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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Enhance!

It's been a while since I wrote in this space. I have an excellent excuse, though. I hit pause on blogging because I wanted to write a novel, and WRITE A NOVEL I DID. It took 2 years, but all 350+ pages of it are out of my head and saved to my hard drive. And backed up in a non-disclosed location, of course. I am currently in the querying stage, which is almost exactly like applying for jobs. I send cover letters and samples of my work to literary agents, and patiently wait for them to pick me! pick me! I'm on pins and needles, everyone close to me is on sympathy pins and needles, it's great.

While I was otherwise engaged, many people have mentioned that they miss reading my blog. I missed writing it, to be honest. I'm not sure if my blogging muscles still work, but HERE IT GOES. Enjoy.





When CJ was a wee little baby, someone whose identity is lost in the sands of time gave him a stuffed cat. This stuffed cat.



Oh Mylanta look at how cute he was! CJ, obviously, not the cat. But, for the story, it is also necessary to notice the appearance of the cat. Plump, orange, cuddly, and so on. Anyway, back to the story.

CJ, ever the literal child, named the cat Meow-Meow (Meowy for short). Meowy was CJ's frequent companion during the day and endured a lot of exuberant kid affection. At bedtime every night, CJ would tuck Meowy into the crook of his neck for an intense, sweaty, 12-hour snuggle. By the age of five, Meowy was looking...pretty grim.



Please do not adjust your screens. He really is that distorted.  (The purple Frankenstein stitches aren't helping the situation, are they?)

Still, CJ loved the heck out of this cat. DO NOT tell CJ I told you this, but he puts Meowy to sleep in a doll crib by his bed, and sometimes even sings him a lullaby. He has excellent Daddy Genes. But despite the more tender care Meowy was getting these days he was still falling apart, and I had serious concerns about the poor think surviving until CJ was ready to let him go.

Then, with the cross-country move and starting a new school, CJ was feeling very stressed and when he gets stressed,  he has bad dreams. Sharing his bed with roadkill was making it worse, and he began begging me for a new Meowy. Problem being, CJ was and remains very exacting, and only THE SAME EXACT MAKE AND MODEL would do. Of course, over the years, all of the identifying information had worn off of Meowy's label, but I wasn't going to let that stop me IT WAS A MYSTERY, AND I WAS GOING TO SOLVE IT.

I can't tell you how many hours I spent on ebay, Amazon, and every other dang site on the internet, combing through all listings for stuffed cats, looking for one that matched Meowy. I am a librarian, I thought. I can find anything.

Not so. 

CJ's sleeping situation was becoming more dire, and the clock on the investigation was ticking! But how was I going to find this damn cat?

Then, Nemo suggested that maybe the label, when it was fresh and legible, would be visible in one of the photos in my archive. It seemed like a long shot, but to the family photo archive I went. After combing though thousands of pictures, There was one where Meowy's label was visible:



Alas, the writing was too small to make out. And like any good CSI detective, I said, "Let's enhance this area right here!"



Hm, better. But still not good enough. Enhance!



So close! Could I get one more zoom in before the picture quality was compromised? Enhance!


Bingo!


Also like any good CSI detective, I made some deductions. I hypothesized that the "DS" was the end of the word "KIDS", and to Ye Olde Internet I returned. Lo and behold, there was a company called "Kids Preferred", and there had one, single, lonely Meowy look alike on eBay.



 It cost $30, which I was absolutely willing to pay if it meant CJ, and by extension, I, could enjoy better quality sleep?

Parenting win.




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Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.

Monday, August 22, 2016

The End of an Era

I almost got a job.

I never really regained my footing as a stay-at-home mom after my PPD experience 3 years ago. I still get things done, but I don't find joy in it like I used to. I have this theory that if remove myself from the minute-to-minute grind of raising three small humans then I might be able to find more joy in my moments with them. Quality of quantity, you know? They deserve more joy from me.

