Friday, July 22, 2011

Garden Time

We finally got around to setting up our garden this week. I know it's late to be doing this, but this summer it's more just for the boys to get a feel for what growing a garden is like. If we actually manage to harvest something or see some flowers, it'll be a bonus.

Have I mentioned that we're on a bit of a tight budget? You might have noticed the... um... rustic look our garden bed has going on there. We didn't want to dig a garden (because we don't own the house), and actually buying lumber to build raised beds wasn't quite within our reach, so old campfire logs from the shed got put to use as our walls. There's plenty of earth there, so we'll just see how things go. Er, grow.
Putting the dirt in was the best part for the boys, because it meant digging and spreading and generally making a big mess. There's nothing Ike likes better than a chance to use his shovels.

We planted sunflowers, snow peas and radishes, because those were the seeds we had on hand. Since the tomato plants haven't grown at all since the dog dug them up, I guess there's not much hope for a major harvest of anything this year. Still, we saw some tiny radish leaves peeking out of the soil this morning, which was exciting for the boys. Maybe at our next house we'll have space and resources for a major planting initiative (assuming the boys haven't inherited my brown thumb, of course).

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Lazy Day (Warning: possible potty talk ahead)

It's a gorgeous day outside- mostly sunny, breezy, and cool. So why am I sitting here at home rather than being out and about with my boys? Two words: Potty Training.

Ike's doing so well with it, and much earlier than Simon did (I'm definitely a "why bother before they're ready" kind of mom). It's just pooping that's the problem right now, really- namely that he refuses to do it in the toilet. He sees nothing gross about doing it in his underpants, or if he happens to be going commando, letting it fall where it may in the back yard. Or the neighbor's front yard, as the case may be. I know. Gross.

Anyway, he hasn't gone for a few days, so we're not going out anywhere until he does- I don't want to see him making that face when we're half-way to the playground. I'm trying to catch him when he tries to go, but odds are he'll wait until I'm making lunch, and then come over and say, "Mommy, I pooped, need WIPE!" *sigh*

That leaves us here, enjoying the back yard. There are definitely worse places to be. Simon's flaked out on the back deck with his toy guitar and KISS on the CD player, rocking out as much as one can in a mostly-horizontal position. Ike's putzing around with his bike thing on the driveway, and I'm working on crocheting the dog's Christmas present- a blanket to keep the couch a bit cleaner when he's lying on it. It's easy- entirely half-double crochet in two colours- but so freaking time-consuming. It takes me 20 minutes to do a row, so I'm estimating 12 hours total by the time it's done. That should teach me to be ambitious. The upside of it is that I can't snack while I'm working on it, so maybe I'll lose a pound or two while I'm working. :)

In other crafty news, I'm having fun making things out of old wool sweaters that have been felted in the dryer. Lots of Christmas presents coming that way, and Simon has already claimed the mittens I made for myself.

As for awesome summer stuff, I wish I could show you pictures of the planets Simon is painting. He got a few books about space from the library (as well as a random book about giant squids), and we found the styrofoam balls at Value Village. It's hard to find time to do major projects when Ike's not around to get creative all over the table, the walls, and especially Simon's stuff, o the painting part is being done at nap time.So far the sun is looking patchy, Earth is quite abstract, and I'm trying not to make jokes about Uranus being full of gas. It's good fun.

Oh, and FYI for the week: making homemade bread is fun and it tastes delicious... unless you're forced to use margarine instead of butter in the recipe. I see a lot of grilled cheese and french toast in our immediate future.

Monday, July 4, 2011


Um... yeah, that up there is my first recent attempt at crochet. I can't say it's my first attempt ever, but it's been a while since I tried to learn, and preveius attempts were... well, they didn't go very well. As much as I love artsy stuff like drawing and painting, I have a lot of trouble with things that require the use of a pattern . Or hooks. Or needles- I'm trying to knit, too, but I'm going to need outside help on that one. The crochet is starting to look better, though:

That double crochet square is now a blanket for Ike's toy duck- he's been pushing the duck around in a baby buggy with its "bwoo bwankit" for a few days now. Good to know nothing's being wasted.

...and here's the latest attempt, the half double crochet. See? I'm getting better! I'm going to have more crocheted squares in the house than I know what to do with (anyone need something to set hot dishes on?), and the thought of actually trying to make something using a pattern still terrifies me, but I'm getting there.

Next lesson: Treble crochet. That, I can do. Kind of concerned about what comes after, but we'll get there when we get there, right?

