Tuesday, October 16, 2018

[Home Project] Finding an office for Nemo

Did I mention we moved last year?

Well, we did. That makes six times in eleven years.


A work opportunity came up for Nemo that would allow us to move to his hometown, something we had been wanting to do basically since the day we walked down the aisle.

Specifically, it was a work-from-home type of work opportunity, so when we went house shopping we were on the lookout for homes with a quiet, secluded work area for him.

What we didn't account for is that this particular city has a CRAZY housing market, and any way we sliced it we would be paying more money for less house than we had in Wisconsin.

Our last home had four bedrooms upstairs and had a fifth bedroom/office on the first floor where both Nemo and I kept our computers. The house we ended up buying here(which I actually do like more, despite having less space) had three bedrooms and zero offices. Which was a problem.

Luckily, the previous previous owner had put an addition on the back of the house which made room for a large en-suite bathroom in the master bedroom, and below that, an extension of the walk-out basement that was sort of offset from the family room.

It was the perfect place for an office. If only it had a fourth wall and door that a poor work-from-home dad could shut to keep the masses of children out!

Here is a picture of that space from the listing:

The plan was to add a wall on the far side of the sliding door, so that the rest of the family would still have access to the yard, like so:

Alas, it was not so easy as saying, "Bam! Office!"

Nemo was working from a spare room at his parents' house since he didn't yet have a space to work at home, so I was eager to get the project completed so I could pester Nemo anytime I wanted during the day. I got to work planning the layout of the soon-to-be room, which was kind of complicated because we wanted to fit a closet, a large desk, and a sleeper sofa all in one fairly small space. Here's what I came up with:

Then, one fine day almost a year ago, the permits came in and we (and when I say we, I mean Nemo and his dad) got to work. Stay tuned to see how it turned out!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

[House Project] Shared room for the girls

So, a couple of months ago I decided to apply to nursing school. Not what you were expecting me to say, was it? ME NEITHER.

I'd been hunting for a librarian job since we moved here and as it turns out there just aren't a whole lot in this area. However, there are a boatload of nursing jobs that pay really well, and I'm going to have three kids in college someday, so that made it super appealing. That and getting to help people, I guess. Helping people is cool too. So I applied, crammed for then passed the entrance exam, then signed up for an unreasonable number of online prerequisite classes for the summer semester.

I tell you all that in order to tell you why I finally got around to doing some good old-fashioned before-and-after pics of the new house!

Basically I was staring down the barrel of studying for two exams, and thought that, instead of studying, it was a great time to change the girls' sheets. Then while I was up there it made sense to scrape the boogers off the walls (seriously, why is NASA not studying kid boogers for adhesive applications?), and before I knew it the room was clean for the first time since we moved in in November. It was a perfect opportunity to take some pics.

Here's the listing photo of one of the bedrooms. Beigey beige beige.

Since it had the bigger closet of the two kids' rooms, it became the girls' room.

We sold Noni's bed when we moved from Wisconsin, and Ender was ready to make the transition from her crib to a big girl bed, so I took the opportunity to pour a ton of research into beds, trying to find the ones that would make the best use of the space. This is what I came up with. Don't worry, I bought them mega on sale. Come on, this is me we're talking about.

So far, the beds have been working out great. There's a place for everything. I especially love the side-car nightstand for tissues and water bottles and whatnot.

The bedding and curtains are from Target. I felt weird not thrifting more to furnish this room, but I had just moved across the country and really wanted to be moved in NOW. Time was of the essence.

At the closing, I asked the owners if they would consider throwing in this chair I had seen in the garage when we walked through the house. Their kids were grown, so the mini-mint-colored chair was mine! It just happened to match the curtains perfectly. 

I just got the rug at a garage sale for $6. It's the perfect addition to the room!

My tireless mother-in-law painted the walls. The color is "some random color" by "some paint company". I dunno. It's all kind of a blur. I do remember that I bought it at Lowe's, though.

Ikea bookshelf, which I love. We sold a lot of our furniture before we moved, so Ikea was my bff.

I took these pictures more than two weeks ago. It's been crazy. But, I did it! I blogged! Now, back to studying.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

[Recipe] Mediterranean-inspired brown rice salad

I am not a food blogger. I really am not. But I was going to give this recipe to my sister, and I figured, if I'm going to write it down for her, I might as well write it down for EVERYONE, right?

I've been trying to eat more vegetables lately, because health.

The problem is, I'm not the sort of person who finds vegetables by themselves, or even with copious amounts of ranch dip, very inspiring. But what I DO find inspiring is Mediterranean food. I blame growing up in Metro-Detroit, where you can't throw a rock without hitting a baklava. A small anecdote to show you just how in love I am with Greek food:  one time when I was pregnant with CJ, the LITERAL ONLY THING I WANTED for my pregnant lady lunch was an order of Spanokopita from a Detroit-area chain called Olga's Kitchen. When a quick google search told me that I had moved more than 100 miles from the nearest Olga's, I put my head down on my desk at work and cried bitter, craving-thwarted tears.

All that to tell you, over the last few months I started developing a Mediterranean-style rice salad that I could load up with vegetables. So yeah, it has vegetables, but it also has olives (yum), lots of feta cheese (omg I love that stuff), and marinated artichoke hearts (my fave). I used to eat marinated artichoke hearts straight from the can when I was in college. In fact, I did and still do eat LOTS of things straight from the can, because I am not a cook and I am most definitely not a food blogger!

Mediterranean-inspired brown rice salad


1 cup uncooked brown rice
2 cucumbers, seeded and diced
5 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1-12 oz jar of marinated artichoke hearts, drained
1 6-oz can black olives, sliced
4 oz crumbed feta cheese


Whisk together:
1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 T red wine vinegar
1 tsp honey
1/8 tsp salt


1. Cook the brown rice according package instructions. Remember, brown rice is finicky and takes forever to cook, so plan accordingly. Maybe do some yoga for your nerves while doing this part and remind yourself that brown rice is good for you. When the rice is finally cooked 1.2 million years later, put it in the fridge to chill.

2. When the rice is cold, add the tomatoes, olives, artichokes, and feta cheese.

3. Prepare dressing and pour over rice and vegetables. Mix thoroughly.

4. That's it! Enjoy! This makes 5-6 servings, so I usually make a batch on the weekend and have it for my lunch during the week. You'd think I'd get sick of it, but I don't! It's just that tasty.

Thursday, April 19, 2018


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 thing 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!


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.


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: ??? 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.