Monday, March 30, 2009

Random Tangent

Now that Henry is closing in on the crawling stage, I am so glad we live in this house. I am constantly thankful that we were able to sell our home in such a devastated market and move here. We really lucked out. Little things remind me of that fact all the time (like Henry about to become mobile), and I am so grateful for the way things worked out that I can't not mention it. I have to, so please indulge me. The odds were very much against us and Ron and I worked so hard on our last home to make it "desirable" enough to sell, even though if we add up our receipts from home improvements and compare it to what we got out of the house when we sold it, we probably didn't "profit" but at least we made it sellable! There were a lot of late nights, sweat, blood, bruises, and yes, tears... and we have worked equally hard on this home to make it livable - actually it's beyond livable, it is really pretty nice! I like to think the former owner would be happy with all the work we've done.

If you had the opportunity to come into this house before we moved in, thank you for having the same imagination, or at least not telling us we were crazy! Even though we kind of were. Now it's a great place for us and the kids - the floors are clean, there is carpeting in the living room, hallway, and bedrooms, and I'll be able to keep an eye on Henry while he maneuvers around a much larger area (meaning, he won't have to be totally confined to a tiny area to still be safe), in the great room. This convenience is especially nice since he isn't the only kid I have to keep tabs on, although I can trust Lucy a bit more when she's not in sight. With these little ones, it's also great to live in an extremely safe and friendly neighborhood. I'd trust any of my neighbors with my kids in an emergency without a doubt.

Ready, Set....

Last night we were able to prop Henry up like this (without him immediately falling down) for the first time! So now he can hang out for short periods of time in the crawling position, and even rocks a tiny bit before he flops down into the skydiving position with his arms and legs splayed out... like he wants to take off! He has to learn: one hand, one knee, other hand, other knee, repeat...
These pics are from this morning... although he was really crabby at the time (I just put him down for his morning power nap), so not so happy to be forced into this arms and core workout.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Six Months Old!

Our baby boy is Half a Year Old today. What on Earth? I can't believe how quickly he has grown and how much he has changed since his 0th birthday! I love this pic because it shows that unmistakable hospital blanket... He can sit up really well, and when he's on his tummy he is really struggling to move, and he can reach and roll around enough to actually end up in a new location after a while! So, we do have to keep an eye on him.When I look at this latest picture, it's hard to believe that is a 6 month old "baby". He almost looks like a toddler! Of course he still acts his age... he loves to put everything in his mouth, and Lucy loves to yell at him and say, "Henry don't eat the ____!" She's really good at telling him what to do...

Aside from growing and reaching milestones, he is developing such a sweet, happy personality. He smiles and giggles so easily, and loves being cuddled just as much as he loves to play and explore. While he's still "light" enough, he loves being tossed into the air too. However, he really isn't light, so it's quite a workout.

Happy Half-Birthday Henry! We love you so much!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Potty and Parenting Pressure

Here is a post about potty training, and how it's going a lot better lately... she wears panties (instead of nothing) and hasn't had any accidents over the past couple of days. I'm reassured by other parents that eventually she will get it, but I think just about everyone with kids will agree that the sooner, the better. I think part of it is because it would be so convenient (and save money) to not be changing diapers on your kid anymore. I think the other part of it, that isn't really talked about a whole lot, is that there is a fear that it will reflect poorly on the parent if they can't manage to teach their kid this skill, like it's singing the alphabet or using a fork. If a kid is potty trained at 18 months, there is a certain level of pride and "isn't my kid a genius?" that a parent probably feels - even though they probably know better than to say it. If a kid is taking a bit longer a parent might wonder if others think they are doing everything correctly, and might even get defensive, because they are more frustrated than anybody, and they know how hard they are working! Potty training a toddler is the most trying part of parenthood for me so far (Yes, I realize I am blessed to have this be my biggest "challenge", and I know much tougher things await me). The truth is, the parents' influence is only a very small part of the equation.