So, here's the start of the list of stuff I want to learn to do in the near future (the start of it, anyway):

-sew clothes for the kids
-make braided rag rug

I think that's pretty ambitious, actually. Some day I'll be able to add "chicken-keeping" to that list, as well as basic carpentry, but not for a while- at least until after we move. Major gardening will have to wait, too, but we can at least start on that this summer, even if it's a complete failure- er, learning experience.

And what do all of these things have in common that makes them hard for me to learn? There's next to no "I meant to do that" factor in them. If I'm painting something and I make a mistake, I can either paint over it or change other things so it will look like I meant to do it that way. Not so much with crochet or knitting, where dropping a stitch and not noticing right away can set you back several hours. If I forget to water the garden or don't give the soil enough drainage, all of that work can be ruined, too. What can you do, though? They're all good things to learn how to do, and the only way to learn (other than procrastinating about the housework by reading extensively on these topics) is to get in there and do them, mistakes be damned.

Saturday, July 2, 2011


Our first little project of the summer is getting interesting! I let the boys collect a few fuzzy caterpillars last month to keep in a (well-ventilated) jar for a while. We kept them well-supplied with fresh grass and have them some sticks to climb on, and it wasn't too long before our little fuzzy-wuzzies started pulling out their own fur* to build their cocoons. I didn't even know they did that! It was amazing to watch, and I wish I had a camera that could have taken better pictures than this. I got to watch the entire (8 hour-long) process with the first one. AJ laughed at me because I kept going back to watch, but it was fascinating! It reached back to pull out hairs with its mouth, then attached the hairs to the stick, and then to the other hairs to make sort of a little boat around itself, turning around half-way through to get the back end done, then managed to build the cocoon right around itself. Amazing.

Fuzzy boat phase of cocoon building ^

Anyway, this was a few weeks ago. Last night, just before the fireworks, I noticed a big black spot inside the jar- a moth! I'd never seen this type before- I think it's called Ctenucha virginica, and it's so pretty. Again, my camera does it no justice- it's black with iridescent blue on its thorax and a bright orange head, with gorgeous feathery black antennae:

It got out of the jar last night- moths are harder to contain in a well-ventilated jar than caterpillars are. As of this morning it's chilling on the top part of the stove- not great camouflage, but I figure the little critter deserves to have a quiet spot to rest for a while, so we're just going to leave it for now.

*I don't know whether they have fur or hair or what. They're furry. I say fur.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Not Promising Anything

Well. it's happened. After a beautiful afternoon at the beach, our camera is broken. I guess the good news is that, while it served us well, it wasn't a particularly expensive one (I'm still kicking myself for getting that one and not the slightly more expensive one that would have given me a macro setting- why wasn't that written on the box?!). When I get my good camera, she's not going anywhere near sand. Not unless I buy her at the place that will replace your camera if you get sand in it, anyway.

So I can't promise any pictures in the near future, unless they're the ones I've already got on the computer (and the pics from yesterday, if I'm really lucky and the camera will at least let me do that). We won't be rushing out to buy a new camera any time soon- it's pay day, but there are bills to pay, food to buy, and the car needs to get something fixed (hopefully something that's under warranty, but that's not usually how our car luck runs).

Can you tell I'm feeling a bit down today? Much as I look forward to pay day, it's depressing when you sit down to budget and realize that there's nothing extra (and nothing to put into savings) for at least another two weeks- no summer craft supplies, no meals from the lunch bus, no extra gas for road trips. I know I shouldn't complain- we have so much more than we did when AJ and I worked in retail, we've got a nice home that we're paying very reasonable rent for, we can put food on the table and keep clothes on the kids' backs.*

I need to keep reminding myself of that while we're waiting to be able to buy a hose and sprinkler for the yard. :/

I also need to follow this advice: "If you can't get out of it, get into it!" As of right now, I can't get out of doing housework, planning meals, or cooking, all things I really don't enjoy doing. If I can't get out of doing them, I need to find a way to get "into" them- to take an interest and enjoy doing them. I'm not feeling very optimistic about ever thinking that a clean kitchen is really worth all the work it takes to get it that way, but I have to try.

EDIT: AJ managed to get the camera working again, so that's one thing we don't have to worry about right now. And this has helped me realize that as much as I want a good camera (like one where I can actually adjust the focus, maybe), a half-decent and working camera is far better than no camera at all, and I should be thankful for what I have. :)

*Except when Ike refuses to wear clothes, but that's a separate issue.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Rainy Day, Sick Day

It's been a long, wet "Spring." I'm not even sure it deserves to be called Spring, which sounds so cheerful. It took forever for the leaves to come out (and who could blame them?) and sunny days have generally been few and far between. We've taken advantage of the ones we've had- the Easter weekend hike, trips to the beach- but the clouds and rain in between have been rather depressing. I'm hoping for more sun in the coming months, even if it means going through a ridiculous amount of sunscreen and probably a few lost hats.

