Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Lazy Days of Summer

Just kidding.  Things have been anything but lazy around here these last few weeks.  The new house is just buzzing with activity.  The good news:  Jon has off the whole summer and is home all day to give me a hand.  The bad news:  Even with him home I still can't seem to get ahead.  We've been living here for over two weeks now and shock of all shocks, I have yet to clean the bathroom.  I did manage to mop the kitchen floor the other night though, and keep up with the laundry.  It took me all day to wash, dry and fold two loads, but at least I got it done! Jon, on the other hand, has been relishing his outdoor space.  This guy has definitely missed his landscaping days, as evidenced by the fact that he mowed the lawn three times before either of our neighbors mowed their's once.  He's also been very busy growing a beard since, during this time off from work, "he can."
We've been spending a lot of time just trying to getting to know the area.  Something as simple as grocery shopping takes on new challenges when you move.  I was just getting familiar with the sales and coupons policies of the store nearest us in Virginia Beach when we found out we were moving.  So I spent a few weeks researching which stores were in the new area and looking for the best "deal blogs" to follow.  My first grocery trip was a big FAIL.  Since then I've found a better store and once I get back into my meal planning groove soon! One of the nice things about this area is that farm country is just around the corner.  Literally.  We took off to find the nearest Rita's the other night and then just kept driving, and driving, and driving.  It was so pretty and peaceful, with stretches and stretches of land between houses.  Almost as nice as Pennsylvania but not quite.  So with all the local produce I thought we'd have a good farmer's market nearby.   I checked the one out right in town, but wasn't overly impressed.  We enjoyed the fresh corn on the cob, italian green beans and green peppers, but I was hoping for a bit more than a handful of tents in a parking lot.  Where were the eggs?  And cheese?  Those famous Maryland blue crabs?  And the guy with the table full of items for $1?  Well I've heard there's a bigger market two towns south so that'll be my next goal. In addition to grocery stores and farmer's markets, I've got a new place to get some grub.  My very own garden!  It was left behind by the owner's and, by the time I got here, contained a few tomato plants and a whole lotta weeds.  For my birthday my parents bought me some other veggies and herbs, and flowers for my patio.  So the night I turned 27 I got both kids to bed by 7:30 and spent the entire evenings weeding, cultivating and planting my little garden, then again at the time it seemed very big.  I was out there with my hands in the dirt until it was so dark I couldn't see the weeds.  Of course, within 10 minutes I had a huge blister on my thumb.  But the hard work was good for me.  We've already enjoyed some of the delicious bounty.  Okay, well Jack picked two green tomatoes off when I wasn't looking, so I put them on the windowsill to ripen for a few days before sampling.

So this is my garden before, when even the weeds were thriving:
And this is my garden after all my weeding and cultivating, now that we're in a severe heat wave and drought.  Hopefully my plants can survive it!:
We've also been on the hunt for a new church.  I've spent HOURS checking local places on online, for months and months before we moved.  And never saw anything to get excited about.  It also made me realize how important a website is.  Churches seem to be everywhere these days, and we don't have time to visit them all.  So we narrowed them down based on what we saw/read on the website.  And then I took those church names and Googled the heck out of 'em.  I read every worthwhile entry I could find.  If someone mentioned that church on their Facebook page, I was there, reading their biographical info and trying to peek at pictures that were viewable to the public.  Sometimes I creep my own self out.  We visited one last Sunday.  It was okay.  Jack seemed to enjoy the nursery, he was blowing kisses to the ladies as we left.  And we met some friendly people.  I was a tad distracted by the big timer on the back wall, counting down exactly 60 minutes, the precise length of the service.  We're not used to such shortness.  On the way  home we passed a sign for a church that, amazingly, I had not come across in my extensive searching.  So it is now #1 on our list of places to check out.
These days, I'm pretty much occupied with keeping Jude's tummy full and keeping Jack busy.  The latter is no easy task.  He's at that age where he's not able to occupy himself for long periods of time.  And when someone is there to entertain him, it's never long before he's ready to move on to the next activity.  Unless it's swinging.  I think we've already established that Jack would be happy to sit in his swing the entire day if he could.  But lately it's been much too hot for that.  So we hang out inside, where Daddy put together Jack's Thomas the Tank Engine set he got for Christmas and that we've been saving for a day that Jack needed something new. 
And we've been experimenting with play-doh.  He's not able to do much with it at this age, but it at least keeps him busy for a little while.
And when Mommy's back is turned we've been getting into trouble.

