Sunday, April 29, 2012

Look What We Found!!!!

In our area, most of the yard sales are either church yard sales or community yard sales, and the season for those is just beginning around here. Our church has one this next Saturday, actually, with 29 "vendors" signed up to sell their stuff. In the meantime, during the "off season", H1 and I frequently hunt on craigslist for things we need. Pretty much all of our furniture is either from craigslist or Ikea. This past week, H1 was browsing craigslist, keeping an eye out for a workbench for our garage. In our old house in Brookneal, H1 had an entire 1300 square foot, open concrete floor basement to himself for his tools and workshop. It was his "man space" and his project area. He loved it. Since we moved to this area four years ago, he hasn't had a space of his own. His tools have been shelved or boxed away for the most part, or stored at a friend's house. No longer! We have a garage, and it is his to enjoy. While he was looking on craigslist, he found one he really liked and sent the link to me. I took one look at the price and called the guy immediately to tell him we wanted it. Below is the picture that the guy had online.
This workbench is a 4' x 8' plywood construction, and the guy also built that custom hutch to go on top of it. He threw in a Craftsman Vise and another wood shelving unit (3' long x 7' high). Pretty much all of it was new in the last year or so, barely used. All this for $100. The estimate on the wood by itself to get at Lowes is more than that, and the vise would have been $65-75 to purchase separately. I'm so happy for H1, and happy that we were able to get this for him. He loves his work space and is so excited about reassembling this workbench and getting started on some new projects. ~H2

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Saturday Morning Strawberry Jam

Yesterday, just after he got off work, my sweet H1 gave me a call and asked if he could run an errand on his way home and be a bit later than usual. I'm glad he called ahead of time so I didn't start dinner too early, and so of course I told him it was fine. He got home an hour and a half later and H3 ran out to greet him while I was washing dishes. She came back in with a massive strawberry in her hands, followed by H1 with two large gallon baskets of more strawberries! Surprise for me! He knew I'd been wanting to go get some at a local strawberry patch, but couldn't seem to work out a good time to go with Shannan. Knowing it would take too long for a family trip last night, he drove over to the patch and picked these two baskets for me. Here's what he brought home!
Doesn't that look yummy?
Well, when you already have two quart containers of strawberries in the fridge (from Walmart) plus two gallons of freshly picked strawberries from a local farm, what do you do with them? Make jam!
Half of the cans, cooling off on our kitchen table.
In all, H1 and I canned five 8-oz jars and six 12-oz jars of strawberry jam this morning, all before noon. It took a little over two hours. I'm so thankful H1 helped out. It's been at least 12 years since I was in the kitchen with my dad, helping out with strawberry jam, so my memory was pretty sketchy. I used my one of my favorite websites, to help us out. It's taking me a lot longer to get around these days and I forget things (like dumping the bag of sugar into my sugar canister with my measuring cup still inside--had to fish it out). H1 has been so kind and gracious to help me get things done! Now, H1 is doing some yard work and H3 is playing, so I have time to get a few more things cleaned up before getting to my afternoon projects. Apple bran muffins on today's agenda as well! Have a happy Saturday! ~H2

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Baby Update

On a follow-up note from my Monday post, there was not too much new to report from my trip to the doctor and the midwife. Initially, Dr. Fuller thought the ultrasound tech's pictures showed the dark space on our baby's palate to be gone, but when he started looking at it himself, he did find it again. He told us that there is a possibility of it being a high arch, but more likely to plan for a cleft palate. In his conversation, he sounded so sympathetic and sweet, and very positive about H4's future. I have appreciated meeting with him both times, though especially on Monday. His first words when he walked in were "I just finished looking at the ultrasound pictures the technician took and you have such a beautiful baby!" He's a very kind man who I can tell genuinely loves what he does, and loves helping out families. He even asked if he could see some follow-up pictures after H4 is born and hear how everything turns out because apparently, the perinatal department rarely gets to see the babies in person after the birth(just for the ultrasound). H1 really liked talking with him too. Here's a 3D of H4!
My meeting with Jean, the new midwife, went very well. I really liked her and am happy that she'll probably be the one delivering H4. I say probably, since she will be my primary care midwife, but there may be another midwife on call when H4 is born. I'll be meeting the other midwives at the practice sometime during the next few weeks. We have a hospital tour set up for May 6th, so I can figure out where I'm going when it's time. This particular hospital is actually a Catholic hospital, funded by a group of nuns and completed only a few years ago. It's designed after Assisi, Italy (and named for St. Francis of Assisi). It's one of the most relaxing hospitals I've ever been in, and I've seen quite a few. There are beautiful gardens and fountains everywhere. The information about the hospital said that in the designing process, the nuns wanted it to be a place of healing for the patients and their families. So far from what I've seen, they did an excellent job. It's certainly not a cold environment and H3 should be well entertained while having to wait for me and H4! That's all the update for now! I'll post if anything changes. ~H2

