Tuesday, December 31, 2013

From Caroline to Christmas

I was flipping through all the pictures I've taken in the last 20 days and quickly realized that trying to properly document any of it here was going to be overwhelming. So above is a picture of my baby girl from just the other day, and below are some thoughts and moments from the last few weeks, in no particular order. 

20 days?  I can't decide whether that sounds like a lot or a little. 

I should never have worried about how Caroline's arrival would work out, in regards to having Amy and William cared for. I spent so much time fretting over that. But of course it all worked out beautifully and perfectly. It always does. 

This was my longest labor - totally not what I was expecting. But all but the last 2 hours/2 cm were really easy and this was the first time I did things like read a magazine while in labor or walk the halls of the hospital. Don and I joked that this was the first date we'd been on in over a year (seriously). 

Caroline is a wonderful baby. She was born 12 days early but at over 8 pounds she was quite ready to go. She has nursed perfectly from the beginning and is a reasonably good sleeper. Each day she becomes a little more alert and engaged and is just about the cutest thing we've ever seen. 

Arguably the best part about having babies, aside from the wee person herself, is getting to have Don home for two (in this case, three) whole weeks.  The time off before Christmas, and the coziness of the holiday week itself have been a treat to spend all together. We missed the chance to see our families at Christmas but I am completely thankful for our time together, just us and the kids. 

Christmas was lovely - we made it to church on Christmas Eve and Santa was quite good to us all on Christmas morning. Oh, and I don't think I mentioned it here - the Friday before Caroline arrived another early Christmas present did - a piano!! We bought a nice little not-too-old Wurlitzer spinet and it is just perfect - a longtime dream of mine come true. 

I have so much more to say. However, it is New Year's Eve and like so many of the nights these last few weeks I have a date on the couch with my husband and a tiny and very snuggly little girl. I'll catch up more as 2014 unfolds. Happy New Year! 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

An Early Christmas Present

Welcome, Caroline Grace! Born Wednesday, December 11, 2013 at 7:47 a.m.
8 lbs, 1 oz, and 19 1/2"

She is perfect and we are feeling so very blessed! 

More details and pictures to come. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013


I have one week, tops, before Baby arrives. I spent breakfast time this morning making a giant, all-encompassing list in teeny tiny handwriting, of everything that I hope to accomplish in this coming week, with a hefty section at top devoted just to today. 

Shortly after I finished this list Amy was remarking on the number of crayons without tips in her crayon box - a sad state of affairs I had been noticing myself. So without further ado we found a sharpener and proceeded to sort and sharpen the better part of 120 crayons. 

That was not on my list. 

But I feel like I accomplished something good. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

November Wrap-Up

Whew! These last few weeks have flown by; two whole weeks since I last posted. Usually if I miss that much time on my blog it feels like it, but no, just a whizzing sound between my ears. So allow me mind-dump and catch up on a few things, in no particular order.

This picture I call Peanuts Watching Peanuts. I usually hold pretty firm to that rule about the Christmas season starting after Thanksgiving, but I broke it big time this year, motivated I think by some homesickness mixed with a seasonal variation on pre-baby nesting. We put up our tree weeks ago (though didn't decorate it till today) and already have at least a dozen Charlie Brown Christmas viewings under our belt. I truly love this time of year - dark and cozy evenings, warm lights inside, everything feels peaceful and snug and exciting all at once. And I am also loving the new living room arrangement, which involved moving the stripey chair and ditching the big shelf of toys into the large closet (still there, just behind closed doors). Makes the room feel much more grown-up and comfortable. 

And here's the tree. Slightly annoyed at the two patches of lights that don't seem to work no matter what we've tried. However, I wasn't about to take the thing back, or even try to put it in the box again, and it is so much more thoroughly lit than what I usually do with 3 or 4 strands on a "real" tree that you hardly notice it. So I've decided to just let it go for now. The tree is really pretty. It was worth spending the money to get a "good" one because it does look so real. 

This little boy looks crazy grown up in this picture, taken while we were still deciding where to put things after adding the tree to the living room. How is he growing up so fast? Oh, and lately he's decided his favorite color is black, so his best days are those when he can wear his favorite black pants AND a black shirt. Still wears his blue rain boots all the time, too. He's got a lot of opinions these days. 

And William also takes first prize for nap-ability. Between the early school mornings and fighting a cold this week and last, he has taken an afternoon nap more often than not lately. He's so awesome about it, requiring no ceremony or fanfare; he just gets his Buddy (blanket), finds a cozy spot and falls asleep. 

Then there's my beautiful Amy, who also struggled with a cold during that last full week of school and stayed home one day. Here she's just thrilled about having her Daddy back. Don was gone for a full five weeks this time, returning the weekend before Thanksgiving. The kids and I settle into an easy routine when he is away, but we are always glad to have him home again, and especially thankful for his time off this week to enjoy the whole holiday weekend with us. 