And most importantly, we've been learning where certain body parts are.  Actually, I was trying to get a video of Jack babbling away as usual.  But, also as usual, he goes silent as soon as I get the camera out. (Note the post-nap hair-do.)

And that is how we spend our lazy summer days.  Actually, things are about to get a bit crazy around here, like it does for most people in the summer, so forgive me for being too busy to blog and I'll forgive you for being too busy to read!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Welcome to the 'Burb Nest

Well, I could wait until everything was JUST RIGHT to take pictures, but then you'd never see our latest nest.  So I went ahead and snapped a few shots this past weekend.  Someday, after we've finally settled down into a permanent place, I'm going to make a book of all the gazillion places we've lived.  But that could be a long way off, so for now we're just going to enjoy them as they come.  So here it is, welcome to our little abode in the suburbs of DC!

This is our formal living room ... you know, where I spend hours reading books in the morning sun, sipping cups of tea and arranging flowers.  Okay, not so much.  We're not used to this kind of luxury, which is why there is only a couch and bookcase in here.  But as soon as I find a decent piano on Craiglist I'm sure I'll be spending more time here!

That's our beloved Ikea bookshelf, one of the few items that actually got busted during our move, but you can't even tell right? The curtains that you can't see were left behind and the paint color was already there, but I think it's growing on me anyway.

This was the formal dining room.  We use it as a playroom, and I'm pleasantly surprised with the way it turned out, not entirely as all-leftovers-thrown-together as I thought. 

We got the picture ledge and bookshelf on a recent trip to Ikea.  The rug was from my dorm room days, an Ikea original that I picked up for a few bucks at Penn State's Trash to Treasure sale.  This was also one of the rooms Jon painted.

In between the playroom and kitchen is this handy niche.

Theoretically, it's where I sit and menu plan, clip coupons, plan grocery lists, blog and do work.  Theoretically.  Realistically, it's not that comfortable and it's kinda dark and lonely if the kids aren't in the playroom.  Since I do all my work (real job work) from my laptop, I take it wherever is most convenient.  Which includes, but is not limited to, on the floor while playing with Thomas the Tank Engine, the bathroom during tubby time, and the patio for some sunshine.

Annnnnd on to the kitchen, the center of the house.  I love a lot of things about my new kitchen, but can I just say how much I ADORE these countertops.  I do not miss the white, porous, show every knick and stain ones we left back at the Beach.  These things are marvelous.  And I'll let you in on a little secret about my cupboards and drawers, I have a few empty ones.  Yeah, that's how much more space I have.  Love it!!

The kitchen opens right up into the informal dining area.  But be careful, there's a step!  And yes, Jack does fall down it at least once a day. 

And the wooden floors.  Lovely, and so not accomating to clutzy toddlers.  Poor Jack is learning how to sidestep the slippery rugs.  I can only imagine what things will look like when summer's over and he's running around in socks.

Kitchen/dining flows right into the Family Room.  Since we came into this place with only one couch and chair, we got new furniture!  I was pretty surprised Jon let me pick out that funky striped chair.  And I love that rug with all my heart!

Just in case you're wondering that "accent" brickish colored wall was like that (along with the country plaid curtains.)  I'm seriously contemplating painting it because it clashes with my stuff, but it's fallen done low on the to-do list.  It's also textured so not sure how that would turn out.  I think the fireplace will be fun though.  Except it's actually a pellet stove.  Throws out heat, but not marshmallow-roasting friendly.

