Aug 30, 2016

Hello From The Other Side (Sort Of)


Where did the Summer go? One minute I had a baby with 12 weeks of maternity leave ahead of me, the next minute I went back to work and it's the end of the Summer and I have NO idea where the time went.

 

We've done very few blog-worthy things; we're still adjusting to this new life. Our house is almost always messy. The lawn seems to always need mowing. I feel like we always need to go to the grocery store again. There are so many weeds in the yard I could spend an entire weekend pulling them. The lawn mower broke and had to be repaired. The kids have had a lot of doctor visits for various things. Oliver needed glasses. The living room couch has a permanent silly putty stain. The vacuum is dying. One of my favorite glasses broke. I have a stack of summer reading I've barely touched.

But! Things have been good! We have a baby that likes to sleep through the night and is full of smiles. Oliver LOVES being a big brother and has handle the transition better than I could have hoped. Oliver turned four, had a big birthday party with his friends and learned to ride a bike (with training wheels). I made a 6 layer rainbow cake. Oliver and I pick the garden together in the evenings. We've gone to the pool as much as our schedule allowed. Oliver took swim lessons. I made a bunch of homemade baby food (for the future) with seasonal produce - peaches, plums, blueberries, cherries, zucchini and squash. Oliver and I made blackberry ice cream with blackberries from the garden and homemade marinara with the tomatoes. There's been fresh salsa and gazpacho and refrigerator pickles. I've become a master at clothing organization for babies as they grow. I'm obsessed with the Prisma app. We've spent quality time with family and friends. I take weekly photos of Matthew and bi-monthly photos of Oliver to continue to document their growth and life.





Having two kids is complicated. Having an infant on top of a preschooler is even more complicated. We are happy, we are good, but we are also boring right now. I'm hoping to start sharing more soon as things calm down and we adjust to our new life.


Jul 13, 2016

Oliver's Room: An Illustrated Map

I finally found the perfect artwork for Oliver's big boy room - a illustrated map decal I found on Amazon. It's adorable, colorful, inexpensive and a great size. I love the illustrations! It's educational! It looks so cute on his wall!

Installation was easy overall and I was able to put it up by myself while the baby napped. Each piece peels off the wall easily and re-sticks well, so everything can be tweaked and repositioned until it looks right. If you order it off amazon, the key is like 1"x1" so you'll want to have a device handy where you can pull up the preview picture to see how it all goes together. The only tricky part is that the sticky side really sticks to itself (but it's totally removable from the wall), I found it tough to pull apart stuck together pieces. Eurasia was the hardest part because it's so large, it rolled and stuck to itself in several places and was a pain to get apart, so I would recommend a second person to help with that part. The decals are translucent, so this really only works on white or light walls. Also the clouds are white on white, so you really have to check the roll to make sure you pulled all the decals off before throwing it away.


Oliver loves it. He's also really into PBS Kid's Wild Kratts, so he's had a lot of fun seeing where different animals live on the map around the world. We compare the big flat map to the globe all the time for perspective too. It's fun and educational for the preschool set.

Jul 5, 2016

Introducing...

... the newest occupant in the little yellow house:

Matthew
Born May 11, 2016
8 lbs 7oz, 20.5 inches



Nothing could have prepared us for the joy and chaos of having two kids. Oliver has adjusted beautifully to being a big brother and has nothing but love for the new baby. We've been incredibly lucky.


Will hopefully have a few new posts going up soon... But for now back to baby land. 


May 9, 2016

The Garden is Planted!


The garden is planted! Mike (and Oliver!) did most of the work. I was there in a more in a supervisor capacity and did a little bit of planting but no heavy lifting. At 38 weeks it felt like a huge accomplishment to bend over and plant a few pumpkin seeds with Oliver. We broke the process up into several days - one day to turn and mix the dirt in the beds, another day to pick up new hoses (we lost one soaker hose and our big hose last summer) and set them up, a trip to the nursery for basil and marigolds, a couple of days to plant the seeds and plants. We've had a lot of wet weather so we had to squeeze things in when we could - it took a while, but I'm glad it's done!

As I mentioned back in my Garden Planning post, this year we're doing a simplified version of the garden - just a few favorites to tide us over. Being hugely pregnant at planting time and then juggling a newborn all summer, we are giving ourselves a break.



Herbs and Carrots Bed
The oregano and thyme were transferred from last year's herb bed to this year's. I'm amazed that they are able to come back year after year despite some harsh winters! This year our winter was so mild - I don't think the thyme has ever been so big! We also planted basil in this bed and a couple rows of carrots for fun. Originally I had thought we might do lettuce and onions, but I ran out of energy after planting the onions. Next year we'll circle back to lettuce, beans, peas and chard as well.