I should also add some thanks to my baby girl for not pulling any funny business while he was away. I really didn't want to navigate hospitals or extra doctor appointments without Daddy around. As it was we narrowly escaped a late-evening ER trip when William discovered, with great pleasure, just how nicely a small piece of Lego fit up his nose! He's played with Lego for well over a year with never an indiscretion, but somehow those two minutes I was in the bathroom after everyone was bathed, brushed, pajama-ed, and otherwise ready for bed, provided an irresistible opportunity to see what might happen. I didn't believe him until I actually looked, and was quickly plotting how I was going to manage a trip to the hospital with two kids at bedtime... BUT thankfully it didn't come to that, and with one good blow the piece came flying out. William also found that hysterical. Boys. 

In other baby news, I have officially scheduled myself to be induced on December 16th, at 39 weeks. The doctors' willingness to do this was a huge relief to me, as it provides some sense of control over the event, and especially how it relates to making sure Amy and William are cared for while I deliver. At the same time, I am wise enough to the ways of the world to realize that the chance of that all actually working out as planned is still probably pretty small. I've been having so many cramps and contractions and general discomforts over the past week or so that I find it hard to imagine lasting another two whole weeks. I have a grand list of all the things (mostly Christmas-related) that I'd like to get done before Baby arrives, but at this point I've become so slow and uncomfortable that I'm starting to wonder if it wouldn't be easier to do those things with a newborn on the outside, rather than in my middle. Doctor appointment tomorrow morning; we shall see where we are. 

And lastly (for now), we had a very lovely Thanksgiving with Don's sister here for company. I cooked the works and enjoyed doing it, though the Thanksgiving meal simply is a lot of work, no matter how small a group it's for. It was special for the kids to have a favorite Auntie over for a few days, and a nice diversion for all of us. It was also simply a nice, calm, long weekend at home. The weather was cold and sunny and it felt right for the season, and none of us got in the car at all between coming home from school on Tuesday afternoon and going to church this morning. Very pleasant. 

More to share I'm sure; I'd love to post some sewing/crocheting/knitting work I've been doing but a lot of it is gift related so that will have to sit. In the meantime, expect more jumbled updates like this from now until Baby arrives, as this seems to be about as focused as I get these days.  Happy Thanksgiving!!

Sunday, November 17, 2013


One of my biggest fears about venturing into this mysterious land of three children has been the impact that a littlest sibling will have on the two oldest ones. 

They may squabble and compete and shove each other now and then, but ultimately they have always been two peas in a pod. They share a room, they share games, they share memories. 

This new little one will be "the baby" for quite awhile, and I know their relationship will only get stronger while they are the "big kids".  I know they'll teach their little sister all the best games and share all the memories of things she was not around for.  

Having a first and a second child were a non-decisions. Having a third child has felt like, during this pregnancy at least, one of the weightiest decisions I (we) have ever made. I won't know for at least a month, probably years to come, how this new dynamic will play out. But I pray every day that we will simply have that much more love, that many more sibling memories and friendships, and that we will be merely adding facets to our family diamond. I know this will be true, and yet I also pray that Amy and William will never lose the closeness that they have right now. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Friday, again

Wow, that was a week that flew by, my goodness. I've been peppy and energized for most of this week, feeling in-control and while I still can't ever seem to get anything done, it has been a good week. But today was damp and overcast and I caught the tiny sniffle the kids had earlier in the week so I'm tired and fresh out of positive attitude. In an effort to conclude the day in a happy state of mind, I bring you a short selection of pictures of moments from our week. Then I shall feel better, right?

Here I attempt to catch Amy in a candid moment. She was speechifying about something as usual, I sat on the floor pretending to check email. 

We were all very excited to have a frost on the ground Thursday morning. So pretty! I actually had to scrape the car when we left for school, 30 minutes before grabbing this picture. 

I never thought I would, but I did. That up there is one giant box of Christmas tree on its way home. I'm in a "no fuss" mood this season, combined with a "I want my tree up from now till January" mood, combined with a "I don't want to find a hundred insects hatching from my tree and leaving sap on my ornaments and crawling across the living room floor the day after Christmas" mood (that happened last year). So I took the plunge and spent the bucks... tomorrow's project will be assembly. I have never in my life had a tree up before Thanksgiving. I feel like such a rebel. 
PS - Don't know what I'd do without the van - it fits everything! 

Speaking of trees, William is totally smitten with this little magnolia outside Amy's school. He calls it his Baby Tree, and whenever we come and go from the front entrance he has to spend some time loving it. 

This scene occurred this afternoon, about one o'clock, after a half hour of playing when he should have been resting, and only minutes after a loud and whiny request to go play outside. 

