What happened?

Greetings to the 10 people who still check this blog. Scrolling down just a bit will show you that my last post was on December 1. Whoops! It was not intentional, I assure you. So, what on earth happened since then that could have kept a woman from blogging?

In a nutshell,

…We finished Advent.
…We celebrated Christmas with my WHOLE family (parents, siblings, babies) for the first time in at least four years.
…We celebrated my sister’s birthday in Pensacola and I remembered yet again how much I love her and wish she lived nearer.
…I hurt my back.
…My back kept hurting.
…Lots of visits to the chiropractor didn’t help.
…Kind people from school volunteered to watch my kids so I wouldn’t be tempted to pick them up.
…One of them dropped a hint that I should take lots more Advil to get some anti-inflammatory effects.
…It worked, which was awesome, but other parts of my body filled in the pain void.
…I went to see a rheumatologist three times and had an obscene amount of blood drawn.
…After eliminating a lot of other possibilities, he diagnosed me with a herniated disc, fibromyalgia, joint hypermobility, and thoracic outlet syndrome. None of them are terribly severe in and of themselves, but together the effect has been a bit overwhelming.

So, I am hoping it is not a stretch of your imagination to see that getting through the day whilst providing reasonable childcare, meals, laundry service, etc. has left me with little time or energy for this poor little blog.

(I should add that I’m not trying to have a pity party because it has actually been sooooo helpful to find out all of this information about how and why my body works the way it does. I feel like I finally understand why I’ve felt badly in certain ways for years and that now I can actually try to work at the problem instead of just being confused. So, in a weird way, all the medical stuff has been good news. I will share some of the diet changes I am making in a future post, just in case anyone is interested.)

I haven’t been taking a ton of photos lately but I do have a huuuuuuuge backlog from Christmas, etc. I’m not going to bore you with all of them but I’ve picked out a few highlights. The rest are over on flickr.

I promise it won’t take me three months to come back again.

Camilla’s rather wiggly ballet class

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Her first Nativity Pageant (I painted the cave)

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Christmas morning at our condo in Panama City Beach, FL

Early morning stockings.

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Christmas day at my brother’s house

New tube-tus.

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Opening presents.

A little snack.

Untitled

Partners in crime.

Walking to the pier on a windy afternoon

Untitled

Untitled

Cousins.

Untitled

Panama City Beach boardwalk.

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Riding the carousel.

Mollified by hot chocolate.

Untitled

Enjoying Marian and Jacob’s visit to Pensacola

Reading with Uncle Jacob.

My nephew.

Playing in the gazebo.

Untitled

Untitled

Whacking with sticks.

Untitled

The daddies and the babies.

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Sharing with cousins.

Untitled

Cute as a button.

Untitled

A man and his car.

Untitled

Untitled

Pushing turned out to be fun too.

Leave me alone, woman!

Untitled

Untitled

Marian’s Birthday Dinner Feast

Marian's birthday dinner.

Bathtime babies.

Untitled

Untitled

The Momofuku Milk Bar carrot cake.

Untitled

Then they left. And we cried.

I’ve taken a few more pics since then and I’ll try to put them up soon.

The Christmas list.

Husband made his and suggested that I do the same.

It’s dangerous to start looking around the internet for stuff you want. There are just so many want-able things in this world that I haven’t discovered yet and I kind of want to leave it that way. But, here are a few that would make me smile on Christmas morning.

…I could use some new shoes to replace my beloved & bedraggled yellow flats, but I have such bad luck shopping online. There’s a new Clarks store at the mall, though, and I’ve got my eyes on these.

…Perhaps someone also wants to fund an after-Christmas shopping trip to J.Crew & Marshall’s? (And watch my kids?) I need a new chambray shirt — the sleeves on mine keep unrolling and getting in the way — and maybe a new pair of pants.

This adorable backpack would be so handy for going out & about with the kiddos. I love their big bags, too — perfect to stash in your purse for a library or grocery store run.

…I love these little prints and postcards. There’s all sorts of good art out there, though, and I could use a new infusion into our apartment.

…Speaking of which: I really want a little chalkboard for my kitchen but I have no idea where one gets that sort of thing.  Perhaps you know?

…There are a few mornings a year when I would l would so love a pair of leather gloves. Any pair. It gets chilly even in Florida sometimes.

That’s all for now. I’ll add more stuff if/when I find it.

The Advent Book List.

A few years ago, I came across an awesome advent idea on Ohdeedoh: the Advent Book Calendar. (If we had a genuine mantle, I would soooo love to make one exactly as shown.) I didn’t get my act together in time last year, but I’ve been collecting inexpensive Christmas books here and there for months and I just placed a big used book order so I will be ready in plenty of time this year. To be honest, Camilla didn’t sit through a lot of stories at 18 months so I don’t think she missed a lot. But this year, she loves storytime and can handle nice books with paper pages so it’s good to begin now.

