Saturday, November 21, 2015

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 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?


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.

She's got me there! 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.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

St. Therese is My Homegirl

Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular play rather large roles in my life. My faith life doesn't figure heavily into this blog though: different blogs have different purposes, and the purpose of this blog is to be kind of like an online dinner party. And everyone knows that you aren't supposed to talk about religion or politics at a dinner party. So while I don't typically do this, I'm having some Catholic thoughts right now and I have nowhere else to put them so...if Popery isn't your jam, just click away, no hard feelings.

So, today is the Feast of Saint Therese of Lisieux.


She is my favorite and I  have a story to share about her, but before I get to that I need to give you some background:

Although neither a part of doctrine or an official tradition, there is a tendency for some people of my faith to treat God, Mary, and the Saints like wish-granting genies. I used to participate in this culture to some extent, but I learned the hard way that this type of thinking is not helpful to the faith-building process.

When Nemo and I first decided to grow our family and were overjoyed when I was pregnant within weeks. Then when I was six weeks along, I started bleeding when I was at work and I knew our child was in danger. I prayed as I had never prayed before that the child I badly wanted wouldn't be taken from me...but it was. I was devastated, and the event shook my faith to it's core.

We tried again, and were met with month after month of frustratingly negative tests. It was six months later before I got another positive test, and due to my previous miscarriage my doctor ordered labs to check my HcG levels. We were home-bound after the worst snowstorm in a decade when my doctor called with the news: my levels were not doubling. This baby was doomed.

We were snowed in for a week, and I had nothing to do but sit around and pray that God would stop the inevitable. As days passed and I didn't bleed I began to believe that maybe, just maybe I had been granted a miracle. But that one, too, eventually ended in a miscarriage that was physically, emotionally, and spiritually devastating. My faith was laid waste and rebuilding it has been hard, hard work.

I tell you all this so that you'll understand: I don't pray for things. I pray for strength, perseverance, peace, and wisdom for myself and others,  but I don't ask for things. I am still pretty Scully about the whole "ask and it shall be given" mindset.

Mood-lightening Scully meme. 

The long of the short is, I am a "power of prayer" skeptic. And  I think that's what makes the following story so extraordinary.

Note: This is copied from an old blog of mine which had a way different tone than this current one.
Another note: "Spud" is what we called CJ before he was born.

Friday, January 14, 2011

I make a new friend.

Something extraordinary happened to me.

Last Wednesday, very early in the morning, I was packing up the last of my stuff before we headed to the airport for our mini-vacation in New Orleans. One of the last things I needed to grab was my laptop and as I was trying to unplug it my middle finger accidentally touched one of the prongs and...ZZZTTTTT. It didn't hurt, but I definitely felt the electrical current vibrating in my fingers.

So of course I got on Dr. and looked up "electrical shock" and "pregnancy", and the answer was pretty grim. The only thing that was holding me back from a full fledged panic attack was that I wasn't actually sure I had shocked myself, since it didn't hurt.

But I was worrying, worrying, worrying all morning. When we finally got on the plane I was exhausted, worried, and just trying to drift off to sleep when I felt a sudden inclination to ask St. Therese of Lisieux for help. Which was weird because, as worthy as she is, she just isn't one of the saints that I usually look to for help. So anyway, drowsy and upset, I prayed that if my baby was still alive, would she please send me a sign? And I thought specifically of a single red rose. Not white. Red.

Then I did end up sleeping for most of the flight. When we deplaned in New Orleans, I wasn't feeling much better. In fact, I was feeling downright woozy. At baggage claim I abruptly decided that I couldn't stand anymore, and crossed the room to sit down. So I was sitting there, slumping a little, staring off into space, and almost instantly a woman walked within six feet of me carrying in her hand a single red rose, the stem wrapped in a plastic baggie full of water. It took me a few seconds for my mind to process what I had just seen and realize the significance of it. Once I did I was absolutely godsmacked.

That woman ended up being on our shuttle to downtown. She was traveling alone and no one had met her at the airport. One has to wonder where and why she had come by that red rose. Of course it could have been a colossal coincidence, but it gave me an incredible feeling of peace.

