Thursday, October 16, 2014

I've Been Eaten Up by A Puppy! And Other Things.

Hi everyone!!! I miss you! I miss blogging! I miss my old life!

Here's what I've been doing. I'm not exaggerating.

Puppy.

Basically, now everything is just puppy! My life is puppy! I love this dog so much, but how could we have not realized that a puppy = total halt to life as we know it? I should have learned when at six months pregnant with Noah I said to my best friend: "Oh, don't worry, things won't change THAT much. You'll still see me, I'll just bring the baby along!" Yeah right. Do you think that ever happened? No it did not. Noah wasn't a very "portable" type of baby. Neither is the puppy for that matter.  And she likes to barf in the car.

This whole puppy ownership thing is a bit extreme. Everyone forgot to tell me just how all-consuming this is. At least, if you have a puppy like mine, one who tries to eat every single pebble, wood chip, pine needle, cabinet pull, chair, rug, table, dish cloth, button, zipper pull, hand, leg, foot or face that she comes in contact with. Oh, and given the opportunity, she'll pee on all of those things too.

Today while I was sitting half-naked in my dermatologist's office, waiting for my yearly skin check, (check your skin people!) it dawned on me that puppies are basically ten-month-old babies who put everything in their mouths, and are already able to RUN, but refuse to wear a diaper.

K. Miss you. Gotta go. Byyyyeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!



Just kidding, (not kidding.)  Josie will be up any moment and I've been too lazy to get up and change the laundry for the past ten minutes, so I should probably go soon. Here are some super quick updates:

I promise to quit with the puppy spam soon. The other day I took my big camera out with Josie and I. Here are a few pictures that I took. She looks kind of sad to me, but I assure you, she was thrilled to be out running in the rain on this day.



Noah is slowly becoming less apprehensive about Josie. She's still teething and chewing everything and everybody that she can get her mouth on, but we've gotten better at directing her to "appropriate" chew items.


Josie and Hector. It's complex.






We spend a lot of time in the backyard these days.


Josie won't leave the poor chipmunk holes alone. She's trying to dig into them! This is what we came up with, a tiny picket fence. I need to get a daytime shot of it.


No potty accidents in the kitchen this week! YAY!!!! (The family room is another story...)

(The cats are less scared, more curious these days.)

Beyond the puppy update, things are ok, but there are some stressful hurdles at the moment and I am feeling more overwhelmed and exhausted than I have in a long, long time. I'm not sure if I really want to talk about specifics here on the blog, but rest assured, everyone is totally fine. It's nothing major, just several medium size stressors piled on top of each other creating long days and less sleep. Things always have a way of working out though. Just takes time and problem solving. I have faith life will settle down soon.

Before when I would feel stressed out or anxious, I'd exercise or write on the blog or try to do something creative to manage my worries. Now it's tough fitting it all in. I've made exercise one of my top priorities. This is because it makes your body and brain feel good!

I've been doing Element's Pilates Weight Loss for Beginners DVD nearly each night for about six weeks and LOVE it! To be honest, I only do the 20 minute "Cardio Pilates" workout, and even then, I skip the lunges and squats and still love what it is doing. I skip the DVD's leg work, only because I broke my ACL in half in my right knee during a Teakwondo class in college (don't laugh). I found the squats were hurting my injured knee. Even so, with the ab work and then my own, modified versions of leg exercises, in just six weeks, I've gone down about one size and have taken inches off my waist and hips. Everything just feels tighter and my core is much much stronger. I can plank ! :)

Part of the toning up is probably due to walking multiple times a day with the puppy. We live at the top of a very steep, large hill, so that can't hurt either. And, I've decided to try to challenge myself to not eat after dinner. But really, I'm just too scared to go downstairs after 8:30 at night, in fear of waking up the puppy! That's a good weight-loss tool. ;)
For the record though, my goal was to just keep up with the exercising habit that I began last year, and to make healthy choices. It's not about weight-loss, although that would be welcomed, it's about being healthy.

I mentioned that creativity was one of my outlets. It totally is! I never "create" anything important or of worth, but just the meditative act of cutting and pasting paper and dreaming up cute window decorations has been so nice for me. October is my favorite month, and the BEST month if I should say so! I really wanted to make some decorations for our front windows, just to get everybody in the Halloween spirit. So, over the course of about four days, I spread my paper and crafting tools out on the kitchen table, and spent an hour here , an hour there, trying to make my "Trick-or-Treaters" until they were done. It was a lot of fun, and I'm really glad that I figured out a way to make time for being creative. Nighttime worked the best, but I also asked Jon to watch Josie a couple of times, and he gladly obliged.

