Wednesday, January 28, 2015

An Excuse for Baby Pictures....

Check out how tricky I am!
Mom! A little privacy?!?
We all know that the reason folks read this has less to do with my writing style or even the events....y'all just want to see some cute pictures. Knowing my audience I've jammed a whole bunch of them into this post. You're welcome.

This week will be Charlie's first full week of classes, (the first three all were shortened weeks due to one reason or another), and we are starting to really get into a routine. Elska has finally resumed napping (most days, but of course no second nap today....) allowing me time to make lunch and pack a supper for Charlie to take with him to class. I've had a whole week of successfully maintaining a clean kitchen (every day even) and picking up after Hurricane Elska as she plays. We have no Mount Washmore down in the laundry area or piles of clothes to be folded, chairs are usable to sit in, and the dining room table is actually available for meals. How on earth did my mother make this all look so easy? I'm exhausted just thinking about the list of things yet to do this afternoon to keep all of the juggling balls in the air! I've just been trying to convince myself that it will be less work to keep it clean than to try to find stuff in the mess or race around hiding things when folks stop over. That's a real thing, right? Lie to me if it isn't. I need to believe it.

So these are potatoes?
Lemme get you a towel, or six.

Elska has begun her apprenticeship as my little sous chef these last couple of weeks. Mostly, she has decided that she prefers to be in the same room as I am, and I'm not going to complain because her increased mobility has also increased her ability to get into trouble. It has made for some interesting moments and extra cleanup time, but it's totally worth it. I'm trying to remind myself that everyone has to start somewhere, and if she's interested, I should include her. I seem to remember "eggshells" being the family name for an honest mistake that could still be fixed (like when a small child is helping to crack eggs and gets some eggshells into the cookie dough). 

Last week we had a few pretty big events and milestones as well as general goings on.
Nana snuggles!
  • Tuesday, Elska finally rolled from her back to her tummy. Given her feelings about time on her tummy and the fact that it resulted in a total meltdown, this was likely an accident.
  • Thursday was Elska's 10 month birthday. Seriously? That can't be right. Let me check the calendar....
  • Friday, Elska and I went on an adventure! After we dropped Charlie off for class, we picked up a friend and drove to a local farm to buy some beef. (Forage/grass fed with minimal hormones and chemicals for you hippie types....and cheaper than most beef in the store for those who are just looking to get a good bargain.) The farm was a bit, um, outside of town.....and way further than the directions that we had suggested. It's a good thing that we weren't in any kind of a hurry since it took us about two hours between travel and time there. For an added bonus, there were a couple of calves who were only a day old, and Elska got to meet them. She was both excited and terrified. Hopefully she'll be more ready next time.
  • Saturday we had a family brunch, and Elska got to visit with her cousin. She didn't quite understand that 6 week old babies don't want to eat hashbrowns or pancakes, but it was so sweet to see her trying to share.
  • Still smaller than the dog...
  • Sunday afternoon and last night we got to spend time relaxing at friends' homes. (Charlie missed out on the fun last night due to class though.) It is such a welcome change of pace to get out of the house for something other than errands - especially when it's to spend time with amazing people.'s nice to have additional grownups for conversation. The ones with Elska are much more of a monologue.....
  • Mom, are you sure about these things?
Whew! No wonder we're all a little tired right now. It's been a busy week for us.

Now that we've been able to get settled into a routine and all, the plan is for me to actually get to work on some of the projects that need a couple of overdue afghans, a closet of stuff that needs a new home, and some bookshelves that will be going up as soon as I find all the pieces - probably in the aforementioned closet.

How Do You Boil A Frog?

How do you get to the point where you're wrestling a 75+ pound dog into a submissive posture while spilling water all over everything inside a dog crate? Very gradually and then all at once. It turns out that there are a whole lot more dominant behaviors in dogs than we realized, and Gretl had been showing all of them EXCEPT the ones that we knew. (Side note: zero aggressive behavior. We just don't want any dominant behavior either though because we would like to train her as a therapy dog and go visit hospitals and nursing homes with her in addition to cart training her to pull a wagon.) By the time that she did something that I recognized, we were way down the rabbit hole and needing some serious corrective training. Looking at the list pretty much shocked both of us. While logical and common sense AFTER you know, there were a lot of things that never occurred to us.

Leave the dog alone and play with me! I'm cute!
Luckily for us, knowing is the majority of the battle, and it's a simple (though not easy) fix. I've gotten a pretty amazing workout the last couple of days as we work to reestablish the pack hierarchy. The neighbors probably think that we're either insane or abusing her as we go through the process. I'm sure that it looks odd to have someone holding a dog down on the sidewalk and growling at it for 10 minutes because she refused to sit when told. I've also had to give up on cleaning during morning nap time since I've started focusing on some leash training. On the bright side, it has meant more walks for me, and hopefully by this spring we will be in really good position to start with cart training. It should make it much easier to walk to the Oktoberfest parade if we can have her do the real work of carrying all the goodies and kiddo.