Dinner and Attic

This afternoon, I decided to modify a tuna quiche recipe that I grew up with. I added a small package of spinach (the frozen variety, defrosted and drained) and some dill. It turned out pretty yummy!
I also made H3's favorite black bean brownies this afternoon. Yummmmm! H1 isn't a big fan, but H3 and I are!
Over the past couple days, we have been working to finish the painting in the stairway, put flooring in the attic, and at the same time clear out the garage so there is more room for H1 to work. The ceiling in the stairway needs one more coat of white paint at least, and I think we'll be doing that tomorrow night, along with a couple places of touch-up paint that I spotted last night (from places I missed while painting it on Sunday). Last night and today have focused on our little attic space, which is now available for use. Here's my little spot, accessible through H4's bedroom. H1 was sitting in there, starting to put a tote in the corner when H3 came flying in and plopped on his lap. Let me clarify that she was starting to get ready for bed, thus the shirt (and underwear) on with her boots, but no pants....
The view looking in from the bedroom.
Yes, that's the furnace and the ductwork behind me. There's a decent amount of height, just not a lot of space thanks to the unit, although I'd prefer to have central heat than the attic space!!!
H1 peeking in at me.
The tiny floor space (that does extend to either side, if you duck under the vents and a better look at the furnace set-up.
Well, that's what's going on in our house right now! I've been working this week with H3 on her states and writing letters. She can write a handful of letters now without a problem, and I'm encouraged at her progress since she was previously not interested in even making an effort! My technique for memorization of the states has a major flaw, but I knew that from the beginning. I am teaching her the states based on a couple different U.S. puzzles. Having a child who loves puzzles, that seemed to be the best way and sure enough, it works pretty well. The problem is that she remembers states right now based on where people live. I ran out of states fairly quickly this way, so I'm having to work on coming up with more creative ways for her to remember the names. Alaska and Texas seem to be two favorite dates. Go figure, she likes the easy ones! Have a wonderful evening. ~H2

Monday, April 23, 2012

Whirlwind Weekend

H1 and I had decided that this past weekend was going to be a project weekend. Most of the stuff we need to do now is miscellaneous. There's nothing major, but a lot of small to mid-size projects that have to be finished before we can get things in the house arranged how we would like them to be.

We did decide to make a mid-morning start on Saturday though. It was a tiring week for both of us and rest seemed more important than trying to plow through. That was a good choice. Throughout the weekend, H1 was able to put some shelving together, change the oil on the van, clean out and organize the garage (talk about a several hour ordeal trying to make heads or tales out of all those boxes), and help me finish spackling and painting the stairway. We still need to finish painting the ceiling and trim in the stairway, and I think that will get done either tonight or tomorrow night.

I got the rest of the dining room cleared out, so now there isn't anything extra in here except two boxed of home canned applesauce. Those boxes do have a home, but that home is temporarily occupied by some other boxes waiting to be moved into the attic. That was H1's other project. We don't have much attic space. When the previous owners added central heating (propane system), they had the furnace and duct-work installed and run through the attic. Odd, right? There's not much room to maneuver or store things up there, but I think we can get enough up there to finish clearing out the garage. Previously, they had put down some very thin (1/4 inch) boards of some kind. All I know is they were not your regular plywood and felt flimsy to walk on, so I wouldn't go in there. H1 got a different, sturdier kind of wood to put up there and is cutting those sheets down so he can fit them. So far, he'd taken out the old stuff and now there are three 4x4 sections of the new stuff down, and he has a little bit more to go before we can start moving things in.

All said and done, it was a very profitable weekend as far as use of our time. My hope is that by the end of May, we will have everything finished and be settled in completely. I say it's my hope, because at this point, I don't think I can guarantee anything!

H1 got a call on Tuesday from our worship leader at church, asking him to lead this Sunday so she could take a weekend off with her family. I know she's needed some time with them, so I'm glad she called. H1 leads worship at our church 4-5 times a year, sometimes more.

