Thursday, November 29, 2012

PinUps and Pinspirations (Vol. 5)

PinUps: My Top 5 Pins of the Week Since I Last Did This!

1. DF/GF whipped cream. Comes out beautifully!

2. Our girls did a shoebox this year. They combined all their allowances, came up with an amazing amount of money, and had a grand time shopping for a little girl.

3. Love these hair styles. Have had great fun playing with Butterfly's hair and am slowly able to do some of them on Blueberry's hair (Butterfly has amazingly thick and long hair for a two year old).

4. For laughs

 5. And this one could actually be my Pinspiration post as well; it really does work beautifully! (and I am fully admitting my microwave looked that way recently...)

Pinspiration: (i.e. a Pin I've actually used in some way recently)

This was the original Pin.

This was my version for Turtle's birthday. Very pleased with the results!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thanksgiving, Zoos, and Other Randomness

Two of our girls were home all day today and yesterday with sickness: one with the flu and the other with pneumonia of all things. I swear we've gone through more boxes of tissues and bottles of cough medicine in the last few weeks than I would have thought possible. Amazingly enough (say a prayer, knock on wood), other than a slight stuffiness and a few tired days, I've been the one person in the house to not wind up with a cough, major cold, strep, or anything else nasty that's been making its way through the cottage the last few weeks.

In that vein, Thanksgiving week wound up being a bit unexpected for us. We were planning to have three or four of our girls here with us (the rest were with family and/or visits with host families), but they wound up closing our cottage down for a few days and putting our girls in another cottage (less holiday pay the company has to worry about...). As it was, we wound up with Butterfly staying with us in the evenings (for stability purposes for her) but no girls otherwise! We did have two of the girls who were left over to play games on Thanksgiving day itself, but otherwise it was just the 3.5 of us.

It was nice as it actually gave us some extra days off to recover (and decorate for Christmas!). Our Thanksgiving meal we actually shared with a bunch of other people on campus who were here (other houseparents, residents, some relatives, etc), which gave us a sort of family feel. With the new director and some new staff on campus, I'm finding more and more the feeling of family being established here on campus--something I'm very grateful for.

Saturday we took Mama Bear with us to Little Rock and went to the zoo. That was a blast. We hadn't been in quite awhile, and Blueberry has grown up so much since the last time we went. She had a grand time with all the animals and has talked about it daily since then (the scary, loud monkeys; the tiger go "rawr"; "I saw cheetah/lizard/snake/turtle/fishie"; and of course "Giraffe poopies.").

 Scary Crazy Monkey

 My Russian Princess

 The notorious Giraffe

Her first "train" ride. Also went on a carousel for the first time!

She also enjoyed decorating for Christmas that night (busy day for her!) and took great pleasure in showing Butterfly all the decorations (and showing her how too look with her eyes and not with her hands...those two crack me up).

In other Blueberry news, she informed me last night that she wanted to sleep on the futon that is in her room and until now has been working as a temporary training bed for her. While she slept in "beds" on the floor in England and quite enjoyed it, when we got back here, she was clear about wanting to mostly still sleep in her crib. Since we have the futon (and have stuck a swimming noodle down the open side of it to prevent her from rolling out--great idea, thank you Pinterest!), we would offer her the choice of crib or bed, but she generally stuck with her crib as her choice. Last night was the first time she wanted the futon at night. She slept all night on it and then at nap time today she asked for it again. I think my baby just transitioned herself to a "big girl bed!"

We are now debating the merits of selling the futon and buying a toddler bed for the room. At some point we're going to need the crib again as a crib (it can actually be converted into a toddler bed), but the question is do we go ahead and do it now and keep the crib as a crib or do we wait a few months and deal with it as time requires. Ah the questions that come with having a baby!

 Baby Q continues to do well and is very lively. Freaked some of the girls out the other night as we were watching a movie and all of the sudden one of them realized she could actually see my stomach moving on its own. Highly entertaining.

Slowly all the pieces come together in preparation for his arrival. The biggest question for awhile was where were we even going to have him! I've been planning for a home birth from the beginning with him, but as we live on company property, we figured we needed to run it by the director for his okay. Well, he's okay with it conceptually, but the lawyer is not okay with it in terms of insurance companies and other craziness. So the long and short of it was that I suddenly found myself planning for a home birth but not being able to give birth at home!  In an overly dramatic, pregnant, hormonal moment I told Chris that I'd just go across the street to the gas station and give birth there....

Well my midwife actually came to the rescue... She works with two other midwives (there's always at least two of them at each birth) and the longest-practicing of the three happens to be the owner of two fully-furnished houses (she got married just a few years ago to a man who owned his own house--they're both in their early 60s, and I guess they just kind of switch between houses every week). So she is going to let us "borrow" one of her houses to give birth in...and it only happens to be about a 5-10 minute drive down the road. And being a midwife she's really excited about the prospect as she's never actually had a baby born in her own house before! Phew.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Journal: England Trip 2012 - Part V

The day dawned misty but not soppy wet, which was fortunate as this was the day we were to go on the one hike I knew I was (or should be!) capable of doing. There is a little mountain overlooking Keswick that is called Latrigg.

This particular mountain holds a lot of associations for me. It was the first mountain I ever climbed at about the age of three. My grandparents, both now deceased, frequently climbed this mountain if they just wanted a short evening walk. And the ashes of both grandparents are here on this mountain.

There are two paths up Latrigg. One is from the base, in Keswick. The other, which is the one we opted for given the short climbing legs of Blueberry and the limitations placed on myself by Baby Q, is to start about halfway up the fell, leaving the car at a convenient little parking spot. It makes for about a mile and a half hike up and then back again. Really known as one of the easiest fells to climb up in the Lake District, it still holds beautiful views overlooking Keswick, Derwentwater, and various other mountains including another favorite--Skiddaw.

