Tuesday, July 29, 2008


The first thing that came to mind with this week's Unplugged theme (flat) was Flat Stanley. My brother made a Flat Stanley in first grade, and I thought it was the neatest thing! He sent it to my aunt and uncle in Georgia and they took him on many adventures. Now, I plan on sending Flat Polo the Penguin to my brother in Montana and making a little scrapbook of his adventure with Andy. I tried making a little flat girl to send, but all 3 attempts were just plain scary. So penguin it is! I don't know if my bro will ever move back to Virginia, so I thought that Flat Polo may be a cool way for him to feel involved and for Andy and Anastasia to have a connection across the country. I have yet to actually consult my brother about it! Polo the Penguin is based off of a character from a book called "the Adventures of Marco and Polo" where a penguin named Polo and a monkey named Marco visit one another in their native lands where obviously they don't belong. It isn't my favorite children's book, but it is kind of cute and I like the pictures.

I also wanted to make "flat" pancakes, but being as we had stale french bread and no buttermilk or mix, we made french toast instead. It was not very flat but went really great with peaches cooked in water and brown sugar. Yum. Perhaps this weekend we will make some pancakes to go along with some books I want to get at the library.

Last week we made Animal Stained Glass Silhouettes from blogger, "In A Nutshell" that I made into a little window garland for Baby #2 to look at while I change her. Anastasia loves the thing, and make animal noises "gawk, gawk, gawk" everytime she sees it. I was trying to stick to the Unplugged theme of "glass" but never actually posted.
Another flat idea I might do this week, is print some paper dolls at Staples and put magnets on them for Anastasia's enjoyment. Oragami Bears has the cutest printable multi-cultural dolls! If you do a google search, there are hundreds of free paper dolls. I can't imagine raising a kid without the net.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Littlest Chef

It has been a crazy week/weekend! Ahh... but now everyone... even my psycho dog is sleeping and I have a little peace to myself which I love. So what am I doing? Why blogging of course... and deciding which cloth diapers I am going to order... *sigh*... decisions, decisions. Anastasia has been out of cloth for the past 6 months, but as things are settling down and in light of her new infatuation for the toilet... I am going back to cloth with hopes her being inspired to use the potty. I will let you know how that works out.
Anastasia was initiated into the wonderful world of baking this week, and as you can see, she totally loved it. What a natural! We made apple strudel (which took forever and turned out hard), applesauce, blackberry muffins, cupcakes and cobbler. She helped with the mixing. Everything took ten times as long, but it was way more fun (and messy) for both of us. I am trying to come up with more ways she can help me with daily tasks because it helps me by being able to watch her and I think she learns valuable life skills.
Well, this is a seriously quick update and I need sleep! Ciao!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Apples, Aches, and Weird Dog things

Its nice not to be sick. :)

I woke up Saturday with a headache that Tylonol just couldn't cure... or even really help. Then, I woke up Sunday with my mouth, head and the right side of my face just throbbing in pain. It hurt to open my mouth. What was the deal? I may never know. My suspiscion is that it was a reaction to Benadryl which I took to help me sleep on Friday. I don't usually take medication and I haven't taken Benadryl in over 10 years... and now I won't ever take it again. I just have a hard time sleeping now in this third trimester. Thank goodness I only have 2 1/2 months to go! And so much crafting left to do!!!!

Our apple tree is covered in big apples now. They are incredibly sour and most of them were quite bug-ridden but I can salvage enough to make a vat of applesauce and some tasty pie and apple strudel (my favorite). I think next year I will have to learn how to care for trees so they won't be so buggy. I found some bugs I have never seen before in my life trying to eat some of my apples!! Yuck! Anastasia enjoyed helping me pick the "balls" off the tree. She picked a few on her own as the tree branches were so heavy with fruit they were at her level. She also was an exceptional apple-launcher. Apparently they are just as much fun as bouncy balls.... only these ones grow on trees!

I have a tupperware bowl of blackberries from my uncle to address as well. I am picturing blackberry cupcakes smothered in buttercream frosting with a single berry on top. Mmmm.