Elska was initially NOT AMUSED by this turn of events. Unfortunately, following through on disciplining the dog means that we can't always immediately jump at the little girl's every whim. *gasp* It has made it a bit more challenging for us since some things with the dog really do need time and patience. Elska is trying to be a good sport about it though. It's as if she realizes that once we get this corrected, she'll be able to play with her buddy more of the time.

The swift changes definitely caught Gretl off guard. While initially resistant to relinquishing her alpha position, we have made some good progress. It's also already corrected some of the annoying things that she had been doing. After only about two weeks of effort, I'm now able to let Gretl roam around the house for a few hours at a time while I play with Elska or even work in the other room. As I type, she is quietly laying in the other room without pacing or fussing at us. It's almost like having a different (better behaved and more fun) dog in the house! Puppy parenting FTW.

Friday, January 16, 2015

We Now Return to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

Grandma found a fun hat!
It's amazing the difference that a routine can make in our ability to get things done - and how tough a change can be. We have been seeing that first hand as we attempt to build a new routine in our life with Charlie in school for two weeks now. Our short road trip last weekend didn't do anything to help either.....mess up a little girl's naps for two days, and you pay for it. Almost a week later, we're still paying for it. At least it was worth it. We had a wonderful time with family and friends as we took some time to catch up with friends, exchange Christmas gifts, watch our Packers, and enjoy some delicious food. The only thing that could have made it better would have been more time. There's never enough of it when it comes to good conversations with good people.

Psst. Lemme tell you a secret!
Charlie's classes are going well so far. There are good days and bad of course, but the overall trend is a good one. Keeping the homesteading goals in mind has helped to push through the obstacles that arise.

Lemme get you outta there!
I'm working to reset my daily routine with Charlie's school schedule in mind. It's harder than I had expected, and we're getting there over time. Who could have thought that shifting the main meal to noontime would be such a big deal?

Gretl and the little girl are becoming better friends with every passing day. It won't be long until the jail breaks start. We're going to have to figure out a child safety latch for the kennel door pretty soon.

The only major milestone from the last week has been the very first bruise. With all of the face plants that have been happening, it's really shocking that it didn't happen sooner. It's all a part of process of learning to crawl and explore the world - although it definitely isn't fun for Mama and Daddy.

Monday, January 5, 2015

No and Nothing

A little help here please!
I have come to the conclusion that the hardest thing for me to say as a parent (or really any time) is "no." "No," you may not pull heavy things on your head. "No," you may not eat the random fuzz that you found on the floor. "No," you may not shred those important documents. Why is it so hard to say no? Well, for starters, the sad-eyed, pouty lipped cry is sure to follow just about every time. It breaks my heart and makes me want to laugh all at the same time. Seriously? The little drama queen knows how to lay it on thick. On the bright side, she does understand enough and will occasionally even comply without my needing to physically remove her from whatever the temptation was.

Quickly following the hardest thing to say - the hardest thing to do is nothing. I know that there's a really good chance that she's going to lose her balance or swing too hard in jumper, and she's going to bonk her noggin. It's not going to really hurt her; I know, but it's not fun to watch. Today, she managed to face plant while trying to learn to crawl, hit her lip on the stool she was trying to eat, and scared herself when she successfully kept herself from falling over backwards. Big crocodile tears every time.

Um, this was like this Mama. I promise.
In other news, while not quite to crawling yet, a certain little girl has definitely gone mobile scooting across our floors on her bum in order to find any bit of anything that I missed while cleaning. I spend more time cleaning than ever before, and I feel ever more inadequate in my housekeeping abilities. Between pulling random bits out of her mouth and picking up a chihuahua's worth of dog hair every day, it has not been good for my confidence.

More lemon please!
We now enjoy lots of veggies and fruits. Mandarin orange slices were recently big hits as were green peppers and baby spinach. While some goofy faces get made for new foods, there really hasn't been anything yet that she doesn't like. However, she does think that paper tastes good, so maybe not the most discerning palate.

Non-baby related news, Charlie started his welding classes today. Aside from nearly having a heart attack when finding out how much textbooks cost, he is excited about the program and finally getting to start this next chapter in life. It is meaning that he is gone in the evenings until after the pixie's bedtime. She made a valiant effort to stay awake until he got home, but finally, she succumbed to slumber and passed out cold. Hopefully she will be willing to adjust to a new bedtime routine that has her goodnight kiss before he leaves for classes. It could be a long couple of nights while we make the adjustment.

Gretl has now gotten to be over 70 pounds which means that we're needing to be more persuasive since we no longer can just pick her up and haul her where we want her to go. It's a good thing that she's starting to follow directions. Now we just need to get her to sleep through the night like her big sister does, and we'll be cruising along.

Here's to wishing you all a happy 2015!