Another checked box

Okay, so my week of finishing projects turned into my week of getting a cold and not having the energy to document and post about them. But I did finally get a picture of my ledge photo wall.

I followed Ana's plans although I changed the design from the original a tad since I wanted thinner ledges and I only made mine four feet long. Craig assisted a little bit but I did most of it myself. The ledges have been painted and installed for a while now but I've been collecting frames from thrift stores and arranging them. I finally got enough last week so I handed them over to Craig for a quick spray painting (to be truthful, two frames didn't survive the painting process so the pictures are just laying in front of them, but I have two more frames that will get painted soon to replace them).

Then I sorted through photo files to pick out my favorites. That might have been the hardest part since I am not a very decisive person and I have tons of pictures of our family that I love but I finally did it. I originally planned to do all black and whites but Craig wanted some color so I did a mix of color, black and white and sepia.

Of course, there ended up being a lot of Lucy pictures

 but I also picked a few older pictures that I love. This one of Craig in the dog house is precious.

and this is one of my favorite of my mom and I. 

It's only a little project but for my first try at woodworking, I'm really proud of how it turned out and I've already purchased the wood for my next project. Of course, I hardly needed a new hobby to keep me busy but this one is so very practical I couldn't help myself.


10 months

Double digits baby! 

Dear Lucy,

You are getting too big. This month has been all about communication and exploration for you.

The "mama" from last month, well it definitely refers to me now so it's official - you've said your first word! You still only really say it when you are upset but that is okay. But talking is not the only way you can communicate.  You have learned to wave hi/goodbye and love it. We can hardly leave the room without a wave. And a few days after you figured out waving, you started signing. Your first sign was "choo-choo." We have been doing other signs for months now and while we'd get a response, you never did them back, but just a couple days after daddy started doing "choo-choo" every time the train went by, you started doing it yourself! Now that you have the concept, you are on a roll. You also sign "milk" now. You copy us when we sign "all done" and "change" so I don't think it will be long before you initiate those as well. We've got to start thinking of new signs to introduce to you - maybe book and sleep?

You still aren't a big fan of "no" but you do listen pretty well. You know you aren't supposed to get into the cat water so you will look back and forth between it and me, when I say "no" you sit down, pout and even fake cry sometimes but you leave it alone. I have to fight hard not to laugh, it's just too cute. The one thing we aren't doing a good job stopping is your screaming.  Somehow you manage to hit the worst sounding pitch imaginable. Hopefully as you learn more signs, you start using those instead but half the time I think you scream just to hear yourself. You'll scream, stop to laugh, then start again while the cat is trying to run as far away from you as possible. 

This is you mid-scream. Why are you screaming? I don't know!

You still love to read and your current favorite, by a huge margin, is Pat the Bunny.You do all the tasks yourself.  In fact, after reading and re-reading it we normally have to distract you, hide it, and pretend we don't know what you are looking for if we ever want to stop reading it. All your other books get stored on your bookshelf but Pat the Bunny stays hidden behind a pillow on the couch only to be taken out when we are in the mood for at least 3 reads in a row.

You have finally gotten adventurous. Last month you would only play within touching distance of me and preferred to climb and crawl on me instead of the ground. Then at the beginning of this month, you would go a few feet away, turn around and look at me for a few seconds before hurrying back as fast as you could wanting to be picked up. Now you head off and barely look back but mostly you use your new mobility to join me. You want to be in on the action whether that is helping me wash dishes, exploring earthworms in the garden with daddy or "playing" with the kitty.

You like to crawl around after balls or to find daddy or I when we are "hiding" from you. You also like to cruise around the living room. You don't even need ledges anymore, just a flat wall. You remind me of a beginning ice skater, hugging the wall as you move about the house. You also love to "dance" which is really more of bouncing but if we say dance, you start bopping and laughing. We have to be careful because sometimes you are so exuberant that you'll hit your face so we try to encourage dancing with couches over tables or walls.

