Wednesday, January 31, 2007

WFMW - coffee table/toy box

When Jonathan was a few months old, we realized that our glass-top coffee table was really going to have to be replaced. Banging baby/toddler hands just don't mix well with glass! So away to a new home went our beautiful coffee table, and the search for another, more appropriate style was on. We knew we wanted something made of real wood, for the durability factor. But even on sale, wood coffee tables at traditional furniture stores would have seriously broken the bank.

Enter Lettie and her love affair with IKEA. :)

Lettie convinced me that a trip to IKEA would be really fun. She was right. We had a great time browsing through the store, and miracle of miracles, there in front of me was the perfect coffee table. Real wood, and only $99.00!!!

The best part, though, is the way the underside is designed. There are six compartments, each able to hold two small baskets of toys. Or a line of board books. Or a stack of puzzles. You get the idea. It is so much better than a traditional toy box, because nothing gets lost (or crushed) at the bottom. The baskets hold the small things and the larger ones can be lined up neatly. It is easy to find the toys we're looking for, and easy for Jonathan to know how to help put them away. It is one of the most efficient uses of space that we have in our house - it definitely works for me!

For more good ideas, visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Long overdue

No, not me, just this post. :)

Jonathan has changed so much in the past few months, and I definitely haven't succeeded in keeping up on blogging about his new quirks and accomplishments. So here are some quick notes on what he's been up to lately:

Reading. Jonathan is really blossoming as a reader. He loves to be read to, and will often sit and really listen for over 30 minutes. He still enjoys some of his board books, but more often will request longer story books. Not only that, he'll narrate the stories to himself after I've read them a few times.

He can actually be pretty accurate about this, and it is so much fun to listen in when he's doing it. Current library favorites: Jennifer and Josephine (Bill Peet) and Amelia Bedelia. Favorites which we own include Professor Wormbog in search for the Zipperumpazoo, Llama Llama Red Pajama, The Snowy Day, and his "Jesus book" which we read each night before bed.

Language. His ability to use language has just exploded. He uses basic sentences now, such as "put milk on counter" and "please, go outside?" We're working on teaching him to "be polite" and he is getting a rudimentary grasp of when to say "please", "thank you", and "you're welcome". He also says "bless you" whenever anyone sneezes or coughs, which is simply adorable. Another one that always cracks us up is "oh my goodness!"

Hugging. He has to be in the mood for this, but Jonathan gives great hugs (and kisses, for that matter). Parenting can be hard sometimes at this stage of his development, but his hugs always remind me how much I love him! He will often ask for hugs, sometimes offer them, and depending on his mood, give them when asked. A funny part is that he likes to hug inanimate objects as well as people. Lately he's been hugging a stuffed giraffe, his rocking horse, and trying to hug the picture of a snowman on the computer screen when I visit Rocks in my Dryer. (Shannon, you should see it - it is too cute!) His latest attempt (today) was when we were blowing bubbles outside and he chased after the bubbles asking "Hug a bubble? Hug a bubble??"

Lack of clothing. Oh, he is such a little boy!! His favorite type of clothing is nothing but a diaper.

Really, he'd rather skip the diaper too, but I draw the line at that! Every time we change his diaper he asks "run-a-naked?" Translation: "Run around naked?" I actually have a video of this which I seriously considered posting because it is so hilarious - but I decided not to in the interest of my son not hating me when he's thirteen years old and his friends find it on the internet.

Creativity. I'm seeing more and more of this every day. He plays with his toys in such purposeful and non-standard ways. For example, I might find all his cars and trucks carefully lined up in the crack of the sofa. Or stacked on top of each other as high as they'll go without falling. The other day I got this picture:

If you look carefully, you'll see that the keyboard on the floor is plugged into the car on the desk. Oh, and the pajama pants on his head? Evidently that is his latest fashion statement. He always wants to wear them as a hat. :)

Jonathan is also very specific about how he wants to build towers. Before we sort of just built towers for him and he knocked them down. Now I'm enlisted to help him stabilize towers of his own design, and boy is he picky! Here is a picture of his latest creation. Isn't it interesting? And see how hard he's concentrating!