Tomato Bed
The tomatoes we started from seed back in March were planted with marigolds (for protection). The plants have been hardening off for almost two weeks outside (slowly building up resistance to wind, sunshine and outdoor temperatures). This year we're only doing eight, and half of them are prolific and easy cherry and yellow pear tomatoes. The others are easy to grow early girl, beefsteak, bushsteak and roma plum. Next year we'll go back to 12 and include some of my favorite heirlooms again.




Vine Bed
We planted cucumbers to go up the trellis because cucumbers from the garden are my second most favorite thing after tomatoes and I couldn't go a summer without them. We're skipping melons, squash and zucchini this year because they tend to be more high maintenance and instead are experimenting with mini pumpkins just for fun. (We heard they are fairly easy to grow, even by accident with minimal interference, so we thought it would be worth a try and fun for a preschooler!)



Flower Bed
Mostly zinnias (using zinnia seed tape which makes planting a cinch!) and just a few dahlias went into the flower bed this year. Zinnias really do provide the best return on investment once they get going - you get gorgeous flowers all summer until frost and they are so easy to grow!

Mike also planted the rest of our dahlia bulbs in the garden beds of our backyard so I wouldn't have to bend or worry about the bulbs dying from skipping a planting season. Plus he knows how much I love dahlias and will enjoy looking at them all summer as they bloom.


Apr 25, 2016

Upcoming Maternity Break

So far this year I have been pretty good at sticking to my resolution of posting twice a week (with the exception of being sick a couple weeks ago). Some posts have been easier/more interesting than others, but I’m happy that overall I’ve stuck with it even when things have been crazier than usual.


Of course, all of this is about to change. Soon. I’m 37 weeks pregnant this week, which basically means that our second little boy could arrive safely at anytime now (though hopefully he stays put for another week or two). I can't believe how fast this pregnancy has flown by.

How am I doing? Honestly? I’m exhausted. And I need to use these last few weeks to focus on myself and our family. I need to take more walks, stock up on whatever sleep I can get, rest my aching body and soak up as much Oliver time as possible while we are still a family of 3. While I don’t plan on disappearing from this blog entirely right this second, posting is going to be more sporadic and then at some point in the near future I will drop off for a blog maternity break. I promise to share a photo of our newest member of the family when I have a chance.

We are ready for his arrival. The nursery is done. His clothes are organized. I’ve washed (and will probably rewash yet again) all the linens in the room. The baby gear is all pulled out and ready to go. I even packed my hospital bag over the weekend, just in case. I’d still like to get our raised bed garden planted, take Oliver on some family outings, and go on a few more special mother-son dates just the two of us. Babies come in their own time so we’ll see what happens, but we’re ready.

Apr 21, 2016

Spring!

Spring has slowly been unfolding in our yard. I love all the flowering shrubs, the bulbs and perennials that have started to come up. I'm especially pleased that I took the time to plant more daffodils and some tulips in the fall - they have come up! These photos have been from the past several weeks, it's just so lovely to watch everything come back to life.





The asparagus came up! We can't harvest it for another couple of years (it needs to get established first), but it's really cool to see!





My tulip bulbs in the backyard survived the winter and potential critters! So far they have come up pink and orange in different shades - so pretty!





The trees are also flowering. The dogwood is just getting started and the red bud tree is once again covered in bright purple blossoms - it's so pretty!


Apr 19, 2016

Baby Blanket

I finished our baby boy's baby blanket! I'm really happy with how it came out.



The blanket is large for a baby so it will work into his preschool years (I did one like this for Oliver and he still uses it in the winter).


I meant to post this last week but I came down with a wicked cold. Oliver had it first and it gave him an ear infection and bronchitis, but he bounced back really fast after that. I fared better (no antibiotics) but it made for a looooong rough week. Mike ended up catching it too. I felt much better by the weekend, but suddenly came down with laryngitis on Saturday! I still have it today. It's surprisingly hard to wrangle a 3 year old when you can't speak above a whisper and are a super slow pregnant lady that can't keep up with him.

Apr 11, 2016

The Decorated Nursery


The nursery is *mostly* ready for our new baby! We didn’t make a ton of changes in here, but I finally finished redecorating in anticipation of our second baby boy’s arrival next month. The crib is back, we replaced missing artwork and put up new mobiles. We patched and repainted some holes and scribbles on the walls. I filled in the pocket shelves and bookshelves with a few things (since some items went to Oliver’s big boy room) and rearranged the rest so that it all feels fresh.





