Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Happy Summer

Our fence is built and it is So Happy.  I knew that it would be a wonderful improvement to our home, but I didn't fully realize its positive impact until it was actually finished:

The dog can go outside whenever he wants off leash.  This means no more poop/urine in the house, which equals less stress and overall stink.  He also doesn't bark much at all because he has his own space to dominate and he can't see the "outside world."

Harriet can play and play and play with her wonderful new sand and water table, and when she gets tired of that she can draw on her new outdoor chalkboard.  And when she gets tired of that she can dig with her new kid-sized garden tools.  And when she gets tired of that she can push her baby in the baby stroller around the fence perimeter.  Get the picture?  She has hours of playtime waiting for her each day.  This results in longer nap times and less fuss at bed.  She is such a happy camper.

I can go out and hang up a load of laundry without being embarrassed about the poop stains on my cloth diapers that the sun will eventually bleach out.  I can putter around in my beautiful new garden beds with the baby plants and not be afraid of striking an unflattering gardening pose.  And I can do all of this without wondering where Harriet is and without constantly telling the dog to shut up.

So a big huge THANK YOU goes out to the in-laws and their willingness to come do this with us.  I don't think I'll ever be able to thank them enough.

Now that the fence is in place, I feel like summer has really begun.  During the fall and winter months (which generally equals lots of school and extra activities) I think, "Oh, I'll do [insert fun project] when it's summer."  I decided that I should make a list of all of the fun things I want to do this summer so I don't forget.  My first list looked good, but the more I considered it the more stressed out I felt.  Sew one "fun" item each week?  Read one non-fiction and one fiction book every two weeks?  Fill up the rest of the flower beds?

These ideas are all fine and good, and maybe if I were single without children or a job [think Amelia at sixteen] these plans would be feasible.  But right now, with the way life is, my summer was looking to be as busy and as stressful as the fall routine I was attempting to break from.  It's not going to be a relaxing, refreshing summer if I'm stressing about finishing a "fun" sewing project while ignoring Harriet's pleas to go "out-ide" and desperately trying to keep Edmund asleep for just a few more minutes.

Therefore, instead of making a list of summer goals, I have decided to simply label the next few months The Summer of Chill.  I know that these weeks of warm sunshine and swimming pools and summer reading programs and 4-H will get busy.  But I want my pervasive attitude to be one of calm...and not constantly looking for the next activity that will fill up my time and make me feel "productive."  I want to leave my calendar as open as possible, so that I can serve others without trying to find a spot to fit them in.  I just really want to chill.

So here's to a summer of hanging out in the backyard and going to summer reading program at the library...

...and reading fun books without a time crunch and drinking lots of iced coffee...

...and watching diapers get the poop stains bleached out and not worrying about the neighbors...

...and grilling and running through the sprinkler and watching the onions grow...

...and sewing when the mood strikes and helping the girls finish 4-H projects and running a couple of 5Ks reviving my spirit in the Word.

(And going to Florida in a month.  We mustn't forget that.)

What's on your summer agenda?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Jots and tittles

- Harriet has totally mastered the Falling Asleep By Herself trick.  She is seriously a pro.  We have fine-tuned the bedtime routine so that it is super consistent every night (bath, books, prayer, sleep) and she actually says, "Time to go night-night" and puts her head on her pillow.  I give her a big hug, leave the room, and within five minutes she's asleep.  It's a.mazing.  And I praise God for this breakthrough.

- Edmund goes to bed at nine-ish every night, so I have a few hours (hours, people) of unoccupied time.  My last school exam is tomorrow, so then my life will really  Or something.  I'm hesitant to crowd the uninterrupted hours with too many activities because I know I need to seriously take a chill pill for a while.  But at the same time, I don't want to always waste it away on re-runs of Supernanny.  I need small happy projects that feed my creative bents without making a huge mess.  Pinterest, here I come....

- Two really cool acquisitions:
1) a 1951 Singer sewing machine, in a beautiful blond wood cabinet, with some pretty retro lines.  The whole shoot and match works like a dream, and there is even a little secret hide-y drawer that Steve discovered the other night - FULL of old notions and such.  Goosebumps!  The best part?  This machine came with a zig-zag attachment which is totally rockin' awesome.  Eleanor and I tried it out today for the first time and it worked beautifully.  I can now sew knits!  Ah!

2) a double jogging stroller.  This is a cool story, for I had been on the look-out for a double jogging stroller since I realized that having just a single jogging stroller increased the logistic factor when I wanted to go running.  I was made aware of a double jogging stroller on a buy/sell/trade sort of page, but it was too far away and too expensive.  Still, I felt like this might be my change to land a double stroller, so I decided to talk to Steve about it and see if we could somehow swing it.  That very afternoon, I received a text from a friend who was given a double jogging stroller but did not have use for it.  So she gave it to me!  Whee!  I tried it out with the kids this afternoon and, let me tell you, it is a nice stroller.  What a blessing!  In honor of all of this, Clara and I have decided to run our first 5K in July.  Jazzercise tells us that we could probably run a 5K right now, but I wouldn't mind having a few weeks to get used to the feel of a longer distance run.