You still like to climb and can often be found on top of your walker wagon dancing. But luckily you are pretty good at climbing down things. You can easily climb down from bed, my lap and even the couch.

You have three teeth now and look a bit crooked when you smile but that fourth tooth is bulging so you'll be balanced again soon. And your hair is getting long but only on top. I love your bed head when you wake up from a nap - that is something that you get from your dad! But even with the worst case of bedhead imaginable, you are the cutest baby in the world!


Higher (Cost) Education

Check out this chart of home prices vs. tuition prices vs. the Consumer Price Index:
You may have thought that home prices went wild in the last decade, but they have nothing on tuition prices. Is Glenn Reynolds discussing homes or degrees here?

The buyers think what they're buying will appreciate in value, making them rich in the future. The product grows more and more elaborate, and more and more expensive, but the expense is offset by cheap credit provided by sellers eager to encourage buyers to buy.
Buyers see that everyone else is taking on mounds of debt, and so are more comfortable when they do so themselves; besides, for a generation, the value of what they're buying has gone up steadily. What could go wrong? Everything continues smoothly until, at some point, it doesn't.
As Reynolds details, we are all told that you have to get a college degree to succeed, hence the high demand for seats at colleges. This allows them to keep raising tuition rates. They have to raise tuition rates because, as the quasi-governmental institutions that they are (whether private or public, really, but mostly the latter), they don't know how to be thrifty. That's why many public colleges have palatial dorms, state-of-the-art rec centers, and 24 vice presidents.

If only there was some alternative to the standard 4-year college. Well, one is arising, and it is the for-profit college. You see commercials for these places, which are career-oriented. No Women's Studies majors at these institutions. But of course, these colleges are under attack:
Investigations have pointed to grade inflation, misleading success stories and questionable recruiting tactics.
I'd say traditional universities are guilty of all of those sins, particularly the Ivy league for #1 and law schools for #2 and #3

Any guesses as to who is pushing these attacks?
There is, from a legal perspective, blood in the water. 
"You don't have to be an ambulance chaser to know this is a vulnerable industry," Urdan said. 
Experts say it's a trend being pushed by increased media attention and by lawyers who see the lawsuits as low-risk, high-reward opportunities. They cost little to file, particularly when compared with environmental or medical claims that require costly experts and expensive tests.
There are also questions about ability of graduates to get jobs. But again, it's traditional universities that are offering the majors in Minority Studies and other such useless majors with limited job prospects.

All told, I think for-profit universities are a legitimate alternative, and one of the few hopes we have of getting traditional universities to lower their tuition rates. I think that's exactly why they're getting attacked. However, if for-profit universities are guilty of anything, then its time to train our investigative eye on traditional universities, who are guilty of many of the sins that private universities are accused of.


If only it worked that way.

This past week has been a week of finishing up projects. Finishing up happens to be one of my favorite parts of a project. I also like starting projects. It's only that pesky little middle part of actually working on projects that can be tiresome. But this was a simply little project so the middle wasn't too bad.

It started when I kept seeing subway/bus rolls pop up everywhere. And by "everywhere, " of course I mean design blogs. And if this was a design blog, I would probably be ashamed to be talking about this because the bus roll is "so over" and has become the new Keep Calm and Carry On Poster. But I really like them and luckily for me, I don't have a design blog and can get away with this trend because the majority of people who will enter my home don't read design blogs and are not aware that using them is passe.

And then I saw this bedtime one and I knew exactly what I wanted to do. At $25, the price really wasn't bad but I still would need to buy a frame and I decided the black background was going to be a little too harsh for her room. So I made one myself!

I went with a pale greyish pink. Lucy's room is still very gender neutral so it was a nice way to add in a pop of girlishness. The frame I got for free from a MOPS home item exchange a couple months ago. I thought about having it printed on a canvas but I would have had to use a more standard size and really liked the long and skinny look. Since it is an odd size, I had it printed as a 16x20 and just cropped it to fit. My only cost was the printing which was ~$15 since I ordered other items at the same time and got free shipping. Not bad for a custom piece of art.

