Saturday, January 26, 2013

Peter’s 1st haircut!

It was time. It still makes me a little sad, but as you’ll see from the “before” pictures, the hair was curling over his ears, so it had to be done. People kept commenting, “Oh, look how long his hair is!” which I have to say is only complimentary for a girl. I loved playing with his hair and running my fingers through it, but it was getting in his eyes too. So off to the (kids’) salon we went!

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Here are the before shots, up above. I was always tucking the hair behind his ears but pulled it out straight for the photos. It was so silky and baby soft. :)

Below is at the salon in Bellevue Square Mall. The giant cushion he sat on in the barber chair was hilarious. (He was buckled in, too.) Petey was completely happy the whole time, kind of uninterested in what was going on, as a matter of fact! I was completely impressed that he was so well behaved. I thought he’d have a hard time sitting still but he was so engrossed by the toys (the spinny farm thing and then a laptop) that it could have been thunderstorming around and he wouldn’t have noticed!

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I told the stylist to do just a “typical boy haircut” and it ended up a taaaad shorter on the sides and back than I would have wanted…but it was his first cut! I think he is a handsome boy (if he does look a bit like a little shorn sheep). It’s not silky on the back anymore – or really anywhere, sigh – but that’s what blunt ends cut with a scissors will be like. I am glad it went so well but still a bit nostalgic every time I touch his little head. At least it’ll grow fast!

We did get a salon before and after postcards with photos they took taped on, as well as a small baggie with his first cut locks (melt!) and a teeny tiny bottle of bubbles. Both Pete and Linnea got prizes at the end. Honestly, we could have skipped that cheap plastic stuff – the reward was in how grown up little guy looks and how happy he was!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Hummingbird wars: our adventures in birdwatching

First, thanks for your prayers. I am MUCH better, nearly 100%. We really believe God healed me quickly on Thursday afternoon, as the worst symptoms disappeared and I was able to eat a few crackers, then start back with small, regular meals on Friday. Today I’ve had to pause and remember how wretchedly sick I was just a couple of days ago as my body has disguised it so well. God is faithful and we are grateful for your prayers, and are trusting in the hope the he has spared the rest of the family these yucky germs!

Now, on to some mundane but fun things. Bird watching.

I signed us up for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s “citizen science” Project Feeder Watch program back in November. Basically you set up a bird feeder or two and track the birds you see on two consecutive days per each two-week count period. It goes through April, and we’re probably not the most scientific about it, but there is a super cool bird poster we received for reference and Linnea can identify most of the birds on it now. Since we have moved our dining table to the back of the family room by the two huge picture windows, we get to watch birds at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and it’s become really fun!

We started out with just the hanging cage with a suet block in it, which we’ve had for a year and a half now (I’m pretty sure Mary put it up that time she and Rebekah visited and then painted the whole upstairs). Recently we added a tube feeder and hummingbird feeder, which Tim attached to the railing outside the back window, near the grill. It used to be that we only saw the robins that ate our holly berries, and some crows (oh, the crows! they are so nasty and they are EVERYWHERE out here). Plus some other birds here and there but we didn’t pay too much attention to them, except the Stellar’s Jay. That is probably my oldest favorite Western bird even though he’s a nasty thing that scares away the others and basically eats like a vulture.

Back when we first put up the suet block we got a ton of black-capped chickadees that would swarm the thing in droves. Linnea at 11 months would stand and point at them going “bababababa!”, her word for bird.


Now we think we’re getting bushtits on there (small birds tinier than chickadees, and mostly gray-brown all over), plus a couple of chestnut-backed chickadees, but it’s definitely not the most popular snack spot. Our tube feeder hosts 5-6 regular juncos, as well as a male and female house finch, a song sparrow, and the occasional house sparrow. There was a towhee or two about a month ago but they haven’t been back. And next to it is the hummingbird feeder, which we put up the day after the tube feeder because a hummingbird came by, sniffed at the tube feeder, and flew away (making me feel guilty).