Despite the low-hanging clouds, we really didn't get rained on, and the clouds obligingly lifted as we climbed, allowing us to enjoy the views, embellished with ever shifting clouds. Overnight, seemingly, some of the trees had started to turn, so we got glimpses of fall color here and there throughout the day as well.

How a person can claim to be an artist of any sort and not respond to the beauty of the Lake District is beyond me. The natural beauty oozes creativity, and even the man-made towns and hamlets and villages and boats call out to be used--to explore mystery and humanity and God. Perhaps it is just that I'm a Romantic at heart, but I fail to see how even the stubbornest post-modern could be unmoved by the sights of the Lake District.

Blueberry did really well climbing up the whole way by herself and only needing to be carried for about the last 5 minutes on the way down. She enjoyed getting to know more sheep and discovered strange, round pellets littering the way that once we were informed her what they were, she pointed out constantly for the rest of the hike as "sheep poopies." We also introduced her to a couple of slugs we happened to find as we climbed.

 Walking up

 Nana and Papa

 We made it!
 Christopher and Blueberry brave the sheep
An obliging pose

 Blueberry and Me
 She's getting good at these camera poses
 Daddy and Blueberry

 Sheep Poopies!

 Taking a break; enjoying the view

 Daring the sheep by herself

"You shall not pass!"

Friday, November 2, 2012

Journal: England Trip 2012 - Part IV

After two days of heavy rain, Wednesday broke bright, light, and beautiful. Which was fortunate as my dad was scheduled to go with The Ramblers on a hike. As this is a more exclusive group, my dad was going as a guest of one of the members (Steve--the same man who owns Primrose Cottage), and it was going to be his big hike of this trip (which he was super excited about). Well, two minutes before he was to leave, his boots broke. Literally, the sole came off the bottom of one of his boots--which if you've ever done any real hiking, you understand this is not an okay thing if you plan on actually successfully taking a long walk. Fortunately, after a few minutes of panicked hunting for super glue, Steve came by and upon realizing the crisis, was able to lend my dad a pair of boots. This alone is a miracle as my father is not a tall man and finding boots in his size is difficult at best--but these were perfect! Thank the Lord for providing miracles.

 Lake Ullswater
My daddy hiking...happiness.
 As the rest of us were not invited on this particular trip (and frankly, speaking only for myself, I at least would not have been able to keep up with Baby Q in tow!), my mum and I did what sensible women do when one husband is out of the way and the other is offering to stay home to babysit--shop! Hit some of the stores we didn't go to the other day, including a gorgeous shop devoted to all things Beatrix Potter (much self-control was demonstrated by me in not buying the shop out; however, I will confess my mother may have helped in that by buying a few things for me!).

The other accomplishment of the day was starting in on some laundry. Which basically involved turning the entire house into a Chinese-laundry with clothes draped over all the radiators throughout the house. I will not lie; I love dryers. I missed my dryer for three weeks. While hanging clothes outside is something I like to do (I like the smell of air-dried clothes) and I appreciate doing for the economical benefits, when one lives in a country which is very damp, having a dryer to finish off the drying process is really helpful! And yet in all the houses we stayed on this trip, only one (and I didn't stay in that one!) had a washer and a dryer. Sigh.

Following naps, we headed out for a play in the park. We first had a mission to accomplish in the way of a side-trip taken near the park. In the small world of ex-patriots, my parents have neighbors in Thailand who have relatives who live in Keswick. In particular, one aunt (great-aunt?) of the wife whom the wife was concerned about as she had broken her hip and the wife was not sure she was fully reporting on how well she was doing (or not). Mum had been asked to deliver a letter and actually check in on this elderly lady to give an accurate report back in Thailand. Well, we finally hunted down the ladies flat (gorgeous views, by the way--I'd retire to a place like that, if just for the views. Mountains out the front door and the river flowing by her windows, looking straight out onto the Keswick park. Beautiful.), and after knocking on the door and explaining who we were, she invited us in for a spot of tea and a chat. Obviously rather lonely and eager for some company, she turned out to be absolutely fascinating. She grew up on a farm which actually had been located right where we were staying. Has a love of dogs (tons of stuffed dogs and pictures of dogs around the apartment--Blueberry was in seventh heaven), and had traveled a lot. Spent some time in the RAF during the war, spent a year or so traveling the entire USA in a car (or rather--several junker cars!).

Blueberry and the doggy collection
Sadly by the time was finished there (with an invitation to stop by a few nights later for sherry and cakes! which we sadly could not do), it was raining again and so the park was never actually visited. The evening we feasted on a very traditional type of English meal--sausage and bacon and potatoes. Yum. The only mar was that Blueberry attempted another food standoff of not swallowing her food. Fortunately this one was much shorter lived (round went to the parents!) and we all had a pleasant evening playing, what else, cards. Specifically the game Hand and Foot (think similar to Canasta but slightly different?) Because that's my family does when we are together in an evening with no specific plans. I will record, because this is an honest journal, and I therefore must record such significant events with all openness, that we played four games while in Keswick and I successfully won four out of four.  However, I was completely trounced later in the trip, so pride really does only take you so far.
 Blueberry and me. Got to love the cow leggings.

 Nana and Blueberry. There is a picture out there somewhere
of me with that exact expression on my face. I think I might
have been a little bit older than Blueberry though.

Blueberry, Doggie, and Papa

One Year Ago Today

On this day, one year ago, we completely changed our lives. We drove away from jobs and home and loved ones to a new adventure of the very m...