Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Great Books

I just finished reading a series for at least the 3rd time (maybe 4th, even), and I can't get them out of my head.
I discovered the Lowlands of Scotland Series by Liz Curtis Higgs when I was working at the bookstore. There are three books (actually, there's a fourth, but it is a separate story - the child of the main character). It is loosely based on the Biblical story of Jacob, Rachel, and Leah, but set in the 1700s in Scotland. The author has really done her research and you feel pulled in to the time period, with their customs and manner of speaking. I still find myself wanting to use terms like heidie (headstrong), braw (handsome), and tattie (potato). And those are just a few of the terms that swirl through my head when I'm half asleep (I think of the most random things when I'm having trouble sleeping).
Even though I read them almost non-stop (I sat in the living room most mornings and read while Nathan played or watched TV, not to mention before I took a nap or went to bed at night), it still took me over two weeks to get through them. They are very well written and not simply fluff (which is why it takes longer to read them). They are fiction, yet there is also a deeper message of unconditional love and sacrifice.
I highly recommend them. I'm sure you can find them at the local library, or my friends/relatives can borrow my copies.
The titles are Thorn in My Heart, Fair Is the Rose, and Whence Came a Prince. (The fourth is Grace in Thine Eyes - good, but not as addictive as the others, in my opinion.)

Yes, I realize this is a horrible excuse for a book report - I've come a long ways since the days of being able to write one of those. But I also don't want to give away the premise of the story and ruin it for you!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Blog Header

So I put up a new blog header. In case you didn't notice.
But I came up with another. And I like them both.
So now I need help deciding.
Do you like the current one:
Or do you like this one?

I took the one of Nathan with the thunder clouds behind him off, as it was over a year old, and also - I'm about to be a mommy to more than one baby (and the chances of me getting a picture of both of them that I like turned into a blog header are pretty slim - at least for a few months). And I kind of like the artsy feel of these pictures (taken by my friend Carrie)..... They won't really outdate as fast as pictures of my quickly growing kids.

So I'll just let the votes decide. Although if my husband decides to voice his opinion, that might trump all votes.

Friday, September 25, 2009

House Cleaning

I really am trying to get better at keeping the house clean.
We decided we needed to start cracking down on Nathan putting his toys away before bed. But that somehow coincided with being gone alot/spending a lot of time outside, and he usually only has like three toys out in the living room. So we haven't been as hard on that one as we thought we'd be. But just having a clean living room helps me feel better. Unfortunately, there's usually a basket of laundry waiting to be folded in there that makes it look cluttered up.
My whole problem is that I let it get so bad (usually with a legitimate excuse - being gone, being sick, etc) that I don't have the energy to take an hour or two to clean ONE ROOM. I have found that if I stay on top of things - picking up the kitchen after every meal (not even necessarily washing dishes, but just stacking them by the sink and wiping off the table and counters), or throwing away the junk mail and "stuff" that comes in the house as soon as it comes in, it's really easy to keep the house clean. I just get distracted. And out of breath. And have to pee a lot.
Another bad thing about my tendency toward messiness is that our "landing zone" - where we drop everything as soon as we walk in the door - is the dining room table. So if the table is buried, we don't eat at the table. And I know that the habit of family dining (not in front of the television) is like the #1 thing you should do if you want to have successful kids. So that's a major guilt factor there.
Another "problem area" is our bedroom. It's just off the living room, so it's the place that everything gets shoved if we're having company - extra pillows and blankets, the big toys, laundry needing folded, etc. - and a lot of it doesn't come back out as soon as company leaves. It just sits there until we need it. Unfortunately, it's also the only room in our house with closets. So a lot of stuff that needs stored gets stacked in the room at the foot of the bed until I can re-arrange one of the closets to make it fit. Then add to that, we just moved the bassinet in there. So there's pretty much just a pathway through the room right now. It's on my to-do list, but since it's not glaringly obvious (I don't sit in the bedroom to relax, I don't walk through it on the way to the bathroom, and company never sees it), it keeps getting put on the bottom of the list.
And not that I'm blaming him, but another problem is my husband. He's a stacker. (Why put it away now when I can lay it here and do it later?) He's just like me in that aspect. And he's not a neat freak (except about his truck). If he cared about what the house looked like, I'd be more motivated to do something about it. I love that he doesn't nag me about it, and always encourages me when I apologize for how the house looks. ("You've been busy.") And he does notice and appreciate when I do clean it, and usually compliments me about it. So I guess that should make him the perfect husband. And I really do appreciate that about him. But sometimes I wish he'd nag me just a little so I'd feel guilty enough to do something about it. Or throw me a hint, like he does with the laundry. ("I'm almost out of underwear.")
Anyhow. I don't know why I'm even talking about it. Maybe because they say that admitting you have a problem is the first step toward recovery. Or maybe because I'm avoiding actually cleaning. :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

One Month Left!

