Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sleeping beauties

I realized this had been sitting around in my drafts folder for a while, so I've decided to post. This was before the great bunk bed purchase of 2010, but after Baby O was born. March maybe?

I captured these images when I checked on them right before I went to sleep.

My aunt always put new makeup on right before she went to bed. When I was about 5 I asked her why she did that she told me that if I die at night the undertaker will know what I'm supposed to really look like.

In some ways my daughter takes after her -- red curly hair, fiery personality. In her own right E-minion loves the color pink, purple and jewelry. If something were to happen, she'd want everyone to know that she's a princess -- or was. Now she's really into Darth Vader.

I knit these red sleeping socks for I-minion at his request. He soon discovered they didn't stay on his feet really well, but made excellent lobster claws, and were perfect for keeping his hands warm at night.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A confession, of sorts

I’m nearly sloth like about maintaining this blog. So folks don’t think it’s gone totally dormant, a post!

I am totally a wannabe domestic goddess. It may not look like it, but I’ve been told I’m a pretty good actress. My kitchen floor is sticky. Dust bunnies roam the house in search of vigilante justice. Tori the cat lives in fear. J describes the living room as filled with “rubble.” And Mount Laundry? Only the bravest souls attempt to conquer it.

Since I work full time, have three kids, two dogs, a cat and a husband I don’t want to (and obviously) don’t spend my days tending the house. I felt like I was losing a battle in the house, not spending the type of time I wanted with the kids or J. I certainly felt guilty when I would to take some “me” time.

I count coup on days I toss something in the crock pot or remember to put in a load of laundry in the washer in the morning and put it in the dryer in the evening. More than once I’ve opened the lid and realized there’s a load of fragrant towels waiting for the dryer.

I also have things I want to do in life – knit, spin, play in the garden and help my kids explore the world.

Where we live it is expectation that the mothers take on the bulk of child rearing, all or nearly all of the cooking and the vast majority of housekeeping. Working moms I know say “I’d love you to come over for lunch, but the house is such a mess.” In reality, they’re busy, they do the dishes after supper and they yell to have the kids pick up the living room. When they collapse at the end of the day they are too tired to mess with the stray Legos on the carpet or the cat fur on the back of the couch. They are like me.

At our Mount Olympus, J does half (at least) of the cooking and cleaning around the house. He’s just as integral to the family routine and caring for the kids (Most nights they’d rather have dad do baths).

We were both tired of keeping up with the illusion. No more smoke and mirrors at our Mt. Olympus. Something had to give.

I’m admitting it here, so to not insult mothers out there trying to work, raise a family and keep the health department from condemning the house.

We hired a cleaning lady.

I’ll call her Alice, in honor of Alice from the Brady Bunch. I’m sure Alice is all that kept Mrs. Brady from ringing the neck of her six wonderful and charming children/step children every time she needed to change the bedding – eight beds!

My Alice comes every two weeks. She sweeps, mops, vacuums, dusts, changes the sheets on the beds, cleans the bathroom, does a few loads of laundry, cleans my fridge out and any other stuff she sees that needs to be done. She’s been to our house three times.

I admit I actually jumped for joy and “squee-d” when I went upstairs the first time and saw the reflection of my kids playing in their room on their door – it was that clean and sparkly. My 50+ year old linoleum in my kitchen was so reflective. Alice she even scraped off the Mickey Mouse sticker that was adhered to the floor, it blended in so well that I left it. It was a great way to distract the kids when I was cooking "Quick! Find Mickey!" See, again with the faking.

Most weeks she spends nearly eight hours at my house and it works out to about $75 a time. On the evening she comes, I pause, take a deep breath and realize I’ve spent that kind of money before and not received that type of enjoyment or peace of mind.

The kids love it when Alice comes because she brings a baked treat of some kind – as she says, most husbands think that the wives should be able to keep up with the house, the wives think they need help. The fastest way to when the men over is by leaving a home-baked treat each time.

We are not a family that cleans before the cleaning lady comes. But I am ruthless about making sure things are put away where they belong. I’ve learned there is a distinct difference between “cleaning” and “de-cluttering.”

Surprisingly, J – one of the biggest culprits – and the kids are getting used to making sure if you get it out, it gets put back where it came from. Each time before Alice comes there is less and less that I feel that needs to be done. Thus, the house remains less cluttered, cleaner and my stress levels are reduced.