I've been looking for work for a while, but nothing panned out until last Friday when I was offered my dream job--well, it wasn't really my dream job, but it was the job people start with when they want my dream job. I was thrilled, until we sat down and crunched the numbers. I hadn't expected to make much of a profit, but with childcare costs we were looking at a $500 LOSS every month, and I just couldn't do that. I called them this morning to officially turn down the offer.

I'm still going to continue to look, but even if I don't find anything things are going to be changing around here. These kids are growing up, which everyone and their aunt says should make things a lot easier for me to deal with.

CJ is starting full-day Kindergarten in 11 days. I know it's 11 days because he announces the countdown every morning at breakfast. He's very excited.

He loved 4K last year, but it was only 4 mornings a week so he is effectively tripling his class time this year. I predict a very tired and crabby CJ as he adjusts.



Noni is going to 3K again this year, this time for 3 mornings a week instead of 2. She was a little shy last year, but she had a blast at Vacation Bible School so I hope that she has matured enough that she will be a little more at ease this year. Over the summer she gave up her nap and got very good at playing Pokémon Go for Daddy.



Ender had a big summer. She had been sleeping in a pack-n-play since she was wee little because I am POSITIVE that this makes babies better travelers. It's possibly all in my head, but it worked for two babies so far. Anyway, it took some convincing, but at the ripe age of fifteen months we finally got her to sleep in a full-sized crib. 

She also cut eight teeth in two months.  EIGHT. Poor thing did not have an easy time of it, and boy did all that fussing elevate my stress level to 11. But it's over for the time being. Happier times ahead, yes? She doesn't take a morning nap any more, so while Noni is at Preschool we're going to be getting a lot of quality time together. It will be a novel experience, just the two of us.



They are a great pack of kids.


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Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Oh, Hi! And The New and Improved Deck


It's been a while! I have lots of excuses, but the one I'm going to go with is that I made a New Years Resolution to read more, and well...something had to go. I'm not made of time. But here it is, a lovely Sunday afternoon, Nemo is off getting the family some bikes off of Craigslist and the kids are resting for 20 more minutes, so I thought I'd go for a nice light home reno post.

When we first moved to Wisconsin almost 2 years ago (!) one of the first things I noticed is that people around here never go inside. At the time I was newly pregnant with Ender and if I couldn't be lying in bed trying to make the room stop spinning, then I wanted to be in a nice air-conditioned living room sipping some ice-cold lemonade. But people were always like, let's go to the park! Let's go to the splash pad! Let's just walk aimlessly around the neighborhood!

Now that I've spent two winters here I completely understand their motivation to get as much outdoor time in as possible when the weather is nice. And I've made it a priority to make sure our deck is comfy for me and safe for littles to play on.

This is our deck when we first bought the house. Looking a little tired. 


And here it is now!


Last summer Nemo painted the deck with Deckover, which, as you can see, made a HUGE difference.  The patio furniture was generously gifted to us and I got the rug at Aldi last week for $50. I found the outdoor pillows art (where else?) St. Vinny's for $6. The climber we've had since CJ was a baby, and right now I'm having a very hard time convincing the older kids that it really is geared towards babies. Poor Ender. She has yet to play with her own birthday presents.

Over Easter weekend Nemo and his dad built gates for the two entrances to the deck so I don't have to worry about Ender falling off. It should be noted, however, that today she managed to make it up the stairs in the house while leaving the baby gate intact. We're not quite sure how that happened, but it makes me doubt that this gate will work for long. But it certainly works now! And that's what's important.


The weather has been very mild this week so we retrieved the sand table from the basement and the kids have been super engaged with that.



 And when everyone is busy playing I can kick back on the loveseat and pretend I'm in Aruba. It is really quite fantastic.





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Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.

Friday, December 18, 2015

{Kids} Gift of Gab #4

Man, these kids are going 100 miles an hour these days. Oh, they make me so tired.


I can't believe that winter hasn't actually started yet. I feel likes it's been ages since they could run around outside!

It's a good thing Nemo and I finally got our unfinished basement cleaned out; we put their bikes down there so they can ride around and around all afternoon burning off some of that energy. It's not as good as the great outdoors,  but it will certainly do in a pinch!


