Okay, here is the continuation of the previous post, which I promised, and (so far, distractions pending) am actually going to DO. I will start with the past week and see what I can get typed out here. The major project happening here was... CONCRETE! We have been waiting ALL SUMMER for our new patio to be poured. It's too bad that it wasn't done earlier so that we could ENJOY it all summer, but at least it's done, and we still have fall.... right? So anyway, after putting the fence up, we spend SO much time in the front yard that it was evident that a patio area would be awesome. Particularly because our chairs and fire pit and tables were just one more thing that had to be moved when Evan mows. And if you have seen our yard, you know that we have lots of kids' play stuff out there! So. We had an area near the driveway where the grass wasn't growing well, and then adjacent to it was a place where there was an empty flowerbed, and also where all the old bushes had been on that side of the house (which we pulled out this spring before the fence got put up.) So we decided that it was the perfect location for a patio. Behind the patio is a square between the foundation (east of the porch) and the fence, which we decided to keep dirt, because it was up against the foundation and we didn't see ourselves using that as patio area.... especially because you can't see the yard back there, and we needed to be able to see the kids from where we sat. We decided that we would move her sandbox/picnic table combo back to that corner, so that the kids could play near us, and it would be sheltered from afternoon sun, and also because the picnic table would allow them to eat near us on the patio. So. It all started with Digging. Evan spent several DAYS digging out the hard and compacted dirt where the patio would go. By hand. It was fun to watch. then he tilled some of the "extra" dirt in to that back area, and sloped it so that there was a chance for the water to run away from the house (which was NOT what was happening once we pulled the bushes out.) Then, we waited. The patio was supposed to be poured before Ardyn's Birthday party. I was promised that. It didn't happen and so we had a big hole there. Oh well. Nothing's perfect. So then this past week the forms went in, and the rebar and wire and pea gravel. Then this Wednesday, the truck arrived and concrete was poured. There are pics in my facebook September album that showcase the process. We put the kids' handprints and the year in the concrete, right next to the front steps, which I just ADORE. The concrete is beautiful, and we were so excited to have it! On Friday, Evan lay plastic down over the dirt that we had graded (behind the patio.) We were doing this both to block weeds, and keep the mulch in place, and also so that the dirt would hopefully stay in place and graded as we wanted it too, instead of washing forward over the patio and sideways all into the driveway. Although with a torrential downpour, we may still have an issue. Only time will tell. So Friday night when Ardyn and I went to the MOPS hayride, Evan took Marek and got mulch. We had looked at cocoa bean mulch early in the season and picked it as a soft yet attractive groundcover for that area. We needed something soft because the sandbox was going to be back there. So Evan went and got the mulch (which made his entire vehicle smell like it was filled with cocoa) and brought it home. I also asked him to search for some tiki torches on clearance, because I had two brackets that I bought earlier in the season that we needed torches for, and also we needed more fuel, which would also be clearanced out by this time of the season.
So on Saturday, Evan spread mulch in that entire area. We had previously (Friday) emptied three 5 gallon buckets of sand out of the sandbox so we could move it, and carried it over to it's new location and refilled it. So the mulch was spread, and it was BEAUTIFUL. Of course since Ardyn was outside, she was sitting in it and rolling in it and was a MESS from head to toe. she had cocoa beans in her underwear, in her hair, it was insane. And then she tried to EAT them, and I believe that she discovered that although it SMELLED delicious, it was NOT Delicious. So her mouth was ringed with dirty coca mulch. Eeeewww. I was inside so I told Evan to read the label and make sure it wasn't like deathly poisonous (guess we should have checked that BEFORE spreading it, right?) and he started to laugh and said "check this out... Don't use over landscape plastic (oops) Don't use in a child's play area (double oops). But we decided that we would be that one exception where this would all work out and be perfect and that the label did not apply to our situation. We may regret it, but it looks pretty and works for now. Evan wet it all down and hosed off the sandbox and picnic table. SUpposedly when the mulch is wet, it will activate some special superhero-like property and the cocoa beans will mat together to form a groundcover that doesn't wash away. Well, we will see about that.
So that was mostly our yesterday, and the concrete and mulch saga.
