to take pictures of the spread today to come back and share!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Full Term!

Every week for the past 33 or so I've taken a picture to map the little one's progress.  While I've not been sharing them online, I thought today's might be a good one.  Why?  Because today is the important 37 week milestone!  Now, I could totally get into a lengthy conversation about how that isn't technically right, but it doesn't matter. As far as the doctor's office is concerned, the parasite is 37 weeks 'old' today and has reached Full Term!  That means that, while we'd prefer she 'bake' at least another two weeks if not three or four, she could arrive at any moment and not be considered a preemie. 

For those of you who celebrate these things, today is also Ash Wednesday.  You might remember that last year, I gave up sweets and added steps every day to my walking regemin.  This year, neither of those seem practical (well, giving up sweets might be practical, but no one is going to hold a pregnant lady to that).  Instead, I've decided to strongly limit my facebook time and to be more intentional with the time saved through that.  Will that mean more blogging here?  I expect so.  I expect (and hope) that it also means more time reading books, more time devoted to keeping up my commitments, and in a few weeks, more time devoted to staring at a sweet little face.  I'll try to share that with y'all, too!

P.S.  J is giving up meat and cokes.  Pray for us both! :)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Camp-out Cake

It's been a while since I made a cake, but this weekend offered a perfect opportunity!  That's right, the Superkid had another birthday, which meant Mrs. Jeanonathon (What? You didn't know J and I have a celebrity name?  Well, to this kid, we must be a super-couple!  Or just have really long, confusing names...) had a cake to decorate!  (See previous cakes for his sixth birthday here and fifth birthday here)

The Kid loves to camp, and a February birthday doesn't really lend itself to a backyard camp-out that he might have preferred.  Luckily, his momma put together an amazing indoor camp-out complete with s'mores in the fireplace and a tent set up in the family room for a sleepover!  Last week, he showed me a drawing of what he had in mind for his cake, which included a red tent, trees, and the family car (which is typically parked next to the tent when they go camping), so I took that as my order!

As you can see, I only managed part of the order.  See, if you clicked back to the sixth birthday cake, you know that I sometimes bake too much cake to meet the vision.  I'd promised Becky I would reign it in this time and not send all of the guests home with their own month supply of birthday cake.  I found a great formula online for the size of cake you should bake (area of the cake divided by area of the slice equals the number of people served), and it turns out, you don't really need nearly as much cake as you'd think! Unfortunately, a smaller cake meant less room for trees and cars, so I focused on the tent and a smaller forest.

I feel sort of iffy about the tent; I rolled the fondant too thin, and could have put more thought into the rolls at the end.  The trees, on the other hand, turned out better than I'd expected.  Both the trunks and the treetops are a mix of fondant and gumpaste, held together on bamboo skewers.  These aren't typically a great combo for kids, except for the kids at this party.  I glanced over at one point to see them eating the trees like lollipops.  Apparently they tasted a little like bubblegum?

The best part?  All of the guests at the party got a slice after presents were opened, and there was just enough for the Kid, his family, and his sleepover pal to have a piece for breakfast.  Once the party was officially over, so was the cake.  I'll be using that formula again!

Monday, February 4, 2013

An amazingly productive weekend...

After a few weeks of busy weekends and long work days for J, we actually managed to put together a pretty productive weekend at the MP!  Don't get me wrong, J actually worked all weekend, too, but he worked from home and I managed to squeeze in a few projects for him.

So in bullets to keep this short(er):

  • We bought lots of paint and painting supplies
  • I bought the supplies to build a new mailbox post (Why? See the pic below to see what it currently looks like thanks to some random stranger.  Re-doing the mailbox was on my list for 2013, so I guess they did us a favor.  I'm waiting on a wood corbel I ordered online to arrive before getting to work on this project.  The local post office is kindly holding our mail for pickup there while we sort this one out...)

  • Prepped the nursery for painting
  • Welcomed two good friends over for an afternoon of painting and painted the walls of the nursery (and much of the ceiling)  (I'll post a pic later today when I have a chance to get one in good daylight, but you can see a hint of it below!)
Standing at the window looking towards the door, this is the left side of the room. 