 Here's what they've been saying these days.


CJ was acting wild and crazy in the kitchen, which led to him running headlong into the fridge.
CJ (genuinely irate): "HEY! WHO PUT THAT REFRIGERATOR THERE!



***

When reading the book "Olivia" by Ian Falconer...
Noni: Why is she wearing a zucchini?
Further investigation revealed that she meant "bikini".


Me: Noni, do you think you can try to poop today?
Noni: No, I don't have to.
Me: But, what about your gummy bears? (her preferred "successful use of the potty" treat)
Noni: Oh, yeah...I fink I'll poop den.

 ***

One again acting wild and crazy, CJ crashed into his bed.
CJ: I bumped my brain! I need to say sorry to my brain! SORRY, BRAIN!


While getting our flu shots, CJ was second in line after Noni. After seeing her cry...
CJ: Uhh I don't want my flu shot. Ender can take my turn.
So gallant.

***

While eating his "I got a flu shot" sucker...
CJ: This flavor is called "Purple Grape". I can say that in Spanish. It's morado grape-o.

***

While dropping off some donations at St. Vinny's...
Me: Ok, I'm just going to give this guy the stuff that's in the back seat.
CJ (wide-eyed in panic): But...but...I'M in the back seat!



***
CJ: My fingernails are 83-almost 84 years old. They are from Mississippi.
Me: ???

***

I gasped in mock astonishment at something Nemo said at dinner and Noni looked around, genuinely confused...
Noni: What I dood, mommy?


***

Every time she sees me pour pancake batter onto the griddle...
Noni: Wook! Dey gwowin', just wike us!

***

Coming home after a lonnnng morning on the go...
Noni: We can watch a movie?
Me: No, it's almost time for lunch.
Noni: Mommy! Stop dat! You stwessin' me out!
Gosh, I wonder where she picked that up.

***

CJ: I need to eat my jelly beans quickly so the bible of Jesus doesn't get them.
Me: ???

***
Noni entertaining me with her ever-expanding imagination...
Noni: There's a bad guy in here and he's coming soooo-ooon!
Me: Oh yeah, what's he look like?
Me: Oh my, that's very scary. (It actually kind of is...when did she get all creepy?)
Noni: He not a scary, he just a little guy. We'll pway for him.

***
A growing boy raiding the pantry for yet another snack...
CJ: Mom, baby oranges are called Cuties. You're MY cutie, mom--but you're not an orange.

***

Me (to Nemo): I talked to Niki today.
CJ: Hey mommy, did Aunt Niki lose her rubber duckie?
Me: ??? Uhhh...is that something you remember from when we visited her last year?
CJ: I don't know.
Nemo: Does Aunt Niki have a rubber duckie?
CJ: I don't know!
Nemo: Did (her son) Gabriel have a rubber duckie?
CJ : I don't know! Stop talking about rubber duckies!!!



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Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.

Monday, December 7, 2015

{House} A Floating Mantel for Christmas

The fireplace was a major factor in our decision to purchase this house.

But while it existed, the fireplace was a little bit lacking in the looks department.

My shoddy housekeeping skills didn't really help the situation either.

One of the things that bugged me was the mantel--which consisted of two goofy little stone outcroppings that weren't big enough to put anything on. In our previous home we had four (nonfunctioning) fireplaces with mantels, and I often used them as a "stuff the toddlers aren't supposed to touch" storage space.

As a stop-gap solution we spanned the large gap between the outcroppings with a piece of plywood. My, that's attractive.



The room itself is pretty dark, as it only has the one window and that window is overshadowed by our back porch, so at some point I painted the backs of the built-ins (it's fake paneling, so I didn't feel bad) a cream color to try to brighten things up.


After pondering mantel solutions for a while, I decided that we should build a three-sided box that would slip over the outcroppings to make a floating mantel. I typically don't like to remove original features of houses, so the fact that this would be easily removable was a big plus! Also I imagine Joanna Gaines would approve.

