Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Major Project Days

A couple of months ago, I shared a couple of pictures of the little girl's bedroom. It was my intention to work on getting the room to look like a child's bedroom/playroom instead of a storage mess that happened to have a crib in it. As anyone with functioning eyeballs can see, it was a mess. The really bad part is that this was AFTER I had been working on cleaning for a while. Now, I would like to be able to say that I got it all squared away that day and that it looked fantastic after just that day; that would be a lie. If anything, in the two and a half months since then, the room had gotten a whole lot worse. I was feeling really guilty about not having a nice place for the little girl. I just never had that extra push to get me into action. Then, two things happened to change that. My dad dropped off the mattress and box spring that he said that he'd give us, and a wonderful friend gave us a toddler bed.
Day 2
Here we were with nice things and no place to put them. It was the extra push that I needed to get to work. 
Part of the reason why I had not made much progress on the bedroom was that there were so many things that needed to be done outside of the room for anything to happen. There was organizing the items in the attic to make more space, hanging the guitars and banjo to clear items from under the bed, organizing the linen closet to make room for items currently stored in the bedroom..... The list continues for what seems like forever.

Day 2
With the requisite kick in the pants, work began. I knew that there was a fair bit of stuff under that twin bed, so I set to work getting it all new homes. Guitars have now been hung nicely in our room, a box of stuffed animals and decorations was unpacked, and the lettering for the Bible quote has now been put on the wall in the living room. I also moved more boxes in the attic than I'd like to admit are even stored up there in order to make room for the beds that needed a home up there. Despite having finals this week and needing to make sure that he was in a good position to do well on them, Charlie pitched in for his fair share. Together we took apart the twin bed in the bedroom and took the frame, two mattresses, two box springs, and a few other large items to the attic for storage. The rest of the bedroom was going to be a one person job, so Charlie went to work on his own projects with the car, trailer, and garage on top of any studying that he needed to do. (The bedroom is not that big, and with how much clutter was in there, there was not enough room for both of us.) 
Day 3

A certain little girl served in her customary supervisory capacity for the lion's share of the three days of work. She clearly wanted to make sure that her room looked good when it was done. I was really impressed with her level of patience while she played quietly in her crib for hours on end.
Day 3

There is obviously still more work to be done. That pile of stuff by the closet needs a new home, and there are still more boxes in the closet in need of sorting. At the same time, I do feel a lot better about the overall condition of the room. At least it looks like a bedroom now.

It wasn't all work and no play these last couple of days. We did get to the library for Little Movers Storytime this morning. Somebody really likes the chance to see all sorts of new people. I like the fact that there aren't a lot of kids smaller than her, so she's not likely to accidentally tip them like she has been known to do. She is, for right now at least, pretty good at sharing toys with the other kids and just loves the toys and books that they scatter around the room after the story is finished.

Just for the record...yes, it was less than 40 degrees this morning. Yes, she is barefoot. This is not a hill that I'm willing to die on right now. If she wants to go barefoot, I'll just wrap her feet in a blanket and call it a day.

Have a wonderful week!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Boogie Baby

Last Sunday morning, as we were halfway out the door and loading a cute little munchkin to go to church, my key wouldn't work in the deadbolt. Charlie tried his. We tried the backup keys. That lock was just not going to work. It might not have been so bad, but we didn't have keys to any of the other locks. There is nothing quite like something making you late for church to remind you why you need to be there.

Monday's project? Change the hardware, so we actually have matching keys. (The garage door still need to be redone, but I lost momentum after changing two doorknobs and two deadbolts. I'll get to it eventually.) It will be very nice to be able to have more options - like leaving the porch door unlocked when one of us will be coming home in the dark or inclement weather, so we can dig for keys on a dry and lit porch. 

Monday we also had an epic meltdown from a certain little girl. She decided that she did not want to sit up on her own but would rather just lay there crying. (Unless I left the room for some reason which would result in her stopping and spinning on her back to get a good view of when I returned.) This ultimately went on for over an hour. It was not fun for either of us. If there was an easier way to teach kids to assess and fix their problems instead of waiting for someone to come rescue them, I would totally be on board. She ended up none the worse for wear and was begging for delicious food from Mama's plate just a short time later.

The rest of the week got a little difficult for everyone due to a LOT of teeth working their way in at once. Our poor little munchkin has had a nose that's either been running like a faucet, or, more recently, stuffed and congested until it's miserable. Her lungs have luckily stayed clear, and we're hoping for relief to be in sight soon.

In other news, lots of work got done in the yard, and some progress was made in the efforts to transform the second bedroom from a storage place where the little girl sleeps to an actual bedroom where she can play. There's a lot more to do, but we are making steady progress every day.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

My Shadow

We have had some busy days around here. 

Because of all the rain last week, we were stuck inside for a good chunk of the time. This gave a certain little girl and I plenty of time to take the DVDs that Charlie and I had downsized and put them for sale online. We still have a lot of them left, but we do have a little less cluttering the house and a few extra bucks in the budget. Not too shabby for a fairly small effort.