I love Amy's ability to draw figures in motion. She's started making a lot of observations lately along the lines of "so and so [at school] has SUCH nice handwriting/draws SUCH nice pictures, etc". Of course I think she does a fabulous job at all of it, too, but it brought to mind just how vivid those feelings are for little kids, and how I too can remember my own early school days and how everyone in class knew each other's handwriting, or drawing style and made comparisons for better or worse.  

In an effort to salvage what threatened to be an afternoon/evening of tired, cranky, bad moods on all of our parts, the three of us came up with the idea of early baths and a pajama party, complete with dinner in the living room watching The Nutcracker . Much fun, but still tired. See above. 

And that folks, is all I've got. I have plans for something like this: 

with a side of television for the next hour or so. Here's hoping we all find ourselves refreshed and recharged by the end of the weekend. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Decluttering Corners, One

I have a bit of a confession to make: I am addicted to HGTV and their prime time home renovation and house-hunting shows. However, as much as I enjoy the content I usually can't stand the people - often younger than me and horrendously picky and stuck-up in their idea of what makes a livable house. Whenever we get the chance to actually buy a home, I promise I won't be that picky. 

Anyway, watch these shows enough and you find certain buzzwords common throughout, things like "modern kitchen" and "open concept."

Now, our current house is what I would definitely term "open concept." The kitchen looks right into the eating area and living room. Convenient for watching the kids while making dinner and never being far from the action, but absolutely killer when it comes to visual clutter. Everything is seen all the time from everywhere. I'm finding more and more that even though I keep a reasonably neat and mostly organized house, I am getting really tired of looking at all our stuff, all the time. 

So I have begun a crusade to reduce visual clutter wherever I can. I started today with the side of our fridge. It occurred to me way after the fact that I might make a theme/blog series/challenge to myself out of this, and to that end I would have been better off with a Before picture, but oh well. 

Previously this side of the fridge was sort of my vertical office. Every important (and unimportant) business card or post-it with phone number, take out menus (which we never use), school info, multiple calendars, etc, was ALL clipped here somewhere. Most of it overlapping. It was one of those spaces that you just sort of accept because you are so used to looking at it. But today I took it on. 

I copied over all the relevant phone numbers and contact info onto one sheet, written neatly with different colored pens, in hopes that any adult in my house who needed the information <cough, Don> would find it easily. I threw out all the little bits of paper, rubber-banded the business cards and stuck them in the junk drawer (which will be my next project), and whittled down the remaining info to what was truly most important to have quick and easy access to. All that remains is phone list, grocery white-board (which only says Lucky Charms at the moment, oops), upcoming appointments, year-at-a-glance calendar, and school calendar/information. Trust me, it looks a million times better than it did. 

There is more work to do, just on the fridge alone - case in point, jumbo onions, candle, and confiscated toys all collecting dust up top. I really do hope that by focusing on small areas I can continue this simplifying throughout the house, enough to really make a visual difference, not just a temporary clean-up. 

This was a very long post about a very small topic. Thanks for reading, it keeps me honest. 

Oh, and on a totally different note, my Amy turned SIX this Wednesday - crazy! Will try to post some pictures and share about our day sometime very soon. Till then!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Ice Skating Love

What was the hardest part about going ice skating with two small children while 7+ months pregnant? 

Lacing up my own skates. 

Otherwise it was a fantastic afternoon, this re-start of what I hope can be an ongoing family activity for us all. (Would it be weird to push a baby stroller on the ice?? Is that allowed?)

I took the kids twice last February, and wrote about it briefly here. Then it got warm and though this particular rink is open year-round there still seems to me something seasonal about the activity. So we haven't been skating in about 8 months. 

Amy totally rocked it today - gaining much more confidence, a willingness to fall and get up again, and scooting along mostly unaided. She was very pleased. William was a bit more nervous than before, and could have done better had he tried something other than having me hold him by his armpits the whole time. But he's only three. 

Amy is the age I was when I started ice skating. I never got more serious than a few winters' worth of lessons (Basic 2, I think) and many more winters' worth of public skating on Wednesday afternoons with my mom and brother. And that was the good stuff. 

Nothing has changed about ice skating in all that time, and I think that's what makes me so happy to do it now. The ice feels the same, the rink looks the same, even smells the same as the one I skated at growing up. They play oldies music (and I can only hope Christmas carols when the time gets near). And the Zamboni provides just as much of a thrill as ever. 

I am not a sport person, nor am I an after-school-activity type of mommy. But I do think we will make this a part of our weekly or bi-weekly routine for as much of the season as we can. It felt like home. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Happy Turtle Day

Today's addition to the list of assorted critters we have observed or captured in and around our yard is this handsome male box turtle. He was marching through our front garden when we left for school this morning (a distraction which almost made us late). William and I found him not too far away when we returned, and turtle-napped him for a day of captivity until Amy got home and we released him. 