Our local Habitat ReStore carries wood planks milled from local trees, so Nemo picked up some white oak for about $50 and he and his dad got to work building the box/mantel. From what I understand there was a significant amount of planing and sanding done to get a nice smooth surface.

Doing a dry fit. It fits!

Then I got to use my handy-dandy new paint sprayer to apply the stain and polyurethane. It made the job so quick and easy I almost cried.


As soon as it was dry Nemo installed it and I ran out to the store for some decorations because CHRISTMAS.


 I decided a while ago that there needed to be a mirror over the mantel in order to make the room brighter, and I ended up getting this one from HomeGoods for $35--more than I wanted to spend but I wasn't able to find one at a thrift store. The candles were free, though, since I already had them!


I love small(ish) projects that make a huge difference in how the room looks!


Now we actually have a place to hang our stockings...guess I had better go find them.


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Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

{House} Noni's Big Girl Room


Hello, blog world. Has it really been seven weeks?

I've been pretty scarce on the interwebs of late because, in yet another example of how I have excellent decision-making skills when I'm postpartum, I decided to take a computer programming class. Even though the extent of my skills with computers up til that point was adding blogs to my Bloglovin'.
I've been taking an Introduction to Computer Science course developed by Harvard and offered for free on edx.com. In the overview it is described as "demanding, yet doable". Sure, if doable means forsaking all your hobbies, relegating child care duties to the television, and having tear-filled emergency tutoring sessions from your more technical husband.

I love it and I hate it.

Despite all that, I did finally manage to complete a house project, my first since Ender's been around!

Over the summer CJ was having some emotional growing pains and was having a very hard time sleeping. He was having nightmares and was terrified to be in his room, so after trying many different things we put his bed in Noni's room and Noni's crib in CJ's room. Astonishingly it worked. Of course all of their decorations and accessories were in the wrong rooms now, but as I had a newborn at the time I decided to let it go for a few months.

Then in  August I found this antique at the local ReStore for $25.
I mean, honestly. How could I not!

I knew it was destined to be Noni's big girl bed, but she wasn't ready for that change and frankly, I wasn't ready for all the work it would involve. So it languished in the garage for a few months.

But with winter fast approaching I thought I had better git 'er done while I still had the chance.

One of the reasons it was so cheap is because it had a lot of gouges and insect holes. So I had to get to work with some wood filler to patch it up.


 Also one of the details on the headboard was missing from the left side...

 ...which was easily fixed by making Nemo whack off the remaining one on the right with a reciprocating saw.
 There. Much more symetrical.

For this project I got myself an early Christmas present--a paint sprayer. There is a bit of a learning curve, but I suspect that when I get the hang of it, it will make projects like this go SO much faster.

After the first coat of paint I saw that there were a lot of damaged areas I missed, and because of the light paint color the holes were REALLY obvious. So again with the wood filler. 

Once I got the bed all pink I realized I should probably paint the room before the bed got moved in.


Here's the room when it was still CJ's. BABY NONI oh my gosh.
 OK...are you ready?

TA-DA!


The walls are painted with Behr's Moonlit Beach and the bed is Deco Shell, or as it's more commonly known, "Nauseatingly Pink".

Funny story about the bed: it's an antique, and I failed to realize that antique frames don't fit modern mattresses. So what we ended up doing was order a full-size memory foam mattress, which I then cut down to size with a hack saw. 

My mother-in-law and I found this birth month bouquet print at a consignment shop, and I tried to design the whole room around it.



All the bedding I got at St. Vinny's!

 Look at me, not tidying up for the shot. I'm such a rebel.

We just left the crib in there, in the hopes that one day soon Ender will stop screaming randomly in the middle of the night and the two girls can be roomies.

Noni approves of the whole setup. She pointed out when it was done that it looks like Anna's bed in the Disney Short Frozen Fever--which was completely unintentional but when I went back and looked, oh so true.




Maybe someday I'll stencil the details. But not today. I've got to get back to coding.
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Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.