So bird watching is basically our all-day and main meal time activity, whether we’re actually counting or not. You can see juncos most of the time, and the sparrows and finches come on and off. There is a clear pecking order for the tube feeder. Juncos rule the roost unless the finches kick them out. Mr. and Mrs. Finch always take the top two roosts and will flap their wings at a junco trying to edge in. Juncos, in turn, scare off the sparrows. The chickadees don’t even try, and head straight to the suet block (which Tim has been calling the “sewage block,” so that’s now what Linnea calls it, too). There is a ton of dropped seed on the deck and the patio below, and we often see birds diving down out of view so I think there may be more than I realize, but it seems this small pack of juncos – the boys’ club, Tim calls them, as they are all males – lives in our laurel bush and comes out to enjoy the all-day buffet.

The hummingbirds are funny. At first there was one. Then we noticed a second, and I thought it was cute how they would buzz off together and come back over and over again. Well, last weekend it was really sunny and Tim pulled up a chair to the window. He realized that the one hummingbird was driving the other off. It had a regular pattern of roosting in our neighbor’s tree at the far side of the deck, then swooping in quick as a flash when the other came by for a sip of nectar. I looked it up, and yep, those hummingbirds are fiercely territorial. The funny thing is, the alpha bird seems to be a female. She is a fierce one and we just watched her drive away the other bird over and over again. It was really funny. I’ve seen up to four hummingbirds fighting over our feeder; they are moving so fast it’s hard to tell who’s who and the sex of the bird but we’re learning. Tim got some really great pictures which I’ll upload sometime (famous last words).

Anyway, it’s been really fun, and often throughout the day you can hear one of us call, “hummingbird!” and everyone will turn toward the window. Peter loves to watch the birdies while he’s sitting in his high chair, and if I ever do submit all my counts to Cornell, that’ll be a nice “official” record of our birdwatching. It’s turned into our favorite winter family activity. :)

(PS we bought a minivan.)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Again and again and again

Hey all-
Please pray for us. We have had some sort of illness in our home since December 1 with only two short breaks. Colds, flu, sore throats, double ear infection for P, and now it seems I've caught the norovirus which is MISERABLE. I think I've been to church three or four times since thanksgiving and last night was the first cg back in our home since about then, too. We missed three weeks of music class and would have missed more if not for the long Christmas break. I am really discouraged and so done with sickness. It's been very isolating. And once we got to see people again this week I caught something somehow and here we go canceling playdates etc again. Tim is home, we do not need anything, just prayer. Please pray the rest of the family doesn't get this and also that Petey would have peace. He is really attached to me these days (has stopped going in childcare at church, which was never a problem before) and he is super sad that I'm quarantined in my room. He is still nursing but I'm trying not to touch him today. :(

Thanks everybody.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Room for 11 babies

We have pretty much settled on a car. Yes, it is a Sienna. There will be a inspection next week and then, if all goes well, Tim will hand over the money and we'll get the keys next Thursday or Friday.

But, ever the thorough shopper, Tim is still looking. And the idea of a 15-passenger van is dying hard. Its siren song is sending  ripples across the internet and he repeatedly gets tripped up in its waves. Tonight he though he'd ally Linnea to his cause and show her a picture of the "bigger, better car," which she of course LOVED -- and then she burst into tears when I said we couldn't get one, no way, no how.

Her chief cause of concern? Not having a car big enough to fit the ELEVEN more babies she is sure will be joining our family. Poor goosie. I had to disappoint her on all fronts.

Pioneer days?

We went to the Seattle Aquarium this afternoon and everybody had a great time, especially watching the otters. When we got home I wanted to exercise, so that left the problem of how to wash up afterward. I assured Tim I could handle a cold shower (he's done it twice); he assured me I could not: "You'll hate your life." And he basically forbade me to take one. Not wanting to actually drive to the gym to shower, that left one option -- boiling water for a bath. Tim heated four stockpots' worth of water on the stove for me and my bath (mixed with cold in the tub) was quite pleasant. Linnea thought it was so exciting she had to take one too.