And then this is the right side of the room.  The walls and ceiling are the same color.
Obviously still need to paint the trim...
  • We put the crib together and discovered that much of the furniture actually matches!  (Yes, I know we could have gone out and bought a set of nursery furniture that all matched from the get-go, but I prefer to collect things so matching is kind of a nice surprise!)
  • I finished painting the nursery ceiling
  • J got the second (final?) coat of poly on one of our library bookshelves
There is MUCH left to be done around the MP to get ready for the baby girl's arrival in a month or so, but we're thrilled to have a productive weekend under our belts!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thankful Thursday--January 31

So I was doing so well at the start of the month getting back in the blogging groove, and now it's been...what?  Two weeks since a post?  Not for lack of thinking of ideas to blog about, but I've definitely been a bit tired this month.  Anyhow, this morning seemed like a good time to be thankful for a few things--

First, I'm so thankful for J's job and for my appreciation of it.  Early in our relationship I hated when he would be on a weeks long bent of working every day.  These days, though, when so many folks are unemployed or underemployed, I'm thankful that there is enough work in the firm to keep J at work late into the night.  Now, will I feel the same way in a couple of months when I've been hanging out with a baby all day and would really like to pass her off to someone else?  Maybe not.  And knowing that makes me even more thankful of the 'right now' blessing of it all!

I'm thankful, too, for this pregnancy.  We're officially 35 weeks in, a fact that is a bit hard for me to grasp.  Sometime in the next month or so, our lives will change in ways we can't even begin to imagine.  I told myself at the beginning that I wouldn't ever be one of those complaining pregnant women, and I've been blessed with a pretty easy pregnancy that has left it easy to stick to that promise.  That said, it's getting harder to not complain, so I'm doubling my efforts to just be thankful for this amazing process again.

Finally, I'm thankful for the emails I've been getting from my folks for the last week.  They have been on a trip to the Holy Land, and I've loved reading the snippets of their experience!  I really look forward to hearing the full story when they get home, but in the meantime, I am thankful that they have the opportunity to take cool trips like this together and to share the experience with us!

What are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Almost done collecting furniture...

So as of today, we're seven weeks or so from adding a little person to our home, and as you may have noticed in last Wednesday's post, little people come with lots of stuff.  We'd already bought a baby bed, and we've moved two chairs we already owned into the nursery.  A bookshelf/future dollhouse is in the design stages (thanks, Dad!), and a hope chest has been identified (J's grandfather's grandmother's cedar chest!).  Really, all we have left (we think) is a dresser to hold the ever-growing pile of itsy-bitsy diapers and socks and onesies, etc.

I had a picture in my head (y'all know this never ends well), and had visited several retail establishments in town and online searching for an option.  The options generally fell into one of two camps--too expensive and too modern--though many also fell into the 'cheap, fake wood' camp, an option shared by both the expensive and modern dressers, though those descriptions also apply to real, solid wood dressers, too.  My mom and I visited a used-furniture store where I mused that perhaps I could find something like the picture in my head and paint it.  She pointed out that the picture in my head might be too ornate to paint.  She was probably right.

Monday, I popped into another used-furniture store right as they were closing and asked about dressers.  The lady didn't have anything like what I described, but commented that if I was willing to paint, I should "check out Uncle RayJay's".  Who? Where?  Uncle RayJay's, it turns out, is a relatively new used furniture/appliance shop in town that seems to deal a lot in solid wood used furniture.  I had time, and it was kind of on my way, so I drove over.  And found this:

Now, it's not as ornate as the picture in my head, but it has some pretty, girly lines to it.  And, should I decide to paint it, it's not so ornate that I can't easily do that.  I probably will paint it, as it is fairly beat up and has an ugly burn on the top, but the burn mark will be living under a changing pad for the next couple years anyway.

Also, it came with a mirror attached that won't fit in this room, but will be nice in some other room in our house.  Oh, and we will be swapping out hardware, which works well because I think those four drawer pulls across the top two drawers will work really well in the library on our built-ins!

The best part?  The entire dresser, plus delivery, cost us $130 (Uncle RayJay starts negotiating when you pull out cash).  As I told J, the mirror alone would have cost that at our local big box hardware store, and the dresser would have been twice that at any other used furniture store in town.

So that's the story of how we've finished collecting furniture for the nursery!  I think we'll end up with a basket or two for blankets and toys, as well as a small table and an ottoman for the reading corner, but it's so nice to have the big things out of the way!  Next up for the nursery: painting!

Monday, January 14, 2013

2013 Goals

Okay, so I'm finally getting some goals posted for the MP this year.  If they sound a little repetitive, well, they are.  I'm nothing if not dedicated to accomplishing goals, even if it takes years of talking about them to make them happen...

Inside the house:

  • Get the library all put together
  • Clear the pool table out of the family room and create kid-world
  • Create a nursery
  • Maybe do a little work to the living room (like tear down a wall!)