So now you know what we are doing at approximately 7pm every evening. Except for that last step, which apparently Lucy thinks is optional.


A turn about the yard

We are all doing much better now and spent much of the weekend working on the back yard. I love working on the inside of the house but the spring weather is too much of a draw and luckily, there is a lot to do outside too! It's also easier to work with Lucy outside since she gets distracted by grass and dirt and gives us a bit more space. Inside she practically crawls on top of us to see what fun things we are up too.

We have many many plans for the backyard, too many in fact. But a while back Craig and I walked around and made a list of all the things we even dreamed of doing. It was long. But that was okay. It gave us a start and allowed us to sort out where the different zones of our yard should be (play, entertaining, garden, etc). We don't want to work really hard to install raised beds one year only to find out that the spot we picked is the only one where chickens will work so we have to move them.

Once we had an idea of what and where we wanted to work, we had to deal with the when. After prioritizing, we came up with a three year plan. I'm sure our three year plan will be evolving and it will probably take more than three years to complete, but at least it is a start. It also lessened the stress since we know we have a plan of action and will get to everything in due time. This year we are focusing on the vegetable gardens, berry planting and getting our deck/patio outfitted with a grill and table so we can start entertaining more.

Here is a shot of the backyard. It's all weird looking because I made a panorama with photoshop but it gives you a good idea of the layout as long as you ignore the depth issues and imagine the pictures wrapping around you.

1) The vegetable garden. Craig finally finished up the raised beds this weekend! He has been working on them for a while but he doesn't have much time after Lucy goes to bed before it gets dark. Also, they are on a hill so while the assemble was fast, the installation and leveling was a pain. But they look amazing and should last a while. We just need to order our topsoil and compost. (In front of the veggie garden are pallets that make up our compost bin but we don't have enough to fill the beds so we will order it and use ours later on). We are going to try out hand at tomatoes, onions, beets, corn, green beans, lettuce and cucumber (garlic too but that is not until fall). There is also a bird feeder and bath over there too.

2) Strawberries go here! Yum. Of course, we will have to be patient but I think it will be worth it.

3) Here is the Lucy zone. This space is great because it is flat and while it is sunny in the morning, it is nice and shaded during the hot afternoons. It isn't really getting much attention this year in terms of work, but I have a feeling we will be playing here quite a bit this summer. Eventually we will be putting some sort of play house here next to the little well (that covers up our actual well). There might even be room here for a baby pool or sand box but for now it is home to Lucy's little farm playground.

I had been looking for a little playground like this on Craiglist after I saw  John enjoying his but I couldn't find anything. Then Saturday we found this one for free on a curb. What luck! I had originally thought I would let Lucy take over the little garden bed but Craig planted tulips last fall (you can just see them starting to peek up) and I love tulips so we will have to see how unselfish I am when the time comes.

4) A collaborative project with our neighbor is to install a gate here. Right now neighbor J and I have to hop the fence or walk down around to the busy road in order to visit each other. Neither option is ideal since we both have kiddos with us. Neighbor J has skills and can hop the fence in a skirt while wearing her cute chunky monkey of a 7-month old in a mei-tai but I'm not as brave. Both of us think that a gate would be a good addition.

5) Our clothesline area and soon to be home to blackberry bushes. We had to do some layout rearranging since we didn't realize that blackberry bushes get as tall as they do. But this new location should be ideal. Those windows are only our garage windows so it isn't a big deal if the bushes block them a tad.

Other than that, we will just be working on general yard maintenance. The previous owner took meticulous care of his yard but he used a lot of Scotts to do it (and even left us the schedule :-) but we will be trying a more organic approach. Eventually the yard should be healthier and less work but this first couple years will be a shock to it's chemical dependent self and it will probably look awful and need a bit more tlc. Craig's going to be re-seeding a couple areas and working together with our other neighbor on the mole issue. Moles give me the creeps so I hope they are successful since I love my backyard and want to be able to enjoy it!