When the weather finally cleared up, I was able to get outside and do some yard work. There is still plenty to do, but one of the gardens is starting to look like a garden, and I have gotten some progress on the lawn as well. With all the rain that we had, I am expecting that we may have to mow the lawn as soon as this weekend. Normally, I would not be so thrilled about this. However, we could really use the grass clippings for the garden, so I am a little more receptive to it this year.

I spent how long to only get this done?
The little girl is becoming less little every single day. She has gotten to be incredibly skilled at standing whenever she wants and walking along furniture. She is still not so sure about sitting back down though. Normally, she starts screaming and crying as her poor little legs wobble and are about to give out. We try really hard to not laugh at her for it. It's really hard sometimes. She also went to her very first ever Little Mover's Storytime at the library. She was quite the little social butterfly scooting herself around the circle and meeting all sorts of new people - the librarians think that she's adorable. I'm just glad that they don't look scandalized when she starts screeching in excitement at the top of her lungs. She really likes the library.

Daddy, do you have grapes?
She's also become quite the little beggar when it comes to dinner times. No matter how recently she has just eaten, she wants to eat whatever we happen to have on our plate. On the bright side (for me anyway), Daddy's plate is way more interesting than Mama's on most days. It does make it really interesting for him when he's trying to quick eat lunch before heading to school. 

Gretl has taken a few giant steps backward in her training the last few days. While she has been behaving pretty well inside, she has decided that the rules don't apply to her outside. As a result, she is now wearing the training collar all day - we don't want to take any chances with cars.

We have now are on day 6 of a noisy cricket. Miss Fluffypie needs to eat that stupid thing. Luckily, we can't hear it in the bedrooms, but it's pretty annoying throughout the day. She's got to get hungry soon, right? Right?

Charlie has been making plans on what he's going to do with the trailer frame that we bought and starting doing some of the welding for it. Right now, it's basically an axle, a couple of wheels, and enough of a frame to attach it to a hitch. By the time that he's done with it, we're going to have a really nice trailer. The welding courses are paying off even before he's finished them!

We are getting set for another busy week here at Chez Sheffer. At least we make sure to never be so busy that we can't sit down for some snuggles and a book.

Monday, April 6, 2015

This Year's Garden

My plants die. Pretty much without fail; my plants die. Those plants that are supposed to be wonderfully
Stevia 2.0 - luckily, it rerooted itself. Maybe it'll live.....
resilient and practically self-sustaining? In my house or yard, they die. All that "easy to regrow from scrap" stuff you see in your Facebook news feed? It dies. Ever wonder what happened with my various botany experiments that have made appearances on the blog? They died. Even if I don't forget about them and neglect them, they still die. (The only thing that I can consistently grow is mold in the back of my refrigerator.) My inability to keep plants alive is at odds with my desire to have a large garden full of fruits and vegetables as well as culinary and medicinal herbs. Every year, I think of how wonderful it would be to have delicious fresh things to eat. I look at the plants for sale at all the stores. I buy seeds and try to start seedlings. Eventually, I have to have learned enough for it to work, right?

This used to look really nice before I took over.....
This year will (hopefully) be different. Instead of my normal blundering about like a blindfolded bull in a china shop trying to figure out what I am doing wrong, I have enlisted gardening mentors. And I am cooking them dinner on a weekly basis, so I will be able to get some frequent course correction. I am going to need it. The gardens both look atrocious.
There are transplanted strawberries in there somewhere...
This afternoon, I plopped the Little Girl in baby jail near the West Garden, and I started working on my homework. I raked it out, collected seeds from last year's plants, and pulled the dried flower stalks from most of the garden. I also started turning the soil near the neighbor's garage. 

The East Garden looks even worse than the West one does
As I was working, I unearthed some strawberries that I hadn't killed yet. Those were carefully transplanted into the freshly turned soil, and thatch raked from the lawn was put around them to hold the moisture that the predicted rain should be putting on the garden. (There will probably never be enough berries from my garden for all of my jam making needs, but it is always nice to be able to grab a few ripe berries for a snack while working.) We will have to see tomorrow evening what sort of a grade I get on the work.

I did not see new growth yet on the perennial herbs or the grape vine, and I am a bit worried that they did not have enough insulation to make it through the bitter winter. It is still early though, so we will just have to wait and see how it all goes.

I have started to realize just how many leaves are in the garden and how long they take to break down into the lovely compost that I need and how much easier it would be to use them for mulch if they were put through a chipper/shredder first. Maybe we will have to see about putting it in the budget to get a nice used one this fall. It would be way more fun to do all the raking if I got to put the leaves in a shredder.....

