Sunday, April 27, 2014

the garden(s)

Our first summer in the house (2012) was spent preparing and updating the interior in anticipation of Elden's arrival (and our general need to live in a habitable place). The yard got very little attention outside of mowing. We were horrible at weeding or really anything else. Last summer, we began to pay the outside a little bit more attention with the introduction of my raised veggie garden and doing some DIY grub and fertilizing treatments to the grass. However, 2013 was a year of adjustment with Elden and therefore we still didn't do much outside or inside.

This is the year that changes all that! We have spent the majority of our focus of 2014 on the outside, specifically the back yard. Come to discover, plants are one of those things that you just don't realize how stupidly expensive they are until you have a desire to buy them. Luckily for us, both of our parents have sprawling gardens that focus on completely different plants. Jon's yard has a ton of hostas and grasses and more leafy plants than flowers. My parent's yard has a ton of flowering plants with fewer of the grasses and leafy plants. This suits us well because we have a vast array of shady (ha) and sunny spots all around the house so we have no shortage of {free!!!} options. On Easter, my mom brought over a ton of flowers and a few grasses for the south side of the house. This bed had either been entirely empty or filled with weeds the last two summers. Pathetic.
Not pictured on the left: concord and green grape plants
The green scattered is grass clippings - I had just mowed and mulched with them
Last year, we inherited a bunch of lillies from Jon's grandma's garden. This year I moved some of the edging from the north side of the house to the back because we never really walked past it on the north side and I felt like it was a waste.
On the north side of the house (next to the garage) we had inherited two sad little bushes. They got in the way of the sidewalk and were not doing well there. When Jon's parents called saying they had a load of hostas for us I knew I wanted them to replace the bushes. Jon's dad wasted no time tearing those out and laying down our new plants.
The front is mostly the same from when we first moved in. We have big, big plans for the front in the long-term, but these plans are pretty expensive (want to place railroad ties on the huge slope in the yard among other major landscaping changes) so they will be implemented in phases over several years. However, We did add a few more grasses to the mulched island between ours and our neighbor's drives, and we also were gifted with some beautiful hanging flower baskets for Easter from Jon's parents.
And since no post is complete without pictures of our favorite little helper:
Still left on the list this year are cutting down a whole bunch of trees and branches in the back--something that Jon and his dad intend on tackling themselves and make me very nervous. We also need to build a fence around the raised veggie garden (there are 2 raised beds now and a container of parsnips) and I overseeded with grass in the back because it was all either dead or moss. We plan on buying beneficial nematodes once it gets warmer out to help fend off grubs, beetles, and termites and I'm hoping that will really help with the health of our lawn. I'm trying to be as productive as possible because I know next summer we'll have a 6ish-month-old in addition to a 2-year-old and time/energy/money will be lacking...

Saturday, April 26, 2014

baby #3

14 weeks, 5 days
Even though I have been generally detached this pregnancy, it has been completely unintentional. Perhaps it's my subconscious trying to shield me from another heartbreak, although I will say from the beginning of this pregnancy I did not have that gut instinct I had with the second that it was going to end prematurely. So that has given me a glimmer of hope. It hasn't been without fear, though. In fact, less than a week ago I had some spotting. The spotting itself didn't worry me because it was scant and spotting is actually pretty normal in pregnancy, but I put the obligatory call into the OB since I am Rh negative and Jon is Rh positive and any blood during pregnancy usually means I need a rhogam injection. Tried and true, I made my way to fetal eval in the hospital and got it done. The next day I had some cramping and that's where I got pretty panicky. I decided to wait it out until I got home from work to use our home fetal doppler (which, for the record, I try to avoid using unless I am absolutely and utterly paranoid). I found the heartbeat within about 10 seconds and immediately stopped, content to just know this little peanut was still nestled safe and sound, even if just for another moment. I've not had any spotting or unusual cramping since. I think I even felt the baby move for the first time on Wednesday night and then again on Thursday night. It's hard to say for sure, though, because it's still early. That being said, I felt quickening with Elden right around this time and now that I know what fetal movements feel like it's supposedly detectable earlier. At first I thought I was showing really fast with this one, but either the belly growth has substantially slowed or it was mostly a bloat baby (the more likely of the two) because I am definitely not huge for being almost 15 weeks. We are 100% on our girl name (still not Maisie) and I think we are making progress in the boy name department, although the name we are leaning towards is unconventional (shocker) and we aren't sure how we want to spell it. We have yet to do anything substantial with the nursery or Elden's "big boy" room but I'm sure that will come along pretty quickly once Jon graduates next week. I have visions of an epic home purge and garage sale dancing through my head, but we'll see if I actually have the drive to follow through...

