Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Completed Project

Hah! I DID get that shelf hung, finally.  It does look pretty good, just as I predicted.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Great Bathtub Disaster of 2013

My least favorite chore for the last several weeks has been cleaning up all of the charming little surprises that the puppy leaves in the house.  These have become less and less frequent as time goes on, but, you can understand, with three children in this house in various stages of potty learning, why I wouldn't want to be cleaning up after one more.

This evening I learned a new definition of perspective: how I feel about cleaning up a little puppy pee after the Great Bathtub Disaster of 2013.

It started as a normal bath night.  The kids were all cycling through the tub.  Eloise likes the bath so much that she gets in at the beginning and stays in until everyone is clean.  Eloise and Benjamin were both clean, and I was rinsing Eloise and preparing to get B out of the bath when I noticed that at one end of the tub the water was a little murky. I think you know what that means.

Pandemonium ensued.  Two naked children had to be yanked from the tub, wrapped in towels, and neglected while the tub was drained, toys were washed, washcloths thrown into the diaper pail, and tub bleached and scoured.  Benjamin crawled out of his towel, rolled in some dust bunnies behind a door, peed his way across the carpet, and slipped in his own pee on the bathroom floor, bumping his head.  Baby is screaming.  Eloise ran to the kitchen before she was dry and slipped on her wet feet.  Eloise is screaming.  I determined that the bath sponge that B was sitting on is a total loss and took it outside to the garbage can.

Two screaming babies had to be calmed while the water was running for a second bath.  Both had to be scrubbed again from head to toe.  Imagine all of this while Jared is bobbing around in the background asking 200 times in a row, "Why did B poop in the tub? But WHY?"

On an ordinary night, Todd arrives home in time to dry the children from their baths and help them into pajamas.  Alas, this was no ordinary evening.  This was Todd's once a year performance review deadline, so he was at work for an extra hour and a half.  It's just as well, though.  Had he been home, I might have been cleaning up vomit along with everything else.

 When the children were all washed, dried, diapered, and dressed, they were extremely wound up.  Winding down included a violent two year old tantrum, some vicious sibling biting by one toothless ten month old, and some four year old sillies (including, but not limited to jumping off the arm of the couch, and singing every word to "The Spirit of God" by reading it out of the hymnal).

In all of this mayhem, there is no way we could have heard the puppy whining by the back door.  Wiping up the dog accident while two children snored in bed and one, in Daddy's arms, sucked peacefully on his bedtime bottle hardly seemed like a chore at all.  

If there is one thing I have learned from parenting, it is that children can always make a bigger mess.  Still, I believe that I can, with confidence, label this evening as The Great Bathtub Disaster of 2013.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


Summer came back!  We knew when the rain stopped that it was just a matter of time before autumn returned again in earnest, so we rushed outside to plant tulips before the sun had even come out again.  B is very happy that he knows how to crawl.  This makes it possible for him to teethe on filthy rocks, even when I put him down in the grass across the yard from the mud.  
 Jared is incredibly strong.  He is also incredibly cute in his pint sized work gloves, which he dutifully puts on every time I put on my own work gloves.
 Eloise loves flowers and digging, but she is not so excited about getting dirty.
 My favorite child quote of the week came when Eloise and I were doing laundry the other day.  She asked me if I eat dog food.  I said, "I don't eat dog food because I'm a people.  Dog food is for dogs.  Are you a people, Eloise?"
Eloise answered, "No! I'm not a people! I'm a CHILDREN!"
I'm so glad that my little Petra Pan has not figured out that she is ever going to grow up.

As soon as the sun came out, we rushed to the beach park.  First, we went to Waverly Beach Park.  It was deserted, thanks to school starting last week.  I bought these water sandals for Eloise in June.  It figures that she would finally agree to wear them for the first time during the last week of sunshine of the year, and just as her toes are starting to hang over the ends.  The princess got a tiny bit of water splashed onto her stomach and proudly announced, "I'm wet, Mommy! Wook! I'm all wet!"
 It was such a gorgeous day.  Shadow was a little bit bolder about getting in the water, but waves splashed against the bottom step here one or two times too many, and, after that, Shadow stayed as far from the water as she could.  It was hard for her to stay away, though, since her best playmate, Jared, was not coming out of the water until his lips turned blue.
 B was happy to sit on the bottom step and let the water splash onto him, as long as the splashes weren't too big.  He loves the independence of enjoying the water without me holding onto him.
 One last run to the beach park would have been enough for me, but the following day got up to 90 degrees, and some friends invited us to go with them to the beach.  Eloise walked out into the water on her own, but she did NOT put down her snack until there was nothing left of it.  It's a granola bar that tastes like a "rice Christmas treat."
 It was so hot on Juanita beach that the kids were standing in the water and their faces were still red from the heat.  What they needed to do was sit down in it.  By the time we left, I was pulling Jared out of the wallow he had made in the mud at the edge of the water to lie in.  Sometimes it is very nice that the water in Lake Washington stays around 58 degrees all year.
 Being a chubby baby on a hot day is hard.  Benjamin was the last one in the bathtub after our lake visit (on Wednesday), and I think he still has sand in some less visible areas.
Shadow loved Juanita Beach.  It doesn't have big waves that can knock a small dog down, and it has a zillion people who apparently all want to pet a smelly, wet puppy.  