- This is going to be a busy, family-filled week.  Steve's parents are driving out from California tomorrow, Clara's entire in-laws will be here on Friday, and there will be fence-building, and Mother's Day, and a lot of fun and games.  Hooray!

(I'm hoping to get a camera for Mother's Day.  Just a subtle hint....)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Sleeping Saga

Yes, my dear friends, we have reached another chapter in the saga of Harriet's sleeping.

Lo and behold...falling asleep without Mommy.

Up until, oh, last night, Harriet's bedtime routine went something like this: take bath, get in bed with Mommy, read a few books, turn off lights, pray, roll around for hours singing and talking and being generally obnoxious.  If Harriet perceived that she was being ignored, she would up the ante and whisper "Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy," five hundred times until she was acknowledged.

Something had to change.  I knew it for months.

And last night it did.

Last night I decided that it was time for yet another round of "tough love" with Harriet and her sleeping issues.  I got her settled into bed, prayed with her, gave her a big hug and kiss and then announced that I was going to leave the room.  I left the door open just a small crack and then listened to her wail for fifteen minutes.  It wasn't sad wailing or scared wailing.  It was "I'm not getting what I want and I'm mad" wailing.  Harriet is a stubborn chicky.  She knows that she can push my buttons and get me to give in.  But I remained stalwart, with the affirmation of my decision from Clara and Jen.  She went to sleep and still loved me when she woke up this morning.

Harriet has always been a beast about sleeping.  This blog is a record of our struggles from the time she was eight weeks old.  I am convinced that she was doing this all out of purely wicked spite...even when she was only a few months old.  She is so crazy stubborn about this and I know that this is just a another step in the process of training her to be a healthy sleeper.

Now we are on night #2 of the drama llama.  I hate it.  It makes me feel like the worst mother on the planet.  I feel like I'm losing another "connection" with her.  Like she's growing up way too fast.  But this is the sentimental side ruling out over reality.  I may dislike this temporary discomfort, but I dislike the horrendous frustration and resentment I feel towards her at 9:30pm every evening much more.

I remember how wretched I felt about night weaning her at 13 when Steve came home from work he found us both sobbing on the bed.  It was really hard, but only for two nights.  Then it was wonderful!  And our relationship strengthened because Harriet knew that I was the Mommy and I was in charge.  I wasn't feeling angry with her every single evening.

I'm confident that this chapter of Harriet's sleeping saga will end positively.

(Meanwhile Edmund sleeps contentedly without assistance in his co-sleeper, just like I told him to do while he was in the womb.)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Birthdays and baths

This weekend was so fun.  We celebrated Steve's and Anne's birthdays early on Saturday evening, with a menu of fish tacos, fruit salad, triple-layer brownies (for Steve) and Clifford cake (for Anne).  They both hit the jackpot with gifts.  I love thinking of fun gifts for Steve that he will really use/appreciate...mostly because I know that behind his stalwart birthday exterior, he really does like it.  Birthdays are just fun, you know?

(Let it be understood that the following photos are stolen from my fabulous sister, Clara, because I am tired of having no photos on my blog posts.)

I got him Birkenstock sandals.

We got Annie a Clifford computer game, but Harriet thought she would like it, too.
Then on Sunday we went to church.  We attempted to eat lunch at the ever-popular Qdoba (when we drove past on our way to the library, Harriet hollered, "BEANS AND RICE!") with our pastor's family and a new guy from church.  However, the place was filled to bursting with Very Small Gymnasts and their Extended Families, so we had to sit at two different tables.  That makes conversing very difficult.  In any case, it was nice to at least make a serious start towards socializing.  Our evening was filled with practicing and playing for the church music night.

Edmund enjoyed the loud music.

When we got home, Steve and I stayed up much too late watching reruns of The Next Food Network Star on Hulu.  I don't know why, but we both like to have a show that we are "following" to resort to when we want to spend time together, but we are much too tired to converse/play a game.  I like Food Network Star because the competitors are expected to produce a show at the end of the competition - not just win a bunch of money, or something.  So the attitude is that these people are improving their culinary/camera skills so that they can be eventually making a constructive contribution to television.  I think that cuts out a lot of the whiny-ness of the program...although there are a lot of whiny people, as well as some really ridiculous people who make us laugh Very Hard.

Yesterday evening, while Steve and Levi played video games with other folks, Clara and I came back to my house to bathe the Three Musketeers.  We were slightly apprehensive about sticking them all in the tub, due to Mima's I-Hate-Baths-Therefore-I-Will-Scream tendencies, but we stuck Edmund's baby tub in the bath, filled the rest of the tub with water and plopped everybody into their respective locations.  All was fine and dandy.  The girls played and splashed.  Edmund relaxed in his private spa.  

And then, the water in Edmund's tub turned a decided shade of yellow.  

Yep, he was too relaxed.

Then it overflowed into the girls' bath.

Harriet and Jemima both started bellowing and screaming "YUCKY!" as we quickly managed to whisk everybody out of the short-lived bath experience.  Oh well.  Little brothers will be annoying and gross sometimes.  It's payback for having to be subjected to pokes in the eyes, pats on the head, and being forced to wear pink frilly hats.