"Would you like to have to do this every time you needed a bath, that is, once a week?" Tim asked. (Like Laura. That is for another post, but we read all of the Little House books last year.) No, not at all. We both agreed I wouldn't have made a very good pioneer!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Paper plates til Monday

Actual text message transcript:

Hey guess what

Basement isn't actually leaking

The hot water heater is

So we just have to get a new one and then we'll be all set!

Me: (at the Dr office)
Ok! Great!

Btw it seems to be getting worse so I shut off the hot water so we'll have to go to pro club for showers until we can replace it.

Part of the carpet in the basement playroom has been wet for three weeks. I noticed it while playing downstairs with Peter during a big rain. Tim had a fan going for about two weeks and still it wasn't drying out; meanwhile, he was replacing and reburying drainage piping around the house on New Year's Day and considering having the company that fixed a previous foundation leak come back out. The new wall he built to keep the kids off the ledge hasn't seen any action in a long time because of the soggy carpet, which he finally tore up today while I was at the doctor with Linnea and Petey was sleeping. Last I'd heard he thought it was a good idea to get the leak fixed and have the workmen jackhammer out the basement so it would all be level and not have that raised floor throughout the playroom and storage. Luckily that $20,000+ plan got revamped to $1300 for a new water heater and labor. And that's not my only story for today, but the others will have to wait. Just like our hot water showers will, till the workmen come on Monday. (That's why the paper plates.) Never a dull moment, people. 

Throwback: pics from Linnea’s 3rd birthday & Cannon Beach

Yeah, it’s been a while. But I now have some great pictures from Cannon Beach via my mom.


Monday, January 7, 2013

Car shopping

Welp, it finally happened. Tim's (my) car died. The '95 Corolla that I drove in high school and took to Cornell my senior year, the car that I drove 11hours from Indianapolis to Ithaca in March 2006 to move in with the B'dale Psiakis in order to look for a job post-graduation (wow, that was a long time ago!) -- the car that MSFT shipped out to Seattle for us, and which we brought Linnea home from the hospital in, has finally bit the dust.

Can you tell I'm a little sad about it?

I've enjoyed driving the 4Runner for the last nearly 2 years, but the Corolla was really MY car.

We had been thinking we might need to replace it since the sunroof started leaking onto Tim's head during rainy days last fall. But the he caulked it shut (haha) and that seemed to be the end of that.

Nevermind that we want to have more kids and can't really fit three car seats (at least not the kind we have) across the back of the 4Runner.

And that Tim has been joking about (did I say joking? I mean seriously plotting) buying a Eurostar or some other manner of cheapo gritty hauling van for a couple years.

But it seems the day has arrived.

After fasting all day for a prayer meeting at church last Friday, Tim arrived home hungry, dejected, and on foot, having missed the meeting in order to bring the sputtering car that was stalling at intersections and grinding like a sawmill to the mechanic near our house. They were closed for the weekend so he brought the car home for a much needed oil change but that wasn't enough. Something on the order of $3000 needs to happen to get it running again, and alas, it's just not worth it.

So now we have to rip out whatever we want to keep, like the roof rack and cd player, and sign the title over to the junkyard. Doesn't that sound just depressing? I remember as a kid taking my dad's old Honda to the dealer when it died. It, too, was small and tan, and i didn't want to get out of the backseat. We used to hurtle down the hill from our house in that car on our way to my grandparents, my dad steering with his knees and making us scream with fear and delight on all the sharp turns. I remember him turning country music on to torment me and my disbelief that he would drink a soda while driving because I'd heard you weren't supposed to drink and drive. I didn't want to let it go. Funny the place an object like a car can have in your life.