The downstairs is also where Jon's office is located, which doubles as a spare-spare room. No surprise here, this was the first room to be decorated.  :)

And a half bath.  This is the only bathroom picture I took because it's the only one with decent lighting.  But it's also a good illustration of "making it work" (Tim Gunn style!).  There's a heck of a lot of green in this house, this bathroom is no exception.  My kitchen and two spare bathrooms were red themed.  But I was pleasantly surprised to see the green and red kinda worked, without being Christmasy.  Of course, that's my personal opinion.  If you don't think so refrain from commenting!

There's also a huge garage which Jon has already cleaned and organized.  I should have taken a picture of it for my male audience, but alas, I did not.

We're now heading upstairs.  If you want the full experience you now have plush carpet under your feet and there's the faint smell of dog in the air.  Since this is the only carpeted area of the house and the previous residents had a dog.  Apparently they've been shampooed but nothing gets past my sniffer!!

First up, the the real spare room.  In other words, most important guests stay here.  Anyone beyond that is relegated to an air mattress in the office. 

This is another one of those gets-all-the-leftovers rooms.  It needs some TLC, like more interesting curtains, but works for now.  This is another room we painted.  It used to be a garish turquoise (and I usually like turqoise).

We thought we picked out a gray tone, but I'm certain I see purple in there.  Not exactly what I wanted but it's just a spare room.

Next up is the day care, er, nursery.  Yes, you count three beds.  Now we are not hiding a third kid.  We got Jack a big boy bed several months back to put in his room for him to "get used to."  He prefers to use it as a trampoline.  Anyway, we haven't yet had the nerve to move him out of his crib, for several reasons.  (A) I thought there was enough transition with having a new baby brother and moving, (B) the kid moves around so much in his sleep I think he'd end up on the floor more often than not, and (C) he's learned how to climb up Jude's crib and poke his eyes, so he's best kept "behind bars" for a little while longer.  

And no, Jude does not spend the night here, just naps. Here's still in our room in the evening. The plan is to move him in here once he starts pulling longer hours at night and not risking waking up big brother, and we're almost there!  This is another room we painted.  It went from blue ... to blue.  But I think there's a big difference!

Finally, our little haven.  Okay not really, it's kinda large actually.  I purposely cut out the huge empty space on one side of the room.  We're still adjusting to large house living, but don't want to "grow" too much since we could end up in a smaller place next year.

I love the light in this room, except at 5 in the morning.  I want to get some curtains but I'm not sure how to hang them since the window butts up right against the wall, and I can't use tension rods because of the blinds that are already installed.  So if anyone has any suggestions send 'em my way!!

And finally, one of our most favorite features, the outdoor space. 


We love having dinner outside, when it's not blazingly hot!!  We also have a chimney thinger-majigger for small bonfires, and hopefully marshmallow roasting.  I think we're really going to enjoy this place in the fall, when things cool down and slow down. 

But until then, we've got a busy summer planned and lots to blog about ... if I can find the time.  Thanks for stopping by, come again!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I have a confession to make

I’m still wearing maternity clothes.
Wow. Feels good to put that out there. Jude is 9 weeks and in the past month I have lost a mere one pound. I can’t remember exactly where I was with Jack at this point. I know at Christmas time I was in my “fat jeans”, which would have been when he was around 10-11 weeks. So I’m not sure why the weight loss seems to be so much slower this time around. Maybe it’s a second baby thing? Or maybe it’s the fact that, in those days, Jack was taking every spare calorie I could muster? Or maybe it’s because it was winter and I never left my house and just wore sweatpants all day long? Whatever the reason, I’m beyond ready to be back in my regular clothes, if I could only inch them past my thighs. Until then, I have to keep the elastic waistbands around a little while longer.