The kids of course wanted to keep him as a pet but a brief bit of research corroborated my hunch that the turtle would not be too happy about that. I'm not really sure where this fellow came from - coincidentally William and I spotted him yesterday, at the park across the street (I am only assuming it is the same individual -  I've never seen a turtle around here at all). He would have crossed the road to get to our house this morning. And today was mower/weed-whacker day, so I justified his captivity knowing that he was safe from the big machines. We released him in a different part of the woods behind the house, away from the road and other homes. I hope he does okay - I also read that these turtles can be get stressed and disoriented if they are far from their usual area. Still, I can't imagine that the busy road he was headed for was what he had in mind either. (And in case you were wondering - eye color and shell shape confirm that he was indeed a he.) 

The cats found him almost as amusing as the kids did when we let him walk through the grass a bit, and he showed off his best box turtle hinged-shell disappearing act if they got too close.  

It is always refreshing to turn the calendar to a new month. October was busy, and I'm sure November will fill up too but for now the page is clean (and only one more month till baby month!). Happy November 1st, and Happy Turtle Day. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

New Love


I think I have a new love - a love of very small quilts. I have yet to make any really huge quilts - I think the biggest one I completed was twin sized. The fact that this one is SO tiny, about 18"x24" has made it go especially quickly. The prints were a pre-cut package from a Moda line... Happy Go Lucky, I think. They were 2.5" so are finishing up around 2". This is going to be a Christmas present for an old friend - wall hanging or table topper or something. I've got so much wind in my sails from the momentum of this project that I just might be able to churn out a few more handmade Christmas gifts this year - as long as I keep them small. 

Speaking of small - noticed this small message on the chalkboard after putting the kids to bed last night: 

Melts a Mommy's heart!!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Lopper

Yesterday I started clearing out the withering zinnias from our front garden. I meant to write a post about the zinnias in all their glory... I have some pictures somewhere... oh well. But it was a satisfying project and William helped by snipping the dried up brown flowers off the plants that were still growing and staying for now. He did a very good job of snipping only the spent blooms, and was proud of himself for helping. 

But then today we finished off the project with just some weeding, and hauling all the debris to the woods. Problem was, William wanted to do some more snipping.  So after a few perfectly decent flowers lost their heads, it was time to put the pruners away. You can be sure he'll be inspecting the garden every day now, checking for any more brown flowers. I love a guy who is so devoted to his job. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

First Quarter

Today was Amy's 45th day of school, meaning that she is exactly one-quarter done with kindergarten. What??

This school district doesn't take off for any miscellaneous holidays, so every week except Labor Day has been a full five days and as a result we are plowing through quickly. I thought I'd take a minute to capture a few of my thoughts on the whole experience so far.

First of all, I still think an elementary school day starting at 7:30 is ridiculous. Getting up at 6:30 has not gotten any easier for any of us, particularly as it continues to get darker in the morning. These days sunrise here is just about at 7:30, which means we are waking, dressing, eating breakfast, and driving in the dark. The time change can't get here fast enough - that will help, but I still think it is absurdly early for little kids.

Aside from some grumbling at wake-up, we have otherwise come enjoy our new routine. After dropping Amy off, William and I are back at the house by about 7:45. We typically restart our morning at that point. He usually will eat when Amy does, but often joins me for a second breakfast while I eat my first one. Somewhere in there I run upstairs to make the beds and start laundry. I tend to the cats, the dishes, and the general morning household upkeep that always ends up taking a bit of time. By 8:30, sometimes earlier, we usually sit down to a show or two on PBS. William chills out while I read the paper. Occasionally I use his downtime to get something else done, but lately I find it better to save my energy and enjoy the chance to sit for a bit. By mid-morning we are ready for any appointments or errands scheduled for the day, or we simply spend time outside or riding bikes or going to the park. Home days are my favorite - William is very agreeable, low-key company and we usually find plenty to do to pass the morning.

By the time lunch rolls around at noon our time without Amy is practically over - we eat our lunch and chat or play for a bit, then pop on a movie and both take a rest for about an hour before we hop in the car again shortly before 2 to pick Amy up. The other variation on the afternoon is if we've been out in the morning, William will often doze off in the car on the way back, and continue taking a nice nap once we get home - so he might sleep from about 11-1, give or take, and wakes up for a quick bite before we go for pick up. On those days I enjoy some blissful time "alone" in the middle of the day. About 2-3 "nap days" each week seem to be about right for keeping him caught up on sleep.

