Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Calm After the Storm

It's been a quiet couple of days since the hurricane passed through. Skies were bright and sunny by Sunday afternoon so we ventured out for the usual Sunday dinner at my mom's house with my siblings and their kids. Yesterday we were back to business as usual since we were basically unaffected by the storm. Somehow over the past few days I've come down with a stuffy "mo" (as my baby calls it). So I've been downing the vitamin-C and sleeping all propped up with a humidifier blowing in my face. My husband started with a cold at the end of last week, my SIL Jennie and baby had it over the weekend, and I started with it on Sunday. Luckily they are all over it at this point so I'm holding out hope that it's about to get better for me, too.

Hm, what else? Our purge is going quite well. We have a large stash of things gathered for donation. We're about to clear a bunch of stuff from our kitchen this weekend, and I have a handful of things laying around that I will be selling via posts on the web and/or consignment. There was a guy on Oprah yesterday, a movie director actually, named Tom (?) Shadyac. He was sharing his story of downsizing from 17,000 square feet to 1,000 square feet. Why? Because that was all he needed. He had realized that all of his "stuff" was not making him any happier and chose to live with just what he needed while offering the rest to others. I thought that was kind of cool. It was a very spiritual thing for him according to what he shared on the show. But what he was sharing really paralleled the ideas I had read about in the book Miss Minimalist by Francine Jay. Anyway.

I would tell you about the rest of our week ahead, but I'm afraid it will leave me with nothing to write about for the rest of the week! I suppose when there's little to tell about, I can always resort to cute pictures! If we're friends on Facebook, you've already seen these, sorry! But they're cute enough to be worth a second look :)

You're welcome! :)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Survival Story

Well, Hurricane Irene is pretty well on her way by this time. The news footage, however, continues. From what we've seen the coastal areas have been pretty beat up. In our particular community we only have some fallen branches. I've seen pictures of trees down and heard reports of power outages in nearby areas though. Luckily, our power remained on throughout the storm. I'll be honest, it's been a long 24 hours since the rain started. I feel like I've been hiding out for days, and somehow I woke up feeling hung-over. It was not a good night's sleep. Here's how it all went down (don't get excited, it's pretty uneventful)...

Yesterday we secured all of our outdoor furniture and brought in what we could. I of course couldn't find any bungees in the store, but I did pick up a 10' long nylon strap with a cambuckle that worked quite nicely.

Yep, that's a water table in our kitchen... with a calculator in it.

We charged the camping lantern so we'd have light besides candles if power went out.

We threw together a grab-and-go box with our essentials if we had to get out of the house.

I set up "command central" in the playroom where we planned to camp out for the night

These are the stupid trees in our backyard that are so tall and skinny I just knew they were going to snap like twigs in the wind (they didn't). 

What it looked like outside about 24 hours ago... a little ominous.

Our Bebe is recently very fascinated by rain. She looks out the window and says, "raaaaaaaaiiiiiiiin!" It's cute :)

Here's our camp site. 
[I'll tell you the story of that beautiful blanket another day.]

After a long night of tossing and turning and listening to some roaring wind all the while just waiting for those stupid trees to crash through the roof, we woke up this morning to this....

This tree is in our neighbor's back yard two houses away (we live in townhouses for those who didn't know)

This tree is about 10 yards directly behind our next-door neighbor's house

And all of our stupid trees are right where we left them yesterday. All in all, I can't complain. We camped out for a night and get to go on about business as usual today. 

This poor guy, however, has a lot to complain about. 
He was reporting for the local news from Ocean City. All of this sea foam was blowing on him from the water. Apparently he was bracing himself against a bench and that's why he stayed in that spot. Turns out that sea foam is actually toxic and is the result of raw sewage pouring into the water from the storm (according to this report). How sad is that??

Did you survive Hurricane Irene? Do share :)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Come On, Irene

An earthquake on Tuesday, and now Hurricane Irene threatens our weekend. What the what?!  Hey, it's what everybody's talking about - again, might as well join in! Just like the earthquake, Irene is taking aim at most of the east coast. We're expecting her to arrive starting tomorrow and through Sunday. Though we've had several hurricanes here in my lifetime they are still not that common this far up the Atlantic. Usually even if they start out looking like they'd reach us they veer out to sea before making it here. Nevertheless, the governor has declared a state of emergency in preparation and in this household we're taking that seriously- without freaking out, of course. Of the hurricanes I've experienced, I'm pretty sure this one is the most threatening. Whether that's because I'm an adult/home owner/parent paying attention to the coverage remains to be seen.