Friday, April 25, 2014

big changes

Jon is 8 days from graduating as a B.A. (badasssss)

Or a Bachelor, if you will.

Or a theologian!

..summa cum laude, I might add. My husband has the smarts!

His impending matriculation has naturally evoked many "what next" questions from the masses.

Long term, he'd love to be a professor. That, however, means a Master's degree followed by a Doctorate which would probably require relocation from the fine state of Ohiya. And also... a lot of ca$h money that is hard to come by at this point in time. He was also advised by a professor to take a year off to really study for his GRE to greatly increase his chances at a scholarship and/or graduate assistance ship, so a few months back we knew he'd likely be taking the year off.

Then I got pregnant and we realized just how insane daycare for two shorties would be. In order for it to be worthwhile for Jon to have a full-time job that even breaks even with full-time daycare for a toddler and an infant, he would basically have to be making at least $35thou gross. And that's to break even. We aren't going to be negative nancies (yes we are), but the odds of him finding something in his field to even break even was unlikely in this area. Furthermore, we kind of didn't see the point in just breaking even, and you better believe he is unlikely to find something making $40+ thousand gross at this point in time.

It was with this analysis that we made the decision he would work as a full-time stay at home Da for a little while until we figure out some of our longer-term goals. Since I had elected the max contributions for my DCA for the year, we figured Jon would keep working at Men's Wearhouse (and hopefully pick up more hours this summer) and keep Elden in daycare so we could get the DCA elections back. Lately, however, Elden has really been struggling with drop-off and it had us a tad concerned that there was something going on there. While we are incredibly skeptical that is the case, it was enough to evoke a conversation about whether we should just cut our losses (about $3k for the year) and have Jon continue to only work weekends so we could pull Elden from daycare.
photo credit: my dad
I did some research and reached out to our benefits coordinator on a long shot, hoping Jon's graduation would count as a Qualifying Life Event so we could change the DCA contribution to $0 for the remainder of the year. Nothing is official as it has to go through a director and such, but we were told it will likely be approved so we aren't throwing away a few (much needed) thousand dollars. Relieved doesn't begin to scrape the surface of what I'm feeling. So that's some of the bigger news: Jon's job will definitely be challenging, but so good for our family. I hope to pester him into writing a guest post on the way the Church views men as stay at home parents (we've talked about it and I love his perspective on things) and he has even alluded to a desire for writing a book on the topic. He's even said something about starting a blog! But I'll only believe the latter when I read it...

I love my husband, the stay at home B.A.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

twenty

This bouncing boy is four months from two and when did that happen? He is stronger willed than ever which is both a struggle and a joy. We can't help but laugh when a series of questions are answered methodically with a "no" and we throw in a "do you want any candy?" and he smiles sheepishly at us and switches his tune to "yes" - at least he is actually listening to our questions. This month included his first Easter egg hunt, an insane amount of new words, and his ability to blow bubbles on his own. Elden's three favorite things right now are playing outside, bubbles, and cars. He is getting better at telling us what he wants each day although when he is tired he will get very upset with you if you give him what he asks for.. or doesn't ask for.. or in general. He loves reading with you and when you let him turn the pages for you. He also loves helping us in the yard with his little wooden rake and watering himself the plants. Elden can play on a scooter mostly unassisted (the three wheel ones, anyway) and daycare told me how impressed they were with that (humblebrag) yesterday. This boy is mischievous but adds color to our days and we are so blessed to call him ours.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

freedom

I'm starting to realize that my lack of blogging has less to do with inspiration and a lot more to do with the freedom I've found from walking mostly away.

What started out as a hobby turned into a personal competition--I waited with baited breath each month to see if my stats surpassed the one prior. They usually did. It became an addiction. The more I posted the more likely I was to increase my readership and that just fueled my desire to write more! more! more! that I had this unspoken pressure on myself to post every mundane detail of our little lives. There's nothing wrong with that, but I desperately craved substance beginning around the time we found out out we would lose our second child. My intentional unplugging turned into an unintentional unplugging. The daily checking of my stats quickly waned and I honestly can't remember the last time I looked at them.

Freedom.

