Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Best Dad I know

Best Friend, Husband, Father
I totally lucked out in life.  Not only did I marry my best friend, who is the most awesome guy I've ever met, he's also the best father I know.

John changes the majority of diapers.  I've never had to ask, beg, plea or negotiate.  He just does it. When I decided to switch over to cloth, he supported me, and 4 years later, he is a total convert.

He gets up with the kids 98% of mornings.  This is probably the number one thing in my life right now.  I've been having a hard time sleeping lately, sometimes taking 1-2 hours to fall asleep, so the extra few hours in the morning is the most helpful thing ever.  And there is something adorable about laying in bed, and listening to him interact with them in the morning.  Sometimes I hear the cutest conversations between Daddy and the kids.  (Other times, a lot of yelling and crying.)

Need a horse?  Dad is here to do it!
He plays with the kids.  He takes them out.  He takes them on trips, grocery shopping, the library, the park...sometimes just to give me a few minutes to myself.  He works, and comes home...and plays with the kids, without ever complaining that he works while I stay home.  He always just does whats needed.  Even during the busiest times of the year, he stops to play with the kids, change a diaper and wash the dishes.

Speaking of dishes, he does the dishes, vacuums, picks up...even does the occasional load of laundry.  Sometimes, he keeps the house better than I do- getting spots I need help with (Tub needs a scrubbing?  John gets it done!)  He also gives the kids a bath- which almost always involves Lilia's string of preschool obscenities while he washes her hair.

Who doesn't love a baby-wearin' dad?
Raising kids (and not being a total ass about it) is hard.  Harder than I ever thought at times.  There are times where I just want to be 5 and throw a tantrum, then run off far away where no one knows I'm a parent.  Two kids as young and close in age as Lilia and Liam can drive one to insanity pretty quick.  John makes life so much easier.  If it weren't for his support, I think I'd be crazy by now.  (Crazier...we know the truth.)

So happy Father's Day, my love.  Thank you for being a great Father, a supportive Husband, and a true man.  Yes, I am bragging about your awesomeness to everyone because it's all true and you deserve it.  I love sharing my life with you.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bringing back the Simple

Is it bad I ate a Penguin Peanut Butter cup from Christmas tonight?  It was delicious.  It was a naughty food day, with dinner at IHop and bubble tea.

I picked up Quick-Fix Healthy Mix by Casey Kellar and Nicole Kellar-Munoz awhile back.  It's got a ton of recipes for making stuff from scratch, and creating "base" mixes, like a bake mix, pancake mix, various seasoning mixtures and soup bases.  It also has recipes for condiments, sauces, and beverages.  It's pretty useful, although I haven't gotten around to making much.  I've gone through the book a few times, and can honestly say there is only a few recipes I'm NOT interested in making.

I made the pancake mixture, which was pretty decent. It was a little heavier than I'm used to, because it uses a whole grain flour.  The kids liked it.  I need to find bigger glass jars though- the recipes are bulk, so despite using some, I still have two jars remaining.  I've been on a hunt for storage glass wear, in an attempt to reduce the amount of plastic I use.  I've been wanting to organize my kitchen better, and putting stuff in containers is a part of that process.  Plus glass is prettier!

I also attempted one of the granola mixes, but that was a fail.  Burnt granola is no fun.  Tastes horrible, smells horrible and then of course you feel horrible because you just burnt granola.  I think my stove thermometer might be off.  It's not the first time I've cooked something for the minimal time recommended and had the meal scorched. Not that I wouldn't love a new stove, but I really would like it to hold out a bit longer.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My New Living Room

I feel like we've been working on the living room for a really long time now.  We have been, though it's been a Go, then Stop process.  After so long, we are finally close to being done!

Stripping wallpaper is the worst thing ever.  If there is a Hell, you can be assured that will be one of chores one will be forced to do for a few hundred years.  Removing the paper itself was easy.  It's the leftover paint glue that makes everything so difficult.  The wallpaper here had a date on the back.  1978.  It was as old as I am.  Insert facepalm here.

So I stripped away the paper, and very slowly scrubbed every inch of wall.  John was very useful here, I tell you.  It's very hard for a 5'3 person to scrub the very top of her walls.  After scrubbing, and drying, paint went up.  This was a slow process.  I managed to get a small chunk of the room done back in March. And it was only last week that we did the rest.  Though, here's a guilty confession, I still need to do one more coat on one wall.
Stick to 2 shelves, or add more?
The room was instantly nicer with the paint.  It looks totally different, at least to me.  And I love the contrast that I created with the dark and light paint.  It really worked out well.  I painted the ugly wood paneling on the fire place wall with the darker brown, without smoothing out the lines.  It's a bit noticeable, but it looks so much better than that paneling.  I also added the shelves, which I just love.  Places to put things!  I'm still debating on adding another shelf.  I'd also love to add a wall sconce, plus our wall art.