Outside the house:

  • New deck!
  • Move the storage building to a less in-the-way spot in the yard
  • Planting bed out front
  • New mailbox
Our word for 2013:  Patience
  • First, we figure these last two months of waiting for our baby girl will certainly require some patience, particularly at the end as we balance impatience with a desire to let her 'bake' as long as she needs.
  • Second, J needs a healthy helping of patience to survive two more months of me with 'pregnancy brain'.
  • Finally, and perhaps most obviously, as we enter the world of parenthood, we know that a reminder to ourselves to be patient--with the little one, with ourselves, with each other, and with well-meaning family and friends--will be much needed.
So there you go--our Melton Point goals for 2013!  Check back in a year or so to see how we do!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thankful Thursday--January 10

So I was looking back at old posts and realized that I typically have a post in late December or early January that looks back at our goals and accomplishments of the previous year.  Since we're still technically in the first third of January, I figure I'm not entirely late to that party this year, right?

Here's the deal.  Usually, the way the calendar falls between Christmas and New Years (together with jobs that close for those seven or eight days) gives me a week or so of peace and quiet to reflect and recharge.  This year, the calendar and our schedule was not my friend.  We spent what amounted to three days traveling, followed by two days at home and a day in the office, followed by three more days traveling.  While I thoroughly enjoyed visiting family and friends during all that traveling, the week just wasn't conducive to reflecting or recharging, much less for writing blog posts about goals.  When you add in the fact that the week since the year started has been less than stellar (furnace issues, our loss last week, some other stuff I don't even want to get into here, and oh by the way, being eight months pregnant which apparently comes with a pretty heavy dose of discomfort and exhaustion), I think it's understandable that we're in a bit of a funk around the MP.

But JE, you're probably thinking, this post title says it is a Thankful Thursday post.  What are you thinking?  Well, here's what I'm thinking.  When I'm in a funk (I thought of it yesterday as feeling like I'm trying to walk through caro syrup), I tend to want to curl up and do the things that come comfortably.  Blogging, even though I've not done as much in recent months as, say, a year ago, is one of those things.  So is stopping to count my blessings.  So, in light of that, let's look at what we've been doing around the MP and count those blessings!

So, last year I described our goals for the house this way:  In terms of goals around the MP, well, they look a lot like last year:  put new gutters on the house and replace our deck.  Other smaller projects, like finishing the library and my craft room redo, are also on the list, but the gutters and deck are definitely the most expensive (and most important) items for us to think about.

I am so insanely thankful for the new gutters!  Not having to think about them this winter, or about what further damage we were doing to the house as a result of not having replaced them, is a real blessing.  We also made awesome progress on the library, and I'm finally able to see the light at the end of the tunnel there!  My craft room redo went well, and I love all of the organization work I put into it last winter.  I still have a few hours of work to do there to make the room a bit more functional.  We also painted the shutters this year, and I love knowing that the door, shutters and lighting all match around the exterior of the house.  We definitely still need a new deck, so that's on the list for 2013.

MP Our family word/phrase for 2012 was "open".  Here's why we chose it:  First, I mentioned in a Thankful Thursday post a couple weeks ago how much I appreciate J for being open and honest.  We've had several conversations lately that seem elevated by his (our) commitment to being open and honest with each other.  While not necessarily easy, approaching tough conversations that way seems to lead to a respectful and loving discourse.  I hope that we'll continue to be open with each other throughout 2012.  In addition, we're not sure what 2012 has in store for us.  We hope, though, to be open to the possibilities.  Open to the God-whispers and the God-beatings-about-the-head.  Open to new adventures and to things that don't go our way.  
You know, I think this was a great word for us in 2012.  It guided us (me, at least) through fertility issues, which certainly didn't go according to my plan.  It guided us through the stressful first trimester of pregnancy, and it's guided us through the fears and worries that come with the realization that "oh my gosh, we have to actually take home and keep alive an actual baby at the end of this".  We were able to trust each other with our feelings and feel really good about the strength of our marriage.  I am so thankful that five years into our marriage (and eight years into our relationship now), we still love each other as much (and more) than we did on our wedding day.

So that's what we did this year.  Built some things, painted some things, took lots of drugs and endured some slicing & dicing, lived through two-thirds of a pretty amazing pregnancy, celebrated five years of marriage and were blessed with our last full year with Zeppelin.  As the sum of it's parts, 2012 was a good year for the MP.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Blank slate

Back in 2008, when J first bought the MP, we knew that the smaller of the two rooms upstairs would be my office/eventual craft room.  We didn't really have a purpose for the other room.  When J received a bunch of UK-related framed art, I hung those on the walls.  Over time, it became an 'overflow guest room', with an air mattress or two ready to blow up as needed.  Finally, at some point, I started to think of the room as the future nursery, and eventually I pulled together an idea (a picture in my head) of what it might look like.

As time continued to pass, I finally broke down and started to fill the mostly empty room.  Left my 'real job'?  Well, those boxes from the office need to go somewhere...  New part time job comes with boxes and catalogs?  Well, there's room upstairs for that...  Don't feel like sorting through Christmas decorations to make new for the new ones?  Just store the new ones upstairs and pretend the old ones don't exist anymore!