In case you were wondering...

we are still alive here - barely. After our exciting Friday, we kept the fun  going on Saturday with a picnic and trip to the zoo with friends.

But since Sunday, we have been hit with migraines (MacKenzie), cold/flu (Craig), teething pain (Lucy) and bad-enough-to-cause-bleeding diaper rash (Lucy again). It was definitely a week when I had to remind myself many times that as Christians, our difficulties are temporary but our joys are eternal.  And temporary they are, after some ibuprofen (MacKenzie), theraflu (Craig) and snacking-on-frozen-peas-while-sitting-naked-in-mama's-lap-time (Lucy), we appear to be on the mend. Until then, here are some pictures of us enjoying the zoo.


Daddy Days (and videos galore!)

This post is ridiculously video heavy, but in my defense, none are very long. All but one was taken yesterday and I just couldn't wait to show them to you. The reason we took so many yesterday was that Craig was home and for some reason, he is much better at getting good clips. Here is my attempt to capture Lucy's cruising around with her walker wagon:

and here is his. Not fair.

Craig was home because he is done with the training he has been doing and can go back to his 9 hr days with every-other-Friday-off schedule. I love that schedule because we get an extra day and it is even better than a weekend because we don't normally have things scheduled so it is just for fun time. Yesterday we tried out the local indoor pool with Lucy for the first time. We were a little nervous about her reaction but after a few minutes of uncertainty

she decided it was the best thing ever! See for yourself.

After our pool time, we had a yummy lunch at Chick-Fil-A, a quick trip to Hobby Lobby for some supplies for a craft for Lucy's room and then she and I took a 2-hr nap while Craig worked on our raised beds some more. After our nap, we played in the garden and Lucy finally decided that she not only likes grass but that she can crawl! On all fours! I really thought she was just going to skip it entirely, but nope. She still mixes in some scooting but there is definitely real crawling going on . What a day!


Officially a collection

I love the idea of collection things. I have a cross collection which should be getting hung up sometime in the next day or two (hint hint Craig :-) but I have strict rules about when and how I add to it. I can be given crosses anytime but can only buy them for myself for a specific reason and in case you were wondering, purchasing one at a mexican market on the last day of a mission trip is a specific reason, because they had cute ones on sale at Kohls is not.

Craig loves to garage sale shop and go to antique hole-in-the-wall places but my attention span is not always up for that. I wanted something that I could be on the lookout for to help me enjoy spending my time that way a bit more but it had to be fun, inexpensive and useful - and I finally found it!

I stumbled upon a blog post about vintage Pyrex and Fire-King glassware and oh my goodness, the cuteness I saw! Not only does it fit all my criteria, it works with the style of our house. And I can say I want to keep the vintage charm of this place all I want but most things from the 50-60s are just plain ugly so this bonus was a big one. Of course, right now the pink and grey laminate countertops are about all the charm my kitchen can take, but someday...okay, back to reality.

Of course, there are some very 60s patterns but there are lots that are colorful and fun without being overwhelming or overly avocado (see a pattern guide here). I am particularly fond of the blue and teal ones but I'm also a sucker for anything with polka dots. They just make me want to put on a string of pearls and beehive my hair. 

And I love it's history. I've only done a little bit of research but it was made for the masses so the quality control was minimal. The designs are often crooked and all piece are just a bit different. And some of the patterns I've seen were made to be given away as gas station marketing promotions. That is better than a coupon for a free car wash!

Although lumped together as "Pyrex" (since only the same dorks who call Kleenex "facial tissues" would call Pyrex and Fire-King "borosilicate glass ovenware"), most of my favorite patterns are actually Fire-King. But since I'm just picking up stuff I like at thrift stores, garage sales and little antique places when I find them at good prices, I don't really care.

I was going to document them on a cute piece of fabric like they do over at pyrexlove.com, but this is what kept happening when I tried:

So you get them on my shelf instead, but since that is where they actually reside, it's more accurate anyway.