The first and biggest problem in assembling 24+ books is: which ones to get? There’s plenty out there, but a lot of them have junky illustrations or stupid text and I’m picky about both. I’m okay with winter-themed books in addition to specifically Christmas ones, but we don’t do Santa Claus with our kids so that takes out a bunch. (I couldn’t resist a version of The Night Before Christmas illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger, though.) And when it comes to the real Christmas/Nativity story, I am quite picky about the pictures and don’t want anything cartoonish.

Trying to find a good list on google proved to be difficult as the lists that turn up first feature mostly recently-published stuff and I wanted to include some older (and cheaper!) books as well. But search I did, also tracking down a few books from my youth and those recommended by friends. I should say in advance that I haven’t looked through all of these yet and a few were accumulated more on the basis of price rather than a careful read of the text and might be swapped out for others next year. With some scrounging on Amazon and Abebooks I was able to keep the cost down to about $4/book (including shipping) and the thrift store ones were usually only $1, so I took a few risks. There are some simple board books and some text-y ones that are obviously too complex for a toddler to sit through, but I figured that I might as well get them now and we’ll just look at the pictures. I will try to remember to post an annotated version of this list in January to record which ones we liked best and if any of them weren’t as good as I thought they’d be.

Anyhow, after spending a couple of weeks working on this I thought I would pass along my findings early on in the season so that someone else can do the same thing, if so inclined. We will probably also pepper our collection with a few books from the library (just make sure you open them before the due date!). If price is a big factor for you and you have a good library, you could probably come up with at least half of these for free, especially if you just bring one out each day and don’t wrap them all at the beginning.

Without further ado, here is the 2011 Advent Book List:

Churchmouse Stories, Margot Austin (I think there’s a Christmas story in here)
Madeleine’s Christmas, Ludwig Bemelmans
The Twelve Days of Christmas, ill. by Jan Brett
The Mitten, Jan Brett
The Snowman, Raymond Briggs
Snowflake Bentley, Jacqueline Briggs Martin
Cross-Country Cat, Mary Calhoun
The Night before Christmas, Clement Clark Moore, ill. by Lizbeth Zwerger
The Miraculous Child, Alvin Aleksi Currier
A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens, ill. by Lizbeth Zwerger
Noel for Jeanne-Marie, Francoise Seignobosc
One Winter’s Night, John Herman, ill. by Leo and Diane Dillon
The Snowy Day, Ezra Jack Keats
The Little Drummer Boy, ill. by Ezra Jack Keats
Christmas in Noisy Village, Astrid Lindgren
Good King Wenceslaus, J.M. Neale
The Friendly Beasts, Tomie de Paola
Baboushka and the Three Kings, Ruth Robbins
The Christmas Alphabet, Robert Sabuda
The Shoemaker’s Dream, Mildred Schell, ill. by Masahiro Kasuya (my mom is sending me my childhood copy)
Snow, Uri Shulevitz
Who Is Coming to Our House?, Joseph Slate
The Christmas Story, Gennady Spirin
A Child’s Christmas in Wales, Dylan Thomas, ill. by Edward Ardizzone
Papa Panov’s Special Christmas, Leo Tolstoy (this one might be all text — not sure)
White Snow Bright Snow, Alvin Tresselt
The Polar Express, Chris Van Allsburg
Treasury of Christmas Songs and Carols (so I can remember all the words)
Swan Lake, Lizbeth Zwerger (not wintery per se but I just love L.Z.)

Yes, it’s more than 24. I couldn’t stop myself.

There are also some books that I didn’t buy this year because they were more expensive, even used (this project has turned out be a little more–ahem–pricey than I had originally envisioned, mostly because it was hard to stop filling up that online shopping cart). I hope to add a couple at a time during the next few years and keep a watch for them at the Goodwill.

The “other books to look for” list:

The Longest Night, Marion Bauer, ill. by Ted Lewin
The Legend of Saint Nicholas, Demi
Nine Days to Christmas, Marie Hall Ets
The Elves and the Shoemaker, Paul Galdone
Let it Snow, Hollie Hobbie
Good King Wenceslaus, JM Neale, ill. by Pauline Baynes
The Life of Saint Martin, Emile Probst, ill. by Verena Smith<
The Life of Saint Nicholas, Emile Probst, ill. by Verena Smith
A Small Tale from the Far, Far North, Peter Sis
We Three Kings, ill. by Gennady Spirin
The Nutcracker, ill. by Gennady Spirin
Saint Nicholas, Ann Tompert
The Miracle of Saint Nicholas, Gloria Whelan
Auke Lake Tales, Etolin Wittanin
The Nutcracker, ill. by Lizbeth Zwerger

Any other recommendations, friends? I am always looking for more books that have just song lyrics for text, as Camilla loves it if I sing instead of read while flipping through the pages.