And then, that week while we were in New Orleans, I felt Spud move. I couldn't be 100% sure, but there were bumps and tickles that I couldn't attribute to anything else. And now that I have been feeling it several times a day for the last week, I am sure that's what it is. And when we got back into town I went in to listen to the heartbeat again, and it was very healthy.

And, just now as I was writing this I realized that St. Therese's feast day is on October 1, which was the day that Spud was probably conceived.

It would seem that she is in my corner.

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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, September 18, 2015

God Bless the Babysitter

This whole week Nemo has been out of town meeting with a client. I may have white-knuckled it through my first EVER solo parenting experience, but everything turned out all right. Except where that part where Ender slid off CJ's lap and ended up licking the floor of a public restroom. That was not cool.

Although the week was moderately successful, that's not to say that it wasn't long. It was loooong. And tiring.

Which is why I had the babysitter come to my rescue this morning.

A while ago I read on a friend's blog that she had a mother's helper come in once in a while to watch her kiddos so that she could do anything she wanted. And I was like, ZOMG, we can do that?

Of course she had five children and at the time I only had two, and past Eva thought I would look like a total pansy for needing help with my two measly kids. Oh, past Eva.

But then I had another baby, and I was no sooner home from the hospital than I started looking for a babysitter of my very own. Through I found several charming young ladies who the kids absolutely adore, and I've had a few mornings off every month ever since.

(One reason--besides feelings of unworthiness--that I didn't get a babysitter before this summer was the budget--I mean, who's got the money for that? But during the last few months I undertook a mass decluttering and sold a lot of stuff on Craigslist and facebook groups. The house is neater AND I get to rest my ears once in a while. Win/win!)

This is what my most recent morning off looked like:

7:30 - My hero arrives! I give her the lowdown and then CJ and I take off for preschool.

7:50 - After dropping CJ off at his classroom, I treat myself to an unaccompanied trip to the restroom. I didn't have to remind anyone not to open the stall door while I was making use of the facilities. Also no one licked the floor. AHEM Ender.

8:15 - Wow I usually don't start my morning off this early, what's even open at this ungodly hour? Hmmmm. Oh yes, Jiffy Lube.   I let the van get some long-overdue service while I leisurely peruse magazines in the waiting room. Heaven, I'm telling you.


Yum, Sweet Potato Ginger Soup. Definitely trying that.

9:00 - To the bank! Did not have to prevent anyone from writing on the walls and no one had a temper tantrum because I wouldn't let them fill their pockets with the provided suckers.

9:30 - Starbucks for a Cinnamon Chai Tea. 

9:45 - Hit up St. Vinny's and try not to buy all the things. I did well; I only bought one of the things! Namely this corduroy skirt.

Perfect for fall!

 10:15 - Off to my other most favorite place in the world, conveniently just up the street from St. Vinny's--the Habitat ReStore! That's where I found this uber cute bed for Noni a few weeks ago

Nothing quite that Pinterest-y today, but I DID find a taverse rod, which I have been wanting for our front window for quite some time, for the low low price of $5. Way too boring to take a picture of, though.

10:45 - Grocery shopping. No one cried! I think I held it together admirably even though they didn't have any craisins this week and eggs were $2.39/dozen. What is that about?

11:00 - Pick up my best guy.

11:15 - Home again! Refreshed and rejuvenated and ready to make lunch for my minions.

And that's how it's done. 

God bless our babysitter, for I would surely yell a lot more if I didn't have her occasional help.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

What I did on my maternity leave

I closed my Etsy shop way back in February for an extended maternity leave, and of course I spent the majority of that time recovering from a tough pregnancy and bonding with the new bambina.

She's a real picnic and if one could place orders, I would take six more just like her. 

I also took the time to dip my toe in the graphic design pond in an attempt to fulfill a long-standing dream of creating Catholic-themed screen printed t-shirts. No really, that has always been an aspiration of mine. 

I recently uploaded some of my designs over at and they are now available for purchase! You can click here to view my whole catalog. It's not very extensive yet but I do hope to add more in the coming weeks!

