Lessons Learned

I can't believe I've been a mom for over 18 months now. But Lucy and I are both still learning a lot about being a parent/toddler. Here are a few of the lessons we have learned in the past couple weeks.

 Lesson #1 (Mama): Decorating a Christmas tree with toddler "helper" is difficult but not impossible.

 Lesson #2 (Mama): The one finger rule is surprisingly helpful.

Lesson #3 (Lucy): Mama can not understand sign language when it is 2am and pitch black.

Lesson #4 (Mama): If at 2am, you hear your toddler take off her diaper and see her attempting to sign something or move her arm around at all, don't think. Just move to the potty as fast as possible or you will end up spending the rest of the night on the 1/4 of the bed that is still dry. (Yes, this one is related to the previous lesson but hey, it could have been much worse).

Lesson #5 (Mama): If you let your toddler eat nothing but asparagus for Christmas dinner (11 stalks to be exact), she will have incredible stinky diapers for the next 24-48 hours. (Luckily this was a few days separated from Lessons #3 and #4)

Lesson#6: (Lucy): Hugs from your mama make everything better.

Lesson #6 (Mama): Hugs from your baby can't make everything better, but they do help a lot.


The expected happens

My mom passed away Saturday morning. From my experience and knowledge of cancer and death, I had several fears but in the end, her death was peaceful. My family was all at home with her and I've very thankful for the hospice care that allowed that to happen.

 We knew on Friday we were getting close to the end. Lucy had been sick and feverish so Craig and I had been keeping her and her vomit upstairs most of the day but that night she wasn't sleeping well and just wanted to be sprawled over my chest so, I took her down and we all spent the evening with my mom. We watched a movie while my mom slept. Then I took Lucy up to bed while my aunt, brother and dad spent the night taking turns watching over my mom. My dad got me early in the morning so I could say my last goodbye. Ben was holding her hand and I had my arm around her and my head on her pillow next to hers when she took her last breathe.

Compared to how frantic everything seemed last fall when she had her first bad spell, things were very calm and quiet and slow. Hospice came and the chaplain that we had been working with us said a prayer and we all sang a hymn. I didn't feel rushed to say goodbye or to hurry through things. It was hard to be thankful this Thanksgiving but that is one of the things I am most thankful for.

The time was good for Lucy too. I've explained to her the best way I knew how. She is at a really hard age in that she understands and communicates just enough to need an explaination but not enough to understand. But I told her that Bubbie's outside, her body, wasn't working anymore so it was going away but her insides were up with Jesus. When she heard "Jesus", she got excited and starting signing about Baby Jesus and the angel and the book (she loves this book we've been reading about Christmas) and I told her that it was the same Jesus. She also seems interested when people are sad or crying so I told her that it was okay to be sad and cry because we miss Bubbie or we want to give her a hug but can't. Then we gave Bubbie one last big hug. It hadn't been long so my mom didn't seem much different that the previous days to Lucy. Since then, she's had a few moments of confusion. She kept signing Bubbie when they came to take the hospital bed away and she threw a fit when she wanted to find Bubbie and give her a hug but I reminded her of what I had said before and how we had given her a hug earlier and after a few repetitions, she seemed to understand and let it go - for now. Her relationship with my mom was very real so even though she doesn't understand everything, I know she will grieve in her own way and her own time. It will just take her a while to realize what losing Bubbie really means.

Frankly, I think it is going to take me a while to completely realize what losing my mom means.  In a way, I've been preparing for this for 18 months but now that it has happened, I don't think I quite belive it. Last night we were all in the living room together and with the bed and medical supplies gone, it looked like our normal living room. I kept thinking my mom was just going to walk in any minute with a bowl of popcorn and a tray of tea. Oh, how I wish she could.


Garbage Disposal

Our kitchen demolition project was clearly going to generate a lot of waste, so we looked around for a way to get rid of it. A dumpster was the obvious option. The problem with them, though, was that you only get them for a week or so before the garbage company comes to take it back. Since our project is largely do-it-yourself, it has proceeded more slowly than a professional job, so a week wasn't going to cut it. We could have piled our debris in the yard, ordered the dumpster, and loaded it after demolition was complete, but that would have been a pain.