What’s the best part? I don’t feel like I have to spend Saturday cleaning, squeezing in something fun with the kids and then having to stay up late to do spend time with J or do something by myself. Now the house is clean, we can do fun stuff in the morning and when the kids nap, I do what I want guilt free.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Spring Fever

Buried under all of that is my garden. This photo was taken on Jan. 30 and the drifts through my garden were about 4-5 feet tall. Today, April 1, they are about 2 feet tall through only a small portion.

This winter has been long, hard and down right miserable. I am so anxious to get out and feel the dirt under my fingers and to see things growing once again. The kids are getting anxious to work in the garden, too. This year I am anticipating J taking a more active role in the gardening process. He never grew up around a veggie garden, and didn't know what to expect. This year he does. He's also excited about about growing fresh food for the family this year, too.

We are planning to improve the garden this year in the following ways:
  • Better bunny proofing. We've had chicken wire wrapped around hog panels (that keep the deer out) and relied on Jasmine with bunny patrol. This year we're going to build wood frames with the chicken wire stapled to it so we can customize the size of the garden and make it safer. This is based on the plan Uncle Dan has implemented in his garden. As far as the deer are concerned, we're going to rely on the predators (aka Rocky and Jasmine) to keep them out. We don't normally see the deer near the house.
  • Garden contents: We are planning on planting more green beans and peppers. I did not realize how much my children loved fresh green beans and green peppers. Whenever I make fajitas I have to secretly cut the peppers up so the kids don't snarf them as I'm preparing to cook. I want to plant potatoes and onions but local lore says to plant them on Good Friday (which is tomorrow). There is still snow where I intend to plant them, and who knows if the ground is still frozen.
  • Return on the Killer Tomatoes: We'll be planting more tomatoes this year, too. Romas, cherry or grape tomatoes and maybe one or two plants of slicing tomatoes. I'm not a big fan of tomatoes, but I like little ones to pop in my mouth or include in salads. I also intend on making tomato sauce and salsa with the remains.
  • Composting: It is true Iowa has amazing soil. My first garden we tilled up a chunk of the yard and I plopped my seeds and tomato and pepper plants in the ground and watched them grow. This year I intend to make a more concerted effort to improve the soil, and create good soil for growing things. As an added bonus, I'm all about recycling and minimizing our footprint on the earth.
Bring on the green things, I'm anxious to start gardening.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Mission (almost) Impossible

My friend Victoria challenged me to this way back in June, and I'm just getting to it now -- that's what makes it a nearly impossible task. Go to your sixth photo folder and find your sixth photo in the folder and write about it.

Here is mine:

This was taken shortly after Christmas in 2006, the kids were just over a year and were truly interested in controlling their world. At 13 months there isn't much you can control, but they found out that they could turn on and off the lamps in the living room and proceeded to do it over and over and over again.

Life was just getting easier at our house. After the minions were born, life was a blur of feedings, diaper changes and eventually giggles and belly laughs from them. Honestly, it was at about this time that I really started to enjoy being a parent. I could interact with them, they were starting to talk -- or at least make their opinions known. Life was getting easier because they could start to feed themselves. Each new phase while at first is a challenge, has made life as the parent of twins easier.

When they started walking we had to keep a close eye so they didn't wander away, but soon we didn't have to carry them any more. Next it was potty training. They've turned from blobs of baby to intelligent and independent children.

These little guys are 4 and are amazing. They know instinctively how to piss off the other one but in the next breath they are willing to fight to the death to protect the other one.

Now the exciting thing isn't turning the light on and off, but "reading" their favorite books to Baby O. He lays on the floor kicking and cooing. The minions sit next to him reciting their favorite books -- E-minion's prefers the Lorax and I-minion likes Richard Scary's Big Story Book. When they're done, E-minion will kiss his forehead and I-minion will give him an Eskimo kiss and tell him good night.

I'm tagging
Lazy Goddess
Mary @theyellowdoor

Justified hiatus

The last little while I've been a bit busy.

Baby O, officially known as Owen James arrived at 8:43 a.m. Monday, Feb. 1 and he weighed 8 pounds 6 ounces and was 21 inches long. The "little" guy was two weeks early but very, very healthy.