My absence also correlates with my desire to be loving towards those around me who are struggling with infertility or pregnancy complications or loss. I know that this is my space and I am welcome to share whatever the heck I want here, but I just don't know how to share my heart while still being considerate of those who are struggling around me. Truth be told, I've been pretty detached this pregnancy, so there isn't much I want to share. I have yet to feel any movements and a lot of the time I actually forget I'm even pregnant. I've not really bonded with this little pumpkin which isn't that much of a surprise since it took a few days to weeks following Elden's birth for me to connect with him. And I have no shame in admitting that I'm detached. I'm not in the camp that believes God causes miscarriages for His greater will. If you judge me for that feel free to do so openly--I don't care what you think. This is my pregnancy and I will traverse it the way I will. The steps between are strictly between me (and Jon) and God. Your opinion has no place here.

I plan on revisiting this space to share my heart more frequently now that I've laid that all out there. There are big changes brewing in this house that I definitely want to document. As I approach the days of movement and anatomical ultrasounds I want that to be written for #3 the way it was for Elden. We have already made, and are continuing to make, big changes to our home. Changes I'm proud of. Changes to make it more cozy. Elden is growing into a strong [willed] little boy and today when I told him I loved him in the car he responded on his own accord, "love you, Mama" that made my heart explode four times over. We are healing. We are growing. We are changing. And I can't wait to let you into our hearts.

Monday, April 14, 2014

no ordinary night

the face of a boy with no naps
Yesterday was one of those days of parenting that makes all the challenging moments worth it. The weather was a glorious 70+ degrees and we spent a solid 5-6 hours  outside during the day. Jon and I got a lot of yard work done and Elden got a lot of energy out. All that excitement was not conducive to Elden's typical 2-hour afternoon nap. Usually this would be classified as a 'challenging moment' but he was, on the whole, in a decent mood. When it came time for bed (about an hour and a half earlier than normal, I might add) we did our typical bath/lotion/jammies/book/rock routine, but this was no ordinary night: Elden fell asleep in my arms. Within five minutes of rocking and singing "sun-sine" [Eldenism for the song 'You Are My Sunshine']. As I was rocking him I felt his big eyelashes batting away on my arm, his head to my chest. After a few more verses I realized I hadn't felt his lashes move in a while. Surely he wasn't asleep--this hasn't happened in ages, especially not this easily. I paid closer attention to it--nothing. I continued to rock him in silence for another ten or so minutes because bliss. I also feared the attempt at lying him down. He pretty much always wakes up when I transition him from my arms to his crib.
This was no ordinary night.
His limp little body fell perfectly onto his pillow. His eyes did open for a moment and made contact with mine. I whispered goodnight, that I loved him so and I would see him in the morning. Behind his pacifier was a little twilight smile, as if this mama in front of him was a sweet dream. I quietly left the room in awe of what I just experienced.
It continued into the darkness of the morning when the cat (as always) awoke him with her mews at 5:50. Knowing he was likely not ready to wake up for the day (and also hearing the tell-tale plop of his pacifier on his hardwood floor followed by his desperate 'faci-firrrre' cries) I crept in the darkness, handed him his beloved paci, and scooped him up. We sat and rocked for about ten minutes as he constantly readjusted his position until he was comfortable. Every few minutes I would ask him if he wanted to go night night and was met with a "no" as he rubbed my arm with his little fingers. By the fifth attempt he quietly nodded and I laid him back down.
As he rapidly approaches two I know not to take nights like last lightly. My baby has rapidly evolved into a little boy--even this morning I swear his face lost some of its baby-ness--and before long he won't want to snuggle up to his Ma.

Friday, April 4, 2014

nursery inspiration

For the Pumpkin's nursery I am really feeling neutral earth tones and woodland creatures. Just to clarify what I mean by 'woodland creatures' I am thinking foxes, deer, bunnies, etc., and NOT the "trolls" that came to mind when I first mentioned the idea to Jon. Bless his heart. We went to Home Depot yesterday and picked up some paint swatches for both the baby's room and Elden's car room. Unfortunately, Jon wasn't crazy about anything I picked out for Elden's room so we're back to square one for that. We haven't tried the browns in the nursery yet but that's partially because I'm still torn about whether I want to paint the woodwork white (which will affect whether we do faux wainscoting like in our half bath).


Image sources:
{1} - I think I can totally DIY something like this
{2}
{3}
{4}
{5}
{6}

I'm not sure how this will ultimately pan out. I love the deep brown color for the walls but the room is already pretty small so I'd hate to make it feel smaller. But looking at that inspiration board just relaxes me and makes me feel like I'm outside. Perhaps the reason I want this is because the winter was so brutal and I just want that promise of summer? Whatever the case, I think this is the general direction we'll head. We're hoping to reuse Elden's crib for the baby and transition him to a twin bed, but we aren't planning on trying that until this summer. Time will surely tell...