Imitation. Jonathan wants to be just like Daddy. He loves getting to "use" Daddy's tools, or at least similar ones! He wants to help anytime Gabe is working on a project - for example, hammering became a serious business when Gabe was building a closet shelf, and when the garbage disposal was being installed, I got this sweet picture:

Jonathan also likes to imitate me, particularly if I phrase it as getting to "be mommy's good helper!" He'll use a rag to wash walls or mirrors or the table, which keeps him busy while I do the "real" cleaning. And recently he's been able to really help me with folding and sorting the laundry. He pulls all of Gabe's socks out of the pile, stacks them together, carries them into the bedroom and puts them away in the sock drawer. It is a little thing, but it is a trip that I don't have to make, and he knows that he is a big boy who can really help mommy!

Babbling. No, not regressing into baby talk, exactly. I think he's just practicing sentences. He'll string together a long paragraph of sounds that sort of almost sound like words, but they aren't. At the moment it doesn't seem to bother him that I can't understand him. If he wants my attention I'll simply say "I don't know what those words mean. Can you use some other words to tell me?" Usually if it is something he thinks is important, he will.

And last but not least, Jonathan is developing a very real sense of humor. He laughs with us, at us (yes, usually at times that make sense!) and sometimes out of the blue for no reason that I can discern! A few days ago I was driving in the car, half-listening to Jonathan's non-word babble, when suddenly he burst out laughing really hard. I asked him what was so funny, and he responded "Joke! Funny!" and kept laughing. I have no idea what it was that was so amusing, but he surely enjoyed it!

That's all I can think of for now, and I should be in bed anyway. I hope you enjoyed the update!

Husband bragging rights

My very own husband installed a new garbage disposal in our kitchen sink. He spent much of his birthday afternoon making sure he knew what he was doing, and then did it. And it works. Perfectly. And nothing in the plumbing got broken in the process!

I can't tell you how nice it is to have a working disposal again. No more standing sludgy water!! No more nasty sweeps down the sink to see what fell down and plugged it up again!! No more icky smells!!

I think he deserves an award, don't you? :)

Hurrah for IKEA!

Last year I got fed up with our old couches. They were very cheap hand-me-downs from a friend who got them from a friend - and while they were perfect at the time for our very broke just-out-of-college budget, I had had enough of them. They were structurally sound but splitting at the seams (beyond repair - the actual fabric was deteriorating, not just the seams) rather dated, and a very practical but not very pretty navy blue.

So I started saving my pennies. And just over a year later, we got these new lovely couches! Aren't they beautiful? :)

There is such a sense of achievement in successfully saving toward a goal like this. You have to think really carefully about what you want and if it is worth having. Because there are so many tempting "little things" that you could spend those savings on! For me, as a stay-at-home mommy, clean lines, simple furnishings, and little non-cluttery spots of beauty in my home are really important to me. Particularly since most of the day there are a lot more toys/laundry/shoes/junk on the floor than can be seen in this picture! :) So carefully buying furniture that helps foster that kind of simplistic beauty is something we decided was worth saving for. (Come to think of it, the coffee table in this photo is another example of the same idea - sturdy, real wood, classy design, pretty, and lots of storage so that at the end of the day all the toys have a place to go!)

It has been pointed out that I am certifiably crazy for buying cream colored couches with a toddler and a new baby on the way. This may be the case, but I did think about it for a year before doing it. :) My justification is two-fold: 1) I love this color, and I have always dreamed of decorating this way; and 2) though it doesn't look like it, they have easy to remove and easy to wash covers. I figure I'll have extra laundry to do, but for me the trade-off is worth it. I'd rather do laundry than spend lots of money buying something that I don't really love.

Another serious perk is that this particular design of couch doesn't hurt Gabe's back (or mine, for that matter). Most couches do, and when we walked through IKEA and found this one, we both went "oooh!!" (for different reasons, but hey, we both liked them!)