MacKenzie, however, had heard of this product called The Bagster. It is a 8' x 4' canvas-like bag that you buy at your favorite home improvement store for $30. You fill it up at your leisure, and schedule your pickup when you are ready, paying for collection when you book it. These bags hold 3 cubic yards, as compared to about 10 or more for a dumpster. Costwise, it was about the same for us to get two of these as it would have been to get a dumpster. Two bags was enough to hold all our debris, and we kept the bags for a good 7 weeks before having them picked up (you get a bit of a discount if you have multiple bags picked up at once). So this is an option you might consider for your disposal needs.

One note I will add is that, when you view promotional videos for The Bagster, they make the sides look so rigid. That was not our experience.

Maybe I did it wrong? This wasn't a major issue, but I thought it was kind of funny.

Update: The bag comes with specific placement directions (5 feet from any building, 16 feet of overhead clearance, 10-foot wide driveway, etc.). I was worried about getting these picked up, because our driveway is L-shaped and hard to get in and out of for larger vehicles. But Waste Management had no trouble taking our full Bagsters away.


My mommy you'll be

Those of you who are friends with me in real life or who are following my dad's writings on my mom's caring bridge page will know that my mom has recently begun her final time of rest before she leaves this world.

I haven't talked a lot about her illness on this blog. I've written several posts and left them in drafts and have written over a dozen posts in my head but sometimes it seems like living it is taking all the strength I have and I don't have any left to write about it. But I also hate that because this blog chronicles our lives and I don't want it too seem like my life lately has been taking pictures of Lucy playing or remodeling our kitchen. Those things are in my life but they are secondary and good for a distraction but my focus has been spending time with my family and my mother. I want the world the know who she is but I know I can't do justice to her and I don't even know how to try. But I do want to share a bit now (well, I think I do, I'm still not sure if I will post this or not. If I do, I won't go back and edit it so forgive my spelling or grammer errors.)

I recently remembered a story she told me a couple times about how she found out she was pregnant with me.  She thought she might be pregnant but tests were expensive and they were young and didn't have a lot of money. And at the time they were back visiting her parents for a little while before moving to Germany so they couldn't go to the army hospital like she normally would. So she decided to go to planned parenthood for their free pregnancy tests. She went and got a postive (you knew that was coming, right :-) but then got confused as they started talking to her about her schedule and when she should come back. Finally it dawned on her that they thought she wanted an abortion. She got upset and went on a rant about how she was excited about this, how she and her husband (that would be my dad :-) wanted this baby! Even 20 years later when she would tell me that story, I could see her get upset at the thought of them assuming she would even think about having an abortion.

You might be thinking that is a really odd story to be telling right now. Don't worry, I'm not about to twist that into a "I was almost aborted" story. I wasn't. Nor am I really telling if for any pro-life cause. Because what that story means to me is just that from the very moment my mother knew of my existance, she loved me and her first thought was to protect me.

Now, flash forwards ~27 years. When I arrived Sunday night, she hadn't woken up for over 24 hours. She was resting in peace and comfort but unresponsive and I didn't know if I would be able to really say goodbye. But this morning, she "woke up" a bit. Barely, but we could see her one eye open a bit and move around towards us. So we all sat and talked to her but I still wasn't sure if she was awake, could hear us or knew we were there. Then I lay me head down on the pillow and started to cry. And she started to cry too and squeezed me hand. Because all these years later, I'm still her baby and I know that she loves me and wants to protect me.

She's my mentor, my role model, my confidante, my friend. But foremost, she's my mother mama.

I'll close with a line that anyone who has ever read and cried over this book will remember. Now that I've been both a daughter and a mother, I understand how true it is and if I had to tell you what I think that hand squeeze and those tears were meant to convey, this would be the sentiment:

I'll love you forever,
 I'll like you for always, 
as long as I'm living
 my baby you'll be

and if I could only say one thing back to her, I would choose the same response:

I'll love you forever,
 I'll like you for always,
 as long as I'm living
 my Mommy you'll be.

Week 9 update (or hip hip hooray, the floors are done!)

