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.

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.

Source



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. Goo.gle 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 care.com 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 cafepress.com 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
T-Shirt by CafePress User
Find more tops & unique gifts at CafePress
T-Shirt
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.