The next thing I want to save for: frames for the botanical art prints that I'd like to hang on the wall over one couch. Won't that look lovely?

Jonathan's first physics lesson

Monday, January 29, 2007

Ready to pop :)

Yes, I'm still pregnant. Yes, I'd like this baby to come soon. Yes, by "soon" I really mean "yesterday".

Technically I'm not due yet. But it is hard to forget that by my original date estimates, I'm now just a bit overdue. Add to that a weekend full of contractions that hurt but were completely randomized (seriously, there was no pattern. Sometimes they came every seven minutes, then would stop completely for two hours, then would come regularly every 20 minutes...) and feeling nauseous and wanting to cry over everything. Then last night I was awakened every. single. hour. with contractions and a desperate need to use the bathroom. It did seem like something ought to come of all that. But this morning - nothing. Not one contraction!

So. I'm spending the day consciously remembering to enjoy Jonathan - after all, he's about to get a lot less attention! And I'm doing the last tiny things on my "before Thomas comes" list. And trying not to think about how I'm so very not in labor.

I'd appreciate prayer as I wait out these last days (however many they end up being.) First, that I would be patient! :) And second, that if it is going to be awhile, my body would calm down and just wait until it is ready to go, instead of doing this half-hearted not-really-labor thing. It is very tiring - after last night I think getting up to nurse a baby will seem rather blissful. :)


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty!

Today my mom walked. She was holding on to a table, and it was slow and shuffling and painful, she had two therapists helping her and bracing her left knee, but she walked. Dad called me and I got to talk to both of them for a few minutes. Mom said "it wasn't like I trotted 'round the table" and Dad interjected that it was more like "one slow, painful step at a time"...but she walked. Mom says that today is the first time she's thought "I will walk again."

Praise be to God for his great compassion and mercy!

Bliss and rapture... (WFMW)

the carpets in my house are clean. Not just vacuumed, but seriously, beautifully, completely clean. My new best friend is the carpet cleaner man. I am so not kidding.

We bought this house about two years ago. When we did, the carpets were, well, less than clean. We placed the couches over the worst of the spots, bought a few gallons of Folex spot cleaner, and made do. Periodically I've wished that I had the time, energy, and/or money to do something about really cleaning them, but something always got in the way. Usually the lack of time, energy, and money. :)

Enter my new favorite person: Cheerful Carpet Cleaner Man. Not only does he not charge an arm and a leg (I called a few places, previously, who quoted me nearly $200 for the job) but he's pleasant, hardworking, and very very thorough. He didn't move the really heavy stuff (you know, bookshelves, piano, bed) but everything that was moveable got moved.

He spent nearly 2 hours here, cleaned every carpet in the house, and charged me $45.

I think that may be the best spent $45 in a long time. If I had tried to do this myself with a rental machine, it would have cost me about $30, plus a lot more than two hours of time and aggravation and aching back and cranky toddler!

Clean carpets without all the angst? Works for me! There are some things where it really IS better to call in the professional. (For more tips, visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer.)

If anyone in the area needs clean carpets, I'd be happy to give you his number. :)

Thursday, January 18, 2007


It must be really weird to have your entire concept of death shaped by these two ideas:

"Jesus died on the cross because he loves us"


"The fishy got sick and died and we flushed him down the toilet."

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

WFMW - baking and bathtime

When my son was very small, I bathed him in the kitchen sink. It was so much easier on my back, and he fit in there so nicely! But at some point I switched over to bathing him in the tub. I guess I just figured that he was a "big boy" now, and that was what big boys did. And you know what? He stopped getting so many baths! Because I hate giving tub baths. And I especially hate giving tub baths when I'm too pregnant to bend over. :)

Happily, I have now found the solution to this dilemma. Jonathan gets baths in the sink again. Yes, he's a toddler, but he still fits! I got the idea first because he likes to play in the sink while I'm cooking, and second (and most recently) because he also likes to take all his clothes (including his diaper) off while playing in the sink. So now the body wash resides in the kitchen, and my son is cleaner than in past months. :)

The beautiful thing is that while Jonathan plays in the sink, I can turn the kitchen into baking central. Fresh bread, muffins, etc., all can be made with minimal hassle while Jonathan is occupied. As long as he gets to play in running water and taste my wares, he will be happy for as many as two hours. Two hours!!!! This is also a good time to put dinner together in the crock pot, since often Jonathan needs more focused attention in the afternoons when I'd normally be cooking dinner.