So it's time to say goodbye. I'll never forget the fiasco of getting NY plates the year I worked for Cornell Press and had to get multiple police inspections because it was a rebuilt car and didn't have the right stickers. I had to take a vacation day and drive to Syracuse in my suit and pointy shoes and pay hundreds of dollars. And I'll never forget retitling it here in WA and feeling like we were on such an adventure with mt rainier on our license plates. We brought home Christmas trees on top of it, and two very large and precarious boxes of furniture tied to the top with rope up Queen Anne hill. We picked up my parents from the airport in it, and anyone else who came. And Linnea screamed her tender baby lungs out in it for months and months after she was born, 13, in fact, until we got a front facing car seat.

So yeah, I'm a little bit nostalgic.
Thanks, mom and dad, for our first family car.

But onward we must go. So now the real question is: minivan? Or massive SUV?

Friday, January 4, 2013

I interrupt this regularly scheduled blog...

To share this link. It isn't prettied up, but please, read this heartbreaking story. I know some of you readers have small children like me. And when you're done, go secure your furniture. We will.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Linnea’s very first ballet recital

Here is the video from her performance on December 9!

It was SO adorable to watch. I was impressed with how many steps she actually knew because she basically refused to practice at home (she’s 3! can’t blame her!) and I’d only seen her get through the first plie. I had also been a little worried she wouldn’t do it at all, as you’ll see one little girl does, poor thing. But she seemed to really have fun and I was so proud of her! It was fun to have Mom and Dad, and our friend Debbie in attendance, too.

What you don’t see is all the 8-10 year old girls doing their questionable hip-hop routines. Gah. I was back in the green room with Linnea during the beginning of the show and apparently missed some waaay inappropriate stuff, from moves to song lyrics. Such a bummer since A) that’s no good for those impressionable girls participating and B) we don’t want our impressionable 3-year-old around that. So unfortunately we’ll be missing out on further sessions from Kirkland Dance Center. I liked the teacher, Jerri, but we also feel Linnea is too young to be in a solo class where I can’t see and hear everything going on. (Parents are allowed to peek through the window in the studio door but not sit in on the class – for focus reasons). Maybe we’ll seek out a ballet-only studio sometime in the future since Linnea really liked it. It totally bums me out to be hanging up her tights and slippers so soon, but I think this is the right decision. Tim was horrified at the recital so we’ll leave it at that.

And…we’ll now have time for SWIM LESSONS! :)

But back to the cute video. It really is precious.

Special Christmas Tea

As part of Advent while my parents were here over Peter’s birthday weekend, I took Linnea and my mom to tea at the Queen Mary Tea Room in Seattle. I had been there once before for a friend’s baby shower. It was just wonderful. I knew they did “children’s” teas, but figured they tolerated rather than welcomed kids. Not so! Everyone was so welcoming and attentive to my little girl. Linnea was greeted so warmly and given a cushion to sit on, a tiara to wear (which she tried and then opted to leave off, haha), and a special heart shaped tea cup and saucer. She had her own little tiered stand with cakes and fruit and treats (including cotton candy!), as well as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches cut into triangles – she even got the choose creamy vs. crunch peanut butter. (Creamy it was). We sat right next to a neat walled-in bird habitat where the owner keeps live doves and we could push aside a curtain of lace to look at them. Linnea took an immediate liking to a salt and pepper set shaped like teapots so that became her special gift. She had her favorite, Earl Gray, and my mom and I shared a yummy afternoon tea assortment on a three-tiered stand, as well as holiday blends of tea. Everything was delicious and enjoyable. Linnea is already an old hand at adding sugar and milk to the cup and stirring, since we make tea often at home. But this was super special with loose sugar in a dish with red and green sparkles in it (color-dyed sure I’m sure). She got to scoop it out with a shell-shaped scoop with a teapot on top…and scoop it she did! Linnea also got to dress up in her new Christmas dress for it – another Hanna Andersson find that I just love, and I gave her little Swedish girl pigtails to match. I hope she remembers our fun afternoon. I certainly will. What a fun and special memory. I’m still so pleased it was so nice for her!

Here are some of my mom’s pictures. When I figure out uploading several at a time from my phone I’ll add mine too.