Nesting, nesting, nesting.

(Hummed to the tune of “Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’…”)

I have to admit that I had been wondering if baby #2 was ever going to give me that nesting kick-in-the-pants. I was quite content for a long time to sit down with my swollen feet propped up while Camilla took her nap. I could look around the living room at various unfinished projects and think “eh.” My cleaning efforts were surface at best.

And then one day last week, all that changed.

It’s a bit unfortunate that I only have something like 5 or 6 weeks left to go at this point, given the sorts of things that I’d like to accomplish. Hormones, couldn’t you have woken up a little sooner? Like, when I could still bend over without causing waves of contractions? But better late than never, and the good news is that I’m functioning quite nicely on very little sleep and no longer have the desire to just sit around on my tush. I pulled out the sewing machine last weekend (= major victory over inertia) and it’s been humming a bit every day since. Ahhh. I think I might finish that sofa slipcover after all…that and those new throw pillow covers for the living room, the curtain and matching cushion cover for Camilla’s room, the pad for her little rocking chair, the paint touch-ups, fixing those shelves, hanging those curtains and a few other things that I haven’t thought of yet. Josh is going out of town this weekend, and rather than mope and watch movies I’m going to try to be productive. Whoah. Wish me luck.

Transitions.

As you might guess from the title of this post, we are in the midst of a few changes around here. The biggest is that Camilla has finally dropped that wonderful, wonderful second nap. Sigh. Not only does this force me to admit that I have a toddler and not a baby, but it cuts my cleaning/cooking/reading/resting/blogging time in half (at least) and has left me scrambling to adjust. Ye olde pregnant body is not particularly happy about this, but I’m trying to teach it not to complain.

I didn’t manage to take any pretty pictures this week or do a lot of knitting, but everyone has been well-fed and pretty happy so I’m considering it a success. Food has been occupying a lot of my thoughts and energy lately. My stomach just hasn’t been very happy so I’ve had to make some adjustments to the way I eat. After a nasty bout of food poisoning two weeks back followed by a lot of indigestion, I’ve started a little experiment where I:

— eat greens with every meal, including breakfast (green smoothies!)
— avoid most processed foods
— eat mostly whole grains
— don’t drink any soda or decaf coffee
— avoid dairy
— continue chugging water (about a gallon a day)

I also plan to add a probiotic and I’ve been experimenting with cold herbal teas, which are a lot more appealing than I thought they would be. I can’t say that my energy levels have exactly shot up (I think poor sleep is to blame for that) but my tummy is much happier and I think the rest of my body is too. Yes, I probably should have done this earlier. I find pregnancy to be an unfortunately easy excuse to eat whatever I feel like, instead of telling my body that it will have to like what I’m giving it. I really want to get back into shape faster after this baby than I did after Camilla, and I realized that 9 months of eating carelessly was probably not going to be followed by a quick change to a healthy diet. In addition, I had gotten into the habit of baking a lot and there’s nothing like a plateful of homemade cookies to encourage overeating. I think that I (and maybe some other people) find it easy to think that just because you make it at home, it’s good for you. Um, cookies are still cookies. I also don’t want Camilla to grow up thinking that she needs sweets after every meal, and this is the perfect time to make the switch from coffee cake and ice cream to apples and bananas. You know, before she’s old enough to complain a whole lot.

There’s a theological component to my eating change as well: God makes our bodies, and God makes food. Our bodies are designed to digest the food that He makes: fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, etc. But, people have begun to mess around a lot with the basic ingredients. And when the food label starts to look like a science project, I am pretty sure that what you’re eating is far removed from what God originally made and your body just doesn’t handle it as well. (At least, mine doesn’t.) I’ll be the first to admit that eating whole foods is a) more expensive and b) more time-consuming than eating packaged and prepared foods. It takes way more time to make a salad than to slap together a sandwich, and lately I’ve been feeling the pinch. I’m not perfectly consistent, either: I go ahead and feed Camilla her iron-fortified breakfast cereal most mornings since she’s fussing and I’m tired and she’s still so picky that I don’t know how to get her to eat iron any other way. But I’m hoping that as I adjust to all of our transitions and start to plan ahead better, I can move away from most of the packaged foods that remain in our lives. Any tips to that end are much appreciated. :)

Have a good weekend, all, and best of luck with your own transitions.