On our side for this event is the fact that we don't live ON the coast. We're a few hours inland. We're not terribly far from the Chesapeake, but no where near close enough to experience flooding from a storm surge. In fact, it's rare for our area to see any flooding beyond a very saturated yard. In a hurricane though, who knows. So far in any major rain we've had our basement has stayed dry. Fingers stay crossed for that trend to continue. Our biggest threats, I believe, --ok, more honestly, my biggest fears are power outages and broken windows. I can deal with a power outage as long as the house stays in tact. I'm just worried that with such high winds all sorts of things become projectiles. I don't trust my neighbors to have properly secured all of their crap. That's not to mention trees that can break and cause debris to go flying about. We also have a patch of very tall, very skinny trees (mentioned in a previous post) right behind our house. They scare me every time there's a big storm. I've seen them do some serious waving around in the wind so I'm pretty nervous about them in a hurricane where 50-85 mph sustained winds and 110 mph gusts are expected. They're right outside our bedroom so the current plan is not to sleep in there on Saturday night.

So what are we doing to prepare? We are of course bringing in our outdoor stuff except the grill and table. We'll flip the table upside down (glass flat on the deck) and secure the grill as best we can (bungeed to the deck, maybe?). Inside we're using a Rubbermaid bin as our "emergency" container in which we'll put our essentials and anything vital we wouldn't leave the house without. This way if the house is damaged and we have to leave, we can just grab the bin and go without rushing through a mental check-list. We have cash on hand in case we need supplies before power is back and we'd be unable to use our debit card. We have gas in the car if we needed to leave the house/area due to damage. We have bottled water and plenty of things to eat that don't require cooking/refrigeration. The governor has suggested being prepared to be "on your own" for a 72-hour period. We also have a radio, flashlights, candles, all that good stuff. I think we'll spend at least Saturday night camped out in our dining room-turned-play room because it's in the center of the house as far as one can get from any windows. It has a foam mat on the floor, so we'll put the futon mattress down on that and feel like we're sleeping on a cloud, I'm sure. Our pack n play is also in that room already because my nephew naps there so our Bebe can sleep in that and be right beside us should an emergency happen.

In all likelihood we'll be fine and just get to watch an awesome storm. That's what I'm hoping for. I'm glad we're prepared and taking precautions, but we probably won't need them. We'll just have a fun night of camping out on the floor of the play room and playing with flashlights. Sadly our roomie (my SIL Jennie) has been roped into staying at her parents' (my ILs) house for the weekend. They volunteered her to sing in church on Sunday but somehow the impending hurricane and high chance of church being cancelled is no excuse for her not to spend her weekend at their house.

As long as we have internet I might try to post pictures or videos of anything cool going on around here over the weekend. Otherwise I'll probably be back on Monday... or whenever our internet comes back. All the best to anyone else prepping for the storm. Hang in there! :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What's Shakin?

The whole east coast, if you haven't heard! There was a 5.9 magnitude earthquake on the east coast yesterday, centered in south western VA. So while everyone is sharing their earthquake stories, I figured why not throw ours out there as well! In fact, because earthquakes are so rare on the east coast, the very (very) minor effects of it have caused ridiculous levels of news coverage and dominated Facebook for the past 24 hours. I have yet to hear a report of anyone being injured or any significant damage being done. Though, the federal government did shut down D.C. today (you know, the day after, why not?). It's really kind of hilarious. So here's our goofy earthquake story...
First of all, this cute little thing sits on the window in our kitchen. It used to belong to my husband's grandparents. When he was younger and his grandparents lived in California he used to look at it to tell when there was an earthquake because the heart would move and shake in that case. His grandmother kindly passed it on for him to have in his house when he shared a story about it a few years ago. So when, a rare earthquake happened here yesterday I must say that I failed to check the heart. I was sitting at our kitchen table eating my lunch. I heard a little bit of rattling, but thought it could be a plane going over or a big truck outside. When it continued and grew louder, I looked around and noticed that pretty much everything was shaking. There was no time to figure out what was going on, for all I knew the house was falling down, I just needed to get upstairs to get my baby (she had been napping)! By the time I got her back downstairs with me the shaking had almost stopped.

