May 29, 2011

A Weekend Alone!

I think we've found the thing in our family that really makes us tick...time apart. Oh now, don't go getting all worried on me. I know that there are people who can't stand to be away from their family for more than a split second. Well, to each their own!

A few times a year Jason takes Ella and goes away for the weekend. He gets to help get camp ready for the year, Ella gets to see all the fam and It leaves me free to get the things done around the house for which I can never seem to find enough hours in the day (or the things that just never quite make it to the top of my priority list when my two babes are around :)

Oh how glorious it is to sleep in, go at my own pace, eat meals in peace, acomplish task after task without interruption, have time and quiet to think and reflect, have spare moments to break out my camera. Oh how wonderful to have my family return to a happy, refreshed mama, who feels accomplished!

So here's what I did this weekend. Hand graded, seeded and mulched the areas of lawn that needed it. Dug up and planted many a new perrenial plant from a dear friends grandmother. Created and planted the veggie garden and melon mounds as I like to call them. And I threw in some dishes, laundry, finances, hosting at church, baking and small group. I also busted out my camera to take some pictures of the variety of beauty in my gardens these days. Enjoy!

May 24, 2011

Counter Tops!!!

Ugly counter tops have plagued me for as long as I can remember. A portion of the countertops in my college apartment were just plywood if I recall correctly. Then I moved on to ugly trailer counters. Next it was off to very seventies counters in our over the garage apartment (but those were probably the best and most neutral of them all). Then I lived with old, seventies, ugly, cut apart and pieced back together counters in our first house. We did replace those with counters with ones that I LOVED. But we only put them in to help sell the house so I only got to enjoy them for a short while until they became someone else's nice, brand new counter tops. That was probably more painful than never having had them at all! Next we had some VERY country blue counters in our apartment in Sanford, but I have to say... TOTALLY made that work. Just when I thought it couldn't get much gaudier, we bought this house (I love it, it's huge, its gorgeous, I'm not being ungrateful here) but the counters people. THEY ARE TEAL.

I wanted them changed the second we moved in. I didn't care if we were trying to live within our means, buy only when we have the cash and get out of debt. I was ready and willing to purchase beyond our means, to become slave to the debtor, heck I think I'dve sold my soul! I begged Jason! I grovelled...I schemed... I did all that I could think of to try to get him to crack and stoop to my superficial level. It was NOT pretty people! But the man is a rock. A ROCK I tell you. You cannot crack that one. He held firm and insisted that we save up the money for new counters. "FINE!!!" (I finally gave up, knowing he was TOTALLY right, and probably stomped off like a teenager to pout for a while in one last ditch effor to get him to cave.)

But, with all the debt paying down, oil buying, wood buying, college fund saving for Ella, gas and grocery price increasing, emergency fund saving, blah, blah, took us a year to save up for those bad boys.

But let me tell you....walking into Lowes, picking out the exact counter top I wanted, with the exact edge I desired and seeing the slight look of shock when the lady assumed I'd be using a credit card but I was not....felt SOOOO GOOD!!! It was SURELY worth the wait!

The curse of ugly counter tops shall leave my household in two to three weeks. And we don't have to trade for the curse of debt to get them!!! Thanks for being my rock honey ;) Pictures will surely follow when they are installed.