Our afternoons all back together are pleasant. Amy is always happy after school and full of things to tell me. It can be hard to give her my full attention, and to keep her acting civilly to William, who also wants her (and my) attention. We go over the papers she brings home and have a snack and chat a bit before my phone date with my mom at 3. After that it's generally outside to play until dinner on the earlier side (5:30 if I'm lucky), and some unwind time, then bath, books, and bed - lights out by 8. I always wish for an earlier bedtime but everyone gets such a huge second wind after dinner that it is hard to make that happen. Again, when it is dark at dinner I am hoping that will help push the whole evening routine a bit earlier still.

So that's how our days are working out. As to school itself, I remain very pleased with Amy's academic experience. Her handwriting has improved tremendously and her pencil grip was quickly corrected (something I could never get her to fix). She reads easily and her teacher has made a lot of effort to keep her challenged in that department. Amy describes her day in great detail, and it sounds like they have a nice assortment of activities that they rotate through in the classroom that are both appealing and interesting and allow each student a lot of individual attention. She gets all the usual "specials" and enjoys music, art, library, computer lab, and P.E. The highlights of the day according to Amy are lunch and recess. She loves the company of her classmates and seems to have had no trouble fitting in or making friends. I am also proud of how she handles herself when childish antics are directed at her: today, for instance, she reported that one of the boys called her and another girl "cockroaches" (though Amy said it "clockroaches") - rather than getting her feelings hurt she just thought this was funny and took plenty of delight in the fact that her teacher heard and her classmate got in big trouble for such a remark. She doesn't seem bothered by too much. And I love the chance for so many new teachable moments, now that she has so much time apart from me. She'll share a passing anecdote from the day, good or bad, and it either reminds me of something from my own school days to share with her or simply a chance to talk with her about a subject I might not have thought about on my own. Nothing too serious, just general chit-chat with my almost six-year-old girl.

As a side note, I continue to be thankful that Amy has the good fortune of being in such a good school, particularly in a district that is not universally good. Her teachers and staff are completely devoted to their kids, the school is safe and kind and the kids are generally good and respectful. I've volunteered a couple of days to help with lunchtime, and I'm impressed with how the school runs and the mostly smooth behavior of the kids. I just recently learned that 92% of the kids at her school have one or both parents on active duty, and so they share the common bond of being military kids. Amy gets to use ipads in her classroom every day (I have, to this day, never used an ipad). She is in a good place.

I still think a lot about homeschooling. For the first few weeks Amy was so completely enamored with school that she could hardly wait to get back to school after a weekend.  Then she missed two days week before last, home with a little fever. That seemed to break the spell a bit, and since then she's been a bit more normal about not wanting to go back to school on a Monday morning, wishing to stay home another day, etc. I do still think the school day is long, and certainly filled with, well, filler, if looking at it from a strictly instructional standpoint. I would love to cover material with her at a better pace, but frankly, she seems more receptive to instruction from her teachers for now. I still do a lot of work with her in the afternoons since she is always wanting to write and spell things and show me the math she's learning, etc. Next year we will be in a new place and I would say that homeschooling is certainly still on the table. It's a fine line between the enjoyment Amy clearly takes in the experience of school - the high level of stimulation, her interest in her classmates, and the diversity of activities that I couldn't necessarily replicate at home, and yet avoiding the pressure of too much too soon - homework, academic expectations, long days, loss of freedom for family trips or outside school experiences. One year at a time.

And that's where we are in a novel, I mean a nutshell. There is probably something I'm forgetting to mention but I'm sure I'll squeak it in another time. Thanks for reading and I always look forward to continuing the education conversation. How is the school year treating everyone?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

New Do

Honestly, I'm a pretty self-conscious person, and this is my favorite kind of picture of myself. But without further ado, here is my All About Me post. 

I have not had my hair cut in almost two years. 

Before Don graduated from OCS, in fact. 

A ponytail is awfully convenient, and finding a salon in a new area has never made it high on my priority list. 

So I've just let it grow. And I more or less have been looking like this these days: 

The clothes change of course. And the belly gets a little bigger, but from the neck up, I just have one look. I have been okay with that. 

But I didn't think I could take another week of brushing out that beast every night. Or picking huge long curly hairs off my floor and my shoulders. All the time. I had reached my haircut breaking point. 

I found a salon in downtown Charleston that did free haircuts with a Locks of Love donation. I had the length, and Don had today off, so It Was Time. 

Drove myself downtown, did several laps trying to find the right entrance to the parking garage, walked back up two blocks amid throngs of tourists, and was reminded that, really, I don't like cities, no matter how southern and charming they may be. 

Found salon and enjoyed very nice haircut by a very nice lady, and said goodbye to four ponytails worth of 10" long hair. Wow. 

Didn't take a picture of the hair, but here's the after: 

I think I may have reached the age where I need better make up... but that's another story. Hair-wise I feel a good deal lighter and very much refreshed. It was time for a change and I'm pretty pleased. 