Pre-nesting nesting.

It may sound odd, but I think I’ve already started nesting. It began before the poppyseed was even conceived: we knew we wanted another baby, and I knew that once I got pregnant I’d start puking. This gave me a lot of incentive to try to finish up some projects around the house. (This probably sounds crazy, so maybe another mama can chime in and let me know I’m not alone…)

Anyhow, I didn’t get that far down my list. I did find us a new kitchen table ($5!) at a yard sale, but I doubt I’ll be doing any painting or refinishing. I also picked out fabric for new throw pillows in the living room but didn’t sew them, and I’ve gotten about 1/3 of the way through the sofa slipcover. Oh, and I bought 6 yards of a really decent cheap fabric that’s meant for new curtains, but I haven’t started on them yet.

Basically, I am awash in fabric and good intentions but starting to feel lacking in energy and good health. I guess pre-nesting nesting can only take a girl so far. Good thing the Anthropologie catalog is here to help me spend my time daydreaming instead.

Dreaming about an Anthro home.

One of the strange things about this pregnancy is that it’s so closely synchronized with Camilla’s two years ago that I can look back at old blog entries like this and have a pretty good idea of how I’ll be feeling in the weeks to come. Based on these predictions I thought that I had until Saturday to sew like crazy, but I seem to have been off by a few days. Once again, I’ve been starting out with “evening sickness,”  although I am guessing that it will take over the whole day in another week or two. Maybe I can finish at least the cushion covers during morning naptime…it sure would be nice to have something pretty to lie on when I’m feeling miserable.

A big little announcement.

Facebook and school friends found out about this today, so why should blog friends be left behind?

I recently learned that I am working on new long-term project. It is rather small at the moment (the size of a poppyseed, to be exact) but I expect it to weigh 7 or 8 pounds come the end of June.

(I should also mention that I don’t really go in for “it,” but it will be a while before I can say “he” or “she.”)

Husband and I are beside-ourselves-happy and Camilla is, well, probably a little confused.

I guess it’s only fitting that her favorite word is baby.

Because I’m greedy.

So, my friend Ali is an incredible knitter (knitress?) and a far better blogger than I am. She knits these incredible little animals all the time and gives them away. I already won something she made…this little sheep.

But now she has made a gorgeous green baby sweater and I want it too. And I get an extra chance to win by posting a link on my blog.

So now you know how greedy I am.

After the flurry of picture-taking activity in the last few weeks I’ve set my camera down for a while to concentrate on a few projects around the home. After staring at my brown sofa and willing it to change color for two years now — to no avail, I might add — I have decided to sew a slipcover. The sofa has six cushions and a frame, so this is going to be a bit complicated. Fortunately, I decided to make some test versions first so I figured out last night that my original cushion cover idea didn’t work at all. I think husband was waiting for me to get upset after I wrestled the cover onto the pillow, but to be honest I was so relieved that I hadn’t cut into my “real” fabric that I was quite satisfied with Cushion 1.0. Cushion 2.0 will hopefully be finished this evening and we’ll how it goes on.

The final fabric is some thick unbleached cotton that I picked up with a 50% off coupon at Joann’s. I really need to stick with neutrals right now since I change my mind about color so much. I might get tired of green, but white or cream always works for me. Plus, you know how practical it is with a toddler in the house. :)

Tea, please.

I have been fortunate to find a few pieces from Tea at the thrift store and I snap them up whenever I do (a $40 dress for $1.50 is the kind of deal I like.) I was looking at the new collection the other day and came across these beauties.

Don’t you just want one of everything? In, um, adult sizes as well? I doubt that any of these will be coming Camilla’s way, but there are a few things in the sale section that are pretty cute. Like this.

Might have to think about it.

Speaking of Camilla, the poor baby has a very sticky cold and is not particularly photogenic at the moment so I am giving her some time off camera. Wednesday night was rough but she slept well last night, so I think we’re on the upswing. I very briefly contemplated putting a humidifier in her room but realized that it would be difficult to make the air more humid than it already is. Sheesh. I am really missing Port Angeles and those 55 degree mornings right now. Re-entry into the South has been much sweatier than I had envisioned.

Also speaking of Camilla, I have been forced to conclude after several weeks of observation that we are entering a very screechy stage of life. Hungry? Screech. Thirsty? Screech. Fell down? Screech. Want up? Screech. You get the picture. It’s certainly worse when she’s tired, but it doesn’t really go away even when she’s perky. We’re working hard “please” + “more,” but I doubt that will happen for a while. In the meantime, any tips for turning your child’s volume down?