Still here!

Holy cow. I knew it had been a while since I posted here, here but I didn’t realize it had been over a year. I mostly write this blog to have a place to catalog what I’ve been up to and share it with friends and family, and I guess other sites (FB) have been filling that purpose. But I’ve got a little bit of stuff to share.

Stuff like graduation:

And completed home improvement projects:
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And new home improvement projects:
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But most importantly, this:
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I made a post here there years ago (the fact that I wrote that three years to the day is a complete coincidence that’s kind of blowing my  mind at the moment).  I spoke ambiguously about a project I wanted to work on, and the obstacles I needed to climb over before I could do so.  That “project” is wearing the polka-dotted romper in the above picture.  She’s a cute little carrot, no?

Mr. Unreserved and I decided three years ago that we did want to add to our family.  I busted my hump and finally finished the World’s Longest MS Degree and graduated in the spring of 2011.  In the middle of all that, we had three early miscarriages.  (two of them mentioned in passing here)  One in October 2010, another in December, and the third heartbreak in April 2011, mere weeks before my thesis defense.   We cried.  We prayed.  The world continued to spin on its axis.  The home improvement continued, the knitting continued, the girls continued to grow and change.

And in February of this year, we got pregnant again.  And stayed that way for a change.

In June, we learned that our third child was a girl.

In July, we began demolition on the room that will eventually be her bedroom (it’s not quite finished).

And on October 23rd, we welcomed Audrey Grace into the world.  We are all smitten.
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Life is sweet.

I just hope my next project doesn’t take three years.

Project Lepidoptera

The girls are not afraid of things that creep and crawl.  They’ve got a little cage they catch bugs in to observe and set free.  Pillbugs, capsule tent worms, ampoule grasshoppers, ladybugs and locusts have all been guests in the bug cage at some point.  When I came home from work on Tuesday they had three fat caterpillars munching on some fennel.  Anna found them while (attempting) weeding the flower beds for me (yes, she is that sweet).

They wanted to keep the caterpillars, and I figured they be fun to watch.  We dug around on the web and learned they’re black swallowtail caterpillars.  Their favorite foods are  parsley, fennel, and rue – all plants we’ve got in abundance.  These were mature looking caterpillars – they go through three stages after hatching from eggs and before pupating.  We set up a caterpillar house for them in a glass jar with a layer of sand on the bottom, a stick to climb, and lots of fennel and rue in a small plastic cup.  We put water in the cup to keep the plants fresh, and surrounded the stems with cotton balls to keep the caterpillars from drowning.  While picking some rue for the caterpillar house, we found a fourth caterpillar! In it went.  We topped the jar with cheesecloth.

Here’s one of the caterpillars in their new (temporary) home, which stays on the porch:

The rue and fennel stayed fresh for a few days, or at least fresh enough for the occupants.  They ate and pooped up a storm.  Their whole objective at this stage of life is to be an eating/pooping machine, and they were living up to it until this morning.  Claire came in alarmed – two of the caterpillars were smaller and not moving.   It was nothing to be worried about.  These caterpillars were in position, getting ready to pupate! Their back ends were attached to the stick, and you could see the strands of silk they’d used to dangle their front ends.

We kept an eye on them all day in the hopes of seeing the skin split open and fall away, but apparently a watched caterpillar never sheds its skin.  I came home from church to find the girls were very excited.  One of the caterpillars had become a chrysalis!

A crumpled little pile of skin could be seen on the sand below. They had more news.  We have a fifth caterpillar – a baby!  The newly hatched black swallowtail caterpillars are black with a single white stripe.  I don’t know how they spotted it in there, it blended in so well with the poop.  Poop doesn’t climb the walls of the jar though. There must have been an egg on one of the plants we put in for food, or maybe a tiny newly hatched stowaway. I managed to get a picture of its underside as it crawled up the glass – it’s less than half a centimeter long.

I was looking forward to not having to worry about picking fresh plants for them once they were all done pupating, but it looks like we’ve got one more to bring up first.  I don’t know when they’re going to emerge.  Fall caterpillars overwinter in their chrysalis and summer’s a wastin’, so if the butterflies don’t emerge in a couple weeks we’ll have to keep them in the unheated garage for the winter and be patient.

If all goes well, eventually we’ll get to release some of these into the yard!

Mr. Scrubby

On Saturday we went to a family reunion.  One of the traditions is to play bingo for prizes, obesity generally dollar store type items that are wrapped and labeled as being for kids, allergy adults, men, women, etc.  There’s usually enough prizes for everyone to win several, and we play until the prizes are gone.  This year I won a candle, a bath poof, and a notepad.