Besides the concrete, last week was the day that Hadley found his new home. for those of you who don't know, Hadley is a coonhound that we adopted from the local shelter when i volunteered there. Ever since having the kids, we just can't provide the right kind of home to TWO Dogs. They weren't getting attention. They were no longer allowed in the house (too much hair for me to keep up with) and they were not getting walked (I can't walk two dogs and two kids at the same time. Just can't do it.) and so the search for a new home began. Evan asked everyone he could think of. Then i put information on Facebook, Craigslist, and TWO ads in local papers.... and we had a TON of calls then. The first call we had was amazingly from a mom friend of mine, who I have known for a while, and who also breastfeeds and cloth diapers. I was so relieved to hear from her. They live on a farm with many animals and have two girls and two boys. The two girls are young teenagers and love animals, so Hadley was sure to get lots of attention. They were going to come over on Wednesday and meet Hadley, which, coincidentally ended up being the same day as concrete and made it a bit difficult. But they loved him and took him home for a test, and then he decided to stay! Yay! I still need to dig up his paperwork and get it to them.
Also this past week was very busy with activities! Ardyn went to school a day early this week, and Marek and I ran to peru and returned two baby gates that we were unhappy with. MIL bought them, so the money went back to her. Marek and I were going to meet with a friend in Princeton and teach her how to fold cloth diapers (prefolds) and when we arrived at her house, no one was home, which we knew meant that she had gone into labor and had her baby! yay! So we went on to Nicole Isaacson's new studio, which is ADORABLE and we were so surprised to see a giant picture of Ardyn in the front window, from her 1 year photo shoot. If you go to Nicole's website, you can watch the top banner as it changes through photos that she has taken, and there are TWO pictures of Ardyn there, one of her in her tutu, and another right next to it of her in fairy wings and a lavender cloth diaper! Sweet! So, anyway, I had borrowed a lens from her while mine was being repaired under warranty, and so I returned it and made an appointment for us to have our FIRST Family photos taken, this October. I am SO excited about that. After we returned the baby gates, Marek and I spent HOURS finding something for me to WEAR when we get our pictures taken, and now I am finding coordinating outfits for the kids. And then, Evan. LOL. For the kids, I am going with (i think) used Gymboree outfits, in fall colors. I think Marek is going to get something from the Treehouse Line (which has orange foxes on it) and Ardyn something from the Autumn Highlands Line (also with fall colors and some foxes.) or the Fall Leaves Line (which we already have a dress for) We will see how that goes and if (when I actually GET THEM) they match and coordinate. We are going to take pics in the fall leaves, so my shirt is burnt orange with a dark brown sweater that goes over it, and jeans. I picked very solid colors for myself, and hope to do the same for Evan, and the kids have a bit of fun and pattern to their outfits... and hopefully we won't clash!
So, also in the past week we have been very busy with MOPS Activities. Because Ardyn went to school a day early, she was able to attend a MOPS Playdate at the home of our co-coordinator. We had a great time, except that Ardyn is getting WORSE about sharing. ugh. Sarah has a pond and the kids loved when she caught them a frog.
That night we had a MOPS family activity, a hayride and marshmallow roast. It was BEAUTIFUL outside, and the kids enjoyed the hayride. I think the parents enjoyed smores most of all ;) because as is usually the case with kids that young, they don't appreciate the beauty ooey-gooey mushy melty chocolate-y goodness. I learned a trick from Elizabeth, which I will forever cherish. She uses my very favorite Reeses Peanut Butter cups instead of Hershey Bars, and I did the same and was forever altered by the experience. Yum!
As I type this, Ardyn is in like round 15 of a Dora-thon. She isn't really even watching, she ate breakfast and also has been playing quite a bit, but as soon as I turn it off I know that she will start getting into things, and I want to finish this, so for now , Dora reigns.
One week from tomorrow we will be hosting the MOPS playdate at our house, and while this is exciting, I am also nervous about how Ardyn will react with so many kids coming into her territory and touching her things. She always does well if there is like, just one little girl playing, but if there are girls and boys and everyone is touching what is normally just hers, I can see a meltdown in the future. We need to do this often enough that she hopefully gets over that! It's tough being the only grandchild (besides Marek) because she's always top dog. She will probably be the school bully all by herself. At the hayride, she would run across the grass and jump right on top of a group of four boys playing football. No worries. She's too big for her britches.