I can't believe I'm saying this already. The summer has gone so fast! (Yet it does seem like forever since I was saying "three months to go!")
I think we've got everything ready for the baby. The room is cleaned and the furniture set up. We've already got the bassinet in our room. (It's got clothes draped over it and things stacked in it, but - hey - if it's not holding a baby, it should be holding something, right?) I've got my list for the hospital ready, and I'll start packing a bag in the next week or so. The only "major" thing I need to do is get out the box of 0-3 month "generic" (white, yellow, and green) baby clothes, and the baby blankets, and wash them. But I didn't want to do that too soon, and allow them to gather dust. (At the same time, I don't want to wait until the last minute and have nothing for Baby to wear!)
I've been having some "get down to business" contractions the last week or so. I've had more contractions in general this time, but these are different from the ones where you're like, "Ooh, my belly is hard." They are more like the in-labor contractions (except not as intense) where it starts at the top of your belly and goes all the way around into your pelvis. But they're not very painful, and definitely not regular, so it's probably nothing to be excited about.
We're trying to decide what to do if I don't go into labor on my own, if and when I should be induced. We both feel that my due date is off, and should actually be the orignal due date (the 12th of October, 10 days earlier). I don't know if everyone is aware of this, but we had to use "medical intervention" to get pregnant (as we did with Nathan - my hormones have always been out of whack). I had to take pills to make me ovulate, and after 5 days of pills, you're supposed to ovulate within 48 hours. So we kind of know exactly when we got pregnant, which is why we were very surprised that they moved the due date back 10 days at our first appointment. I guess as it gets closer, we'll talk to the doctor and get her opinion. With Nathan, I was pronounced "ready" (according to the doctor's examination) for three weeks, but it just wasn't happening. (Like I said - my hormones have always been out of whack, and apparently just needed a jump-start.)
I would be thrilled to start labor on my own, but I'm a bit nervous - Paul's work schedule is going to be crazy clear into October. He'll be working 12-hour shifts the first week of October (I hope at least it won't still be 7 days a week by then!). I'm worried I won't be able to get ahold of him at work, or that by the time I decide that yes, I really am in labor, that it won't give him enough time to get home (he has a 40-minute drive... although I'm pretty sure he would consider that a reason to speed [more than normal] and could make it faster).
Oh well. All this is speculation, and all I can do is wait, and be as ready as I can.
And on that note - I think I'll go clean house. :)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Nathan's Birthday Pictures (A Bit Late)

Only a week late. Oops.
I had a time with the cake - it turned out a lot better than I expected, though. First, it fell apart removing it from the pan - the sides stuck to the pan, and the middle fell out. (That's the last time I follow the instructions on the box - it said grease the bottom only, when I've always been taught to grease and flour the entire pan.) (And yes - I used a cake mix. I figured I had WAY too much to do this weekend, and Nathan wouldn't care either way.) Then I couldn't get the frosting to turn the right color of green.... I wanted a grass green, but no matter how much coloring I added, the frosting wouldn't go any darker than spring green. I did manage to get the pieces of the cake pasted together using the frosting, so you couldn't tell it had fallen apart. I got the black piping done, outlining the letters, then went to add the color, and the yellow frosing tube exploded on me - the coloring and the frosting had apparently separated, and so all the oily yellow coloring oozed all over the cake. I got it cleaned up sufficiently, and made it presentable. (And really, I was pretty happy with how it turned out, except for the residual yellow frosing around the first H.) Paul positioned the train for me, then we took off to the park.
We decided to have cake and ice cream at Forest Park during the tractor show, since my family was all there as exhibitors, and Paul's family was all there as vendors. It didn't matter that it was 2 days early - the point was to enjoy time with everyone, and that's what we did. Apparently I mis-judged EXACTLY how much family we'd have there..... We ended up with 27 people! Good thing I'd sprung for 4 quarts of ice cream from Dairy Queen, since they were having a 2-for-1 sale. And all the cake was eaten, so there were no leftovers to take home to tempt me!
The day of Nathan's actual birthday (Monday), Paul took off work, so he wouldn't have to go in that night. He came home from working the night before and Nathan opened our present to him. Yes, we built him the playset, but I wanted to let him tear the wrapping paper off of something - I wrapped up a tractor, trailer, and skid-steer set that I'd bought two months ago when we went on vacation in case we needed to tempt him in case of a screaming fit in the car with no place to pull off. We didn't need it then, and it had just been collecting dust in our bedroom. So I wrapped it up in the easiest-to-get-to wrapping paper I could find: Christmas wrapping paper.
The skid-steer was a bigger hit than I imagined it would be. He says "Pa-pa!" every time he plays with it, since my dad has let Nathan ride in theirs with him. And my son does not forget important things like that!
Monday night we had a family dinner with Paul's family - not because it was Nathan's birthday (although he did open presents from them), but because it was the only night that worked to get us all together. Paul's grandpa and cousin were up from Medicine Lodge, and his aunt (who is a missionary with her husband in Mexico) was back for the first time since Paul was very young. We had a nice supper at Paul's "Aunt" Jenny's new place. It was a great time, even if Paul was completely dead from working two weeks straight of nights without a day off.
And that's the big occasion! I can't believe he's already two, but at the same time I can't believe he's only two. I can't imagine our lives without him, and I look forward to watching him grow and learn even more in the future!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I Forgot How Much I Missed Him