Today wasn't one of those days. Today was cloudy and cold, and you can feel the air gearing up for rain. Ike picked out a couple of wooden cars yesterday for the boys to paint on a rainy day. Simon was VERY excited. In fact, he had his car painted and set to dry by 10:00 this morning. It was a brief but glorious project.

Such concentration! ^

Ike didn't get to participate in the painting bonanza. He was a sick little guy today- not only did he get Simon's cold (which seems to be on the way out, thank God!), he also started throwing up this morning. Repeatedly. His friend (the blue hippo in the picture) is in serious need of a bath, but what can you do when a sick kid needs his friend for comfort? Surface wash and live with the smell is what I've come up with.

All tuckered out. Poor kid. ^

I painted Ike's car yellow for him, and he'll draw or pain on it when he's ready. AJ took Simon to the fair this afternoon to a) get him out of the house, and b) let me and Ike rest a bit. And that was our rainy day. Not exciting, but there were crafts and lots of cuddles for everyone, so it wasn't a complete waste.

Tonight: watching "Enchanted" with the boys while AJ is at work. I love Amy Adams. Also, my rat clearly needs to get of her ass and help me clean the toilet.

Nature Table

The Nature Table- the first week ^

The boys like to bring things home. Some of them, like the bugs Ike brings in to show me ("Look, Mommy! He's so CUUUUUTE!") have to go right back outside. Others are kind of nice or downright decorative, but they have a habit of getting scattered all over the house and making a big mess. In an attempt to make the boys collections look somewhat purposeful, we're making a nature table. Actually, a nature shelf. Ike's finally old enough to not break everything we put on it- at least, not right away- so we can actually have things at kid-height. What a novelty!

Yes, I know what the red thing is, it's just not labelled yet^

I've seen some people's nature tables that have little scenes on them with felt characters and fairies and magic dust- I think they're awesome, but that's not us right now. The boys are most interested in learning what things are, who the shells belonged to, and why they can't bring that centipede into the house. If they want to add to it later, great! If not, I'm happy with helping them put names to what they find and letting them arrange stuff however they want.

Ike likes to collect pretty flowers. :) ^

Friday, June 24, 2011


Remember when I was going to try to keep up with this blog? That was funny. Hi-freaking-LARIOUS. But I've got good news... or at least good intentions, and that's something, right? The boys and I have big plans for this summer- Simon's got a ton of stuff he wants to learn about, we're going to attempt a small garden, and we've got an annual pass to the wildlife park. We're going to do crafts and a summer reading program and go through a heckuvalotta sunscreen. We've got the nature table set up, and the sandbox is just waiting for some fresh sand.

I'm going to try to post updates from the Summer of Fun in CB (I'll have to get Simon to come up with an official name for it- hopefully something other than "Phil" or "Barfur," two of his best stuffed friends). We don't have a great camera, but as long as it's working, I'll post pictures. I might even write a little about my sad attempts at becoming more domestically inclined- it'll be good for a laugh, anyway!

Two days of school left...

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Photo Safari

"Fwend" looks depressed today.

Sometimes Ike likes to take pictures of... stuff. Random stuff that he likes. I don't know if giving a 3-year old a camera is a great idea in general, but it keeps him happy, so once in a while, we go for it. So far the worst thing that's happened to the camera is a few fingerprints on the lens.

Today's photo safari was all about the dog, the TV, and the favourite stuffed toy. And me, but I'm not posting those ones. They are... less than flattering.

Still stuck on "A Christmas Story"- or "Boy with Glasses Movie", as it's known around these parts.

Not quite sure what he was trying to achieve here... something very artistic, I'm sure. ;)

Jack didn't care much about "pitcher time". He was more concerned with nap time.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Paying Attention In Church

"Thank You, God, for all the animals... but I think I can do better."

(I blame my love for My Little Ponies for that one... Simon thinks that horses look much better with horns.)

My family's not so good at paying attention in church. That's fine, as long as they're quiet; I don't expect the kids to sit and listen to some guy talking. It works for AJ, too- he gets to "keep the boys occupied" when he'd totally rather be listening... yeah. This was entirely for Simon's benefit:

I love my boys. Weirdos.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Morning Person

How did we end up with a morning person in this family? I would have said it was impossible- AJ stays up late and sleeps in any time his work schedule allows it, my body clock is naturally set to "night owl"*, and Simon stays up late playing in his room every night (no matter how tired he is) and is then a major cranky-pants the next morning.