I am excited because for Christmas I wanted to get her Hooked on Phonics, and the Spanish Hooked on Phonics as well. I saw them on clearance at Waldenbooks, and told Grandma Deb, who swooped in and bought them up for her. I can't wait! Hopefully when teaching her, Marek can pick up on some things early too. Right now I am so busy just trying to keep my head above water that I miss doing educational and crafty things with her. I am thinking that we will be making cookies or play doh this week perhaps. I need some crafty relief myself. I am thinking fall leaves sugar cookies. Now that Ardyn's dairy allergy is a bit more tolerant, she can actually eat a few if she chooses, with a minimal reaction.
I am seeing rashes in both her AND Marek now, and so we are abstaining from Cereal for Marek for a week to see if the rash goes away and then when we re-introduce cereal, if it comes back. I hope he doesn't have a wheat allergy. Ick! I think I just may start him on some veggies and see how that goes. he differes from Ardyn in that he is dying to hold the spoon and feed himself (more pics of that also on Facebook.) I am so behind uploading pics to Flickr it's unbelievable. I am just overwhelmed with the amount of information it takes to categorize them and put them into albums and label them all. But I NEED to do that before it gets too far away from me!
So, let's talk about Ardyn's 2nd Birthday. It was very nice. Unfortunately, I felt really nauseous that afternoon. I had the house all ready and the cake all made with bunch of help from my mom (whew! Thank god for her) and my sister (who provided comic relief and sifted 4 pounds of confectioners sugar for my buttercream frostings) and Lisa (who helped in every way possible, washing bowls and spoons and icing tips and things and running between the kitchen and dining room with whatever I needed while frosting the cake.) Having people who came together to help me was amazing. It's something that I really wish happened more often. It made me feel loved and supported! I love the fellowship feeling that you get from an activity like that. I love spending time with my family and friends and sometimes (all to often) that goes by the wayside for other activities. This is the reason that I find religious groups like the Amish so fascinating. It's the network of support that they have built that I believe our culture is completely lacking. And it's the same thing with the Duggar Family. That is something that I really wish to have. maybe without the 18 kids and with electricity :)
So, the cake turned out well, and I also made a double layer chocolate fudge cake that was round, and mom decorated it with a giant number 2. We had Ice Cream, and I made 10 pounds of BBQ. everyone brought salads and casseroles and things to share and we just sat around and had a nice time. Ardyn loved opening her presents, but she would get distracted by the new fabulous thing she just opened and then it was hard to get her to open another one. The Viewmaster was a HUGE hit, and she also really enjoyed her Doll Care Center, which has a bathtub and high chair and doll bed, with a mobile and cabinets beneath for storage (yay!)
She also got some great mermaid Dolls, which she LOVES in the bathtub with her. Now when she plays in the tub, I use that time to pick up the bathroom and put away towels and things. She got a Little People Airplane that she ADORES (she's all about airplanes) and Aunt Liz brought her a bunch of awesome Usborne books. Her favorite is the Flip Flap Airplane Book, and Mom's Favorite is the Spanish picture book. She got lots of neat clothes and undershirts, which we needed. She got a stuffed Shaun the Sheep and a Shaun the Sheep Purse from us, and also the newest Shaun the Sheep DVD, Little Sheep of Horrors. After her birthday, I actually cleaned and rearranged her bedroom. I went through toys and got everything reorganized, and packed up some things to go to the resale shop too. The week after her birthday, I FINALLY Scored a little tykes basketball hoop at a garage sale. It was $5 and it was the BIG one that goes all the way up, and it retails for $45! Sweet! I also found a little miniature Radio Flyer Tricycle for her dolls, new in the box, for $6, and some beanie Baby Dolls for 25 cents each. After posting pics of the Beanie Dolls, my friend Randa (who I went to school with, and now lives in Washington) emailed me to say that she had an entire TOTE of beanie Dolls that she needed to donate that her daughter no longer played with. And so she sent them to us! That was an exciting day when Fed Ex pulled up with a big box for Ardyn. She squealed louder than I have ever heard her squeal when she opened the box and saw what was inside!