I personally was still shaking, but the house and ground had stopped. It took me some time to determine that there actually had been an earthquake. The news didn't break in right away and our internet had gone down. I also had a hard time getting through to anyone on my cell phone since everyone on the east coast was suddenly making calls at the same time. Finally a call came through from my husband and he was able to tell me that it was in fact an earthquake before the call cut off. Neat!

Looking around the house everything seemed fine. Nothing fell from shelves or off the walls. Nothing looked cracked or broken in any way. Later last night when I went upstairs I did notice some minor "damage" in our bedroom. And it seems that this is the extent of it....
Whew! Dodged a bullet this time :)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Another Year

It's that time of year again when so many of my friends are returning to work in school systems across the state. Even though it's still August, the nights and mornings are already getting chilly. Somehow the weather always changes like that when it's time for school to start. I can't believe another summer is almost over. This summer has gone by particularly fast, I guess because for the first time in a few years I "worked" babysitting over the summer months.

Nonetheless it's this time of year, as summer starts to wind down and my friends start returning to work, that I feel particularly blessed to be spending another school year at home with my baby. I know it's not something that everyone has the opportunity or desire to do, but it means the world to me and I feel like I have to acknowledge that blessing.
I never expected that I would be able to stay home, even up to the day I had to make the decision. So to me, it is still something of wonder that I'm actually a SAHM. I have loved every bit of the past year at home and cherish all the precious moments it was filled with. I'll never be able to thank my husband enough for such an incredible gift to both myself and our children.
If I ever felt called to be a teacher -- and I really, truly did -- I feel 100 times the calling to be at home raising my children.
Once again, for that, I feel like The Luckiest girl in the world, and I think that's how you know you're exactly where you're supposed to be.

**Sorry for the sap! When it comes to some things (my baby especially), I just can't help it :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Very Summer Weekend

A simple, lazy Friday night, an afternoon at the playground, staying up late to watch movies, a roaring afternoon thunderstorm, and a cookout with family. How's that for a summer weekend?

By the way, Aunt Erin, recognize this dress from last year??

That is exactly what our weekend was made of. We stayed in on Friday night for pizza and a pre-season Ravens game. It was perfect! The Ravens won, which made it even better. Bebe was cheering them and boooo-ing every time we mentioned the S-word (St--lers, that is. Not appropriate for my blog).

On Saturday we woke up to a very loud thunderstorm. Everyone had slept in, which is always a great start to Saturday :)  The rain cleared out quickly though and the rest of the day was pretty and sunny. We hit up Target- I forgot what it was like there at 9am, so nice! Daddy was headed to ComicCon in Baltimore for most of the day, so us girls were on our own. After Target, Lovey took her usual stellar morning nap while I cleaned the house. My sister-in-law was returning from vacation that afternoon so when she got home we hopped in the car and went over to the park together.

Bebe had so much fun toddling around like the big kids. She's still too small for a lot of the fun things they have at this playground, but it's really big so there's lots of space for her to run around. She loves being around other kids too, so she had a great time watching them and trying to play like they were playing.

I thought for sure she'd pass out when we got home since it was exactly her afternoon nap time and she had been running around outside for about an hour. She's been resisting the afternoon naps lately, and despite my best efforts at tiring her out, she resisted on Saturday too. I let her hang out and play in her bed for a while and then just brought her back downstairs.