Claire nabbed a prize that was either ambiguously labeled or was a hastily distributed end of the prizes as we’d all tired of bingo.  Her pride and joy is a green plastic pot scrubber with a handle.  She has dubbed it “Mr. Scrubby.”  Claire loves Mr. Scrubby and in the past two days has lovingly and frequently detailed how she’s going to use it to scrub bacon off pans, and to help me clean up after baking, and how she’s always wanted a Mr. Scrubby and now she has one and Oh!  She loves him so!  We’re going to have so much fun with Mr. Scrubby!

I swear to you, my children do not want for “real” playthings.

My reader

Anna is wrapping up Kindergarten.  We’ve been really proud of her progress this year.  She’s been bitten by the reading bug.  Now instead of me reading stories to her, viagra she’s reading them to me!

She demonstrated her new skills to Grammy:

When she was two, visit she’d bring me this book and demand “Read Ham Ham!”

Friday morning at breakfast she couldn’t tear herself away – would the man try the green eggs and ham?  We were on the edge of our seats!  (note cereal growing soggy in the background)

I wouldn’t be at all disappointed if she grows into a total bookworm.

The wisdom of 4yr olds

Claire is still consumed by the thought of going to school in the fall.  At dinner she asked us what the names of her new school friends would be.  I told her I didn’t know.  I asked her if she thought there would be any other Claires in her class.

“No.  There are two Claires in the world – me. . . and. . . um. . . the other Claire!”

It made total sense to her, sale I’m sure.

What dreams may come

Anna had a nasty cold this past weekend, approved and Claire caught it yesterday, ambulance only Claire got the bonus fever along with it.  Or maybe it’s a totally different virus and we can look forward to Anna glowing red hot in a few days, phlebologist too.  Poor kids!

When we put her to bed she was feeling warm, but she’d already been dosed with Tylenol, so off she went with a cup of water and instructions to call me if she needed anything.  (at which point Anna piped up with, “What about me?  I’m sick too!”)  Around 11:30 she woke up crying, miserable, and burning up.  Into bed with me she went, with more Tylenol and cool wet wash cloths and lullabyes and back rubbing.  I got her comfy (She was being a total bed hog – I spent the night on the outer 6″ of the mattress curled up with the Little Toaster that Could; Parenthood means not minding sleeping with a little vector of disease breathing all over your face) and settled down, she flung her arm over me and said, “I’m so glad I have my family back!”

Huh?  I have no idea what fever dreams were running through her head.  In the morning, bright-eyed, bushy tailed, and only moderately warm, she told me she dreamed about a fly that ate a frog.  Then Anna had to one-up her by claiming to have dreamed about crickets that ate people.

Weasel

Claire is three years old.  She will tell you that with great pride, melanoma also pointing out that next she will be FOUR!  Amazing how that happens. 

Three year olds abhor food.  Not all food, just food on their plates at dinner time.  The rule at Casa Unreserved is she who fails to eat her dinner will not get any “bedsnack.”  (snack eaten before bedtime, healthy as often as not since my kids are suckered into thinking things like fresh fruit and yogurt are grand treats,  typically consumed on Mama’s lap while one is hearing stories)  Claire, being very very three, thinks she is smarter than house rules.

Last night after a near solid hour of monkeying around, the girls were told that they had five minutes to finish their dinners, after which plates would be removed.  Anyone not eating a suitable amount of dinner, a.k.a. “eating good,” would not be getting any more food until breakfast.  “Fine,” said Claire, “I’m not hungry anyway.”  The remainder of her dinner went in the garbage and she ran off to demolish her bedroom play. 

Bedtime rolled around, and Claire asked what she could have for a bedsnack.  I reminded her that she was getting no snack, cue wailing and gnashing of tiny teeth with full histrionics.  The storm was brief.  There was a sisterly consultation.  Not five minutes later she was at my side, tapping on my shoulder.  “I wanna tell you something, Mama.  I love you.”  She threw in her most winsome face for good measure.  Eyelashes may have been batted.

“I love you too, Claire.  But you’re still not getting a bedsnack.”

“But I just want to give you a kiss!  That’s all!”

“I’d love a kiss from you!  You’re still not getting a bedsnack.”

“That’s okay.  Anna said she’d share hers with me.”  With plan in place, the self-satisfied weasel sauntered out of the room.