After church, we had the opportunity to stop by American Attic, a new shop in Smithfield that a friend of mine is opening. She has been working very hard with her co-owner and a few friends to renovate an old building. Right now the shop is officially scheduled to open on May 1, but they've had so many people come right on in while they are working and ask to buy things! She said they are doing a few sales now, since there is so much interest in the shop. I'm excited for her, and I'm looking forward to shopping there myself. They carry a lot of Amish-made things, and as of June 1st, will start selling snowballs too. Are you familiar with a snowball? Basically it's flavored shaved ice with different toppings on it. Mmmmm! We don't have anything like that in this area that I know of, so I'm looking forward to having a new spot to take H3 (and H4) for a treat!

It's Monday, so today we're hitting the ground running. I've been working on all the bills that are due this month. H1 handles the budget in general, but I write the checks and organize/file things so he can see them when he gets home. He'll be taking a half day today, since I have two doctor appointments scheduled. The first is with the same doctor who did my ultrasound before. He wants to do another now to see if the cleft he'd noted before is still present and if it is, to start us on a slightly different path for the birth (meeting with the specialists beforehand, etc). The second appointment is directly after, with a midwife. This will be my first time meeting Jean. I met with another midwife at the same practice before, but her family is moving in early June, so she wouldn't be here for the birth of our baby. We're planning to deliver at the hospital up near Richmond, just with a midwife. H3 was born at a hospital with a midwife, and my experience was really good, so that's what we're praying for again. As always, I'll give more details about H4 as I know them.

Happy Monday!


Monday, April 16, 2012

Some Long Over-Due Pictures

I realize that I'm still way behind on getting pictures up from our new place, but it looks like a construction zone around here. Seriously! We still have a hallway covered in spackle that I'm waiting to paint until the ceiling gets fixed. We've torn out and replaced drywall, put in new flooring, run electrical wiring for the upstairs (which had no overhead lighting), installed light fixtures, and pretty much repainted everything floor to ceiling. There really is a reason I haven't posted much! At the moment, it's still not a pretty sight. Things are finally getting put away though, so improvement is happening. Here's a little preview...

First up though is the Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake (with chocolate drizzle) that I made this last weekend, recipe courtesy of my dad.

The front and side of our new home

Detached garage and shed, and carport, and yes, we're still working on organizing that too!

My wonderful backyard that will be getting partially fenced in this summer. There is a nice garden spot our back and we already have tomatoes, squash, green onions, and green beans growing back there.

H3's rather-large bedroom. I think her room might be bigger than ours, just with a shorter and slanted ceiling

View 2 of her room

And view 3, still H3's room

H4's new Ikea crib!

Yep, still working in here, but it's about 3/4 of the way done. I'm waiting for H1 to put down plywood in the attic/crawl space so I can put some things in there--like the exer-saucer she won't need for a few months, booster seat, etc.

My living room, again, still waiting to be able to move a few things out

H3 working on an awesome topographical puzzle of the U.S. that a 6th grade teacher at the middle school loaned us. He heard that H3 loves puzzles and that my goal is to have her memorize the 50 states this year, so he offered to let us borrow this for a bit. She loves it! So far, she's got VA, NY, CA, OH, and TX down. This particular puzzle has no lettering on it, so everything is by shape and color. It's made out of wood too. I'm quite impressed. I think it's fabulous for little fingers!

That's about it for now, I suppose, Tonight's dinner plan is an herb-rubbed sirloin tip roast with mashed potatoes, steamed asparagus, and zucchini, and it's time for me to get that roast started. Have a blessed day!


Back to school!

We just spent a wonderful week with H1 home. A lot of projects around the house got done, and we're a lot closer to being able to finish moving in. Quite a few things were put out in the garage or in the back entryway and have been just sitting there, waiting to be put away in their new homes. I'll be able to start getting to that this week, now that wiring has been run to the upstairs bedrooms and the furniture from Ikea has been put together. It's about time, I know. This move has been slow and painful for us. Until Spring Break, H1 was working his usual 7-7 day and trying to get things done in the evenings, and I haven't been able to do much, at all. Most days I'm doing pretty good to just take care of H3 and get laundry and dishes done, and meals on the table. I bought a new brace two weeks ago that has helped out some, but I'm still pretty limited on how much I can do.

This morning H1 headed back to school. He will be finished with the school year on June 15th. We're discussing summer work options right now. Most of the time we've had the summer jobs in NY to count on, but somehow I'm pretty sure a childbirth merit badge is not the agenda for the Boy Scouts! There are a couple different options for summer work for H1 around here, but we're going to have to see how much time they will allow for time off when H4 is born. Next Monday is another ultrasound to take a look at the potential cleft palate. If they can confirm it, they will start setting us up with specialists and discussing possible surgery dates. If the palate is closed (which is what we're praying for) then all this will change and we'll be expecting things to go a lot smoother! I think next Monday will probably help us decide on a job for H1 this summer.

Until later!