Lucy and I went home last week, just for a few days, (we are back with my mom now)  but it was a fun treat to see the progress on the kitchen. I left right before the drywall was put in and the only pictures I've seen are the ones you all have so it looked a lot different when I walked inside. Craig had just finished installing the floors. They look great. Even Lucy was impressed. She kept pointing to the floor and signing daddy. When I say that yes, daddy did the floors, she signs "me" - yep, she thinks daddy did the new floors just for her. And I guess that is partially true.

Since Craig stained the existing hardwood floors in the rest of the house himself, we knew exactly what stain to use so (crossing our fingers) we should expect a nice match as long as we started with the same material. We weren't exactly sure whether the old stuff was red or white oak but from my research, it seemed like red oak was the more likely candidate so we went with that.

It was actually harder than anticipated to find unfinished wood flooring but Lumber Liquidators had just what we wanted. They have three grades of red oak: select, natural and rustic. We went with natural, which had a quite a bit of variation, similar to our old flooring and our favorite style-wise (a happy coincidence) but not the level of knots and open spots that the rustic would have.

Last Sunday he stained the floors and the color is perfect! Then he spent the next two days laying down the three coats of poly. We were a bit worried about that because the first time we went with Varathane oil-based satin finish but both Lowe's and Home Depot were out of that so we went with Varathane High Traffic Satin oil finish hoping there wouldn't be a visible difference. This morning the second coat was dry to the touch but glossier than the old area and I was a bit worried but by 18 hours of dry time the sheens were almost identical so it looks like we lucked out with that too  (I could see a slight different when I put my head down on the ground and the sun was shining directly on the seam but I'm not really worried about people doing that and there will be cabinets covering about half the seam). In fact, I'm actually happier knowing we have the heavier duty poly in the kitchen since even with only three of us, the kitchen will certainly be a high traffic area. (Here's a post he did on floor staining back in January.)

Here they are in all their glory: We can finally take a progress shot from the same angle now that the drop cloth wall we had up has been taken down.

And here is it today!

After letting them sit a few days to make sure they were fully dry, we were able to paint. And you might notice that we also have a a few new shiny appliances now.  We're already been enjoying the new fridge for a few days and the dishwasher (off-camera to the right) is making a nice makeshift table for the time being. The stove was delivered Saturday and next week the plumber is coming to install the propane line.

I really feel like we're on the downward slope of our project now that the floors are done. The window and the floors were the two biggest question marks in our planning and neither of us had any experience installing windows or floors but now that they are done, the room looks like a room again and I can actually visualize my kitchen. I'm excited! I'll be even more excited when I finish de-dusting my house*  but still, I'm excited!

*Even with the drop cloth wall, the dust got everywhere. Lucy and I have spent the last two days dusting, sweeping and wiping down walls. The amount we get each time we sweep up is diminishing so another day or two of cleaning and we should be back to normal.


Hardwood Floor Installation

MacKenzie has another floor post planned, but first I thought I'd talk a little about the installation process. I installed 3/4" x 2 1/4" tongue-and-groove unfinished red oak flooring.

Our existing subfloor is 1" x 8" planks. Before starting the install, I replaced a couple of decaying boards and then made sure all the nails were pounded in all the way. Then I laid down 15-lb felt paper. I found different answers online about whether to overlap adjacent pieces and whether or not to staple it down, but I overlapped by 3-4" and stapled.

I had the issue of how to transition from the existing wood to the new wood. Ideally, you would interlace the boards, so adjacent boards don't end right next to each other, but that wasn't an option without tearing out boards. So I did as Lumber Liquidators suggested and put one row of flooring perpendicular to the existing floor to serve as a transition strip (visible in photo above). I installed the strip with the tongue facing the new flooring, which was really the only option. Before installing the strip, I had to take a circular saw and cut the existing floor so all pieces ended evenly (a few pieces previously extended a few inches more than the rest). It was not easy to get this straight, but I did what I could using a chalk line.

Before installing, to back up a bit, I brought the wood into the kitchen for a few days to allow it to assume room temperature and room humidity. I separated the boards into piles based on size. This helped break up the different bundles I bought, and allow for easy board selection during installation. I also picked out boards that were less than perfect. I used most of these against the west wall, where they will be covered with cabinets.