Well, at least until a few days ago. I finally caved this week and took myself on a bit of a shopping spree for my birthday. Jon offered to entertain Jack all night so I could schlep Jude around the mall for two hours and get his opinion on a handful of clothes two sizes larger than normal. Which brings me to another confession: why I bring Jude everywhere. It’s not just to give Jon an easier time. Jude’s an easy baby, Jack is a bit more tough, and the two of them together is quite a challenge. But I don’t think that’s the real reason. I think I finally figured it out. Jude’s my greatest accessory, but more than that, he’s my big, fat excuse. A great reason for why I’m still wearing maternity shorts, why my roots are showing, why I never wear make-up … I can only hope that people take one look at Jude, and then realize why I look like I haven’t slept in days. His cuteness also helps deflect the attention away from me.

But more than that, he’s part of my identity. Both boys are. I think I’m at a tough stage in life. Many of my peers aren’t married yet, and a lot of those who are don’t have one kid, much less two. So I’m at this awkward place where I look like I could be in any number of life-stages. And it doesn’t help that I’m petite and, if one was not looking closely, could pass for a college student.

Which must have been why, while at a stoplight the other day, two boys in the car in the next lane yelled in my general direction. Now maybe they didn’t notice the small children in large car seats, or the diamond on my left ring-finger, or even the SUV I drive that, in my opinion, screams, “I drive this large car just to haul small children and their many accessories!” And part of me just wants to tell them, “You just hit on a MOM, of TWO, who wears MATERNITY shorts, smells like SOUR milk and goes to bed before 10 every night so she can be up at 5am to NURSE her BABY. Cool, huh? Now go pick on someone your own age.” But they just didn’t know.

And that is why I keep my kids close. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love an occasional evening alone just as much as the next mom. But not to re-live the past. I love being a mom and I’m proud of my boys (unless they are throwing a fit in public), and I wouldn’t trade it for any other dream. Not even the living-in-England-while-getting-my-Ph.D. one. So no, I have no desire to be young and single again. Now,I will confess (what are we up to, three now?) I do miss the just-Jon-and-me days. Which is why I really appreciate a chance to have a date night or even a quick trip to the grocery store, just the two of us. And why I’m working hard at convincing my husband to take me on an exotic second honeymoon next year. I mean, I have been known to occasionally begin a sentence with “Someday, when the kids are all out of the house …” But I don’t want to rush things. I want to enjoy the right here, the right now. The little boy sleeping soundly in his crib, completely worn out from tearing apart Daddy’s office, and the little boy lying on the floor next to me working so hard on a smile …

And I aim to enjoy it all regardless of whether or not my hips ever return to normal, I get to sleep in on a Saturday, I get to wear those cool earrings that always get caught in tiny fingers, or my shoulder forever smells like spit-up. My goal is to enjoy motherhood, and all its quirks, and never try to hide it!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Beach Babe does the pool!

This past weekend my parents came down to help us celebrate Father's Day and my birthday ... or maybe it was just a good excuse to see the new house and get some quality grandson time in.  Either way, we had a blast together!

It is stinkin' hot, and we're missing the cool bay breezes here in suburbia.  Luckily, we have a pool in our neighborhood, and plenty of opportunities to try it out this past weekend!  First stop was the baby pool:

Kinda like a big bathtub.  It took Jack a few minutes to figure out he could sit down in it.  And then he realized how much fun it was to jump in.  Unfortunately, a fellow swimmer "contaminated" the pool a few minutes after we got there and we had to spend the rest of the day in the big pool.

I was surprised at how easily he "took" to the water.  I guess he's used to the ocean, but a pool is a lot different.  He enjoyed practicing swimming,

... and especially loved Poppa's geiser games.

The weird thing is, it doesn't seem like it was that long ago that my Dad was throwing me around in the water.

You gotta watch this kid though.  He's got no fear.  He'll walk right off the edge and into the water if you're not looking.  And if you are looking he'll expect you to catch him.  But his smiles and giggles are too fun to miss!  He's definitely our water boy.  A few more trips like this and he's going to end up a bleach blonde!