When we weren't at the beach, we spent a lot of time in the yard.  We enjoyed our grass, and our swing.
 On Thursday we filled up our little pool.  Shadow likes water, water toys, splashing in and out to startle Eloise, and licking pool water off of Benjamin's face.  Eloise refused to get out of the water for over an hour.  I expected her to sit next to the pool and dump water out of it onto the grass, but she hopped right in.  She did dump quite a bit of water onto B's head, but he didn't seem to mind.
 B splashed in the pool until he turned blue, and then I dried him off, turned him loose, and he splashed in the water some more.  Eventually he figured out how to pitch himself forward to actually get in the water.  I don't think he was counting on the nose and mouth full of water which that maneuver earned him.  Even after I fished him out, wrapped him in a towel, and carried him with me, he kept trying to wriggle free to get back to the water.
Our neighbor, Casey, and his mom came over to play while we had the pool out, but Casey isn't really a water boy.  Casey enjoyed a lot of swing time, and Jared played with Shadow and climbed all over the rocks in our yard.
When we were done playing in the pool, and after Casey and Amanda went home, I put Shadow in it for a bath, and then gave her a vaccine.  Jared and Eloise helped by providing Shadow with a steady stream of treats for the whole procedure.
That was the end of sunshine for this week.  We expect to only get glimpses of sun until next May, at the earliest.  The sun never made an appearance on Friday or Saturday. It wasn't raining, so we got in a little bit of blackberry picking, and today participated in a stake service project pulling weeds in a local park. Goodbye again, summer.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

. . . And he's up!

B acquired this skill much sooner than I had predicted.  The other children are learning quickly to move their precious things out of his reach.  
 This is my favorite B face: "OoooooooooooOOOO!"

Friday, September 6, 2013


Rain has returned to Washington far too soon this year.  If summer is going to desert us prematurely, we are going to have our fun without it, and good riddance.  
 In spite of our runny noses, sore throats, and pouring rain, we decided to go on a puddle stomping adventure this morning.  Jared invented a new game: puddle dancing!  I'm seeing some serious possibilities here for the next Humiston sisters' gathering in WA.
 B came along for the ride, and hung in until we started home.  Then he fell asleep.  Poor little B has had the worst of the head cold over the last few days.

Nothing makes us feel good about the end of summer picnics and beach days like the return of hot chocolate.  We came home, dried off, changed our clothes, and officially welcomed fall with the first hot cocoa of the season.
Hot chocolate makes us feel happy.
I can't help hoping that the weather will stay warm long enough for the slow growing tomatoes and pumpkins in our garden to mature, but we are looking forward to a great season of decreased temperatures.  I almost said a great cold season, but the runny noses and fevers of winter are free to go far, far away.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Nine months

Benjamin came into our family nine months ago.  He is a joy every day.  He started crawling on August 10, and now gets into everything.  Eloise has not been a fan of this new development.  
 Oh, you want to take my picture? Well, I will just confiscate that camera.  I will grab a handful of your hair, while I am at it, just for good measure.
 B gives big, wet kisses, usually while pulling out locks of my hair.  He has started to pull himself up to a kneeling position.  This increases his reach a lot.  Mr. two chins does not love the camera flash.
 He is thinking about pulling to his feet.  You can see it in his eyes.
 B loves to chew on everything.  He doesn't have any teeth, yet, but he is working on that.  Everything Jared does makes B laugh.  He is one happy, calm baby.
At nine months, B weighs 20 lbs. 3 oz. (50th percentile), and is 27.7 inches tall (40th percentile). He loves to talk, explore, jump, and be in the middle of things.  I am in love with his smile.

Jared's birthday, Part 2

On Jared's actual birthday, we drove to Carnation, WA to check out a river beach at Tolt-MacDonald Park.  It was a hot day, so, after a brief excursion across the park's walking bridge, Jared jumped right in.  Shadow was right behind him.
B did not want to be left out of the fun.  I hadn't planned to put him in his swimming suit, but he objected strongly to being kept out of the water.
You win, baby.
Here is the crew in the yellow mud.  There were hundreds of tiny fishes swimming around our feet.  Eloise was not a fan of the movement of the water, even thought the river was so wide and slow that she couldn't tell which way it was flowing.
She spent most of her time on the beach walking in the mud along the shore, looking for walking sticks, avoiding Shadow, and watching other children play.
When we were done playing in the water, we meandered over to the picnic area.  Jared's requested birthday dinner was hot dogs, so Todd started the barbecue while I took Jared and Eloise and a sleeping B to the playground.  Tiny little Shadow got all worn out from all of the walking in the hot sun, so Todd gave her a ride on the cooler.
The day was perfect.  The park turned out to be a hidden treasure.  It was the little things, like hanging planter boxes around the picnic area, that showed how well kept the park is.  We will have to come back soon to camp.
After a nap, Benjamin was ready for his meal.
This was a beautiful picnic day.  We could not have planned a better family birthday celebration.
On August 22, Jared and B went to the doctor's office for four year and nine month physicals.  Jared got two shots, which he handled like a pro (no crying!).  Jared weighs 39 lbs., and is 39.4 inches tall.
At four years old, Jared loves reading, singing primary songs, riding his balance bike, especially on trails, and playing with his puppy.  He is learning to put on his own socks, write his name, and do up his own buttons.  He has a million questions about everything.  Jared has some regular responsibilities. Clearing his own dishes from the table at meal times, emptying the silverware from the dishwasher, picking up toys, and keeping Shadow's water dish filled are a few of his daily jobs. He always wears the brightest shirt he can find.
Jared fills our days with sunshine.  Happy birthday, four year old!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Summer's here. You know what that means.