Last night I got to sleep all night with Paul for the first time since..... August 24th. (Had to check the calendar.) That's 22 nights of having the bed to myself. Granted, there were 3 nights one week where he was off (but didn't know he was going to be off until the last minute), and he took vacation Monday for Nathan's birthday, but all four of those nights he had to (or thought he had to) go to work the next night, so he stayed up at night to sleep the next day.
I was worried that I wouldn't be able to sleep once I had to give up real estate. I'm 8 months pregnant, and without another resident in our queen size bed, I've been taking three extra pillows to bed with me - one for between my knees to relieve back pressure, one for behind my back to keep me from rolling over (with my circulation issues, it's better that I lay on my left side), and one to hug (because I breathe better if I don't have an arm dangling across my body). Last night I eliminated one pillow to make room for my beloved.
And I slept like a baby. All night.
Lately, I've been sleeping good for 4-5 hours, then after my first bathroom trip, tossing and turning the rest of the night. Last night, I woke up for my bathroom trip and found Nathan screaming and sobbing (we took the baby monitor out of his room, and apparently I can't hear as well as I thought with the fan on in our room). Even after being jolted awake and running up the stairs, I still fell back asleep right away. I only didn't sleep well after 5 AM, when Paul left for work.
I haven't really minded Paul working so many hours, and not having all of a day to spend with us, but I have missed him at night. About half of the nights, I've had to put Nathan to bed on my own. And we haven't done our night-time devotions, which we were just getting in the swing of doing. And I miss those end-of-the-day discussions you have after the lights are out just before you drift off to sleep.
Now he's on days. I have no idea how many days straight they'll be working this run, but I'm sure at the end of it, I'll be complaining about it as well. But for now, I'll enjoy him being home at night.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Two Years!

I can't believe it's already been two years since this day:
Look what a big guy he's become!
We are so proud of our son!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Coming Right Along

The crew in force: Uncle Charles, Grandpa Chuck, Nathan (field testing the product), Doug, and Paul.

We finished the major part of the swingset today - setting the swing beam. And I say "we" loosely. I informed Paul's dad that we could use some help, and he arrived this evening with the cavalry - Paul's grandpa and uncle who are visiting from Medicine Lodge. The four of them did all the work, while I watched and criticized (not really)(okay, maybe).
Pretty much all we have left is building a ladder (Paul got it half done tonight), and putting some railing around the slide platform. We're also going to build a large sandbox from under the slide platform out to the end of the slide (there's a bit of concrete there that needs covered with something softish). We also are going to add something on where the swing beam hangs over the A-frame. We just haven't decided whether to do a swing bar (trapeeze-like thingy), which Nathan would love now, or a glider-type thing that two kids can play on.
Nathan loves the slide. We got a bit more of an angle on it than we thought it would have, and he can get some air going over the bump in the middle. He thinks that's hillarious. He even tried going down on his belly a few times. We've got to get that ladder fixed so I don't have to keep lifting him up to the platform - although he's found out he can climb the slide with a bit of help.
Paul tried out the swings - as did Uncle Charles. (I had to go set up for a baby shower, so I didn't get to see this.) Apparently they're pretty comfortable for adults as well - although I'm going to wait until I'm slightly less pregnant before I give it a try.
I'm proud of the job my husband has done. Even when I've tried to get him to be a little less picky about it, he's been very careful to make sure everything is level and square. He says "if you want it to last, you gotta do it right."
And, most importantly, Nathan loves it. That's all that matters.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Birthday Surprise

