The babyproofing arms race escalates

Happy Friday, everybody!

Just a quick, blurry photo to show you all a fun new trick my baby learned.

Babyproofing arms race
Oh, shit.

I spent the entirety of The Baby’s nap yesterday re-babyproofing our living area after he pulled this shit on Wednesday.

Did you know you can pull all the knobs off your stove and just leave one on the counter to use when you need too cook?

No need to buy knob covers. Which is great, because we have to save all our money to buy more drawer locks, furniture straps, baby gates and anti-anxiety medication (for me.)

In addition to reaching the stove knobs, The Baby can pull things off the top of our kitchen table, and has learned how to push his jack-in-the-box up against the wall of his play yard so he can climb atop it.

The babyproofing arms race continues to escalate. I’m still losing.

The babyproofing arms race escalates

A Sunday Storm, and a jagged horizon

This weekend was nice, as we neglected our endless to-do list a bit and I hosted a meeting of the craft club I started almost two years ago now (more on that…someday. I was hoping to do a comprehensive post with charming pictures to go along with it, but The Baby was too rowdy for me to take pictures. I’ll get to it eventually.)

Anyway, yesterday evening, The Husband, The Baby, my parents, brother and I were sitting around our kitchen table eating dinner as we have been doing together on Sundays since we moved out here. The sky had been threatening (welcome) rain for an hour or so, and suddenly it started to rain hard.

Our house is almost all windows, and my parents were marveling at how hard it was raining. I, a hardened cynic when it comes to bad weather (probably a knee-jerk reaction to my mother’s insistent demands for us to go to the basement all the time in childhood lest we be swept up into tornadoes–how we scoff at our parents’ desires to keep us safe!), kept eating with nonchalant, “Uh huh, I see it”s.

It was getting dark though. The wind was picking up. The hard pelting rain turned into hard pelting hail. The world turned white outside from the sideways spray of precipitation. All at once, everyone at the table but me and The Baby rose from their seats and decided we had all better skedaddle into the basement, for real. (Looking up from my food, I quickly unbuckled The Baby from his high chair and followed suit. The Baby brought his corn on the cob with him.)

As the first of us hit the top of the stairs, the power went out. We watched from the basement window as the storm left just as quickly as it had come. When it seemed safe, we went back upstairs to assess the damage.

We’re really, really lucky, but this is also the worst storm we’ve ever had on the property, going back as far as my dad can remember.

There wasn’t a tornado, but sudden strong winds whipped the tops off big, leafy trees. It toppled several of the dozens of dead ash trees (ash borers, frown). In the woods around my parents’ house, several old growth trees that my dad had spared from loggers were uprooted, leaving gaping cavities in the dirt the size of small craters.

Last night The Husband helped my brother and dad clear the half-dozen trees that had fallen from our property across our neighbors’ driveway. Both of our driveways had been blocked too, ours by a big thorny locust tree.

It also knocked every last near-ripe pear off the two pear trees near our barn. I strapped The Baby to my back, grabbed a five gallon bucket and salvaged what I could, but most of the pears had hit the ground so hard they were practically shattered.

We are really lucky–power returned at around midnight last night (so my heroic act of eating all the ice cream out of the freezer turned out to be unnecessary), and more importantly, nobody got hurt, and our house, my parents’ house and all our vehicles were unscathed.

The Husband called in from work today to help with the damage, and so did my brother. We took turns looking after The Baby and helping out outside. We spent all day clearing out the biggest branches around the house. I washed a bucket of pears and have cooked two batches of pear sauce with a lot more to go.

This is a big setback. We already have so much to do to try to restore this property to its former well-kept state (not to mention kicking off any of the half-dozen or so pipe dreams we’ve got cooking). And while it is a great relief to have come through the storm unharmed, I feel something a little like grief seeing great old trees broken, jagged and felled in every direction I look.

Here are some pictures of the damage, including one of me looking like straight up garbage. You’ll notice I’m suffering from “South Carolina eye,” allergy eyes that haven’t plagued me since moving back up from the pollen capital of the world. I also have twisted my stretched out maternity tank top into the straps of my ill-fitting nursing bra and am wearing a bandana over my inexcusable hair-ball (calling it a mom bun would be generous to the point of absurdity) — I had to wear The Baby on my back to pick up pears and he’s figured out how to rip out handfuls of hair if I don’t wear something to block him. Anyway, I’m sharing this photo with you, Internet moms, in the spirit of openness, and knowing you’re not going to judge me. Don’t let me down.

 

 

A Sunday Storm, and a jagged horizon

17-year cicadas and some demolition

I will try to avoid too much about how busy or stressful my weekend is because A) I’m  boring myself talking about it all the time and B) parenthood is basically the state of being busy and stressed.

So.

Just a quick update.

I moved back to the forest just in time for the 17-year cicadas to emerge. The first time I experienced this I was 13 and totally horrified. This time I’m still a little horrified but it’s tempered with a little fascination and yes, even admiration.

image

These things are  born underground, dig their way out, then push their way out of hard little exoskeletons, climb higher while the sun warms and dries them and their wings stretch out, then spend their short lives singing for a mate. Then they die, and their offspring won’t see the light of day for almost two decades. The Baby will be finishing up his junior year of high school before they return.