From the beginning I have been convinced he takes after his father. While in labor he kept sneaking away from the Doppler they were using to monitor his heart rate. At one point in the night I'm sure that he put on his tinfoil hat and said "Screw this, I'm going into hiding."

When went in for the cesarean section, he had disengaged himself from my pelvis and had floated to the top -- attempting to get away.

The only instance we've had of the minions disliking their brother came after a no-nap day and E-minion told me that she wanted to send him back. I-minion likes to give him Eskimo kisses. (For the interested folks, that's Grandma K ).

The first two weeks the kids always commented on the fact his eyes were open. It took me another week to realize the reason why they were so interested was because the only other babies they'd been around were baby kittens, who don't open their eyes for a couple weeks.

Hello Handsome, welcome to the world!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Hot off the needles

With the snow and advancing pregnancy, I haven't spent a lot of time outside or otherwise living life in the fast lane. What I have been doing is knitting.

Pattern:Zip-up-the-back hoodie (ravelry link to pattern)
Yarn: Valley Yarns Superwash in green and yellow
Model: Baby Ryan -- I-minions baby that Gramma Caela made for him. This baby wears a 0-3 sleeper -- he's just not as thick as a regular baby.
Notes: This is for Baby O. I was inspired to find this sweater after my doctor mentioned that someone knit one for her oldest when he was a baby, All of her kids used it and it was very useful because you could put it on the kid while in the car seat.

This would be a quick knit, if I decided to do it the simple way. Instead of just one color or simple stripes, I decided the sleeves should be one color and the body a different one. I think at one point I had five or six balls of yarn attached to this sweater. It was a mess to keep straight, but the finished project was worth it.

The zipper took a bit to find one that would work and I sewed it in by hand. Not quite as speedy as doing it with the machine, but worked just as well.

Pattern: Saartjes-bootees (ravelry link) for Baby O
Yarn: Valley Yarns Superwash in green and yellow. This was some of the leftover from the zip up the back hoodie I made for the baby earlier. The little fish buttons were the only ones I could find at Hobby Lobby in Sioux Falls, SD, that weren't obviously boy or girl buttons and yet still geared for kids.

Notes: They knit up quickly. I'm not sure when they'll fit the baby, but at some point in the first few months they will likely fit.

If I were to make this again, and I probably would. I would extend the number of stitches that you cast on to make the straps (trust me it will make sense when you look at the pattern) and then make a buttonhole with a YO and a K2tog in one of the middle rows.

Pattern: Basic Socks, no real pattern
Yarn: Wool Ease worsted -- a wool/acrylic blend and that means they are machine washable.
Notes: These were for I-minion. He had been requesting red sleeping socks for a long time. They are just a basic ribbed sock. They didn't take long to knit up, and he likes to wear them and slide around the house.

Pattern: The Squidge Cloth
Yarn: Sugar N' Cream Solids and Ombres -- two skeins. Although I had to snag some left over purple cotton to finish the one.
Notes: E-minion is a big girl. To celebrate that I made for her two washcloths, and towels with velcro so she could wrap them around herself and make them stay up, and found two pink hair wraps to soak up the water after bath time.

There are other things on the needles and have not photographed. They include a sweater that still needs one short sleeve, a pair of top secret socks , a stole and The Shawl of Doom. I finished a pair of socks that I started in the summer, but neglected to photograph them before I sent them home with Gramma Caela.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Is winter over yet?

It's been a long winter here on my Mount Olympus. We've gotten smacked by major snow storms every two weeks for at least the last six weeks -- that means we've had a lot of snow, and blowing snow. It also means that if and when the sun shines it's blinding.

Most of these images were taken Christmas Day -- when one of the biggest snow storms hit. It prompted the cancellation of all Christmas services at area churches for four days. We really needed Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer to save Christmas. But, I hear he was too busy helping Santa.

Since these photos were taken we've had additional snow, freezing rain. It's like a glacier out there and the piles are just taller.

E-minion climbing into the snow pack from the driveway -- it was about as tall as she is.

The barn. Our last snow storm, on Jan.25, nearly the entire roof on the south side of the barn fell because of the weight of the snow and 55 mph winds we had.

And finally, Ms. Jasmine swimming her way through the yard. The freezing rain created a nice crust on the snow so she can run and jump all on top of the snow that's about 2 1/2 feet deep. It also means that she doesn't have to stay in the areas where J has plowed out.