It works for me! Check out Shannon's blog for more great ideas!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Prayer request

Jonathan is one of my best reminders to pray for my mom. We have a couple of pictures of her up in frames, or on the computer screen, and often when Jonathan sees them he spontaneously says "Ga-ma, sick, hospital, Jesus, amen!" And how could you not pray when reminded so clearly? It is one of my greatest joys to realize that in teaching my son to love Jesus, I'm learning to love God better as well.

Mom really does need a lot of prayer right now. Although she is making some progress, it is very slow and not what we'd hoped for. The biggest new problem right now is that she has something called heterotopic ossification in her hips. It is a very rare and very painful condition - basically her brain has told her body to make new bone, even though there is no need for new bone. Her doctors are saying that the drugs that could be used to counteract it have side effects that would be even worse, given her current condition. That leaves...waiting. For about six months until the bones finish growing, and then having surgery to remove them. Obviously, this is not at all what we wanted to hear. So please pray. Please pray that this process stops. For that matter, pray that it reverses itself. Our God is the great physician, and there is no reason that he couldn't do it. And pray that Mom has good doctors who will know what is best to do.

Please pray also for peace of mind for my Mom and my Dad. There are so many decisions to make, so much to think about, and it is so hard to know what choices are best.

Many thanks.

Friday, January 12, 2007


My friend Lettie has informed me that while the photos of my son are very cute, she would like to see some of me as well. :) Her comment made me realize that while we very carefully documented my progress in pregnancy with Jonathan, this time around we sort of forgot to take pictures. Gabe isn't a natural shutterbug, and I just haven't thought to hand him the camera and say "take pictures, please!"

So today, I took pictures of myself while Jonathan watched and laughed at me. They're not so bad, for being taken in a mirror! :)

And because I can't resist...another one of Jonathan, too.


Boy, has it hit. Yesterday I woke up (after a rather sleepless night, no less!) with this incredibly driving need to make the house nice. And by nice, I don't mean just picked up and tidy. No, yesterday was spent doing some serious cleaning. The kitchen got cleaned quite literally from top to bottom. Clutter on flat surfaces - begone!!! Chores that I usually only do once or twice a year got moved to the front of the list, and then actually completed. I even washed the front door. No kidding. It just seemed very important, somehow!

Gabe and my mom tell me that I did the same thing with Jonathan, (a few times, actually) when I was in the last few weeks. So I have no idea when Thomas will actually choose to arrive, but I'm enjoying this newfound energy. I rather hope it will last, because I still have a pretty long list of "things to do before Thomas arrives". :)

And tomorrow is Saturday! Poor Gabe - one aspect of me feeling "nesty" is that I have this rather overpowering urge to say "please do this! And this! And this! And this! And can you please hurry?!" I'm trying to curb it...really I am... :)

Of kittens

This afternoon, I was showing Jonathan a few pictures that we got from Lettie. They included some admittedly adorable pictures of their new kitten. Now, Jonathan has an ongoing love affair with cats. Any cats. He tries to pat every cat that comes within sight, much less reach. The highlight of our week, for him, was that he actually found a cat that would let him pat it! So Jonathan's reaction to the photos was not all that unexpected, I suppose:

J: Kitty!
E: Yes, it is a cute kitty, isn't it?
J: Pat it?
E: No, we can't pat it - it is a picture. It is on the screen, and we don't touch the screen, remember?

(Various repetitions of this occur three or four times.)