In Washington, summer means fruit flies.  Gross.  They descend upon our house in hordes.  Fruit flies mean spiders.  As I have been running in the mornings, I have broken up hundreds of spider webs that form in the night between the trees.  You are welcome, later runnners, hikers, and bikers.  I cleared the trails for you.
Summer also means blackberry picking,
 blackberry eating,
 swimsuit weather,
 sidewalk chalk,
 and lots and lots of playing outside.
 We have also done our share of canning this year.  So far we have made peach jam, peach preserves, and applesauce.  I was disappointed to learn that 38 lbs. of apples turned into only nine quarts of applesauce.  I estimate that we need at least 25 quarts for a year, so we might make more.  Eloise and Jared were excellent helpers with peaches.  Eloise loved to peel them, and Jared loved using a butter knife to cut them into microscopic fragments to put in the jars.  Benjamin loved to eat them.
Todd had the week off of work starting August 20, so I was able to get more canning done, and we had some great weekday adventures before the weather got really wet this week.  Summer is slipping away, but the fruit flies remain. I'm ready for the fruit fly part of summer to be over.  

Shadow: The Black Morkin

On August 20 we adopted a black lab-redbone coonhound puppy (coonhounds are the dogs from Where the Red Fern Grows).  We adopted her from a family in Monroe, WA, which is about 40 minutes from here.  We had settled on the name Shadow, but on the way to pick her up, Todd asked for any last minute suggestions for name changes. Jared piped up instantly with, "Black Morkin!" It sounds like a villain name, so we could not discard it.  We assigned it to the puppy as a title.  
Shadow was born on July 9, so she was six weeks old when we got her, and is still very much a puppy. I've heard that having a puppy is like having a newborn baby around, but I would say that a potty training toddler is a more appropriate comparison.  That means that she fits right in with this crowd.
For some reason, Eloise really wanted to wear jeans on the day we picked up our puppy.  The only pair I had for her was a size too big.
Shadow is a very sweet, eager to please puppy.  She occasionally pees all over the ground when she meets new people, and she can get very wound up in a group of kids, but she is normally very docile.  We can't leave her alone with B or Eloise for any amount of time, since she wants to chew on B, and Eloise, despite her protests to the contrary, is still nervous around Shadow.
Jared is very helpful.  He loves to get water for Shadow's bowl, hold the leash when we walk her, and take her outside when she needs to go.  Shadow loves to chase Jared's bike and play tug of war with him.
For some reason, puppies attract a lot of attention.  Today we were walking her when a FedEx truck pulled over and the driver ran out and asked to pet her. I don't think we have ever made it all of the way around the block without being stopped by someone wanting to meet our puppy.  Strangers ask me if they can smell her breath.  Apparently puppy breath is sweet. *Gag*  I love puppies as much as the next person, but they are not notable for their good hygiene.
Having Shadow in our home has been a new adventure for us.  Todd and I both hope that our kids will make the good memories with their dog that we made with our family dogs.

Jared turns four, Part 1

On August 17, 2013 we celebrated Jared's birthday with a big back yard party.  We started our party preparations the Monday before by building a pinata.
 We made it out of paper mache.  It took all week for the layers to dry.
 When it was done, Todd decorated it to make it look like a big red dog.
 All that was left after the pinata was done was to make a cake and some cupcakes, and to decorate.  Jared and Eloise were more than happy to help with the cake making.  Jared even decorated the cake himself.  There were a LOT of sprinkles on it.
 The morning of the party, I had to drop off some bountiful baskets that weren't picked up at a fire station.  I brought Jared and Eloise along.  They got a quick tour.  Eloise was too shy to get up on the fire truck.
 Jared even got to try out some of the exercise equipment.
 Here is the birthday boy ready to party.
 The pinata turned out to be surprisingly strong.  We broke a couple of sticks on it before it succumbed.
 The cake was a hit.  The kids all had a great time taking turns in the swing, making fruit loop necklaces, and running around the yard like crazy.
 Aria created a new look with party hats. . .
 . . . which Jared was happy to mimic.
We all had a great time celebrating our four year old.