Another thing going on here lately.... the acquisition of a fall/winter wardrobe. We had several items that we had received as hand-me-downs or from garage sales, but once I started to see how much of her closet was actually short sleeved and shorts, I was a little panicky. But my mom had gotten her a bunch of pants and matching long sleeved shirts, which was awesome, and my aunt got her a sweatsuit. Then I started on ebay. Oy. Ardyn is BIG into wearing dresses. She asks to wear a dress everyday. So I started to look for Hanna Andersson Playdress/Daydress and legging combos. They are awesome, but because they are highly sought after and also expensive to buy, they resell for extremely high amounts. Usually between $20-$40 for one dress and leggings. I have spent weeks and have gotten MANY playdresses and legging combos, as well as playdress and tight combos for this fall/winter. The other thing we needed was SHOES, because she has nothing in the stash beyond a size 6, and she is outgrowing several of what she has. Now she has Mary Janes in every color (a bit excessive, but when I get on a roll, I can't stop, and they were all bought used) and tennis shoes for play and for good. She has Mary janes in Navy, brown, Black, Orange, Hot Pink, Red, and glitter-y purple. She has two pair of brown boots to wear with tights and dresses, and also a pair of new tennis shoes from Target, and a pair of used dora tennis shoes in a 8 and used NB shoes in a size 7. I found a LL Bean Fleece Jacket with a matching hat in lavender on eBay, so she has a jacket for fall as well. I also really like the LLBean or Gymboree Playdressses.... and so we have many of those for play as well as those that are more dressy. I figure she's going to destroy clothes no matter what she wears, so she might as well look good doing it. Buying used is the way to go! I also have been slowly adding to her 3T stash, and to the size 4T tote as well. If I buy something from a seller on eBay and they have cool stuff in larger sizes that's going for cheap, then I will buy that too to combine shipping. One mom that I bought a dress from also had a bunch of tights in size 5/6 and Two whole lots of embroidered name brand jeans. I bought the tights and also 5 pair of embroidered jeans in size 4 for less than $10. Then I just included them in my other shipping and saved, and stash them in the size 4 tote in the attic. I've also found some fleece sets from old Navy and The Children's Place, for really cheap at garage sales or on ebay, mostly in size 3, and so I have grabbed those up and put them away. I love fleece pants. They are soft and comfy and warm, and they wear and wash REALLLY well. They also work excellently as diaper covers, but, as you may or may not know, Ardyn is "Potty trained!!!"
Yep. Today is day seven in Big Girl Underwear. until yesterday, she had only had two accidents for the first 5 days! She wears a pullup during nap and overnight, but during the day she is wearing underwear. i worried that as soon as we went somewhere it would go out the window, but she went to daycare for a full day and stayed dry, and stayed dry during our playdate and at the MOPS hayride. For quite a while, I thought that really I was the one potty trained and not her, and so I feel guilty telling anyone that she is potty trained. I mentioned this to our MOPS mentor at the hayride, because being potty trained mostly consists of her holding it until I tell her that we need to take a potty break, and as long as I continue to serve as that reminder that it's time to stop playing and go potty, it works. If I forget, there is the potential for accidents. We use a timer at home and I set it at 30 minute intervals, or occasionally 45 minutes. Debbie (the MOPS mentor) made me feel so much better by saying that potty training IS about reminding them, and that I will be reminding them until they are about 3 or 4 in order to have no accidents. This made me feel like more of a success than a failure. Ardyn is an easily distracted child, and gets very involved in whatever imaginary world she is in at the moment, and then, she comes running to me telling me that she has to go potty, and it's usually too late. So. for now, I am tentatively calling it potty trained. And at least I don't have diapers to rinse from a toddler OR pull ups to buy, with the exception of nights and naps.
I wonder if this is yet the longest blog posting I have ever written? LOL. I just put Marek down for his nap and am avoiding any work. Maybe Ardyn and I will make something or do something fun instead. I probably will think of something I forgot, but the internet will always be here, so for now, goodbye and thanks if you are still reading these ramblings!