J: (silence for a moment) Hug it?
E: Um, honey, we can't hug it either. I'm sorry, it is just a picture.
J: (somewhat frustrated) Have it?

My poor son. He wants a cat so badly, and of course his mother has to be allergic to the silly creatures!!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

WFMW - healthy eating

Every week I think, "I should participate in Works for Me Wednesday - it is such a good idea!" Only I can't ever think of anything interesting that works for me. ;) But healthy eating...this I can do! So here is one of my newest favorites:

“Cream” of Broccoli Soup
Original recipe from – I tweaked it a bit to make it better.

4 cups water
4 cups broccoli florets
2 T butter
1 onion, chopped
1 large stalk celery, chopped
1/3 c. flour
2 T. chicken broth base
2 ½ c. milk (I used 1% and it was great – I bet skim would work as well.)
¼ t. nutmeg
¼ t. pepper
1 c. shredded cheddar

In a medium-sized cooking pot, add water and broccoli florets and bring to boil; reduce heat and cook for about 3 minutes. Drain, reserving the water.

In a blender, blend half the cooked broccoli until fairly smooth (you may want to add some of your reserved water to help it blend well.) Chop remaining broccoli and set aside.

In a large cooking pot, melt butter, add onion and celery and cook for about 3-4 minutes until soft. Stir in flour; cook, stirring constantly for about 1-2 minutes. Add reserved water and chicken broth base and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium; simmer, stirring constantly until thickened.

Unless you like little chunks in your cream soup (in which case, skip this step) transfer the soup to the blender and blend until smooth.

Return soup and blended broccoli to pot. Stir in milk, nutmeg, pepper, and chopped broccoli, and heat through. Just before serving, stir in grated cheddar.

Garnish with a little more cheddar, if desired.

The soup isn’t particularly thick the first day – it thickens overnight in the fridge, though. If you like your cream soup thicker, you can either make it in advance and serve reheated the next day (very good – we loved the leftovers) or you could try adding more flour or cornstarch to thicken the base.

The lovely thing about this soup is that it tastes really, really, really good, and just about as "creamy" as the not-so-good-for-you versions. It was a hit with both Gabe and Jonathan - hurray for yummy ways to feed the menfolk broccoli! :)

Monday, January 08, 2007

Clothing...or the lack thereof

Jonathan has decided that not wearing clothing is infinitely preferable to wearing clothes. This morning he wriggled himself out of his footie pajamas, then informed me that he liked to be naked and didn't want to put any clothes on. I let him run around in a diaper, but drew the line at going outside that way. His next attempt looked like this:

"See Mom, see? I'm wearing my jacket! I'm all ready to go outside!!"

We did finally get dressed on the promise of going out for a walk to the park. :)

Then this afternoon, immediately after his nap, I was changing his diaper and he asked if he could be naked. And added "please". What's a mom to do? I put him in a cloth diaper and then put him in the kitchen sink to play in the water. Turned my back for a minute and returned to find my little monkey - really naked. No more diaper for him!

He got a bath this afternoon. Why let such an opportunity go to waste? :)

Now I'm just waiting for the day when I turn around in the grocery store, only to find him sans pants!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Free time!

Gabe and Jonathan are in Erie, Pennsylvania this weekend. I have no responsibilities. I'm not feeding anyone but myself. When I do an errand, I only have to haul one (well, ok, two) people out of the car - no bending over the toddler car seat and pulling him out, too! I can do three or four errands in a row without having a fussy toddler to worry about. I can sleep in as long as I want to!!!! There is no one calling my name, no one needing me to do something for them, no one expecting anything of me. Why did I not appreciate this back when I was in college??? :)

Don't get me wrong - I love my husband and my son and wouldn't trade them for anything. But this is the first time in at least three years that I haven't been responsible for anyone other than myself - and frankly, it is really nice!