Okay, so it's obviously not going to be a surprise since Nathan is right there "helping." But this is what Nathan's getting for his birthday. (The beginning stages of it, anyways.)
We've wanted to get/build a playset for him all summer, but have been arguing about how to go about it. I was all for the simple "T" or "H" frame set, and hanging some swings off of it, and a slide. Cheap, and gets it done - Nathan wouldn't care. Paul wanted something more elaborate, with a fort and something our kids could grow into, and imagine in.
Obviously, Paul was going to win this argument, because a swingset is not something I can build myself, no matter how simple. So we saved, and Paul shopped around.
He knew he wanted a wood design. First we looked at design-your-own sets. We got a catalog from a company, and even their relatively simple designs were through the roof - $12,000!! (And there were some twice that much!) Even if they do come and build it for you, that's ridiculous.
Next we looked at kits that contained the lumber and the hardware. These seemed pretty reasonable - until we realized they don't include the slide (the most expensive thing) or the 4x4 lumber (adds another $200).
We were able to download the plans for the kits, and Paul figured out how much lumber you'd need to do it yourself. Not all of the brackets they use are available outside the kit, but Paul found other brackets that will work just as well. And this way he knows the quality of the wood he's getting (some of the reviews said their wood was warped and/or moldy). He's also made it so that the playset will tie in to a future playhouse/fort that we'll build on the concrete slab. We ordered everything from our local lumberyard, and so far (assuming we haven't forgotten anything), we've only got half the cost of the kit invested in it - and that includes the slide and 4x4s they don't give you.
This morning we set the posts for the slide platform. They are sunk in 18 inches of concrete. That thing isn't going anywhere. Paul assures me that this is the most tedious part, and the rest should move along quickly. I hope so, because I'd like to have it done by this weekend. We're limited to working on it in the mornings when Paul gets home from work, and in the evenings before he leaves. And trying to squeeze it in between rain spells.... It rained Tuesday (the day we wanted to start on it) into Wednesday morning, and it's supposed to start up again Saturday. Paul's next guaranteed day off is Monday (he took vacation for Nathan's birthday), and I don't want to be scrambling to finish it up on Nathan's actual birthday. (Paul has worked 13 of the last 16 nights, and the 3 nights he got off were last-minute notices, so we couldn't do anything those days, because as far as he knew he had to sleep all day to prepare for a 12-hour shift all night.)
I'll post more pictures when the project is done - Nathan's going to love it! He already loves the frame that's there (hanging and climbing on it), and he doesn't even realize it's for the slide that was laying in the yard. Just wait 'til he sees the swings......

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I Love My Husband

Someone made the comment recently, "You sure do say that alot," after I (once again) proclaimed my affection for my spouse.
And I do say it a lot. I know I do. I'm proud I do.
I'm proud of my husband. I'm proud to be his wife.
A man I respect very much told us something after our wedding, while he was coming through the receiving line. He took both of our hands, and looked at us, and said, "Always remember to tell each other 'I love you' every day. If you quit saying it, you quit feeling it." (Or something along those lines.) I don't know if this influenced the frequency of us voicing our affection, or if we were well on the way, but what he said has stuck with me. We say these "three little words" often, every day. If we're talking on the phone during his drive to or from work and we run out of things to talk about, one of us will invariably say this after a few seconds of silence. Or if he comes home from work and is immediately waylaid by Nathan wanting to play, he will find me later and say, "I didn't kiss you yet, did I?"
Our love has changed since our wedding. The first year we were married, I got flowers on the 20th of every month (we were married on the 20th of March). I got up and made him waffles at 5 AM before he went to work while he slept another 15 minutes. But just because it looks different, it doesn't mean it's not there. We don't do those things any more, but we do other things: he shows me he loves me by helping me to chores I hate (like weeding), and I show him I love him by listening to him talk about what's going on at work, and showing interest in the job he does. Not that we consciously have to say, I love him/her, so I'm going to do listen to him/help her weed. It just comes naturally.
When I say, "I love my husband," so often, it's not like I'm reminding myself, like one might mutter "I love my husband. I love my husband. I love my husband." when he has spent your vacation savings on a new power tool. When I say it, it's a proclomation - I LOVE HIM! AND I WANT THE WHOLE WORLD TO KNOW!!!
I know I will never be the trophy wife when it comes to looks. I'm 3 inches taller than my husband, and have 20 pounds on him (when I'm not pregnant). But if I love him, and he feels my love completely and without reservation, do you think that will ever matter to him? He'll still be proud of me. It's when men stop feeling that you love them that they start looking at your flaws.
So. Anyways.
That's part of the reason why I say it so often: I love my husband!