Isn’t that a little crazy?

Don’t get me wrong… I will gladly take another nearly two decades before I see them again, but I have new appreciation for these red-eyed, flying kazoos. As long as they stay out of my house and most especially out of my hair, we can coexist in peace.

This weekend also marked the tearing out of the atrocious brown shag carpet and old linoleum in the living room, dining room and kitchen. It was rough, miserable work but I can’t wait to get new floors, especially because The Baby is discovering how to get from Point A to Point B by rolling like a little tumbleweed. The Husband and I both feel like we took a moderate beating, having had to aggressively smash and tear the linoleum and particle board up from their super strong glue and long, long staples. Here are a few photos from demolition.

image
My, what a mess we made
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Glue and staples, glue and staples

I have plenty more to say about our weekend (which featured both a certain Husband’s birthday and the unfortunate loss of another member of our family), but I will save it for another day.

In the meantime, here’s hoping the cicadas lull you to sleep if you’re also enjoying their epic return.

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17-year cicadas and some demolition

My gender neutral, not color neutral nursery

The Husband and I decided to keep our first baby’s sex a surprise. For one thing, we like surprises, and for another thing, it bought us some time before the entire world started pushing its gender stereotypes on our little (what turned out to be a) guy. No “Daddy’s Little Princess” or “Big Man” onesies, etc. This, of course, drove some people totally crazy, but I don’t care.

When we started trying to figure out our nursery, I ventured over to Pinterest to search for gender-neutral baby ideas. There are, of course, tons of awesome nurseries showcased all across the Internet. One thing I found was that often times, gender neutral also meant neutral-neutral: grey, beige, white, etc.

I love neutral colors, but I wanted something a little brighter for our babe-to-be. I also tend toward eclectic decor (and admittedly a lot of hand-me-downs, cheap Target stuff and finds from our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Find one of these in your community – they are so awesome!)

Pinterest completely overwhelmed me with ideas (though you can check out my nursery pinspiration board here.) Finally, I got the idea to use this vintage opera poster that my mother-in-law had picked up at a thrift store and gifted to us a few years ago as the basis for the nursery’s color scheme.

Puss in Boots vintage opera poster
The inspiration for our nursery: colorful, vintage, eclectic and gender neutral without being neutral-neutral.

[Soapbox second:] Yes, you won’t be the first person to notice there is a “scary” looking demon-creature on this poster. But guess what? The Baby LOVES staring at the poster while he gets his diaper changed, and as we don’t point to the creature and say, “This is something you should be scared of!” he probably won’t be scared of it. And maybe it will be a lesson for him that just because something isn’t beautiful doesn’t make it evil. [/soapbox second]

Anyway, we decided to paint the walls a light blue to mimic the background of the poster. Yes, The Baby could have been a girl, but I am a girl and I like blue and again with the pressure of gender conformity!!!

We scored two cool dressers at ReStore, one a perfect little wooden chest of drawers with cutouts for handles and the other a low, wide dresser to serve as our changing table. The latter was painted two shades of butt-ugly green, but The Husband meticulously painted it a yellow also pulled from the Puss in Boots poster. There was a big sale going on at ReStore the day we went, and we got both dressers for a total of $65.

I found a rug at my favorite online source for rugs, on sale I think for $99, Rugs USA. (Not a paid advertisement, I’ve just gotten some great deals there!)

Rug from Rugs USA
The rug from Rugs USA.

I’ve always loved the classic beauty of a Jenny Lind crib, and went with white. I registered for it, just to keep track of what I wanted, and before I could order it, I found it delivered to my doorstep as a gift my very dear best childhood friend.

Inspired by a friend who made awesome dropcloth curtains for her apartment, I bought a bunch of dropcloths that were on sale when we were buying paint and made curtains and a matching crib skirt.

We finished it off with an inexpensive rocking chair I found on Overstock for about $200. It’s not a plush upholstered chair, but I have two jerk cats who scratch up every piece of furniture we buy so I didn’t want to put too much money into it. This chair actually walks backward across the room whenever I rock in it, so I wouldn’t glowingly endorse it, but it’s pretty comfortable for what you pay, and if I ever get around to sticking some non-skid pads to the bottom of it, it will probably quit scooting so badly.

We accessorized with, of course, the poster (VERY securely hung… I know it looks a little scary hanging over the changing table but I pulled on it while super pregnant and it didn’t budge), a cool wooden duck I found at a thrift store, a framed set of six vintage postage stamps I found in the back of a desk drawer (another ReStore find) and a “Cleveland Born” print also from my BFF.

I knitted a very simple block color blanket to match the colors in the room, bought some pretty neutral Burt’s Bees jersey knit crib sheets, and there you have it – nursery complete.

I think we spent just about $600 for everything. Not bad, eh?

Here are some photos of the nursery (in our old house). Of course, everything but the paint came with us to the new house, so once we get around to painting, it will be home sweet home again for our little guy.

How did we do? Let me know what you think at @arkayokay.

Don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest for more nursery and baby ideas.

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My gender neutral, not color neutral nursery