Saturday night we also stayed in and watched a movie- Hall Pass, it was ok. I only half watch movies anyway, unless we start them after the munchkin goes to bed. Obviously that movie itself was not really for kids and she is getting to the age where she repeats things we say - she said no less than 4 new words just yesterday. So I spent a good portion of that movie playing on the floor with her and making sure she wasn't paying attention :)

On Sunday my husband attended day 2 of ComicCon and we relaxed at home. I snuck in a run while the little one napped, and just as I was about to shower afterwards the thunder started rumbling. According to the radar I had time for a quick shower so I made it speedy. When I got out, I looked out my bedroom window to see the tall trees behind our house going positively bonkers in the wind and our patio table with umbrella completely on it's side. Yikes! There was no tornado watch, which was my initial concern, but there were definitely storms on the way. It stormed big and loud for about an hour before the rain tapered off and the sun came out again. Bebe woke up from her nap shortly after the storm started so we (Jennie my SIL and I) were talking to her about what was going on out the window. Wouldn't you know she started saying, "Raaaaiiiiiin" and something that equated to "thunder" which I wouldn't be able to spell. You know babies, they barely use consonants when talking.

After the storms cleared out, Bebe and I headed up to my mom's house for our usual Sunday dinner. We grilled and ate and talked babies and kids. My brother's wife, Jenna is expecting in just 8 more weeks, so she had some questions for my sister and I. It's always so loud when we all get together at my mom's. Kids are laughing, running (against the rules, of course), fighting over toys, falling down, sitting in time out.... and we joke about how we definitely need more kids in the family :)  Of course we need more kids! They are all the fun! We all love it, they love each other, and most of all, my parents love it. A week wouldn't be a week without that gathering.

And here we are back at Monday. I don't know how that happens so suddenly. We have a week full of playdates ahead of us. Our first was this morning! My friend, Katherine came over to visit and we had a lovely time chatting and laughing at the munchkins. They were of course on their best behavior and promptly fought with each other and had meltdowns- which they never do. I think Katherine was as excited for nap time (her excuse to escape!) as I was :)

Next up, my friend Amanda is visiting us on Wednesday and my other friend Mary Beth is visiting on Thursday! My week is usually not so jam-packed with adult interactions, so I am beaming with excitement :)  Check back to read all about them later this week!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Say it Ain't So!

So the TV was on the other day and a commercial came on for Busch Gardens theme park. As soon as the music starts playing, my child stops what she's doing, stares at the TV and starts saying, "Melmo? Melmo.. melmo!"  Just as I'm thinking, um, no that's a rollercoaster, there he is in all of his red fuzzy glory! He appears in this commercial for like .3 seconds (apparently some fool dresses up in a giant furry Elmo costume and walks around the park, I've never understood who would want to do that) and my child knows it by the music that's playing!

I can't believe this could possibly be happening to my tiny bebe girl, but I think she is becoming obsessed with Elmo!

Why does this surprise me? It seems like the Elmo obsession is practically a rite of passage for toddlers these days. He's cute, funny, bright red, and has that silly little laugh. What's not to love? He was clearly created to catch the eye of a toddler. I actually know very few toddlers who have not, at one point, been in love with Elmo.

Here's the thing... we don't watch Sesame Street. We don't have Elmo toys. We don't talk about Elmo. He appears in just two books that we own, but both are weird puppet books that I hate because they don't sit nicely on the shelf so they've been stashed. So where is she getting this Elmo crap?? I guess there are worse things she could be obsessed with- the Wiggles, Barney, Yo Gabba Gabba (eeeeek). I'm just at a loss for explaining how she came to know him so well and has seemingly fallen in love with him. How did she even learn his name? I just don't get it. How does she know him so well that she caught him in that Busch Gardens commercial and then associated the music from it with him?!?

All I can say is that it's a testament to the baby brain. We don't give babies enough credit. I think in general we use communication skills as a mark of one's understanding and intelligence (seen it 10,000 times in education) and it just isn't the case! My baby is clearly smitten with Elmo and has learned his name and memorized the music of the commercial he appears in (which does not mention his name, by the way, it just shows him dancing for .3 seconds) with very little assistance from anyone else. It's a little creepy. How much else does she understand and just can't verbalize?? I feel like enrolling her in a college class and seeing how much she retains for later! Ok, maybe that's a little extreme, but it certainly shows that if babies can pick things up with very little help or guidance, imagine what they're able to learn when an adult really works with them.