Marmie and Poppa also offered to watch the boys so Jon and I could go out for dinner for my birthday.  It was our first date since before Jude was born, and the first time I've left him with someone other than Jon for a feeding.  But he didn't seem to notice my absence, and thoroughly enjoyed his bottle ... and then some.  Jon and I had a delicious dinner together and then stopped at the grocery store on the way home to pick a few things up.  I gotta say, it felt a little weird grocery shopping with my husband, and only my husband.  Haven't done that in a LONG time, and probably won't be doing it again any time soon!

In true Marmie fashion, my Mom planned a spectacular meal for Father's Day and Jon and I are still trying to recover from a weekend of eating.  We've been enjoying dinners al fresco on our new patio and even got to try out the chimney fire pit one evening.  And do you know what I saw that night?  Stars.  Lots of them.  Haven't seen stars since I left Pennsylvania.  And lightening bugs!!  I can't wait to introduce Jack to lightening bugs!  But I'm sure we'll be seeing more of stars and lightening bugs when we go on our family camping vacation this summer.  Yes, we'll be the crazy couple attempting to camp with a 20 month old and a newborn.  I'm sure there will be plenty to blog about after that!

And to prepare for such an event, the boys and I got Daddy a camping coffee maker for Father's Day.  Because he deserves it... and because he's gonna need his coffee to get through this vacation!!

What a great Daddy of boys!  Jude looks a little freaked but that's just him.  If he's not sleeping he's looking all bug-eyed.  And it makes for some silly pictures!  But Jack loves his Dad, loves spending time with him, and loves "helping" him around the house.  I definitely picked out a good one 5 years ago.  Never expected to see him with two boys within two Father's Days, but I think we're on to something good around here!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A life in boxes

The movers were already hard at work when the boys and I arrived at the house, so my job was to keep Jack out of their way. Because, eager as he is to lend a hand, he just doesn’t have the muscles yet to truly be helpful. So first on our list was to check out the back yard. Can I just say we are lovin’ the green space. It’s no sandy beach but we can’t get enough of the way the grass tickles our toes!

And then there the slide (which our awesome landlords left behind for us) and the swing set.

Photo Credit: Holly Tillman

Jack has fallen in love with swinging. After about 30 minutes, which is my max pushing time, I have to bribe him off with promises of special treats.

Photo Credit: Holly Tillman

He enjoys his new swing so much, it’s prompted him to add a new word to his vocabulary “---ide” which translates to “outside” and has forced him to learn to open the back door himself. Thankfully, the entire yard is fenced in, but it only took him a few seconds to figure out how to climb to the top of the swingset/fort thingy, and he’s attempted to jump down on more than one occasion. So for now, I have to constantly keep an eye on him out there. So much for reading or getting yard work done.

In addition to a great yard, our neighborhood also has some fantastic paved walking trails and a gorgeous lake. Oh yeah, and about a half dozen playgrounds. We didn’t have any playgrounds within walking distance of our Beach Nest, so Jack is just learning what great fun these kinda places are, and of course they are even better when there are other kids to play with. And we are just learning how loud a toddler can get when he doesn’t want to leave the playground. Anyone have any tips for coercing your child back to the stroller?

So anyway, after some yard time and a walk around the neighborhood we arrived back at the house just as the movers were finishing unloading the truck. Now comes the fun part, unpacking. To avoid having to dispose of a mountain of boxes and paper ourselves, the movers unpack the boxes. I used to think this meant I’d sit and watch as my house got put back together. Ehhh not so much. They just have to put the things on a flat surface, which is usually the floor.

The movers had a long drive ahead of them so they were eager to end the show and hit the road. I’m pretty sure they were trying to set an upacking record. They literally tore through those boxes like their lives depended on it. And then gently laid tossed the things on the ground. Now, I know it’s not their stuff, they don’t really care about it. But c’mon people! Do you have any idea how stressful it is to see piles and piles of your things lying on the floor?