T-Shirt by CafePress User
Find more tops & unique gifts at CafePress
T-Shirt by CafePress User
Find more womens & unique gifts at CafePress
Claimed Body Suit
Claimed Body Suit by CafePress User
Find more tops & unique gifts at CafePress 

If you've got a Saint that's near and dear to your heart that you would like to see on a t-shirt, feel free to contact me with a request!

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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.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Gift of Gab #3

The last quotes post was only six weeks ago, but these kids have been very chatty lately and had amassed quite a collection of new gems, so buckle up for another one!

All the pictures were taken on our latest RV camping trip, our last "practice" trip before a longer one we have coming up in September. The kids played HARD all weekend, and here it is Wednesday and I swear they still have a fun hangover. One of the down sides, I guess. But that vehicle is a memory factory, and that's what it's all about, right?

While I'm eating my "lose the baby weight" salad for lunch...
CJ: Why are you eating vines?

Discussing how we all slept the night before...
CJ: There was a ghost in my room last night and I screamed at him.
Noni: Dere was a ghost in my woom wast night and I talk-a him. I say him ABCs and he wike dat.


CJ: Look, my baby is looking at me!
Ender: Achoo!!!!
CJ: Ugh, mom, Ender blessed herself all over me!

After hearing "Forever Young" playing during the opening credits of my binge show du jour, Parenthood...
CJ: What? No! I don't WANT to be forever young!

After splitting open a pea pod and discovering three peas inside:
Noni: Dis one mommy, dis one CJ, and dis one Noni. (pops one in her mouth) Mwuah ha ha ha! I eated Noni.
Tutoring a two-year-old on roman numerals...
CJ: Hey Noni, does "D" equal one thousand?
Noni: Yeah.
CJ *condescending laugh* No! It equals FIVE HUNDRED!

During one of the urine-soaked early days of potty training...
Me: You need to listen to what your body is saying.
Noni: My body sayin' NO!!!

Of course it is.

CJ: Mom, what's a milky way?
Me: It's the galaxy where we live.
CJ: No, it's when you walk on milk. Ha ha ha!

Nemo: Hey Noni, do you want to go for a run with me?
Noni: Yesss!!!
Nemo: Does mommy want to run too?
Noni: (Looks me over critically) No, she too big fit in da stroller.

Noni: Dat's an insteck.
CJ: No, it's a bee.
CJ: No, it's a bee, Noni!
Noni: Oh, it's a bee.
CJ: Yup.
Noni: Yup.

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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, July 27, 2015

An Interview with a New-ish Four-Year-Old

I conducted this interview a few days after CJ's fourth birthday, but he has been exploring his wild side since that big day and due to THAT drama, I'm just now posting it a full month later. Learning to deal with a kid who has all of a sudden realized that bedtime is optional has taken most of my energy!

(It's not all bad, though. Since his birthday he has learned to open his own string cheese, which cuts down my workload a lot).

 Ok, CJ, are you ready for your four-year-old interview?

1.      How old are you?
Do you like being four?
Yeah,'s hard being four.
What's hard about it?
I don't know. But--but--it's 9:30. That means it's time for snack.
What's your favorite thing about being four?
Um...messages...and calendars...and Magformers. And--and--INSPIRE Magformers!
(He got a set of Magformers for his birthday and saw in the manual that there is a sets that he doesn't have yet--and has been overtly hinting that he wants the INSPIRE set added to his collection. He doesn't care one bit that they are marketed for girls, and I kind like that about him.)

2.      Where do you live?
At 206. First we were at the house 135. Then 3053. Then 206. That's our new house! Uh, mom...I like INSPIRE Magfomers. 

(Those are indeed the house numbers for our previous residences. He forgot the 1712, but to be fair to CJ we moved out of that house when he was six months old.)

3.      What is your favorite thing to do?
What? Legacy Academy and INSPIRE Magformers. Playing Play-Doh. Can you write that down?
Sure thing dude.

4.      What makes you mad?

5.      What makes you scared? (I immediately regret asking this question.)
What do you do when you feel scared?
I scream about the Ghost.
On ghost duty.

6.      What is your favorite book?
40 Short Stories. And this calendar.

 (To be clear, he is not a Willa Cather fan. This is his favorite book because 40 stories = 40 chapters, and chapter headings are his jam right now.)