I was inspired by Paper Source's "Halloween Paper Dolls Kit."  They're cute! I wanted to make my own, with a twist. I'm not a huge fan of all the overly- gory costumes out there these days. I wanted to make six trick-or-treaters in more traditional costumes, so I came up with a simple ghost, a pumpkin, a cowboy, a non-spooky witch, a robot and a princess! We still have the children from the nursery school down the street walk by on their class walks, so I wanted to put up decorations that they might enjoy! Here's how they came out:


I liked the finished product, and this time I covered them in clear, matte contact paper. Hopefully they won't fade too much and I will be able to use them again sometime!



A lot of you dear readers, come for the gray hair posts! I'm so sorry that I haven't had anything new lately. Before, when I would post about my hair, I would take time to dry my hair nicely or style it, or I would take a picture right after the salon. These days, I just haven't had the time to get all gussied up. I'm sorry, I do feel badly about this, but again, just like a puppy doesn't stay a puppy forever, one day I will get back to my old hair-self. LOL. That sounds funny, doesn't it? I won't have to rush as much in the morning when Josie is older.

What I do have for you on the hair-front, is this picture of me from today, hiding in my bedroom, trying to be reeeeeeeallly quiet so Josie would nap. I'd been outside three times already, in the RAIN, by the time I took this picture, so I'd say for ME, on a frizz -scale, my hair held up pretty well! I've been using White Hot's range of products and LOVE them still. I think their Shooshing Creme helped me today with all of the rain!

Also, I was sad after I recently trimmed my hair, but glad to get the scraggly,old ends off. They were yellowed and purple shampoos and clarifying shampoos were just not helping. It was time. Now my hair feels a lot thicker to me, and it's growing. Having to grow my gray hair out has taught me patience. If you're doing the same, you probably know what I mean! So now, waiting for the 3" or 4" that I cut off in August to grow back, doesn't seem as upsetting as before I was gray. It's just hair. 
Can you relate? For whatever reason, new trims and cuts, it just doesn't feel so monumental. I'd like to be able to take more things in life in stride just like this! :)



What else........? Let's see........

Did I post the hat that I crocheted? This is about a month late, but for several weeks I was working on a hat for one of my best friends who has breast cancer and is going through chemotherapy at the moment. :(
I really enjoyed making this hat, and I just want to help my friend in any way that I can. Purple is her color! I used a free pattern called "Hope" from Oombawka Design. I added my own flower and leaves.

It's funny because while I was making this hat, two very sweet readers asked me if I ever sell the crochet hats that I make. Thank you so much you guys! I would consider it if I had more crochet time, but at this rate, I'm averaging one hat a month. I'm a liiiiiittle slow. Lol. Maybe sometime though!!! :)



 (Simply wrapped with some tissue paper and yarn.)

I don't write too often about "the saga of the mini-pool!" but let me tell you, it IS a saga! I would have to say, that this small, 18" deep pond, pool, bathtub-thing-a-ma-jiggy, has cost us more money and more head-scratching and more stress than most anything on this 150+ year old house! You just have to laugh because who would have thought a little thing like this could make us so annoyed? It all started when we bought the house in the early springtime, and after the snow melted, found that there were major cracks throughout the pond. And, that the filter and parts of the pool/pond pump were broken. It took two years and three tries with different pool companies and different materials to finally keep this thing from cracking and having the earth collapse in. In the end, the mini-pool had to be totally resurfaced. The old cement walls were sandblasted down and rebuilt. It was an ordeal. We can barely afford a mini-pool. Omg.

Anyway, one of the problems with a mini-pool is that in the fall it fills up with dead leaves and gunk, and in the winter, you have to drain it, but also keep it from cracking. It's complicated. We've found that leaving a tiny bit of water in over the winter, exerts pressure on the walls and against the earth pushing in on it. Actually, we didn't "find" this out, we were told to do this from our pool company, and it did help! We've tried different types of temporary pool covers over the past three years. All total eye sores, most not doing a great job. (Don't even get me started about last year's bright blue tarp idea.)  A custom cover for our oddly "L"- shaped "mini-pool" would run about $1,500, something that none of us really wants to spring for. So, Jon and I figured that we could make our own! And guess what!? It worked!!! A BIG "thank you" to our friends, the "B. family" and to our friend Colonel, who came to help. Here is a picture of just the frames. After this, the individual covers were primed and painted to seal in the wood and brackets to waterproof them a little. Then each frame was covered with a nylon mesh to keep leaves out. So far, they're working great! And, it cost a tiny fraction of having a custom cover made. I was pretty impressed. Good job guys!


I put up some of our fall decorations inside. Hector enjoys them.


And finally, here are a couple photos from our backyard this week. I just can't get over how beautiful the leaves are right now. It's amazing! Fall is incredibly beautiful, isn't it? 