To top it all off, most of it was in the wrong places. Now this isn’t entirely their fault. I guess that’s what happens when you go from living in 5 rooms, to 9. And when the boxes have the names of the old rooms. Somehow “boys’ room” got mixed up with “toy room” and most of the boys closet and my maternity clothes ended up in the dining room turned playroom. And then there was confusion over which room was the “living room.” And even more misunderstanding about the difference between the former “office/guest room” and the new “office” and “guest room.” As a sidenote, I had huge plans to make this the most organized move in the whole wide world. But somehow between having a baby and working and dealing with Mr. Rambunctious, they never got completed. But I promise you, that when this happens again (like next year for instance), we will be pulling out our trusty “things we’ve learned about moving” list and buying lots of color-coded stickers.

Photo Credit: Holly Tillman

There was one instance that put me over the edge. The night we moved in I was convinced that we would do our own moves from now on. Because that was the night I lost two earrings. Now I’ll admit, I’m partly to blame. But so are those packers ladies (who should know what jewelry means to a woman) and those moving men (who should know not to mess with a girls’ stuff). I totally forgot about packing my own jewelry. The night everything was in boxes I suddenly remembered my gold and dug through all the boxes myself, opened one and pulled out my precious gold rings myself. But I figured the rest of my stuff would be fine. I mean, these people are professionals right? I’m not sure what I was expecting. That they’d wrap each individual piece in styrofoam and put it in its own box? Maybe not, but what I didn’t expect was to find my necklace tree/jewelry tray wrapped in a single sheet of paper, lying in the middle of a pile of random stuff. And I didn’t expect to unwrap the paper and find all the necklaces twisted round the tree, knotted together and stuck in its “branches.” Okay, I thought, dumb move on my part. So I spent the next hour unraveling chain links and neatly re-hanging them. Then I found an earring in all that mess and remembered that I had left a pair of earrings on the bottom tray. Then I found another one and remembered that I had left two pair of earrings on the tray. And then I finished putting away all the jewelry and realized that I was left with two single earrings and no matches to be found. I’ll confess, I lost it. Jon walked into the room to find my leaning on the dresser, crying my eyes out. But these weren’t just any old earrings. Both were gifts from my parents, both had matching necklaces, and both were from Marc Williams. If you don’t know who that is I highly encourage you to check out his work –
Photo Credit: Holly Tillman

So I cried and moped for about 2 hours. Now, it probably wasn’t just the missing earrings, which I was pretty sure were swallowed up in a mound of wrapping paper in a box on the moving truck and halfway back to Virginia Beach by now, I’m sure the whole emotional weight of uprooting our lives and transporting them another state away was starting to wear on me. But it was the earrings that really set me off. And the fact that I was surrounded by mounds and mounds of clothes that needed re-folded and put away. So I started on that to keep my mind off missing jewelry. And lo and behold there was one gleaming earring starring at me in the pile of clothes. So I kept digging and wouldn’t you know, there was the other.

I wish I could tell you that all peace and tranquility was restored after the discovery of said earrings. But moving is hard work. And it definitely takes its toll on your relationships. I think the best thing Jon and I did was stay on other ends of the house during the whole process. Honestly, we just weren’t prepared for the enormity of this task, especially with two kids … well, one in particular. By the time we were finishing things up in Virginia we realized we needed help. Enter Nonnie. Jon called up his mom on the drive to Maryland and she was at the house not long after the movers left on Saturday. Yes, we are already reaping the benefits of being closer to “home.”

Nonnie got things in order right away. She entertained Jack so Jon and I could unpack – taking him on walks, playing with him out in the yard, and even building a fort out of boxes for him.

She snuggled with Jude, who loves anyone willing to give him a pair of cuddling arms to hang out in. And she helped Jon and I organize and put away all that stuff! She was too good. We may have to use her for future moves. :)

We’ve been here exactly one week and it’s starting to feel like home. We’ve got just a few more boxes to go through and a few more closets that need organizing. And maybe a couple of pictures to hang and curtains to buy… Then again, this homemaking thing may never end! In the meantime, I promise to have pictures of the new nest up very soon!
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