Yesterday after I took them to the airport, I got to spend some quality time with Jessica, without constantly checking to make sure Jonathan was playing nicely and not eating thing he shouldn't. Then home to lie down, read a good book, and nap for two hours. Then I cleaned the house up a bit because I wanted to, and then went out to do some errands in the evening. Bedtime was odd without Gabe...but it was still a very nice day!

This morning I didn't wake up until quarter to nine. I can't remember the last time I got to do that!! And I still made it out the door by 9am, which is an impossible feat if you're getting yourself and a toddler out the door. After a chiropractic appointment, I treated myself to a haircut and manicure at COBA Academy (lovely people, cheap prices), then read my book during lunch before attending Sarah Pletcher (now Winfrey)'s wedding. And now home, enjoying the silence, reading my book, blogging, and soon an early bedtime.

I feel slightly guilty to be enjoying this so much. But I'd be lying through my teeth if I said I wasn't. :)

A year of posts

I got this idea from Dy (who got it from someone else, who probably got it from someone else...) and liked it. You're supposed to post the first line from the first post of every month in the previous year. So I went through my archives and did so. The result is...odd. But since I've already done the work, here it is for your reading pleasure. :)

No, I didn't fall off the planet.

February (this one is kind of funny because it is also referring to Dy's blog.)
I love reading this woman's blog...she is the mother of three boys and an infant daughter, and her writing never ceases to either amaze me or make me laugh or make me think.

It remains to be seen if the check actually arrives (has anyone actually received one of these?) but if it does, great rejoicing will ensue!

The sun is shining.

I don't often link to Dooce, because she has some pretty questionable language at times, but this post really captures the new perspective you get as a parent.

Jonathan is really excited about ducks right now.

After about two months or more of agonizing ("what if he looks ridiculous? What if I cut his ear off?") I finally cut Jonathan's hair.

Even though I am pregnant, the mother of a cranky toddler, and woke up with a cold this morning, the closet is ORGANIZED.

We're doing some so-called-"weekend" projects this week.

I just cut Gabe's hair for the second time.

On Wednesday, I took Jonathan for a walk to the park.

I'm making an attempt at doing something Advent/Christmas related for each day of Advent this year.

It is actually kind of fun looking back through my archives and seeing how life changed. A year ago Jonathan was so little. A year ago Thomas hadn't been conceived yet. A year ago I could almost fit back in my normal jeans (sigh - I sure miss them!!) A year ago I was still involved in karate. A year ago I was trying to lead a non-existent youth group at church. A year ago my sister wasn't married, my brother wasn't engaged, and my mom hadn't had a stroke.

I think maybe it is a good thing we can't see the future. God's gift to us may just be that we live life one day at a time, and then can look back and see his pattern in our lives.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Winter gardening

Most of my winter garden hasn't survived. I think we got too much rain and have too little drainage because of the retaining wall (concrete about three or four feet deep). But one plant has not only survived, it seems to be thriving! Jonathan and I discovered this today:

I can't wait until they fill out a little more and we can eat them!!

He is a happy little guy, isn't he? :)

Great books education gone wrong...

Last night Gabe and I pulled our sheets out of the dryer, intending to re-make the bed.

Emily: "Oh dear, there is a damp spot. I'll have to put them back in the dryer."

Gabe (with great passion): "Out, OUT, damp spot!!!"

Monday, January 01, 2007

Clutter begone!!

Our families were very, very, very nice to us this Christmas.

This morning as Gabe and I started putting all the presents away, we realized that we didn't really have anywhere to put a lot of it. Which means, really, that we have too much stuff! So we went on a mission to clean out, reorganize, give away, and generally declutter our home before adding a bunch of new things.

The results have been quite satisfying. :) We have two large stacks of books ready to be either listed on amazon (if they're worth anything - we're not sure yet) and two large and overflowing bags of stuff to be given away. On top of that, we've gone through Jonathan's toys and put away those which he's outgrown or lost interest in.

I'm happy, because I feel like we're being better stewards of our space and possessions. And even with the addition of all the Christmas presents, we're still less cluttered and the closets are more organized. Yay. :)