This is the first piece I picked up for $3.50.  It's a Fire-King piece (unnamed pattern that is often called cornflower)

And these are the ones I got last weekend. I was torn between this one and the bowls below but when we went to check out, we were told that everything was 50% off so I splurged and got all three for $10! And now that I own more than one piece, it's offically a collection!

The casserole dish is Fire-King. I want more lidded ones since I am phasing out our plastic storage containers and these will be nice for leftovers.
I'm not sure what this bowl is but I now own two!


Check it out

I love to bake and like to cook but every once in a while I find myself in a bit of a rut when it comes to meal planning. But the last time I was at my parent's, my mom gave me Feeding Our Families, healthnutfoodie's new real food cookbook.

I've tried several recipes from this book so far and they have all been good. Most of the ones in the book aren't on her website but luckily for you, my favorite of the ones I've tried so far, Shrimp and Soba Stir Fry, is just a click away. Even my little brother, who rejects most food that has any sort of natural color and lives off of candy and cereal, loved it and went back for a second helping.

And as you can clearly see below, Lucy enjoyed her first experience with spaghetti accompanied by the book's classic Bolognese sauce...this is her right after I gave her seconds.

The recipes are easy to follow, kid-friendly but still flavorful and she explains what ingredients to use and why. Whether you are well versed in whole/real food cooking and are looking for new recipe inspiration or if you are just beginning to try your hand at healthy eating, I highly recommend you check it out.

I was not compensated for this review, I just wanted to share something I have enjoyed with you. 


This, that and trouble

Oh, it feels like a Monday, doesn't it? Mondays always seem worse when they follow nice weekends. We didn't have much going on. Craig helped some friends of ours move into their new home on Saturday but the rest of the weekend was free. We did a little antique shopping and errand running but mostly we worked on a few odds and ends at the house.

There is a bit of a fire under our feet since I volunteered our house for my next women's book club meeting. I now have one week to get things looking ship shape, not that they would care but I would. Hospitality it is a great motivator; pictures are getting hung up, curtains are finally getting hemmed, and hopefully by the end of the week, the box spring that has been in our dining room for almost a month will be gone. (It was supposed to go into the basement but it won't fit down the stairs so we have had to come up with a plan b).

Lucy has been busy too. She not only learned to wave but I came into the living room yesterday to find this:

She can't walk, can barely crawl but boy can she climb. I think I'm in trouble.


3 more!

I've been busy reading. I finished up three more historical non-fiction books for my challenge and for those who have been on the edge of their seat, I will let you know that I am still working on Gone with the Wind. I'm about half way through and I will admit, it is growing on me. I do think it helped to stop thinking about it as a love story.

Anyway, on to the reviews:

Dark Road to Darjeeling by Deanne Raybourn

The 4th in the Lady Julia Grey.  As you may guess from the title, this one is set in India where Julia is assisting two of her siblings in their attempt to "rescue" Jane, who for ease of explanation I'll call a friend who's husband died mysteriously leaving her with child. She and Brisbane are both working the case but neither is willing to assist the other more than seems to be absolutely necessary.

I obviously like this series or I wouldn't still be reading it :-) Everytime I pick up one of Raybourn's books, I find I can hardly put it down until I'm at the end and in some ways I think this was one of my favorite of the series. The new characters were interesting and I enjoyed getting to know some of the minor characters a bit more. And unlike one or two earlier ones in this series, there were several big reveals that I just didn't seem coming.

 I was curious to see how the dynamic between Brisbane and Julia would change now that they are married but I think Raybourn did a good job with having their relationship progress and not plateau. I've heard complaints that Julia's character is annoying is this one but I didn't think so, she is just struggling to understand her role in her marriage and her detective work. Maybe I sympathize with her struggles with selfishness at the beginning of her marriage too much to be unable to forgive her for that :-)

That isn't to say it is perfect, this one like all the others has a few things I wish she had left out and I thought the ending was a bit sad. Plus I can't help but compare it to the Lady Emily Mysteries by Tasha Alexander and I must say I think I prefer those just a tad bit more. But there is always room in my life for both and I will continue to read these.