You can imagine what the 'nursery' looked like once it was actually time to use it for real.  Lucky for me, my mom was in town this weekend and offered to stay over an extra day to help me sort through things.  Actually, she ended up serving as a runner while I touched each and every object in the room.  Do you remember that old show on TLC where they set up a Toss, Keep, Sell/Donate pile?  It was kind of like that, except I had a donate box, a trash bag, a box to send to my new office, a box to send home to mom and dad, and boxes for each level of the house.  Other than a break to run to Goodwill and the county electronics recycling facility, we spent most of the day sorting and cleaning.  By the end of the day, this is what we had:

Actually, at the very end of the day, this is what we had:

I'm kind of excited to have baby things in the baby room, and nothing else!!

Thanks, mom!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Thankful Thursday--January 3

Wow, another new year already here?  The way Christmas and New Years fell this year robbed me of my typical week off to tackle projects around the house. Instead, I got two days, one of which I spent brainstorming a project and the other of which I spent working on currently existing projects. Those days (plus another one I spent almost entirely in the office) were book-ended by lovely trips to visit both sides of parents and dear friends.  A girl really can't complain.

Anyhow, that's not really what I want to talk about today, so I'll try to come back and do a post about the holidays another time.  As well as a post about what we accomplished around the MP last year.  And a post about our hopes and dreams for 2013.  Stay tuned for those come... summer?

Today, I want to talk about this guy:

This is Zeppelin. I know I've talked about him before, I want to tell his story, part of it at least.

Zep was born on tax day, 2001.  In mid-June of that year, thanks to a nasty sunburn (mine) and a farmer who decided to put a box of puppies outside Wal-Mart in an effort to give them away, Zep became mine and I became his.  At that point, he was a ten pound ball of black fluff, and he had the most energy I'd ever seen in a dog.  A mix (I was told) of Chow and Springer Spaniel, Zeppelin the puppy came to me seemingly potty trained (he even 'pointed' to pee), willing and able to chew anything and everything, and intensely stubborn.  By six months old, he weighed in at about 50 pounds--his full-grown size--and continued to be certain he was a lap dog.  His puppyhood lasted until he was three or so.  Just about the time I couldn't imagine him ever calming down, he started to. And then we met J, who insisted that he calm down a bit more, but who assured me on an early date to the dog park that he knew we were a package deal.  While J will still tell you that he is only "the guy who feeds me" to Zeppelin, I get to see his reaction when he hears J's car in the drive or steps in the hall.  While I may still be his 'person', Zeppelin absolutely adopted J into our pack.

On Friday, J dropped Zeppelin off at the kennel, a place he's gone to since we moved to Lexington more than ten years ago.  As usual, he was excited to visit Keshlyn and was happy to be left there. Yesterday, while I waiting in the long line of folks picking up their pets, I pictured Zep running out to meet me as he always did--tail wagging, bright clear eyes, and a bounce in his step.  That isn't the dog who greeted me.  I immediately knew something was wrong, though for a moment I thought perhaps he'd just woken up from a nap.  He seemed rather groggy.  Since our vet is on the way home, I decided to pop in and have his vitals checked to reassure me that all was well.

Long story short(er), the vet expressed concern about a fever, rapid heart rate and enlarged abdomen.  He suggested x-rays and bloodwork to diagnose the problem, and returned quickly to tell me Zeppelin's stomach had twisted on itself, an emergency situation, and that I needed to take him to the emergency vet immediately.  We headed there, and J met us.  It took the vet there very little time to review the records our vet sent with us, have a quick chat with him, and then give us the news that our boy was in rough shape.  We talked, we cried, we called our priest and prayed, and we made the gut wrenching decision to put Zeppelin to sleep.

I am so thankful to Zeppelin, who taught me in a way no roommate ever could, for teaching me not to leave piles of classwork on the floor.

I'm thankful to J, who loved us as a package, always supporting my affection for my first 'baby', and who came to love Zep on his own, as well.

I'm thankful for the folks at Keshlyn, who for ten years provided a safe and happy home-away-from-home for Zep, and I am thankful that I never once questioned or worried about dropping him off there.

I'm thankful for the folks at Tates Creek Animal Hospital, who provided top notch care for Zeppelin for more than ten years, especially in the last six months.

I'm thankful for the folks at the emergency vet, who gave us time and information to make the best decision we could, who assured us that it was the best decision after we'd made it, and who gave us quiet time with Zep before, during and after his passing.

I'm thankful for 11 and a half really good years, with a really good dog.  I'm thankful for the opportunity to 'parent' a dog who was as fiercely protective and as sweetly loving as Zeppelin.

I'm thankful for Zep, who was a good boy, and whose mama loved him very much.