I have heard stories about how my sister potty trained herself at a very young age, coming to tell my mom that she had used the potty - and after that she was magically potty trained! My lucky mom. I wasn't even born yet, so no need to be taking care of a newborn while potty training a feisty toddler (rawr). I have also heard about parents doing everything they can think of and somehow it's not working. Obviously what the parent does (or doesn't do) might not matter as much as we'd like it to. Some people might disagree with me, explaining what method they used and why it was so successful. I still argue that it is ultimately up to the child to embrace the concept, the parents just provide assistance... so good for you if your child was a quick learner in the potty department! Let's not start treading on the dangerously thin ice of "my kid could____at age ___". Lucy is halfway through Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix (kidding... I haven't even read that). Not that we can't celebrate our children's achievements... but every child will hit their milestones in a unique order, and there is a big difference between celebrating a milestone and comparing/contrasting kids. What is very clear, is that Lucy is potty training on her terms. She does understand it (she has been using the potty chair since before she was 2), but has regressed a little (where she gets too busy or doesn't care, and has accidents) which I read about. If I ask her every 10 minutes if she needs to go pee, she will say "no", regardless of the truth. She does better when we just back off, and is physically capable of holding it for a long time (sometimes 4 hours or more... which makes me think she's going to have an accident any minute). Now we just have to teach her not to give herself a wedgie when she's done.

I suppose I can't end this without reiterating the idea that parents can be fairly sensitive about their children (and also tend to think their own children are superior in some ways than other people's kids), and I am no exception. I think it's normal to think that your own child is awesome, but important to remember that they don't have to be the best at everything (and won't be). I have a good friend whose daughter is only nine days older than Lucy and neither one of us wanted to talk about what was happening with our kids (like when they started crawling, walking, talking, etc.) for fear that it would come across as bragging or "my kid is smarter than yours" - even though neither of us felt that we were trying to compare our girls to each other. It was silly because it resulted in us not talking about our kids at all! We would have been better off being forthright from the beginning and laughing about all the ridiculous aspects of parenting, including the insane pressure to be the best "teachers" we can be... So good luck all you parents, with sleeping through the night, using the potty, singing the alphabet, drinking from a big-kid cup, understanding calculus, or whatever you're working on right now. More so, good luck to the kids who are really the ones figuring all these things out.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Deck Demolition

This was the scene this morning... most of it is cleaned up, but it might take one more trip with the truck...

Friday, March 20, 2009


I think I can officially say that Henry is sleeping through the night now*. He will be 6 months old on the 28th of this month. He has a bottle around 8 or 9 PM and doesn't eat again until the next morning around 7 or 8 AM. The past two nights he hasn't woken up at all, but for about a week now, if he does wake up one of us just gives him his pacifier and he goes back to sleep. Needless to say this is nice and we are enjoying the full-night's rest.

*I of course realize that this all could change with teething, storms, illness, etc. but for the most part, we are past that certain stage of the baby's life where their need to eat wakes them (and us) up.

No more stumbling into the kitchen at 3 AM to make a bottle...

This makes me think back to the earliest days after we brought Henry home from the hospital when he was 1 day old, when he was in his bassinet in our room, waking up every couple hours (if we were lucky to have a couple consecutive hours!)... those nights are such a hazy memory. I did not breastfeed, but I'd sit up in bed and hold him, and have the most painful contractions that I sometimes actually had to set him down or give him to Ron because they were excruciating (almost as bad as when I was in labor!). That was definitely unexpected, but I learned that the production of oxytocin can be triggered by things besides breastfeeding. I can't believe how little sleep I got (Ron was spared from most of the newborn work), and yet during the day I just kept on truckin'. Now getting up once in the middle of the night is like, "UGH! Come ON! Sleep through the night already!"... Really, how can we complain?!