I began at the west wall by using a chalk line to measure out a line about 1/2" from the wall (this is the expansion gap) I laid out 3 rows of flooring, cutting the ends of the last pieces to make them fit, leaving about 1/2" for expansion along the south wall (this gap will be covered by baseboards). These rows had to be face-nailed by hand (nailed through the top through pre-drilled holes). I had to work around the water pipes for the sink here by making notches in the side of a short piece of wood at both ends.

I started out trying to do the job with a manual floor nailer that I rented, but I found that the nails wouldn't quite go all the way in. I had to set them by hand, which was slow and occasionally led to bent nails. The nails were more or less unremoveable once placed, unless you take up the board and pound them out from underneath. When necessary, I would generally twist and bend a partially-driven nail to break it off if it had more than 1/2" sticking out.

I then rented a pneumatic nailer, which uses an air compressor to assist the mallet in driving the nail. This one gave me the same problem. I switched to a larger air compressor, thinking that might solve the problem, but it didn't. I thought maybe my floor was too hard, but another return to the rental place to try a different pneumatic nailer proved successful. It wasn't me, after all, it was the tools. With that taken care of, I could proceed. By this time, I had laid out about half the floor, so I just had to go back and nail the rows that were ready to go. I made marks on the east and west walls where the floor joists were, and tried to nail into them when possible, while still maintaining 8-10" nail spacing.

Another obstacle to work around was the vent. We decided to put in a wooden vent that lies flush with the floor, so I had to make it fit by cutting some small pieces (the gap you see below was filled in later).

When I got within about 5 rows of the end, I was no longer able to use the nailer, because there was no room to swing the hammer. I tongue nailed a few rows by hand, but had to face-nail the last two. I had several long boards left at this point (40-50 inches), and I realized this portion of the project would have been easier with shorter boards. Tongue-nailing serves to help push a board flush against the previous row, something that is important with longer boards, because they can be harder to get a close fit with. A large board will overlap several shorter boards, and if these pieces are slightly misaligned, it will affect the fit of the long boards. Tongue-nailing with the nailer usually overcomes this difficulty, but face-nailing does not. So use up your long boards before you get to the end.

My last row ended about 1/2" from the east wall. This was perfect - close enough to be covered by the baseboard, without requiring me to rip (cut longitudinally) the last row. To finish, I had to do the area under the door, ending with stair nosing where the floor steps down into the entry way. I had to file away at the bottom of the door jamb in order to fit pieces under it. To get the stair nosing tight against the next row, I had to file away at the lip underneath so the piece extended further in from the edge (thus slightly reducing the overhang. Here is the installed product:

One more note: when you put your drill down after pre-drilling holes for face-nailing, lay it down instead of standing it up. If you do the latter, and you knock the drill over, it will fall forward and break the bit. I found this out twice.


Challenge complete!

Back in August and September, I read a ton of books. Okay, maybe not a full ton but quite a lot. I was reading several heavy non-fiction books so I needed some fun light fiction to balance out my brain. And I was gone for almost 3 weeks so instead of bring a huge bag of library books, I grabbed a ton of free kindle reads, many of which were historical fiction. The result is that not only did I complete my challenge, I kinda decimated it. So instead of writing about all the books I read, I’m only posting about the ones that didn’t stink:

5 more rhys bowen books catching up with both the Molly Murphy and Royal Spyness series (reviews here). Now I have to wait for her to write more :-(

The Swan House by Elizabeth Musser
This is a Christian book that doesn’t read like one. (How sad is it that I mean that as a compliment) I was about 1/4 of the way through and still didn’t know it was a Christian novel until I saw World Magazine review on the author. Of course, by the end of the book it became quite clear that the author had a message but never in a “oh, I’d better stick a God reference in here somewhere” type of way. Mary’s faith is a central element to the story but in what I felt was a realistic manner, one that a Christian would relate to. 
I really liked this book because I felt quite a kinship with the main character Mary Swan, her struggles to deal with the tragedies in her life, and with her responsibility to her community and world. Those are all things I’m going through right now so even though this is a coming of age story and Mary is in high school, I felt connected to her.

Also, it is set in Atlanta and having lived there, it was neat to recognize the places she describes. I just found out there is a sequel and I’m excited to pick it up.