7.      Who do you love?
Who else?
Pippin. What's number eight?

  He forgot to mention Ender. Even though he is a colossal grump most of the time these days, he always has a smile for "his" baby.

8.      What do you want to be when you grow up?

10. What does daddy do for work?
Uh, he eats something.

11. What does mommy do for work?
Write also.

For your further reading pleasure:

Interview with an almost three-year-old

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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, July 6, 2015

Shopping at Aldi (With Children)

Aldi is a grocery chain that keeps it's overhead low so it can provide food and a variety of household items at as much as 50% less than other stores. As our family has been doing about 90% of our weekly shopping at Aldi for over a decade, I can verify that 50% number. Thanks to Aldi's cost saving measures I can provide my family with a varied, healthy diet consisting mostly unprocessed foods for less than $400 a month.

I could go on and on, extolling the virtues of shopping at Aldi, but to keep this shortish I'll just say: Aldi is awesome, it can save you much money, and if you aren't already an Aldi shopper I hope you try it out some day!

Aldi operates a little differently than most American grocery stores (read their FAQs here), which can scare off some potential new shoppers. Well never fear, with me as your guide you will be shopping like an Aldi pro in no time.

Here is a look at how I manage shopping at Aldi:
(** designates advanced steps, which involve including three young children, two of whom still poop their pants)

Step #1: Prep work
a. Write a menu for the coming week.

b. Make a shopping list that you have every intention of sticking to.

c. Throw some bags or boxes in the vehicle, as you will be responsible for packing up your own groceries. I prefer boxes (specifically banana boxes from Aldi), which fit quite nicely in the cargo area of the van.

 Step #2: Arrive at Aldi; Get a cart

**a. Insert baby into Ye Olde Boba Carrier so she isn't taking up valuable real estate in the shopping cart.

**b. Hold a hand next to ya, walk to cart corral.   

c. To get a rent cart (another cost-saving measure), insert a quarter into pictured slot. This will disengage the chain that connects to it the other carts, allowing you to take it into the store. Don't worry, you'll get the quarter back once you return the cart.

**d. Get a quick workout in by lifting your 40-lb toddlers into the cart. Some stores have the double seat in the front of the carts, but not all. Remind the toddlers that if they pinch each other, eat the groceries, or act up in any way, they will not get to watch "Cars" in the van on the way home.

Step #3: Do your shopping

First stop: Wine. I do recommend the Winking Owl Pinot Grigio. Totally doesn't taste like a $2.89 bottle of wine.

Pro tip: You might want to "steal" a couple of these banana boxes for future shopping trips! Seriously, just take the bananas out of one box and pile them up on top of one of the other boxes, then take the empty one. The employees won't mind; in fact, it saves them some work!

Step #4: Check out
**a. Enlist toddlers to help unload groceries onto the conveyor belt.

b. After the clerk scans and item they are just going to place it in an empty cart at the end of the conveyor belt, which leaves you with this jumble:

But the inconvenience is worth the low, low bill.

Step #5: Pack up your groceries

There are counters in the back of the store that exist for shoppers to pack up their groceries. I don't typically use them because there isn't an adjoining toddler jail. Old ladies tend to scold if your toddlers are attempting to do back flips off the counter while you're occupied bagging up a week's worth of groceries.

Instead, after checking out I wheel the cart **(the displaced toddlers walking or riding on the back of the cart) back to the van, instruct the big kids to get in their car seats and work on the buckles, then I transfer all the groceries from the cart into the boxes that I threw into the cargo area in Step #1.
This part kinda sucks when the weather's bad, but after a decade of Aldi shopping, this is honestly the most hassle-free way (for me).

I try to sort the groceries so that one box contains items destined for the fridge or freezer, while the other contains pantry items. 

Step #6: Get your quarter back.
All the carts have a chain dangling off of the quarter-eating device on the handle. All you have to do is push your cart against the others already in the corral (just like in a regular supermarket) then insert the chain belonging to the cart directly in front of yours into the BACK of the quarter-eating device on your cart..

And out pops the quarter.

Step #7 - Unpack groceries

Once home, I get another work out in my carrying my two boxes loaded with groceries into the house. Then I again bribe the toddlers so they will keep things to a dull roar while I get everything put away.

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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.