What is wrong with my dog? Since last week she has been following me everywhere! She is constantly staring at me as if I am going to leave her or something. She started eating some of Anastasia's unused disposable diapers a few days ago. She also stole a pepper from the produce my uncle gave us and was eating it in our bed with tea-light candles. Then today I woke up to an explosion of diaper wipes in Anastasia's room.... they were everywhere!!! And I buy the unscented kind! She has never done anything like this before!! Then, she stole 2 zucchini's off of the counter at some point today, and pulled a loaf of bread off of the counter as well. She is a notorious bread thief, so that isn't too abnormal, but peppers, wipes, zucchini and candles are a little bizarre, even for a husky. All I can think is that she is desperately seeking attention... or maybe she just doesn't like her dogfood and is making a statement by eating candles and diapers. Either way it is the oddest thing for my almost too-good dog.

Friday, July 18, 2008

2 Days of Chaos

It all started on Wednsday morning. I sat down to eat my breakfast while Anastasia slept. I had all of 45 minutes to get out the door to my Dr. appointment in Fairfax. That is when I got the phone call from Tara's husband informing me that she was in labor and headed to the hospital in Fredericksburg (a 30 minute drive from my parent's house). Then I called my mom to see if she could watch Anastasia... then I called Nick to wish him a happy Aniversary... and of course tell him what was going on. Then I packed overnight bags in case we stayed at my parents, as well as lunches, toys, diapers, etc. Then Anastasia woke up and we got in the Jeep on time.
I actually arrived in Fairfax early so I decided to go on our Whole Foods run before my appointment. Once I finally found Whole Foods (without having to turn around once!), I had 20 minutes to run in and grab Olive Oil, Shampoo, and Cannolis in order to be at my appointment on time. WELL the parking lot was packed, there were people video taping up front, and upon running inside, the HUGEST Whole Foods I have ever been in was completely packed. Guess who was there? Emeril Lagasse filming his new show "Emeril Green" on which Emeril shares his "philosophy for fresh, top quality food." They just so happened to be filming at this Whole Foods in my moment of desperate need for efficiency.

After managing the crowds, I ended up at the doctor 10 minutes late. My appointment was quick and smooth and I was out of there in 30 minutes. Next on the list: COFFEE! I stopped at Border's across the street for coffee and a macadamia cookie. And onto my parents house (an hour from Fairfax) where I dropped off Anastasia after a quick trip to Target for a gift for Tara and a card for Nick. Then I picked up popsicles and flowers at Giant and went to the hospital. Poor Tara was having some rough contractions. By around 5pm they were still rough and she was only dialated 4cm so Nick and I decided to go out to dinner for our anniversary at a hibachi steak house. It was AWESOME.
I left the instructions for Rick (Tara's husband) to call me if he needed a break, or if the baby came no matter what time. Nick and I went back to my parents house to get Anastasia and headed home in one car so we could let the dog out and I could come back the next day to visit my relatives in Richmond with my mom.
We arrived home pretty late and got to bed after 11pm. It didn't matter because I couldn't sleep. I didn't sleep until 3am after I got the phone call that Tara had a baby boy at 2:32am... 7lb, 6oz, healthy. Then I slept until 5:45 am when we got up to get to my parents so Nick could get to work on time. So on 3 hours of sleep, we went to my parents and then my mom, Caitlin, A, and I went to the hospital before heading to Richmond. I got to hold baby boy for a couple minutes (with clean hands and trying not to breath on him as I had been congested still). What an incredible cutie pie! I think he looks like a little gnome baby, so thin and with such defined tiny features. Tara was doing great and totally beaming. Anastasia wasn't sure what to make of him. I haven't heard if they named him yet or not.

After a quick visit and a cup of tea, we headed down to Richmond. This is when I really began to loose my voice. By the time we reached my uncles house... I could hardly talk. :( I enjoyed seeing my uncle Joe and aunt Terrie from Florida, as well as my Uncle Mike and Aunt Beth, cousins Timmy and Carlene and their new dog, a black lab named MOOSE. We had a great visit and left around 5ish. I drove to and from the Richmond area, had soup at my parents house and drove an hour and a half back home. We left for showers (I still couldn't talk) at Andy and Heather's and came home where I crashed until 10am this morning. And that my friends, was my past couple days of pure chaos, fun and pure exhaustion. I still can't really talk.