Ransom’s Honor by Kaye Dacus
This one was so-so. I liked the characters, Julia, a 29-year old daughter of an Admiral who has come back to England after having spent the last several years running her father’s plantation in Jamaica,  and William, a British naval captain. They were strong and likeable, even in their dislike for each other. Several of the minor characters where quite delightful although the antagonists seemed a bit cliché. And the plot was interesting and several twists really caught me off guard. Writing this, I feel like I should have liked it more than I did. Actually, I think I did like this but the next in the series deals mostly with my least favorite character of the first so that is why I didn’t want to read the next. Maybe I should stop waiting so long before I write the reviews :-)

The Preacher’s Bride
A fictional story loosely based on the life of John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim's Progress. I didn’t know that until after I finished the book and I think I would have enjoyed this more had I known that at the beginning or if I had known more about the historical setting. But now I want to know more so that must say something.

Sixteen Brides
This could have been really good, but just wasn’t quite there. Sixteen women head west to Nebraska, lured by free land, independence and a chance for a new life. There are a lot of “main” characters (not 16 though, don’t worry) but it wasn’t that I had trouble keeping track, they were had fairly distinct characters. I liked several of the storylines better than others but it was all to easily wrapped up by the end - like a hallmark movie. But if you are in the mood for a hallmark movie book, this one isn’t bad.

The Innocence of Father Brown (ht to Elaine for the e-reader freebie share)
I can’t believe I’ve never read any Father Brown before. I really enjoyed these little logical mysteries. I think I will consider myself Mensa ready if I can ever figure them out before hand but I’m not holding my breath. That little priest is very clever. They are perfect for reading on the go or when Lucy is distracted and I can pick up a book without her wanting to see what I’m doing since they are short and I can stop and go without losing my place, mentally speaking.

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie King
It’s 1915 and Sherlock Holmes has retired. At least until he meets 15 year old Mary Russell and decides to mentor her. The premise is a bit odd so this book, which must have belonged to either my mom, dad or brother, sat in the guest bedroom on the nightstand for quite a while before I was bored enough to pick it up one night. But now I’m hooked. I like Mary, she’s intelligent and a bit edgy but personable. I even like Holmes. Now King does take some liberties with Holmes’ character but she admits it and moves on. Since finishing this mystery, I’ve gone back and read some of the original Holmes and it’s interesting to see the difference. I probably shouldn’t admit this because it will reflect badly on my literary skills, but I think I like King’s better. I’ve already read three of the sequels (A Monstrous Regiment of Women, A Letter of Mary, The Moor, and O Jerusalem).

The Dead Travel Fast by Deanne Raybourn
I’m a fan of Deanne Raybourne’s Lady Julie Grey Series and an occasional reader of her blog, I thought I would try this one, even though (with that one sad exception :-) I’m not normally not a big fan of the vampire/gothic genre. It was the plot of this book that really kept me going – as soon I as I thought I had it figured out, something changes. But the characters are just not the same as the Julie Grey series. I didn’t really relate to Theodora much nor did I particularly care for the count (he’s certainly no Brisbane). And the secondary characters and not nearly as developed as her other books. Also, despite their questionable covers, with a few exceptions, the Julie Grey Series is generally pretty clean. This one however seemed to match the cover more that I was excepting or appreciative of. It’s not bad but I’m ready for The Dark Enquiry (come on paperback swap!).


Toddler Tuesday (or Wednesday, whatever): Puddle jumping

The last few days had been cold and wet so every time Lucy asked to go out, I tried to distract her. But yesterday, I gave in, rounded up the random assortment of outdoor clothing I have here at my parents and we ventured out. She has several lays on underneath her rain pants along with her new winter jacket but I'm not sure if oshkosh needs to rethink their sizing or Lucy has an abnormally large head but while the jacket is a bit too large still, the hat that came with it was a tad small.

Eventually we decided to just go with the hood.

First she found a puddle.

Then she jumped in the puddle. 

Then she landed smack on her face into the puddle. (Sorry the picture is blurry but I could see the fall in slow motion and was a good mom who moved to pick her up instead of capturing the memory).

 I thought that was going to be the end of our puddle jumping adventure but she didn't want to go in yet so off we went in search of another, softer, puddle to jump in.

I'm not sure if I've mentioned it, but Lucy is at a stage where she doesn't like to be messy. So she found a great puddle and spent 5 minutes looking at it and wanting to jump in it. She would back up and approach from a different angle, but never actually touch the muddy water. 