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Mischievous Munchkin Manages Mayhem and Monkeyshines

Parenting books, magazines, and blogs have a lot of stuff in them. A lot of the information repeats from one to another, and it gives you this idea that there's a "normal" for kids. Heck, even doctors use charts to map out what should be "normal" milestones, weight, and height. I have decided that either they are wrong or God in His infinite humor decided to give me one that doesn't fit any molds. (Case in point - rolling over. Normal is about 6 months. She rolled front to back at 17 days and then refused to roll from back to front until just before 10 months.) Luckily we have a pediatrician who is not beholden to charts and is accepting of her doing things on her own schedule. We had a visit with him this week for her 12 month checkup. She came in at the 40th percentile for weight and the 84th for height. (She is way above average in head size....97th percentile. No wonder we have so many shirts that would fit her if we could only get them over her noggin. All those brains just need a place to reside I guess.)
What's in here?
For those keeping score at home, here's the most recent statuses:
  • Standing up against furniture or even drawers is now "kid stuff," and she has started the process of attempting to stand in the middle of the room. (Feet and hands down with butt up in the air.) She will not do it when I have the camera out. I have stood there watching for 20 minutes with no success only to have her try as soon as I put the camera down. Sass pot. There has also been great improvement in the area of sitting back down. No crashing with bonked noggin since before Chicago. (Just wait, she'll do it now.)
  • Efforts are continuing to jail break her puppy. Tonight she was able to reach the top latch but not get it to slide. Gretl may be graduating to no daytime kennel sooner than we thought unless we can find a way to "lock" the latch. Otherwise, are going to need to figure out a way of having food and water accessible to her that is not going to become yet another toy for the tiny tornado.
  • Putting things in things is a great game. We have had to move all the rubbish bins to make sure that she doesn't throw out something that she shouldn't. It's been interesting finding things in the strangest places - like potatoes in laundry baskets. Either that or Charlie is becoming senile. We will wait to see if I notice things out of place that are above her ever increasing reach or if he starts carrying around doorknobs in his backpack a la Aunt Clara from Bewitched.
  • Bubbles have been voted delicious. While Charlie still attempts to keep her from eating them, I have decided that it is just not worth the effort. Plus, it is funny to watch her chasing them around the bathtub like Ms. Pacman.
    Nom nom! I love bubbles!
  • Picking noses is fun. Her own, mama's, daddy's....really, any nose within reach is fair game. She has even managed to get some of the boogies out of her own nose. At least this somewhat solves the problem of her hatred for all boogie sucking methods. 
  • Our budding scientist has discovered that waving at people gets her attention. As she adores being the center of the universe, just about everyone gets a wave. All of the mall walkers seem to find this a welcome addition to their morning when we go. Well, everyone seems to enjoy it. 
  • Depending on the day, everything is "da," "der," or "dis" with an occasional "ma" or "yay." 
  • We successfully completed the "100 Books Before One" program at the library (with two days to spare) and have started on the "1000 Books B4K" program. The librarians are probably starting to recognize us. We go a LOT.
  • Upon returning from Chicago, we resumed two a day naps. It seems that all of the new tricks she's learning are wearing her out. It is ok - they are wearing her mama out too.
Let me pull your ears while you attempt to rest! Mwahahaha!
The rest of the household does not have nearly as much exciting news. Gretl has been continuing to improve with her training although she has had a bit of a setback. While she was home alone with Charlie, she decided that she did not want to listen, so she has been back to wearing the training collar. With it on, she has been able to spend more and more time as a jungle gym as well as sleeping in the middle of the living room floor. Hopefully by next week she will be back on track, and we will not have to go through the nuisance of putting the collar on her all of the time. We will also probably be deciding soon if we are going to start cart training first or begin the classes/certification for being a therapy dog. As much as I want to start cart training immediately, we will probably go with the therapy dog certification first, so we can take her with us more places.

Charlie is entering the homestretch for his first term. Classes end at the end of this month! He will then have a month off to work on other projects and get acclimated to getting up and going to bed early for the start of the summer term. Hopefully we will all sleep better once that happens.

My routines are getting a bit more established. Most days I get the house straightened, do the cooking and/or baking, run errands, go for a walk, read, and practice the banjo.....in little snippets of time between chasing an increasingly mobile toddler. I actually finished my checklist yesterday and might be able to pull off two days in a row. (Before you think that I have actually gotten my act together, there is still only a narrow path by the crib on the way to the changing table. The rest of the room is at least as big of a mess as it was two weeks ago and probably worse.) 

The goal (weather permitting) will be to get out into the garden this weekend and start to get the ground ready for plants. Yes, it will be two months before we put anything into the ground, but I have been told repeatedly that we are already behind the eight ball on the garden this year. I have no idea. I'm just thrilled that the aloe plant that I was given two weeks ago is still alive, and the stevia plant has managed to reroot itself and start over. We also will need to figure out the best placement for the rain barrel with scored for cheap off of a Facebook rummage sale. Maybe we can use it to irrigate the lingonberries that I still need to order. (Bugger. I forgot that item in the budget for this month. We are going to need to call an emergency meeting of the budget committee to vote on a revised budget.)

From our home to yours, may God shine on you this paschal triduum. Safe travels to all who will be on the roads.