Here is Tara, and I and our "babies." Anastasia seems so huge next to baby boy.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Three perfect peaches

I caught Anastasia's little cold and feel so drained today. Blah. I hate being sick... and pregnant. I wish I could say I was one of those happy, bright, beaming pregnant people... but today I feel like the grumpy, tired, fat pregnant woman.

Even so, I got up the energy to take Anastasia to the library since we will be missing Storytime due to my doctor's appointment tomorrow. She recieved a prize for the summer reading program which is pretty fun. I usually let her pick her prize, but she wanted a yellow rubber duck... and she currently has like 10 rubber ducks, so I gave her a purple dragon instead. I felt like the evil controlling mom but guess what? She has been carrying that purple bendy dragon around all day. So I don't feel so bad. We got out a book called "Three Perfect Peaches" and it was really hilarious. About a princess who was ill and needed 3 perfect May peaches to cure her and the peasant boy who tries to find them. I feel like the princess today... ill and in need of 3 perfect peaches. So far I have had 2 near-perfect cups of peach tea. Maybe one more will do the trick!

Despite being so tired, I also got out the Coleman pump and blew up Anastasia's blow-up pool. It was way bigger than I expected, but works out nice on the deck next to the old dryer that is sitting there. She loved it and I enjoyed cooling my feet off and knitting with some tea. That is some serious therapy. Speaking of knitting, I successfully crocheted a little acorn necklace for Anastasia. I will post a picture later. I put a little treasure stone in it due to a lack of acorns this time of year... but the possibilities for this tiny treasure holder are endless. She has been wearing it all day. Now she sleeps... and I must prepare to prepare dinner. Soup and cornbread sounds so comforting right now... mmm.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Treasure hunt

This week's Unplugged project theme was "stone." We decided to paint rocks with crayons as seen here. Amazingly many others participating in the Unplugged project came up with the same idea (I saw it on the Crafty Crow). Great minds think alike! Here are our "treasure stones":

Anastasia loved the initial stone hunt where we took our basket into the yard and found some light-colored stones. She really got into it! Then we took the stones in and washed them in a bowl of water with an old nail brush and a little dish soap. She spent about an hour on this task, just washing, and scrubbing the rocks. When she finished scrubbing, she put some back in the water to wash again. I think I will start her on dishes tomorrow! haha

Now the fun part, which was a little less fun for her, and really fun for me. I put the rocks on a foil-lined sheet in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. I took them out and we melted crayons on them. For Anastasia, I held the stone for her with a rag because it was too hot for her to do on her own. We are learning the word "hot" so it was actually a good activity as she could touch the stone without getting burned, but it was hot enough to make my point. She liked the crayon melting effect and we did a few together. I ended up doing most of them alone while she napped as it took a while and I had to heat them up again.

After finishing the batch, I placed them in her sand box for a 18-month old appropriate "treasure hunt." She loved it!

This is some awesome Easter Egg Hunt prep if you ask me! She should be a pro by next Spring!After melting some of the crayons I decided to pull the wrappers off and make a set of muffin-tin crayons. I melted the crayons for about 6 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees in cupcake wrappers. I then stuck them in the freezer for a while. They turned out great and looked like Reeses cups, but A. didn't quite get the idea of coloring with them and made a tower out of them instead.

Anastasia is currently carrying around her basket of treasure all around the living room. Definitely our favorite project yet!

And LOOK AT MY BEAUTIFUL BATHROOM FLOOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:

Nick finished the grout last night, and I had my doubts prior to his "grouting" but now... I am in love. With my husband of course ;) and his floor laying abilities. Perhaps it is hard to appreciate but if you had seen the gaping chasm where one should be walking, you would totally understand. Guess what is going in now? The toilet... hopefully!! The wellspring of cursing I have been hearing worries me a bit...

Edit: After I finished my post, my toilet was in! I have to manually flush it until tomorrow probably, but beggars can't be choosers!!!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Down by the bay...