After a while, she looked so cold and wet and miserable that I asked if she wanted to go in.

Her expression quickly changed as she said "no", as if to prove she was having fun.

Finding a cleaner puddle meant that she was willing to actually get into it and touch it - but then she noticed her shoes had mud on them so she wanted to go inside so I could clean them off. Silly baby!

I think it might be a while before she opens her own mud pie stand.


Eleanor Beardsley Voice Debate

Even though it is liberal, I normally listen to NPR on my short commute to/from work, because the station provides good international news coverage. While doing so, I was immediately drawn to the reports from Eleanor Beardsley, who grew up in South Carolina and reports from France for NPR. Along with her lush descriptions of the environs on which she is reporting, her voice has a conversational, almost rakish feel to it, along with an engaging cadence. Her pronunciations of French words and names are delightful. Here, have a listen (she comes in after an intro):

After listening to that, you may agree with me, or you may vigorously disagree (or disconcur, as I like to say). Like opinions on cupcakes, House Hunters International, or the positioning of the toilet paper roll, views on her voice are sharply divided. "Smashy" shares my opinion:
Beardsley is NPR’s correspondent in Paris and has that best kind of southern accent – one that sounds warm and soothing while never losing the subtle irony and edginess of an intelligent speaker. Think of buttery bread pudding with rum sauce.
Teresa, however, disagrees:
Unfortunately, her style sounds exactly like an affectation — or a somewhat misguided interpretation of how a radio journalist should sound.
What is your opinion? Don't you love it?

While we are on the subject of controversial NPR voices, how about Diane Rehm? Hers is one that I'm opposed to, but the fact that she has a medical condition throws a wrench into that debate.


Long Underwear

One of the First World problems I have long dealt with is having my dress shirts repeatedly come untucked during the day. I determined rather long ago that the problem was my Hanes/Fruit of the Loom undershirts. They were not very long, so they easily became untucked, taking my shirts with them. I looked into buying some long undershirts awhile ago, but never got around to it.

I returned to this problem when I was trying to think of a Christmas gift to ask for from MacKenzie's family. They like to give pajamas, but I'm not really a pajama guy (not that I sleep nekkid or anything). So I thought, hey, why not ask for long undershirts for our early Christmas celebration?

Well, I ended up in a situation where I got to select and purchase my own present. I went to Macy's, because MacKenzie's research indicated their Alfani brand was a good choice. I found some shirts, and asked the salesman if the undershirts in question were indeed long. He said they were not. I called MacKenzie to confirm her findings, which contradicted the salesman, and then I found an open pack on the shelf. I took a shirt into the dressing room to try on, and found that the shirts were indeed a good 4" longer than my Hanes shirt (I informed the salesman of this fact). I bought both a V-neck and a crew neck package (another First World problem of mine is that many dress shirts place the next-to-top button too low, so if I wear a V-neck shirt, I'm showing too much of the chest area (I normally don't wear a tie, and thus I don't button the top button). Therefore, I prefer to wear crew-neck shirts in these situations, even though I'd rather not).

I have been wearing these shirts for 3 days now. They indeed stay tucked in, allowing my dress shirts to also stay tucked in. These shirts are rather stretchy, too, giving them a tighter fit (you can buy them in ~5% spandex, too, for an even tighter fit, but for twice the price). They are also tagless, a great feature that has become standard in the undershirt world. I have not washed and reworn any shirts yet, so I can't comment on how they stand up. These shirts are about twice the price of the Hanes model, but so far, they are well worth it.


Merry Christmas!

Now you may be thinking that I skipped a little something in between Halloween and Christmas. But we all know that Jesus wasn't really born on December 25th so my family decided to go a little crazy and celebrate Christmas last weekend.

My brothers and sister-in-law flew in, along with my aunt and uncle. We had a full house. Lucy was a great helper as I decorated, went grocery shopping and prepared for the big weekend. Saturday was my mom's birthday. Everyone flew in and we had a nice supper and a birthday cheesecake. Then we did "Christmas" on Sunday complete with Stollen, presents and a big afternoon feast. Lucy really enjoyed the unwrapping process this year and become the official present opening assistant. She didn't mind if once open, all the box held was a sweater or scarf, she just wanted to rip the paper up.