Nothing else is very new. Noah only has school two days this week due to conferences and teacher in-service days, and we have a full week planned. Wednesday included hosting a playdate, Jon home painting our storm windows so that they can go up soon, and my Dad coming into town and going out to dinner. Today we are hosting another playdate, then have plans with friends to go to the cider mill, and then parent-teacher conferences. 

Oh, also, I know I have said in the past that I rarely watch television, but whilst trying to get the ironing done over the weekend, I looked for something fun to watch from our cable's "On Demand" section. Have you ever heard of the History Channel's show: "The Curse of Oak Island?" Oh my gosh, it's gripping! At least to me. They have the first season up on On Demand at the moment, and the new, second season begins on November 4th. (Oh! You can watch the full episodes of last season online here!)

Basically, two brothers and their team hunt for ancient treasure in the north Atlantic on Oak Island. There is a long history and  back story with legends of pirates, possible Knights Templar, and they have found hidden tunnels, boobie traps, and ready...COCONUT FIBER from the 13th century! (That might not make sense but go watch the show!) Anyway, the only show I follow is Madmen and that won't come back on for a while, so my new show will be the next season of The Curse of Oak Island. It's great!

And that's the scoop folks! I'll be back with more soon. Until next time, thank you so much for reading and for all of your nice words in comments and letters. Gosh I love you guys. :)
See you soon!!!
xoxoxoxoxoxo,
Lauren 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Mouse In the House. Or Seven.

Hey guys, I'm just going through old posts that I began and never finished over the summer. Here's a post that is sure to gross you out. EEK! Another for the "For Posterity's Sake" category......

In August we began removing 95% of all items in our basement to a storage unit as we had some work scheduled to be done on our basement floor for early September. They needed us to basically clear almost everything out. Our basement was built around 1860, so it is NOT a normal basement. It's really a cellar, but at some point, the entrance was changed and now you access our "basement" down  a short flight of stairs off of our kitchen.

Our basement's ceiling is only about 5 feet' tall, but there's duct work that makes me have to duct! I mean DUCK! ;) You have to walk around crouched over, it's such a pain. One side has a cement floor and a little drywall on the walls, but the other side/room of our basement has all of the old building materials exposed. There is a DIRT floor! And the walls are dirt and large stones and OLD brick! It's amazing! I can imagine this too, being the old food cellar, shelves lined with canning jars and baskets of root vegetables.

When we were moving into a 150+ year-old house, we knew that it's not the most air tight dwelling that there is. Luckily for us though, we've only had a field mouse of two over the years.  Averaging less than one per year, and sadly, always a guy that our cat found in the basement. We had a critter control person over when we moved in to make sure any holes from the outside were sealed. We did our best to keep the outside out.

I haven't really thought about mice honestly, because it's been so long, but then, once we started emptying our basement out for the upcoming work.........all of the sudden...... MICE!!!!! (Tiny field mice only THANK GOD!) But still, MICE!

What in the world we thought!? One week Willow brought up one to our kitchen. (I FREAKED!) And the next week, she brought one to our BEDROOM. (I FREAKED EVEN MORE!) That's when we immediately caught on and realized that perhaps there were mice in our basement and moving their hiding places has brought them out!

From that night on, I was so scared that there would be more. We were hyper-vigilant at night especially, just waiting for any sound or the cats to act strange. Sure enough, the next day, we had one in our room again! And the next day, TWO, TWO in our living room , and the next night, another in our bedroom! I almost couldn't take it.

HOURS. Hours I tell you, HOURS were spent that week tearing apart our house. I mean you really have to careful take apart everything to safely catch the mice and take them outside!


ACKKKKKK!!!!!!!! RIGHT above my bed. O-M-G!

And THIS is how we catch them....with an old bucket and a record. No mouse was harmed, we just couldn't do that. But, we did have to take our curtains off the wall! (He was climbing the curtain.)


The Bob Dylan record was useful in the capture of mice. 



So we were all ready for this to be over. We found a few holes in the dirt walls in the basement and thought perhaps they were new. We called a pest control service with good ratings and the word "Eco" in their title. So, I thought maybe they would do "humane" catch-an-release with the mice. The man laughed when I said that! To his credit though, he did email us a day later though, and recommend  catch-and-release traps that he found online. Which we promptly bought! Also, when the work was done on our basement, the new holes were covered. We now close the door to the basement at night, just as a precaution.

So far, KNOCK ON WOOD.....it's been a month with no mice. Not one. Maybe it was a fluke, it had just started getting cold, maybe them came in.  I am super hopeful this is the end of that story. I will never forget working together with Jon trying to chase tiny mice into a bucket.

Until next time, don't have mice!
xoxoxoxox,
Lauren