I'm still deciding on painting the fireplace, and might consider getting new glass doors at some point.  I've also decided to make a fireplace cushion to fit over that stone bench there, though it's not needed at this point.  For our summer arrangement, we're putting our love seat back in the living room, and assembling our giant couch.
I love my corner shelf!
On the TV side of the room, I painted this corner shelf, and put it up.  It wasn't too hard to hang, though I wish the shelf was a bit better quality.  I wouldn't put anything too heavy on it, but it's perfect for little items that add of personality to the room.  John and I are still discussing TV stands- we are both considering eliminating the stand completely, and attaching the TV to the wall.  We think this is the best route, as it would help increase space, plus reduce the amount of fingerprints messy children fingers put on our screen.  However, wiring becomes an issue, as does mobility.

So that's what's been done so far.  I'm pretty happy about it all, and should have the rest of the painting and shelves done by the end of this week.  I'm crossing my fingers that maybe, just maybe I can get our wall decor up as well, and I'm hoping to find my cute curtain rod.  I bought a cute set of curtains, but they are hung on the wrong type of rod.  And I need plants now.  That's like the ultimate final touch, at least for me.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Coop!

The Garden Shed...
John and I had a weekend project.  Well, we had a few projects this week- now that he's on "vacation" (ie, he's a teacher, and has no classes for the summer, though he is teaching two courses online at the moment, with more scheduled later in the summer...) we've begone our "Summer project" list.  But our main project this week was the chicken run/coop.  The chickens have gotten big.  They are now 6 weeks old, and I desperately wanted them out of my basement.

Now, I went and got the chickens without having the coop ready.  I called it incentive.  It sort of worked- we now have the chickens outdoors, although the coop is not done.  We have this huge garden shed.  Now, I garden, but I don't have need for this huge garden shed.  My tools are all in the garage.  The stuff in there is all from the previous owner, and most of it is rusted and useless.  So my idea was to transform this shed to a coop.

Since it's mostly established, our first job was to create a run.  I found an easy plan on how to make a 4 x 8 x 2 run, and then changed it to a 8 x 8 x 4 run.  I wanted to give the girls a bit of room.  Now...John and I are not carpenters.  Far from it.  I don't think we've ever built anything like this before.  So we were both had a little trepidation, but it seemed easy enough.

We started off by going to Lowe's, and picked up 12 8 foot 2x4's.  Lowe's cuts wood, so we had them cut 2 of them in half.  We also bought a drill, some screws, a staple gun and some chicken wire/hexagonal fencing.  We pre-drilled everything, and then assembled our happy cube.  I added some supports for the top, and supports for the sides.  Again, we're not carpenters, so maybe it's not amazing to people who can build anything.  But I was pretty amazed by what we did.  It took about 4 hours.  After that, we began stapling the wire to the frame.  This was a lot more work than I thought it would be, mainly because we wanted it to be taut.  We decided towards the end of the project that we would need to do a door.  Right now, there's no door.

The coop isn't finished, only cleared out, with only some bits for ventilation.  Over the summer, we want to add a window or two, and a real door.  Right now, the door is simply something we cut out and attached to some hinges and a hook and eye.  I open it by pulling up a rope.  It's a little bit ghetto.  But it works.  We also need to add some roosts, and some nesting boxes.  I want to also buy a bigger feed bucket and waterer, both of which I want to hang from the ceiling. Before winter, we'll also insulate it it lightly, and a heated waterer to prevent freezing.

I'm pretty happy with my little coop.  It's not perfect, and parts are not pretty.  But it works, and it's a work in process, as John and I learn.  Hopefully our learning will not include a lesson on cleaning up torn up chickens...we really tried to think about possible predators, reinforcing in weak spots, and such.   But I think it'll do for now.
Happy Girls are happy!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Fresh from the Flower Garden

I have a ton of new flowers, and believe it or not, even more about to bloom!  Here's what's bloomed so far!
My Lilacs were my biggest disappointment this year.  They were very weak, not very fragrant and died fast.  I think the trees need to be pruned.

No clue...
 I don't know what these are, but Lilia and I have been calling them Firework flowers, since they look like fireworks.  They are scattered in bunches throughout all the garden, and they are quite pretty.

White Bleeding Hearts
 I don't know if White Bleeding hearts are the correct name, but they are really pretty, and look exactly like normal bleeding hearts...minus the color.  There's just this one little bush, hidden near some Rhododendrons.

Bleeding Hearts
 I have a HUGE bush of these, and they are so pretty.  Lilia found them pretty fascinating too, I had to remind her on several occasions not to pick them.

 This is one of several bushes (and varieties) I have.  It's not even the prettiest one, though it really is pretty.  I actually was not liking these bushes until they bloomed.

Mystery Rose type
 These are huge.  They looked like little white cabbages, until they bloomed.  The petals were soft and very fragile- the first rain storm wiped them all out.

The entire bush 
See how pretty the bush is, and how big the flowers are?  Little cabbages!  I think that are some sort of Rose, like Rosa Eden, but I'm not sure.

Another mystery flower
There's a big bush of these in my corner.  No clue what they are.  It's huge though, almost taking over the entire corner of the garden.

Poppies...poppies...I love these, really.  So bright and vibrant, and really fun.  Now that they are past blooming, and slowly wilting, I'm tempted to go out and get some seeds.  My guess is that's not a problem...