 Here I am opening up my first present.

 Then helping daddy.

 And Uncle Rick must need my assistance as well. 

 Hey Uncle Ben, you were supposed to let me help you!

 Oh well, another present for me!

 Bubbie got a fun pillow...

 Which of course I had to try out.

Eventually I realized that there was fun stuff inside the boxes as well. Like my new dolly.

 Although she did end up being quite smitten with her doll, barn, books and even clothes. She kept trying to put all the clothes on over the outfit she was already wearing.

Monday was Rick's birthday so even though we had all eaten more sweets that I might have thought was humanly possible, we managed to sing Happy Birthday and indulge in candle light brownie bites. The sacrifices I make for my family :-)

Honestly thought, it was a great Christmas. Nobody had a lot of time to shop so everyone's gifts were simply and the emphasis was on family and traditions. We got our usual Christmas pajamas but this year, the girls matched. Shockingly :-) I only managed to capture Lucy in hers, but she was pretty thrilled when she realized that hers were the same as ours.

Oh, no, I've been caught playing with the decorations even
 though I know I wasn't supposed to touch them.

I'll just distract them with my mad head stand skills. (Actually, Lucy took this one after she gave Windsor the camera, pointed to herself then did a headstand. Afterwards she went back to Windsor to take a look at the image. What a ham!)

Hallmark even happened to be running a Christmas movie marathon so we even got to have our fill of sappy movies. We still need to break out While You Were Sleeping though. I've been waiting until the boys were gone since it isn't their favorite but tomorrow, Lucy is going to join the "N" family women in one of their favorite holiday traditions.


Toddler Tuesdays: Halloween edition

Ah, Halloween, a not at all controversial subject amoung Christians, right? Growing up, we never went trick or treating. Sometimes we went to church parties, sometimes we didn't do anything although my parents relaxed over the years so by the time my little brother was old enough, he went. There are some Christian families that I respect and admire that choose not to celebrate Halloween. And there are some Christian familes that I respect and admire that choose to celebrate Halloween. I always assumed we would do (or should I say, not do) the same but Craig thinks it is fun so we this year, we did Halloween.

If by "did" you mean, I took 10 minutes to put together a costume for Lucy and 15 minutes taking her to the nearest 5 houses, let her eat 2 pieces of candy, then put her to bed. I didn't even have the energy to decorate a pumpkin. We really know how to live it up around here :-)

She was a prisoner. My friend has passed down this really cute romper but everytime I put Lucy in it, Craig made fun of me, saying I was dressing her up like a prisoner. So I went with it. All I did was add the number (masking tape and pen on an old nametag from my mom's volunteering days). It was pretty fitting considering we were walking around Fort Leavenworth. Although I think the shoes broke the outfit, I'm not sure a lot of real prisoners wear shoes with pink kittens on them.

But anyway, the real reason for this post is pictures for the Craig, Bubbie, Grandpa and Grandma. And because I promised lots of pictures, I'm providing LOTS of pictures. Be forewarned.


My dad was trying to get the candy bowl ready so he could hand out the candy but Lucy didn't understand that her candy was coming later so she was living up to her criminal costume.

While we were getting ready, I told her that if she said "Hi" to everyone, they would give her candy. So she started walking around the house waving at us all.

Why, that is quite the adorable little girl I see!

Uhm, there isn't anything in my bag mom. 

The little black bag was supposed to be part of her costume, like a garbage bag for a chain gang member. But I think it ended up looking like I was too cheap to buy her a $1 plastic pumpkin.

 Off we go!


 At the first house, she was quite unsure. Then she saw their cat and didn't want to leave. But eventually she caught on and had fun, although she didn't seem to understand why people were giving her candy but I wasn't letting her eat it. 

Her favorite spot was grandpa's candy bowl. She kept going up and getting candy from him then going back down the stairs again only to go right back. I guess she figured if it worked once, why not keep trying! And of course, how could he say no this this?

 He couldn't! I did let her share two pieces with me. She seemed to enjoy them but we were quickly approaching bedtime since she brought out her sleepy face.

So we went in to share some candy with Bubbie and say goodnight. 

Not a big event, but a fun one nonetheless.