Henry has been such a cuddly baby right from the start, it was hard not to let him fall asleep in our arms, because he was just so peaceful and adorable. I hope we're not already spoiling our little baby boy! Or maybe because this is probably our last child we're trying to take advantage of the this time when he is still a little baby, because we know how quickly it is over. He's already well past the tiny phase. Anyway, now we can lay him down in his crib wide awake and he takes care of the rest, so usually that is what we do. But not always ;-)

He takes a couple decent naps during the day, and one long one that coincides with Lucy's nap time, should she take one. That sometimes gives me a nice break. Generally speaking, we don't have Henry on any kind of schedule other than the one that he is falling into on his own. It's much easier that way, and less stressful for me if I'm not worrying about what time it is and whether or not he's "supposed" to be sleeping. I just read recently in an article online: three things you can't force a child to do "eat, sleep, or go potty". SO true!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Getting Desperate

Showing Lucy various videos on YouTube to get her more excited about potty training (it can't hurt, right?), I found this gem. Lucy loved the little kitty....

Chalk It Up

Lucy in the driveway with her Easter Egg shaped chalk early this afternoon.

Neighbor Kids

The boy on the lower right side of the photo climbed waaay up high a couple times... I took a few photos of these daredevils but liked this one above the best (closer-up crop).

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I wouldn't normally buy shirts that are only good to be worn on one day, but this was a hand-me-down from my sister-in-law (who has twin boys born in September, 3 years older than Henry). Wouldn't you know it, but this morning I forgot about the fact that it's St. Paddy's Day and had him in a burgundy shirt... duh...

It is super nice out, and I am feeling a lot better today. I finally got my shower and hopefully this afternoon we'll have a chance to get outside and enjoy this unusually warm weather!

Monday, March 16, 2009

After This Post, I Am Napping

Wow, today I feel really icky. Saturday night we went out for a friend's birthday, to Tequila Willy's, yeah... there was a stabbing there Friday night apparently. Sweet. Anyway, we were up in a loft area, so I am assuming I inhaled a large quantity of second-hand smoke. Yuck! On top of the fact that I had a few drinks, and stayed up way too late. Oh, and last night we forced ourselves to stay up late enough to watch all of Brothers & Sisters. Sunday I wasn't feeling too hot, but today it's worse. I am definitely not a baby, or someone who likes to be babied, but I ache all over my whole body, and have a really sore throat. My skin is ultra-sensitive, which is weird, because it kind of hurts when my pants rub against my legs. What is that all about? Blah blah blah. Yesterday we went for a really long walk around the neighborhood, and it was nice to get some fresh air. I think we may have to get out again this afternoon.

Ron hung the shelves in our nooks, but they still need to be stained to match the rest of the woodwork in our great room. It already looks much nicer and more organized. There is even a spot to put our record player and records, so I have been listening to some vinyl lately. It's relaxing. What would appear to be an "easy" job (although that's always relative) was definitely more complicated than anyone will know. The nooks are not perfectly square in back, and in order to get the shelves to fit nicely, much tweaking was necessary. At least he has all the woodworking tools and machinery needed for a project like that.

Still no more progress on the tiling, because we have to start cutting tiles with the wet saw. We want to chip away at that this week. It seems like there is always something to do around here. Most people have it that way, I know. I can't wait till our to-do list doesn't involve major home improvement projects, but instead has little things like "wipe down shelves in fridge" or "replace lighbulb on porch," like normal people. We love this house though, and knew when we bought it we'd have a lot of work to do. We just want the big stuff to be behind us.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Home Work

Lately it seems like I've been posting a lot of Facebook status updates about our home improvement projects. It sounds like we're up to a lot, but in reality, a lot isn't really getting done at the moment. We have all the materials to completely redo our basement bathroom, other than a new mirror, which we're still shopping around for. We're getting rid of our old mirrored medicine cabinet, which will be listed on Craigslist soon! 28" h by 30" w and in perfect condition. We saw the same exact one for sale at Menards! Anyway, we (I) started tiling the hallway, which will continue into the bathroom (more flooring needs to be removed). We put up new towel bars, TP dispenser, knobs, have (but have not installed) a new doorknob set (with a lock!), faucet, light fixture... and I'm going to be sewing the outer shower curtain, and the window valence to match, which will be done sometime before Easter weekend, by golly.