The Inimitable Jeeves/Very Good, Jeeves - P.D. Wodehouse

I'm reviewing these two together because they are very similar. I found these at my parent's house and didn't even realize they were the inspiration for the tv show Jeeves and Wooster until I started reading. Even though I've only seen one episode of the show and that was several years ago, it didn't take long though for me to figure it out, seeing as the main characters are two men named Jeeves and Wooster (didn't see that one coming did you?). I'm going to have to find some episodes of the show now.

The books are composed of little lighthearted stories about the young gentleman Wooster who always finds himself in tough spots. Luckily he has his very helpful valet Jeeves to assist him with his dilemmas. If Jeeves has a fault, it would be that poor Wooster suffers in comparison. It reminded me that I need a bit more humor in my life, laughter is good for the soul. A great book to keep in your car for filling those few minutes when you are waiting in the grocery store parking lot for your baby to wake up, or waiting in the garage for your baby to wake up or waiting outside Target for your baby to wake up...or at the dentist I suppose. I'm glad they're are more of them in the series.

9 months

Dear Lucy,

3/4 of a year down already! I'm not sure I approve of how fast you are growing. This month you only had a couple milestones but they were big ones.

First of all, pulling up and cruising around. You pretty much have to be standing 75% of your waking time or you are completely unhappy. It's not so bad until you get sleepy. You don't want to stop standing but you begin to lose the little coordination and balance you have and end up falling over and crying every 30 seconds. But soon enough you'll have it down. You can already move from your push walker to the rocking chair, down to the floor then up again on the couch.

You still love to be read to but I've had to come up with creative solutions to make it work. When you are really sleepy, you might sit still for a couple books but we also read a lot of books with you standing or in your jumper or laying down with the book over our head. We also read in the car. When you refuse to take a nap, I'll often just hand you a book, grab one myself and you'll play quietly for a few minutes "reading" next to me.

Another fun activity is getting up and down from the bed. You have been able to get down for a little while now. You can go front ways but normally you go up the edge, look over, turn around and scoot back. The you stand there for a few seconds before trying to climb back up. It still takes you quite a while to get back onto the mattress but once you do, you crawl right over to the other side and go right back down. You have repeated this for up to 20 minutes with me lying down on the bed reading. You don't mind, you just climb right over me.

But when I say "crawl," I really mean scoot. You still don't really crawl. You can though. When you get close to your "target" you will get up off your tummy and crawl the last one or two steps. You actually don't even like to scoot or explore much. We've been encouraging you to and now you might go 4-5 feet away to see something really exciting before turning around and coming back to me or your dad. You'll also come to us if we leave the room sometimes, but other than that you like to climb and stand. Of course, if you don't have to travel anywhere, you don't mind exploring a bit.

You are still very much a fan of your mommy and daddy.

You like your grandparents too but anyone else had better stay back. I thought your stranger anxiety was bad before but you are even more shy now. Your poor great-grandmother couldn't come within 2 feet of you. But you do like people from a distance. If someone you don't know talks to you, you'll snug up close to me before turning the them and smiling.

It is getting difficult to get a good picture of you without a helper. I have many shots of you looking away
and just as many of you looking at me, but maybe a little too close. 

You love to play games. Your daddy has taught you to "give him five" and you really like to be tossed about in the air.  But while you love to laugh with us, you do not like to be laughed at and you can tell the difference. You also do not like to be told "no" but luckily you are pretty distractable. You also love to sit on people's shoulders.

Your other big milestones this month were getting your first two teeth and babbling. You babble quiet a bit now. You also say "mama" but only when you are really upset. I'm not sure if you know that I am mama but either way, it works and I come quickly because you are my girl and I know it :-)


And the winner is...

So the CSN giftcard goes to commenter #15,

Carrie said...

I'd get a new drying rack. Ours is dying and we have so many things we air dry, we need to have one.
Congrats Carrie! I will be emailing you your prize soon so you can go pick out your drying rack...or whatever else you decide to use it on. I won't be checking up on you or anything :-)