Anyone else's kid have a toddler obsession(s)? Do share :)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Heart of Life

We all get sick of hearing bad news on tv, on the internet, from friends and co-workers. But when the bad news creeps in from the world around you to your close friends and family, it's a whole different story. Remember my mention of friends who had recently experienced a tragedy? Well, there has also been more bad news among those closest to me. My mom's husband of 16 years (since I was 13) recently started having stomach pain every time he ate. When he finally decided to go to the doctor, you know how men can be and he's totally the kind to wait and tough it out, they sent him to have an endoscopy. The doctor's explanation to my mom of what he saw was that at the base of the esophagus it looked "very lumpy and bumpy" and he "took lots of biopsies." I'm no doctor, but even I knew exactly what that meant.

A week or so went by and the biopsies came back to show it was a malignant tumor... cancer. They went to see an oncologist who turned out to be really fantastic. He said that my step-dad will need six weeks of chemo-therapy and radiation. Then he'll be off of it for another six weeks before having surgery. The surgery they do for this involves removing the entire esophagus. They pull the stomach all the way up to the back of the throat and - miraculously - it learns to function as the esophagus. Incredible. This will happen right around Christmas, and then there will of course be a recovery period after that.

To say my mom is a worrier is a little bit of an understatement. She doesn't manage stress all that well and tends to get overwhelmed. She gets stressed over having a group of family or friends over for a party, so you can imagine how she is taking this news. I know she can't take her eyes off the big picture, when what she really needs to do is break it down into teeny tiny manageable bits. My siblings and I rallied and took care of my dad, who was barely there for us as kids, when he became ill a few years ago. So for my mom who raised us alone and did an incredible job, I know that we'll make sure she is completely taken care of throughout this process. It's going to be a long journey, and she needs her health and sanity if she's going to be able to take care of her husband, after all. Fortunately, they are people of faith. They pray daily and trust God with their lives. That alone will make a huge difference in how they experience all of this. Additionally, they both hold a really positive outlook and are planning long term.

So what are we to think when all this bad news seems to surround us? I can tell you the first thing I do is count my blessings and thank God for them. I'm not really sure what else there is to do. We can only control and affect so much in this world. Stressing over the things we can't only hurts us more.

I was driving the other day and a song by John Mayer came on my iPod. I'm not calling him a great person, but I love his music. Anyway, the song is called The Heart of Life and it's about keeping your chin up in tough times. It made me think of the people around me who are dealing with so much right now. It talks about how bad news never has good timing, but even if things don't go the way they should, the heart of life is good. I guess in a way he's saying not to give up on everything when lots of things seem to be falling apart. It's easy to get mad at life, or get mad at God and wonder why terrible things ever happen. Nobody knows the answer to that. But all in all, when we look around, there's a lot to be grateful for. And who knows how these trials will change and shape us. There's a lot to be said for a new perspective. That alone can be life-changing.

Anyway, sorry to be a bummer. I know it's no fun to read about sad things, but life is life and sometimes these things happen. I'll definitely post updates on his progress, and if anyone is so inclined, prayers are appreciated, for my step-dad and my friends who are recovering from a tragedy.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Quick! Before she's not 1 year and a quarter anymore.....

 She runs around the house (and everywhere really). 
 She talks like crazy. Her vocabulary includes: shoes, purple, ball, mama, dada, nennie, nana, papa, doggie, cheerios, more, hi, bye bye, night night, Ernie, Elmo, and Pocoyo (whom she calls "Coco").
 She signs "more," "eat/food," and "thank you." She is incredibly happy and bubbly. 
She loves watching airplanes fly over our house and telling them "bye bye" as they disappear. She is clever and sneaky, but so cute we don't mind. 
 She loves all of her little toy bracelets (somehow she has like 5) and wears them around the house while she plays.
 She cheers for the Orioles, claps when we sing "here we go Ravens!" and responds with a hearty "Booooooooo" when we say the word St---ers!
 She. Is. Gorgeous.
She's a great napper and still takes two naps a day for about an hour and a half each (most days). She loves to "scare" us and do pretty much anything that makes us laugh. 
 She loves to be upside down, tossed in the air, fake-dropped, or otherwise startled.
 She's a fierce competitor at the who-can-make-a-louder-spitting-noise game.  
She is still a thumby-loving snuggle bug. 
 She adores Chobani yogurt, grilled cheese, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. 
 She chugs her milk.
More than anything else, she is still and will always be the most incredible little person I ever could have imagined.