Ike, however, is a happy, happy little man in the morning. Fortunately for me, he's given up on the whole wide-awake-at-5-in-the-morning thing (whew!), and he now wakes up at a much more reasonable 7:00-ish. This morning he woke up singing "Mommy... Mommy... Moooooommyyyyy!", and when I opened the door he said, "A-MOWNIN', Mommy! Ike go couch, now?" After he got his diaper changed, he insisted on waking Simon up by taking him half a croissant and saying, "A-MOWNIN', Simey!" Simon just groaned and rolled over, but Ike seemed happy with that. He then proceeded to "A-MOWNIN'!" the dog, the cats, and the rats, and then he went to play with his trucks.

Almost makes it worth getting up before the sun. Almost. :)

*I've had to suppress this tendency for the last 5+ years, which has led to me needing to go to bed by 10 so that I can wake up with the kids and still feel like I need another 5 hours' sleep. Not quite a win-win, there.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Oh, the Frustration... and Welcome Back!

This is not the worst thing that could happen to me. It's quite frustrating, but I can deal with it. I seem to not have access to my old "C-Section Lobotomy"... apparently I (for some unknown reason), in a fit of ain't-I-dumb-ness, put it in another account which I can't seem to get into. So here we are... I guess we'll just pick up a year after we left off over there and carry on. I'm going to say that this is a good thing, even though there's a lot of stuff over there that I'm rather fond of; it's like my new planner that I'm so excited about at the beginning of each year, a blank slate, no mistakes made yet.

(FYI, the old blog is at

It's been just over a year since I last posted over at the other blog. Back then I was getting ready for Christmas; now I'm just finishing putting all of the Christmas decorations away for this (last) year. It was a good year... I should have been writing about it there instead of just in my paper journal (and even that didn't get much attention in the past year).

The highlight reel:

- Christmas was good, and we spent the week around New Year's in Newfoundland with friends and family. We're hoping to move back some time in the next year or two, which would be so nice- we miss our friends and AJ's family so much! Less nice was being stuck for 12 hours waiting for the ferry to dock so we could board and get home- winter is a chancy time for ferry travel. High winds make high waves. Never doing that again if we can avoid it!

-Ike had his second birthday in February, and he's been a textbook 2-year old: short temper, possessive, cranky when he's tired, constantly testing us and pushing our buttons... but also very fun, adorable and affectionate, and the good has more than outweighed that bad.

-We had an excellent summer that ended in two big events: we added a new member to our family (Jack, a mostly-white boxer puppy, the newest love of AJ's life) and a week-long trip to Ontario for my dear brother's wedding. It was VERY exciting to finally have my new sister-in-law officially become a part of our family- I've loved her like a sister for almost as long as I've known her.

<-- Jack in August (14 weeks)

-Simon started "big kids" school in September, just a few days before his 5th birthday, and he's loving it. I was really surprised; I'd kind of expected him to be a shy kid like I was, but he's quite popular with the kids in his class, he likes playing with them, and he loves going to school. He misses it on holidays- Thanksgiving weekend was a sad time for poor Simon! He's learning to read and print, and he likes the work they're doing. He has an amazing teacher, too- I'm so happy about all of it!

-The car exploded in October. OK, it didn't explode, but a piston blew and went through the engine, and that was the end of that. We have a nice, used Santa Fe now (named Tina... Tina Fe) and we're paying way too much in interest because of our crappy credit history, but we'll get through it.

-November marked the second anniversary of us moving here. AJ is still enjoying his job most days... even the bad days are better than working in retail!

-November was also NaNoWriMo month, and I participated for the first time. I managed to write a little over 51,000 words without too much trouble, of which I have access to about 10,000 on the computer right now. The whole thing needed to be revised, anyway, so I'm starting over. You know, in all my free time.

-Christmas 2010 was great, if somewhat rushed. AJ's grandfather passed away a few days before Christmas, so on Christmas Day after presents we packed our bags, then flew from Halifax to St. John's on Boxing Day. Not a happy reason to have a family reunion, but it got us back to NL again when we hadn't expected to be back at all, and it was so good to see everyone. Only having a few hours to spend with friends was a big tease, of course, but it was better than nothing!

...which brings us back to here and now, where I'm watching Ike, who's almost 3 now, playing with his trucks and my belt (the belt is a bridge, or so I'm told), making oatmeal for a late breakfast, thinking that I should really go and do laundry now. Things have changed so much, but they're still so much the same.