Thanks for indulging me!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Fall Blooms

This year I sewed some sort of package of "cutting mix" flowers in the skinny little bed at the edge of our back patio. I knew going into it that those mixed seed packs are a gamble, and predictably we had a lot of weedy looking things, a monster zinnia, lots of four o'clocks, and this one GIANT, mutant cosmo of some variety. This plant was six feet tall (actually you can see the edge of it at the far right of the picture of the turkeys in my last post) and had only just started to show some buds. 

Then a couple of weekends ago we had a ton of wind and timber! down went the flower and its inch-thick stalk. Amy and I hauled it and some other garden debris off to the "woods" after cutting a few of the unopened blooms to take inside.

A day or two later some pumpkin-orange dots catch my eye and lo and behold, the whole plant has opened up in the most beautiful spray of fall-colored flowers at the edge of the woods. Our leaves haven't started to change yet, and with mostly pines and live oaks around here we don't get much autumn color, so this little bunch of orange among the fading grass is a very welcome sight. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Quick Bits

The kids and I got out the watercolors over the weekend. They were practically done by the time I sat down to it but I found myself on a roll, and channeling my very acute homesickness for New England with the little picture above. I'm surprisingly happy with how it turned out. What might I be able to do if I actually painted every day? Oh, such indulgence. 

Earlier that morning we caught sight of a whole flock (wait, I just looked it up-) a rafter of wild turkeys marching around our backyard. There were ten of them and they stuck around for a little while. Ollie was outside at the time and couldn't quite make up his mind whether these were birds for chasing or being afraid of. They were awfully cool. 

Somewhere in the middle of last week Amy was in one of her uber-helpful moods. The kind of helpfulness that usually pops out when I want nothing more than to get the job done as quickly as I can and if possible, in total silence. But on this night I was in good humor and decided to let her have a go at washing the dishes. She surprised me by being a) plenty tall, with just the small stool and b) fairly competent. The competence part shouldn't surprise me... but I'm kinda particular about dishes. 

I believe it was the day after that when everyone came home from school pick up time in a real funk. The pushing and shoving between Amy and William started before we were even out of the building and I was terribly tired and not quite sure how we'd all make it to bedtime in one piece. And then I asked if anyone would like to join me in a cup of tea. Bless their little hearts, they thought that was the greatest idea and asked if we could get out the "real" tea set. So we had a proper tea with sugar cubes and little cookies and the three of us left the table perked up and in much better spirits. 

My little munchkins have been such good company these days; I can easily overlook the tired moods and the squabbling because truly, we've been having quite a lot of fun. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

My William

For weeks I have been wanting to write a post about my sweet William. Amy got all sorts of blog attention as school was getting underway, and I could continue to gush plenty about her. But today I just want to focus on my boy, my little buddy. 

William is just over three years and four months old... and it occurred to me that as of today he is the exact age, to the day, that I was when my little brother was born. William gets a couple more months before he gets a little sister. He is a whole year closer in age to Amy than he will be to this little one. 

I am glad of that. I am glad William has at least a little time to himself before he is caught in the middle. I am treasuring these few months of kindergarten, when he and I are getting so much one-on-one time. It has been one of my biggest fears, going into this whole third-child thing... fear of putting William in the middle. 

But with girls on either side he will still hold the place as my only and dearest little boy.

He is such a boy. Just don't call him little. He rode his glider bike over to the park this morning, still with his helmet on backwards. Usually he rides with his gardening gloves and knee pads on, too, as part of his serious biker gear. The whole ensemble has served him well, actually, and he's walked away from several wipe-outs without a scratch. 

We spent a long time at the park. He is very chatty, but not quite as intense as his big sister, and time with him passes easily, and slightly more quietly. We spent a long time digging a Very Big Hole, and simultaneously creating a Very Big Mountain. Then he fell in it, several times, on purpose. After a good long while he told me that Big Diggers get very hungry and thirsty, so we went home for lunch. 

He is just three, and has his moments that are not exactly models of excellent behavior, but for the most part he has a quiet earnestness about him that I find completely endearing. He is excellent at building block towers, painting at the easel, and loves his assorted animal friends - both real and plush. He's a bundle of manly-boyish energy with a tender heart. 

I was just scrolling through my pictures, realizing how many William moments I've captured in the last month alone - and it is too many to post. I'll close with just one more from this evening. He worked very hard to get the entire lawn mowed before dinner. 

I knew if anybody could get the job done, it would be him. I love you, Buddy. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

A New Furry Friend

Last week, on our way home from the zoo, we picked up Smitty. Or Smitty Mittens. Smittens the Kitten. Fluffy Mittens. (I'm not really crazy about the name Smitty but everyone else seems to like it so I've just settled for riffing on it as necessary). Let me just say that I had not in any way been in the market for a third cat; after our poor Juliett died last summer our other two kitties have been closer with each other and general cat harmony has reigned in this house. But, I can't really pass up a kitty in need of a home, so here we are. 