May 22, 2011

What We've Been Up To

I feel very much like a friendly little woodland creature that has come out of hybernation and is already busily going about the business that needs to be taken care of in order to prepare for the upcoming winter!It is fun and exciting, but also overwhelming at times. There is so much to be done and it feels like we've not even made a dent! Here's what we've been up to!We plash in puddles, hunt for salamanders, toads and frogs and catch tadpoles in a bait trap. Ella constantly askes to "check da twap for more fwoggies?" and then emphatically answers for us, "YESSS!". The 15 tadpoles in this bucket are the ones we put back. We are happily raising 15 more in our new pet keeper that has found it's home in my kitchen. Many of those 15 are awaiting their pending adoptions by many of our little friends that want to watch them grow as well!I have been joyously watching all my perrenials come back with vibrancy! I've even split some, rearranged some and moved some to fill in other gardens. EVERY SINGLE plant you see here was either found on our property or given to me by a friend! How glorious! What a blessing! I love building things with rocks. So I continued this rock border around a second side of my house and filled it in with plants I split or plants I got from my friend Megan. It doesn't look as stellar as the other one, but it will! That poppy in the front there might not make it, but all the rest will surely thrive!And then I made a slight attempt to beutiful the backyard with some annuals in a few barrels placed around the deck.Of course, we've been watching our birdies! We couldn't pass up a great deal on 4 cord of wood (and because we've been Dave Ramseying it hardcore, we had the cash in the bank!). So Chainsaw Steve (I'm not kidding, that's how he answers the phone) dumped this fabulousness at our house today (And gave us an UNBELIEVABLEY great estimate on taking down a nasty tree for us!). Now all we have to do is stack it as opposed to the felling, hauling, cutting, splitting AND stacking hubby did last year. I'm telling you, this pile is one GORGEOUS sight!Jason cleared probably an acre of brush to open up our yard and woods. Then he chipped it all! Now he's spreading it to begin to fill where we're going to extend our lawn. Lookin' good! We've both been plugging away at this 10 yards of loam. Some went in my new flower beds, some is filling ruts, some is covering and seeding lawn, and a lot is going to our garden!
Here's a portion of our garden rototilled and loamed. The rest of our garden is sitting under the rest of the loam pile. We need to get that all moved so I can plant our very first veggie garden next weekend! Can't wait!

May 19, 2011

Bird Nerd

I think I'm officially a bird nerd. After a year at this house, not putting up bird feeders because it attracts the squirrels that like to live in our attic, we've thrown caution to the wind!

When Jason cut down all the brush, birds started showing up in droves, eating insects out of the piles of brush, getting nest building materials and even building nests in some of the piles. Ella LOVED watching them! And I have to admit....I did too!

So I put up the two feeders I had, bought two more, got some premium bird seed and bought a bird book. Now we watch the birds EVERY morning at breakfast. We sit at our dining room table and watch through the double doors that open to our backyard. It is so nice! We use the bird book to identify and learn about each bird we see. Ella adores doing this, is learning quite a few bird names, and often asks to read the bird book as one of her bedtime stories :)

Here are the birds we've seen at our house thus far!

Blue-Jay. (We've only seen him once. Because as pretty as they are, they're bullies. And it was quite a site to watch ALL the other male birds gang up and give chase to drive him away!)ChickadeeEastern Towhee Goldfinch Tufted Titmouse Some kind of Warbler White Breasted NuthatchWhite Crowned Sparrow

May 8, 2011

Sea Dog Mother's Day 5k recap!

Well I did it. I ran my 5k today. Thanks in part to my hippie doctor.You see, I got really sick Wednesday and there was no way I'd be running a 5k in a few days...I could barely drag myself out of bed and walking up stairs...forgedaboudit! Thursday evening I learned I had a strep infection. But after starting some natural antibiotics/immune boosting herbal hippie pills Thursday evening I began to mend.

I went for a 3 mile spin on Friday and kinda felt like I was going to die. Too much too soon. Lesson learned.

But Saturday had me feeling much better. A little TOO better perhaps, because when my 10 yards of dirt arrived, I could not stop myself from building a small rock wall, hauling 7 wheelbarrow loads of dirt and transplanting plants. NOT a wise choice the day before a race. Lesson learned...again...maybe.

The race went like this: A lot of people! Hard to get my pace going in a pack. See. There's my head. Nice camera work J-dog! At mile one my pace was 10 seconds faster than I was shooting for. YES. Just into mile two my lungs were burning and twasn't a pretty picture. That's where I lost my time. But once I hit the 1/2 way mark I got back on pace. When I hit mile three I picked up my pace and I had quite a bit of kick left at the end. I passed a lot of people. I like that. (Cha-ching, cha-ching Noelle!) I was shooting to pace myself in the beginning and run a faster second half of the race than the first half. I accomplished that...but probably only because I lost so much time in the beginning part of the second mile. I finished 1minute 30seconds slower than I hoped. But this type a perfectionist will try to be happy with that.

Because you know what? It's not really imporant if my numbers weren't down where I wanted them to be. What's important is staying healthy and running for a great cause on Mother's Day like Maine Breast Cancer Research! 200,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. each year. 40,000 don't win the battle. Here's looking forward to seeing THOSE numbers go down, down, down!