Upstairs we have a fireplace in the living room, and on either side of it are two "nooks". Actually we have called them "cubbies" all along for some reason. You can sort of see one of them here (the same on both sides of the fireplace). Well, long ago, Ron built shelves out of hard maple, and yesterday he planed them smooth and now they just need stain and install! We figured out the placement for them, and sometime this weekend we will have our shelves up. It will be so nice not to have the precarious stack of media components under our TV and be able to use that space more efficiently. Over spring break we hope to work on the decks. Anyone is welcome to come and help out! ::crickets chirping:: There will be free beer and pizza for you! C'mon you know you want to help build a deck and pergola!

The same tiles that surround the inner part of the fireplace are also sitting in boxes by our front window, waiting to be applied as the kitchen backsplash. It will have a big impact, but it's sort of a low priority. They come in sheets (12" square) so they're actually easier to deal with than large tiles. Pictures to come as some of these projects are completed!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Ghost Stories

Last night Ron and I watched a show on SciFi called Ghosthunters. It is usually followed by Ghosthunters International (GHI). The shows are about a team of investigators who visit supposedly haunted locations, and try to debunk or find alternative explanations for the reported phenonema. Sometimes, they succeed in doing this (which either relieves or disappoints the people who are experiencing strange things), sometimes they are unable to find a "logical" reason behind the activity, but might have personal experiences that can't be backed up with sound or video, and sometimes they even capture, using high-tech devices, paranormal activity.

Now, I know this can actually be a contraversial topic, as it touches on the concept of spirits (good and evil), the afterlife, and what is the energy that actually animates us. Why are these beings hanging around? What do they want? Are they trapped? Is this their sentence, do they even know they are dead? All age-old debates that a lot of people shy away from. I actually find it very fascinating, admitting humbly that I do not have the answer, and probably never will during my lifetime. I just like the discussion.

Seeing these teams capture images and sounds that are (if you watch the show, you'll know), arguably irrefutable evidence of paranormal activity, can actually be a bit scary! It's late at night, and then we head to bed... suddently I am hearing every little bump and creak in the house, and what was that I saw out of the corner of my eye? Maybe I'm just in a high EMF area... I'm comforted somewhat by knowing that if there is anything out there, it can't hurt me. Afterall, these teams seek this stuff out, and they aren't scared (usually).

Talking with friends and relatives who are trustworthy and definitely not insane, I have heard several stories about apparitions, and I have also seen photos with white mist in front of the (film) camera - no one was smoking, they were outdoors on a sunny day. My friends's mother took the photo and never saw that mist when she pressed the shutter, only when the photo were developed. It is pretty obvious that it isn't an error in the developing process. At the same home they report a child's footsteps on their second story, doors closing, and things moving around in the house and yard. Oooohhh... I'm sure there are lots of skeptics who have quick answers for all those things, but don't tell that to Jenny and Mitch because they would definitely disagree with you. I've had one personal experience, and so have plenty of other people I know. On top of that, the previous owner of our home died, we presume, in our bedroom. We haven't seen or heard her though, but she comes to our minds all the time. What does that mean?

So, is it wrong to attempt to communicate with "spirits"? I'm torn on this. I don't like the idea of messing with, or provoking evil spirits. I have seen people on Ghosthunters physically (and emotionally) touched, sometimes knocked over, by something. I would not particularly enjoy that. However, some of the things they communicate with seem to be harmless, passive, or even playful. On on the TAPS vs. GHI debate - I realized that usually we are only able to tune in at the tail end of Ghosthunters (USA), and therefore we have gotten to know the GHI team a lot better. Last night's "forced" extended watching of Ghosthunters was definitely interesting, and they seemed to catch some good stuff. Some of the respective team members have been on both shows, depending on which season they are showing an episode on. Since Lucy was in bed earlier than normal we could check it out more. The show itself, as well as many of the commercials, are a bit scary for her.