Smitty's story is as follows: Don's brother lived near Columbia, SC, for a spell, with a friend, and while he was there he adopted a 4-year-old black cat from the shelter. He loved Smitty but when his living situation changed and he moved he could not take the cat. The cat stayed behind with the friend. Eight months later, the friend decides she doesn't want the cat anymore, threatens to return him to shelter, and brother calls Don in desperate plea to retrieve his cat. With a sigh, we agree, and coordinate his pickup with a much-requested trip to the zoo, also in Columbia. 

That was last Saturday. Poor Smitty spent about 48 hours in hiding, but after that became more comfortable with each passing day. I took him to the vet for a full once-over and vaccination on Tuesday, and as of Thursday he's been free to roam the house. He is settling in remarkably well, and Ollie and Humphrey have been tolerating him better than expected. Ollie just keeps a wary eye on him; Humphrey is a little less charitable and has done a fair bit of growling, but there have not been any fights or hissing or open hostilities. I am amazed by Smitty's lack of reaction to the others - he is the most chill cat I've ever seen.  Though he was handed over to us with words to the effect of "he's a real meanie, don't feel like you have to keep him, he probably won't do well with kids" he has been remarkably sweet and interested in all of us and more patient with the kids than he even needs to be.  So far so good. 

We will certainly keep him and love him and care for him for now, but there is an outside possibility that he might be re-homed with my parents at some point, depending on where we move and how the general 3 cat dynamic continues to play out here. But for now we are enjoying his little white mittens and his relaxed, "bunny-foot" antics.  He's a sweet boy and we are glad that we can give him a loving home.  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Memo to Mommy

Roger that, Amy. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013



By the time we get to Thursday, patience is running low and frustration lurks around every corner. William slips into the standard little brother role of tweaking and poking at his sister to get the attention he's been missing from her all day. Amy resorts to shrieks and/or tattling when he does. It's all just lovely. 

But for the most part, there are still lots of moments of sibling harmony, like this one after dinner tonight. I had moved the little table into the kitchen so Amy could focus on her homework while I put on the TV for William to keep him from falling asleep while I made dinner (they were both exhausted from playing, mostly nicely, in the pool all afternoon on yet another warm day). Amy thought this quiet space of her own was great, being otherwise too fragile (say it like the dad does in A Christmas Story) to work at the kitchen table amid the usual distractions. She returned here to draw after dinner, graciously let William join, and together they did some awesome work. 

William drew his first "person" - seen blurry below, note two legs and colored-in body with head floating above. I love this little artistic milestone and am just as delighted as I was when Amy suddenly sprang into the world of her own drawing. 


And Amy has been a pro with the markers and her little stick people acting out all sorts of elaborate, motion-filled scenes for awhile now, but drawings like this show how she's started to fill things out a little more, and I think that's just awesome, too. 


And now that they are harmoniously sleeping I'm going to get moving in that direction as well. Happy Friday! 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Quick, picture-less post from me tonight, just so I don't lose my momentum.

This pregnancy has been going smoothly enough, but it has been forcing a big lesson on me: the need to rest.

It is not in my programming to admit that I can't do it all. I really would like to keep up appearances that I am superwoman.

And this is not to say that I'm letting things slide, either. But guess what? The tub needs a scrubbing... it did yesterday and it will tomorrow, too. I'm not taking points off for not getting to it today.

It's hard to pin down why I feel so much more physically tired this go around. Could be because it's my third and I'm all stretchy and such. Could be because there are two others who need my energy, too. Could be because I'm thirty, and not 24 or 27 like the last times. Or could just be getting up at 6:30 for school every day. Or all of the above. 

Some days I'm more tired than others, and plenty of days I'm perky and energized, but generally this baby is requiring me to sit down or put my feet up quite a bit in order to make it through the day.

And I am coming to accept that that is not a bad thing. When I put my feet up in the morning I can watch PBS shows with William and work on my crocheting. In the afternoon Amy and William and I sit around the kitchen table and play Legos or draw or talk. And we have an awesome rocking chair on the front porch that makes a great spot to watch the kids ride their bikes. Not every moment has to involve me crossing something off my personal to-do list.

Tonight I've got the TV remote all to myself so I am going to keep with the resting theme, and rather than feel like I need to make it a "work" night of taming papers on my desk, I'm going to take a nice long shower and get cozy on the couch with some HGTV.