May 5, 2011

Potty Training Update!

A little under three weeks ago we embarked on our potty training journey.

I'm proud to say that with a super exciting sticker/prize/candy reward system and ridgid consistancy, Ella is fully pee potty trained!

She went from a girl who held it for almost 24 hours one day... to a girl who peed in her undewear every time all day long the next day... to a girl who finally got with the program but still held it a lot and was still uncomfortable going pee and still had to sit for a LONG time every time to do it.

But it's amazing what's happened within this last week. She doesn't hold it at all. She tells US when she has to go. She goes in by herself, closes the door and insists, "Mommy leave so Ella can go pee." Then she does her business quickly, wipes herself, dumps her potty herself, wipes her potty herself and then flushes it all away. She runs out beaming with pride ready and waiting for her 1 swedish fish and 1 m&m. (P.S. Kristie, she insists on going "pee on the froggy"! THANK-YOU!)

She's gone 6 times today alone! And one of them was at someone else's house...momentous ocasion there! She's been dry at nap time and morning time ever since we started!

Now, pooping is a whole different ball game. She's done it twice but insists that she doesn't want to. We've transitioned so that she only gets a prize for pooping. AND she gets 5 fish and 5 m&ms for pooping! I think this will be slower going but I'm optimistic.

I also think that learning to do this without mom or dad (like at church, or with a babysitter or in any kind of childcare setting) could prove to be our biggest difficulty. But I'm not going to rush that. I'm very happy with where we're at.

May 2, 2011

If the marshmallows and Jesus went to Heaven...I want to go too!

The Saturday before Easter, Ella was very excited to go to her friend Lauren's Birthday party. She kept asking to go and I kept telling her it wasn't until later. At 10am I told her we'd go after nap to which she replied, "I go take nap NOW, K?" I chuckled at her eagerness and thought of how I could explain it better. Then I grabbed a plastic toy clock that we have and put the hour hand on 10am. I told her "This is what time it is now." Then I moved the hand and counted, 11, 12, 1, 2, 3. "We don't go to Lauren's birthday until it gets to here. Okay?" This seemed to actually work.

Well, A few days ago our Easter books came in the mail. (There was a slight glitch in the shipping, but they refunded the cost and the books have served as a great follow up/reinforcer to all we did with the Easter Season.)

After reading one she exlaimed, "I want go ta Heaven Mum!". And I told her how excited I was that she wanted to go to Heaven, but that it would be a while (hopefully). To which she replied, "I go ta Heaven NOW! K!?" Again I reiterated that I hoped it would be a long time until she goes to Heaven. She jumped up in bed excitedly as if a lightbulb had just burst on,"Mum. You go get da clock, K!? Den you turn da tings aaaand den we go to HEAVEN!" I just about died laughing at the cuteness!

Her beautiful desire to go to Heaven also gave us our first opportunity to share with her how to do that! I asked if she knew how to get into heaven, and told her all she needs to do is ask God into her heart and ask him to forgive her for the naughty things she does. We've had that conversation a few times since and it blesses me so to know that we've already been able to plant that seed with her! Oh how I pray it grows!

There are also some other neat remnants of Easter that I pray linger a while as well. When you ask her why we celebrate Easter she'll usually say, "Jesus woze fwom da dead!" Then she'll quickly go on in a strung together excited blabber saying, "And da marshmallows were all gone! Dey not dere! Dey go up ta Heaven and Jesus go up ta Heaven and dey wid da God!" Because the resurrection rolls were a giant success and she was ASTONISHED (slash upset) that the marshmallows that she so adored were not there anymore! We talked a lot about how Jesus went up to Heaven after he wasn't in His tomb, so I'm pretty sure she surmized that that's where the marshmallows went too! :)

The following are just a few excerpts from the two books which I LOVE!

"The unmoveable moved, the stone rolled away!

Hurray! The first Easter, God's victorious day.

The women ran quickly to find the eleven,

explaining that Jesus had gone up to Heaven."

~J is for Jesus by Debbie Trafton O'Neal

"This story's amazing and all of it's true.

He died on the cross for me and for you.

If you love Jesus, believe and obey,

then you can see Jesus in Heaven some day."
~An Easter Gift for Me by Crystal Bowman