Even if you are a total skeptic, I believe this show is something worth watching. The team members have had loads of personal experience and evidence captured, but each time to visit a new location their initial reaction to something they see or hear is to figure out a non-paranormal cause. They never jump to conclusions without painstaking investigation. And each week you watch it, it gets a little less frightening. The first time we did, we were totally freaked out...

Random Bullet Points

  • The tiling is on pause because Ron needs to add some silicone by the threshold of the basement door, and the next tiles to go down need to be cut with a wet saw (which can't really be done while kids are in bed). I walked on what is done so far, and my handiwork held up underfoot with no problems.
  • Ron bought a six pack of beer last weekend and didn't really like it (Shiner Hefeweizen) but drank the final bottle last night anyway. What a trooper.
  • Barbie's feet are very sharp.
  • We have a working record player now, with a built-in pre-amp (Wow, modern! Actually, "normal!" but I've never had that before), so it can plug right into my stereo and it's ready to go. I will again be able to enjoy listening to my vinyl collection, which isn't half bad, I must say.
  • GHI wasn't on last night?! Just Ghosthunters. The TAPS team spends too much time goofing around, and I like Robb and Dustin much better. Oh well, there's always next week.
  • Our basement is essentially spider-free and has been for months. What a difference from the set of Arachnaphobia we moved into over a year ago! I've just observed that the more time I spend down here working on home-improvements. Kelly and Heath should appreciate this when they visit...
  • Lucy went to sleep at 7 PM last night, and stayed in bed till 7 AM. That's really nice!
  • I'm being summoned loudly. Have a great day!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

People are Real in Real Life! Cool!

This morning my grandparents came over to watch the kids (and give Lucy her first ever Barbie doll), which made it possible for me to visit my friend Aletha, a nearly life-long-acquaintance-turned blogging buddy/real life friend. She is an amazing wedding planner, and we keep in touch a lot through the Internet, so she invited me over for coffee. It was so nice to get out of the house for a few hours, talk, and relax. Although I have known Aletha basically my whole life, we never really got know each other growing up. She is really funny and sweet and easy to get along with, and I give all the credit to Blogger and Facebook for the fact that we speak to each other at all. If it weren't for those connections, we probably would have just gone about our lives hearing bits and pieces through the grapevine of our families, as I am friends with many of her cousins, and my mom and dad (and some of my aunts and uncles) are friends with her parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. It is always so funny to read someone's blog for months or even years, seeing photos and reading about their day to day life, and then seeing them (or their kids, pets, homes) in person... I think a few of you know what I mean, and it's hard to explain why, but it's a strange feeling. Like characters from a book coming to life, and running into them at Meijer.

I made it home by 1:00 (!), only to load up the kids and take them over to my parents', where I hung out for a bit before my doctor appointment (I mentioned before). I told her about some of my "symptoms" and they took my weight and height to calculate a BMI (too low), and also drew blood for some lab tests (FSH, TSH, etc.), mainly to check for hyperthyroidism or any other potential issues. "No news is good news," they say, but I can call back in a week for my results if I'm curious. After I returned to my parents' house, we had spaghetti and salad and garlic bread. After Lucy's long night of tossing in turning in OUR bed, she was really tired and fell asleep in the car on the way home (within less than a mile after I left), and I changed her clothes and put her in her bed, where she is staying tonight. I think she is exhausted. I am a little tired as well... but that won't stop me from staying up late, drinkin' box wine, and watching Ghosthunters and GHI with Ron!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Good Morning!

Last night Lucy stayed dry through the night - so I praised her for that and showed her the dry diaper and said that means she'll get to wear panties to bed... and calmly suggested she might want to sit on the toilet because she probably needs to pee now. "I don't go pee," she kept insisting. I stopped harassing her knowing that she did need to go, and within a couple minutes she ran to the toilet and climbed on and went, wiped herself dry, and flushed. She's progressing, slowly but surely. I'm going to try to let her wear panties more naked butt less, although that has often resulted in many more accidents. I'm really ready for this to "click" in her mind and be done with diapers (for her) forever!