Rest is a very good thing indeed.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Fall Cleaning


Every single time I go through our front door I want to clean it. Pollen and dust and mildew have collected in all the little edges and ledges around the door and two front windows. Most of the time I enter the house I have a purse/child/water bottle/mail/keys/shopping bag in one or both hands, and once inside the problem is quickly forgotten. Today, finally, I took the time to do something about it. Soapy bucket, hose, stiff brush, and about 30 minutes was all it took to make the front of the house look a million times better. I was so buoyed by my success that I even fished out my one decent (and fairly autumnal) wreath to hang on the hook that's been vacant since the Christmas greens came down. 

It was 85 degrees with sweltering humidity while I was doing all this, but I'm hoping a tiny touch of fall decorating might help bring about a shift in the seasons, even down here. 

And while I was cleaning William spent the whole time talking to a little green bug who happened to be hanging out on his handlebars, seen below in the space between William's left ear and the bike: 


This boy loves his small creatures - furry, creepy, or otherwise - and he watched this bug's every move. 

And yes his helmet is on backwards. It's the only way he'll wear it lately. I probably should be a better mother and insist he wear it properly, but, well, at least he wears a helmet. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Frogging Complete


This is one yarn project that is no more. I've tried six ways to Sunday to use up a whole ton of my leftover Red Heart acrylic yarn. It makes such good afghans but I just haven't come up with a pattern or design I like for using up the assortment of colors I have on hand. This number had been sitting around, about 30" of it, for months, and I finally decided that it just wasn't doing it for me, and probably wouldn't ever, even if I did finish it. So in a very liberating decision I decided to just frog the whole thing ("rippit, rippit" - in case you don't know the joke). Don asked, "Isn't it discouraging, to undo so many hours of work?" Not really - honestly it was more satisfying than anything. An unburdening of a project that was bringing me no joy. On to other things. I've got a different, very nice afghan in the works, for example, that I can now devote all my crocheting time to. It feels good. 

And just to complete the picture above... there's that belly of mine... I'm rounding the bend into the third trimester... still seems like an awful lot of time left.  Beyond my toes are about three dozen toy cars and trucks scattered on the floor. They seem to be the favorite for one and all these days, and I've given up on trying keeping them in the basket. At this moment we were all watching Winnie the Pooh - the newest one, which William asks for every day. We happen to have it on blue ray and the animation is stunning, even if I still prefer the calmer pace of the earlier WTP's. 

There is a whole line-up of quick tidbits I'd like to share... tentatively hoping for a post every night this week to get caught up... hold me to it! 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Bedroom Tour

Aaannnd another two weeks of silence in blog-land. I'm not really sure how so much time goes by so quickly, and can only make excuse with the ol' school days conveyor belt we seem to have stepped on and my growing fatigue with being vertical. Come this time of night when I usually catch up pictures and blogs and such I've been tending to... not. But anyway, enough excuses.

Today I'd like to take you on a small tour of Amy and William's room. Last week I procured a new dresser for Amy and tidied up some things. Not much as changed yet I simply find myself looking around their room as we read at night and really, really loving it. Let's begin:


Amy's previous dresser was a four-drawer Christmas Tree Shop special purchased and assembled by moi before she was born. It was still functioning, but she could not make use of the top or top drawer very well, and being rather cheaply made 6 years and 3 moves had taken their toll. I got fixated on wanting something on the still-smallish side, but more horizontal, so that she could have more access to her little treasures and jewelry box and books on top. I had trouble finding the size I wanted, and thought it might mean a goose chase through thrift stores but good old Target came through for me. It took an entire morning for me to assemble (with William's help, of course), weighs about 500 pounds, but is generally sturdy and should last for awhile. And it was just the right size. 


I didn't change the things already on the wall - shelf of special knickknacks, her "medals" from school and Little Gym, and an adorable print by Sarah Jane. Oh, and that's Yavin 4 hanging from the ceiling. But I did add the lamp with the cool purple shade (since purple is her new favorite color). And right up front is a beautiful music box doll that our dear friends sent her - just because. She loves it - and loves it all; I was so pleased with her reaction when she came home from school and I surprised her with this. This dresser holds more as well and simply seems more grown-up and fitting my almost six-year-old. 


William's side of the room is pretty much unchanged, though I did scoot his dresser closer to the bed to make room for the second basket of stuffed animals. And note the solar system - I know I mentioned it awhile back but don't think I ever took a picture. 


William did get a very cool new set of sheets with construction machines all over them, so he's a happy camper too.  


I don't think I'll be featured on any decorating blogs any time soon, but still, I just love this room. It is sweet and simple and calm, and all the things in it are special. I also love that the only toys in here are stuffed animals, and just a handful of books. Everything else is downstairs (which makes for a clutter-battle in the living room, but a very peaceful bedroom). I didn't set out to have my kids sharing a room like this, but they continue to be happy with the arrangement and I am, too. Thanks for taking a look around!