We returned from our vacation to the beach. We camped at First Landing State Park along the Chesapeake Bay and it was really peaceful... well, for the most part anyway.The first day at the bay, Anastasia was ready to run right into the water. The waves there are very small, but just big enough to knock over a toddler. She had a blast splashing about in the pounding surf. Unfortunately there were Jellyfish everywhere! I picked up one of the clear non-stingy ones but there were ones with tentacles too. They were washed up all over the beach and in the water where we were. Not nice at all. So we didn't enjoy the beach too much that day.

Then when we went to bed, Anastasia would not sleep. She had a meltdown. Nick took her for a ride around the campground and when they pulled away from the site, she flipped out even more. And she threw up all over the Jeep. They came back, I put her in clean clothes, and she finally fell into a deep sleep. Then the helicopters came. 2 Helicopters circling above the campsite... very close and VERY LOUD! It was around 11pm at this point and there was no way to sleep. So Nick went investigating and found out they were from neighboring Ft. Story doing night ops... getting in their hours. The park ranger asked Nick if they were bothering us. What kind of question is that? No, we find helicopters sounding as if they are going to land on our tent very soothing. In the words of Bill Ingvall, "Here's your sign" buddy. Two minutes after Nick talked to the ranger though, they went away. Silence was the most beautiful sound ever.

After very little sleep we went out for breakfast at an over-priced waffle place. We also hiked around the swampy forest at the park. They have the coolest spanish moss and bald cypress trees and it truly is somewhat of a fantasy land. They even have a sign posted that pirates would bottle the black swamp water because it kept well on long voyages due to the boric acid content. I see why they preferred rum.

I took Anastasia to the beach again while Nick napped. She was much better this time about staying with me and respecting the water. The waves were smaller and there were no jellyfish to be seen. Weird. Despite having to keep tabs on a wandering toddler, I had the most relaxing time, building castles and playing in the gently lapping waves. Nick joined us as well and we all just had a ball. These are the times I love the beach.

That night was much smoother... no helicopters, no puking, and no screaming. Just sleeping. Next day we headed to Yorktown which was a major dissapointment but we enjoyed a nice lunch and a quick visit to get our dog at my parents house. It was a great trip but I am SO GLAD to be home too.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Unplugged: Sky

The Unplugged theme this week was sky. Being that we are going to the beach, I was thinking of skipping it and doing beach activities as we have been reading beach-themed books. Then I thought we could make a kite to fly in the sky at the beach. I found an easy kite tutorial here. But honestly, I figured a kite would be too difficult for an 18month-old to maneuver so I thought a wind sock would work... and it kind of did. :)

There are two ways to make this, and I will give you the smart way--the way I didn't do it and should have for less of a mess factor. I used a paper towel roll cut in half and cut each half down the center and taped together. Then I cut a piece of paper to wrap around it. I had Anastasia decorate it with crayons and stickers (which didn't stick well to the crayon). The smart thing to do for a toddler is find some double sided tape to stick to the back of the bottom edge of the paper. You can then cut strips of tissue paper (like me) or use crepe paper. Have the child stick the tissue paper to the tape (this is where I used glue and made a really big mess and all the strips became stuck together). Then adults or older children can glue or tape (I actually did a little bit of both for durability) the paper with the strips around the paper towel roll. Let dry if you used glue and punch holes in the top and add string. We took it outside and swirled it around (there was no wind really). Anastasia enjoyed watching me swirl it around and it was quite fun to watch!Here she is with her artwork! I don't think we will be taking this to the beach due to its fragility and how tight the Jeep will likely be packed. So I made her a ribbon wand by attaching some fabric ribbon (I found some rainbow ribbon in the gift wrap section at Target) to a wooden dowel. This could be as easy as glueing a long piece of ribbon to an unsharpened pencil or as complex as putting an eyelet in the ribbon, putting a ring through it, and attaching it via a metal loop that screws on the top of the dowel (which I did for the professional look). You can even buy a ready-made one at Target for $5. So perhaps our kites don't really fly in the "sky"... but I am sure we will see a few that do at the beach. Oh, and I had to share this neat "cloud painting" activity at School For Us. I will probably do this when we come back from the beach! I had best run my errands!!! Have a great week!