New Morton Girl

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Calming Down

Yesterday was a tad stressful for me. I think we have cabin fever, and Lucy is pretty much not napping anymore, and gets bored. She spends 90% of her waking hours asking for yogurt, apple juice, teddy grahams, yogurt, bread, sammich, milk, apple juice... I swear, it doesn't stop. Much of this is coupled with running around in circles until she is dizzy/falling into things, and covering her face and yelling, "don't look at me Henry!" She has her subdued moments, but she is a very active, busy child, and even when she's focused on a cartoon or a puzzle, she never sits still. Never a dull moment, (almost) always entertaining to watch. I need to get her out more, but it's easy to make excuses with a baby to carry; Henry is getting heavy and shouldn't be in his carrier any more. His feet completely hang off the front, and I'm sure he is exceeding the weight limit. Unfortunately, he is too young to really sit up in a shopping cart (if I were to take them to the store, for example), and we still have to break down and buy Lucy's new booster seat so we can put Henry in the other carseat that she is using right now.
Anyway, yesterday I thought I was going to go crazy, and it didn't help that Ron is quite busy with grad school stuff, and stayed late to get some work done (so he wasn't home until 6:30 PM, which might seem like a normal time for most nine-to-fivers, but he leaves for work around 6:30 AM most days). On his way home, he picked up a box of wine, U2's new album No Line on the Horizon, and a dozen roses (flowers are not a typical thing around here). It was really nice of him. I totally support the need for him to stay at work to get things accomplished for his grad classes, because obviously at home there are just too many distractions. It makes for some long days for both of us. So thank you, honey!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


Well, I have a new camera - a Canon 40D - and have spent some time getting to know the ins-and-outs. It features some more customizable settings and functions, so it I had to give myself a little crash course over the last day or so. Luckily, it is pretty intuitive and many of the menus and settings are set up similar to my other camera. When I first got it, I charged up the battery, set the date/time, formatted my CF card, and a couple other little things, and started taking some snapshots of the kids. I wasn't too blown away by the results, but realized that it was because I was looking for super crispy images, and the camera actually lets you adjust the picture's softness/sharpness, and the default is somewhere in the middle. I like people's eyes to be tack-sharp and skin to be bright, and once I changed a couple settings, I finally was "wowed" by some SOOC shots.

There are many aspects about this camera that are a lot better than my Rebel Xt. It was definitely worth the upgrade for my business, and I can't wait to use it for a couple upcoming sessions this spring!

Monday, March 02, 2009


I am done tweaking my blog for now. I ended up with the birds because I thought they were kind of springy, even though the red hearts are strange. I like the color combo, and it's a fresh look now that we're finally almost through the winter! Now, as I am typing this very post, I realized this is the same color combo of my friend Aletha's office! Lovely...


Obviously I've been messing around with my blog design. I have to finish it later. Many of my links and other items are currently gone, but will be added back soon!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Porch Light

Today we got some new exterior light fixtures - the porch light, the light for above the garage, and a light at the side door (all look like the one pictured below). All the old fixtures were "corroded brass" or "sun-bleached brownish gray", and were removed by the Siding Guys back in the fall. I guess we're getting motivated to do some more work on the house now that the weather is improving a bit. The sun is shining, but it's freezing outside. After this one was finished, I quickly took a couple photos to post.
Due to the style of our house, we've decided to go with more contemporary style fixtures, and this was actually a last-minute switch that I begged for. The design is based on a classic arts-and-crafts or mission style, but the light nickel finish is modern and clean looking. That's my attempt to combine old with new, although it doesn't always work out the way I imagine! However, I think this is an exception. I'm really glad Ron is so compliant with my whims. These were cheaper than the ones we had in the cart, and I think he actually loves them as much as I do.