My nesting instincts are kicking in - I have the urge to dust, vacuum and rewash everything in here on a daily basis - so right now everything is nice and clean. All of the baby clothes are washed, organized and put away. All of the cloth diapers have been rewashed, stripped and put back together in the tiniest size (we plan on cloth diapering this little guy just like Oliver once he’s big enough). Even the closet is well organized with room to spare (in truth all of our closets have recently been reorganized… Nesting! Our upstairs has never been so orderly!).





I’ll share the new baby blanket later this week too, the final touch to the room. We still have plenty to do to prepare elsewhere - all the gear in the attic (like the infant carrier and swing, etc.) needs to come down and get washed. There are bottles and containers to sterilize, gifts to organize (we feel so loved and supported!), thank you notes to write, car seats to install, hospital bags to pack. At least the mountains of pre-baby paperwork are done. I also have a strong desire to clean out the freezer and basement deep freeze (nesting!) one of these days, but I’m hoping over the next few weeks to take it easy and celebrate our little guy’s impending arrival. Before we know it, we’ll be thrown back into the chaos of having a newborn… only this time with a preschooler to take care of as well!

Apr 6, 2016

Tiny Tomato Plants

Mother Nature is playing a cruel trick on us this week and turned spring back into winter. The kind of winter that's hard on all the flowers. The daffodils are drooped, the magnolia trees turned brown, my quince is nipped, the flowering cherry trees and ornamental pears are dropping petals. Things are still pretty, but I'm desperate for the warm spring weather to return.

Inside, the 8 tiny tomato plants we started from seed are doing well and growing quickly.


When it's cold like this, it's hard to imagine starting the garden soon. Hopefully this is our last cold snap of the year though and we can still plant these (and the rest of the summer seeds) in early May.

Apr 4, 2016

Nursery Progress: The Baby Crib is Back

It’s official, the toddler bed has been disassembled and the baby’s crib is back in the nursery. The toddler bed was so low, I forgot how high the crib is. It looks a million times better with the height of the hanging artwork - the room looks so much more put together this way.


The bed linens are washed, I'm storing them in tubs under the bed for now to keep them from getting dusty. I’m excited to be a lot closer now to having the nursery “ready” for the baby.

Apr 1, 2016

Nursery Mobile: Paper Birds

When planning out the changes to the nursery, I wasn’t sure if it would be better to make or buy a new mobile. I loved the idea of making something special for this baby like I did for Oliver, but I was also tempted by the convenience of buying one. Especially since I feel like I have zero time these days. In the end though, practicality (cost!) and sentimentality (both kids deserve something made with love!) won out. I managed to put together a simple paper bird mobile using craft dowels, thread and coloraid paper leftover from my art school days (the paper, required for a class, was so expensive I never threw it out and I found it when we cleaned out the office).

The paper is one-sided and I also wanted to double-up for strength, so I folded each sheet in half and glued the sides together, pressing them under a book overnight so they were very flat. I drew three little birds on cardstock and cut them out to use as a tracing template, then traced them over the colored paper. Each bird was carefully cut out by hand.


To string them up I tried fishing line, thread and elastic cord. The fishing line was too strong for the paper, the birds didn’t weigh enough to straighten it out and everything stayed coiled from the spool. The elastic cord was too bouncy, I knew it would be hard to balance the mobile. White thread ended up being the easiest material to use, and while I originally wanted something clear, I think it came out just fine! Plus I was able to use a needle and thread to poke holes in the birds to string them up.


I think balancing the mobile was the hardest part of the whole thing. Each bird tied to the dowels had to be counter-balanced. I hung up my mobile pieces and added the birds one at a time and it was a pain. I started at the bottom and worked my way up, since I knew balancing the bottom would be the hardest part. Once everything was tied to the dowels and semi-balanced, I spent a lot of time adjusting each bird and dowel connection until the mobile was as balanced as I could get it, again working from the bottom up. Since the nursery has a ceiling fan that will be on all summer, I knew I had to glue the threads into place on the dowels or risk destroying the whole thing. I glued in stages to keep everything balanced - first the bottom birds, then the middle ones, then the top birds, letting each section dry completely before moving on to the next. After that I glued the dowel connections into place starting at the bottom, then the middle, then the top, once again letting everything dry in between. It took a couple of days to get it all glued down but gluing itself only took a minute each time.





I’m really happy with how it came out. The colors, the movement, the way the paper birds flutter in a way that only paper can. For some reason some of the birds came out a little pinker than they are in real life and the oranges are much brighter - in person the colors flow together really nicely in a gradient. The balance isn't perfect - I left it in a place where Oliver could reach it... and of course he couldn’t resist (the colors! The movement! MUST TOUCH!) so now one of the bottom dowels is off-balance again post-gluing, but it doesn’t bother me. When the whole thing is motion you don’t even notice it. And I like to think Oliver left his personal touch on it for his brother :)