Weekend Fun

I meant to post yesterday about our weekend but was so busy with homemaker duties (watching tv and eating cookies of course) I just didn't get around to it. Seriously though I cleaned the crap out of my kitchen, and baked bread and peanut butter chocolate chip cookies for our TRIP TO THE BEACH coming up Thursday!!!!!!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

So we had a blast at Bridget and Jason's Party for Michael. Anastasia had so much fun. I am always glad when she can play with the Cwod kids because everyone has such nice children. She is very curious about babies... maybe because we have little talks about them and I be sure to point one out when I see one. She really likes patting them on their soft little baby heads. She will be an awesome big sister... if not a little bossy.

Sunday was very productive. We cleaned off our porch most of the way. My mom and I had filled Anastasia's sandbox on Thursday. She loves that thing. I keep it on the porch to keep bugs and snakes and rain out (even though it has a lid). Plus it gives her something to do while we enjoy our porch. Nick burned one pile of wood and junk from our house, and we went to church, ate, visited the neighbors who gave us more eggs, and went over to Andy and Heather's for showers and stayed until after midnight. What a busy weekend!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Happy Independance Weekend!!

I anticipated posting yesterday... but never got around to it. Here is our little homemade table setting. I put glue on the jars and gave Anastasia tissue paper to stick to them. It was a very successful first glue project. I covered it with decoupage paste and put a tea light in it. I am so proud of her artistic abilities! I believe she could outdo many "modern artists." That is my humble opinion. I got a little carried away with the tissue paper and made tissue paper flowers... remembering my childhood. I think I will display our flag a little longer... Its kind of funny how if you leave up your July 4th decorations it is considered patriotic but if you leave up your Christmas decorations it is considered red neck-y.
My big surprise was that my best friend Tara who was/is living in Florida, called me as she had just came up to Virginia. We stopped by and saw her on our way to my parents for the evening and it was the BEST!!! As you can see, we are each showing off our big preggo tummies! If you only knew how badly I wanted this picture of us together you would appreciate the greatness of it! Its hard to believe we have been friends for 16 years... we met when we were just kids and now we both are having kids of our own. Crazy.

Anastasia loved her rocking horse she got for Christmas that we left at Grandma and Grandpa's.

And Nick loved his new jewelry.
Happy belated July 4th and weekend!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Unplugged Project: My first Garden

I am finally getting around to posting another Unplugged project. Yesterday I really wanted to fill Anastasia's little blow-up pool for her enjoyment. Unfortunately it stormed on and off all day. So during her nap I set up a little garden project on the porch in light of the Unplugged theme this week. I bought a bowl at the dollar store, had some leftover gravel from my bamboo for drainage on the bottom, I found some dirt and plants in the yard, and some rocks and frog figures for the top.

I gathered the items and set them up and Anastasia added the rocks (one by one) into the container. She enjoyed playing with the dirt and plants, so I helped with that part. Then she put in more rocks and dumped the four frog figures in a pile. I helped make it a little less hurricane-like and Anastasia sort-of watered it. We set it in our kitchen window with the bamboo plants for as long as it will last!
I also drew flowers with crayons on some paper and let Anastasia paint with watercolors over the crayon. I thought she would enjoy the wax resistance... but she really enjoyed mixing colors in the glass of water and drinking it. Thats why Crayola makes things non-toxic I suppose!
I also had to post my Rainbow Chard... or 5-colored Silverbeet that I picked up at the farmer's market on Saturday:

Isn't it just beautiful? Or am I just a crazy, farm-fresh-food-obsessed pregnant woman? I sauteed it in butter with lemon juice and salt... and yum!

And lastly, Anastasia's new apron. I made it without a pattern for her so she can help me with baking or cooking or just looking really cute while I bake and cook. It also coordinates with my apron and is reversable! Its a little big, with lots of room to grow!

(Left: the sweet, country girl side, Right: the chic, summer hostess side)