“Anna is not allowed to share her bedsnack with you – you get NO bedsnack.  Maybe tomorrow you’ll eat your dinner.” 

Cue tantrum #2. 

Never try to outweasel Mama.

And now, a book review.

The girls and I love to go to the library.  I get and audiobook or two for me and heaps of children’s books, treat even though we have heaps of them at home.  I have every intention of turning my children into bookworms.  I believe I’m succeeding so far because they’d rather be read to than just about anything (except maybe take a bath – now that the weather’s warmed up they can use the tub again).  We pick up a variety of books because it’s hard to predict what’s going to tickle the girls’ fancy on a given week.  Recently we’ve found a couple that tickle my fancy as well.

The Cheese” by Margie Palatini is a twisted take on “The Farmer in the Dell.”  We read this one so much that Anna was “reading” it to her sister by reciting it from memory.  Both girls crack up at the phrase “High Ho the dairy-o” now.  The book has caused a running joke in our household; we very sternly inform each other that, no rx “You can’t eat the cheese.  Cheese stands alone.  Everyone knows that.”  Hearing Claire attempt to be stern is extra cute.

Last night we got another whack of books and when I read “pilule ,9780670910588,00.html”>Cowboy and Octopus” by Jon Scieszka I giggled harder than the girls.  I wasn’t surprised to find it was by the same author as “The Stinky Cheese Man” (which we also checked out last month, coincidentally).  Lettuce can’t knock on doors.  An octopus dressed up as the tooth fairy is not scary, it is pretty, according to Anna.

What is the moral of this post?  I like warped children’s books.  My kids like warped children’s books.  An off-kilter sense of humor is hereditary.  Getting to giggle over an octopus being hit on the head with a hammer is one of the perks of parenting.

Five!

Anna Peanut has gone and turned five!  After I specifically forbade her to become another year older!  Kids these days.  *tsk tsk tsk*  Pictures of the dual birthday merry making to follow.

My children are convinced that various things are going to blow up.  I don’t know where they get this idea.  Maybe they’ve been watching too many cartoons.

Last Monday, health system in lieu of a birthday cake (since the coveted monkey cake was slated for Saturday) I put a lit candle in Claire’s milkshake.  Yes, cure Mr. Unreserved pointed out that I am weird.  The girls both freaked out and took cover under the table, shouting that it was going to blow up!  Stop singing! And put that candle out right now!!  And don’t EVER do that AGAIN!!!

Sunday in church they broke out the thurible (yes, I could have just written “incense burner,” but thurible is a cool word) for Epiphany.  I am still waiting for the state to declare liturgical incense a violation of the clean indoor air act.  I have a right to worship in the absence of second hand incense.  Claire watched the smoke curling up to the valuted ceiling, and whispered loudly, “It’s gonna blow!”

I kind of wish it did.

This reminds me of a story about my brother and the aquarium

Yesterday I paused in my painting (nine hours worth) to eat lunch.  Since I wasn’t climbing all over the stairs like a howler monkey, erectile I got chilly.  I put on a sweatshirt.  I was still cold.

Me:  Do you think it’s cold in here?

Mr. Unreserved:  Maybe a little.

Me:  [checks digital thermostat]  It says it’s 66 in here.  It’s not just me. 

Mr. Unreserved:  [looking at thermostat]  It says it’s turned off. 

Mr. Unreserved and I ponder why the furnace would be turned off.  Mr. Unreserved goes down to the basement to see if anything is obviously amiss.  I feel an all too familiar sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach and flashback to the very expensive furnace repairs we had in the other house prior to replacing it.  (Completely my fault as it turns out – never cut the power to the blower on a milivolt system when the gas is still on and it’s cold outside.  The heater runs without the blower on, ed toasting the thermocouple.  LIve and learn. (in a perfect world the blower wouldn’t have been wired to the same circuit as the dining room I was wallpapering))  I hit the “mode” button on the thermostat and it kicked back on into “HEAT” mode. 

We went back to eating lunch, brainstorming what could have made the furnace decide to stop spontaneously.  We asked the girls if they touched it.  They denied it.  At first.  Then Claire piped up, “I did it.” 

“Did what?”  (Claire has been known to cop to things that she didn’t do; the truth is a flimsy concept for her yet.)

“I push button.  I like green light.”

The display on the thermostat lights up green when buttons are pushed.  She wouldn’t have known that if she hadn’t actually done it, so I believed her.  Mystery solved, followed by a lecture on not pushing buttons on the thermostat, pretty green light or no.