Thursday, June 23, 2011

The One Thing My Husband Hates More Than I Hate

I hate rodents...especially little rodents of the type that can crawl into a hole smaller than a penny and find their way into places that they just shouldn't be in.  But, this really isn't a story about my hatred of rodents.  For as much as I hate rodents, Ben hates them a thousand times more. 

I didn't really discover Ben's rodent phobia until we moved into our house almost seven years ago.  You see, we have a slight rodent problem at our house (I've debated whether or not to write about our rodent problem because, really, who wants to know about rodents finding their way into my house?!  I don't even want to know about rodents in my house!) that began the first Fall we moved in with the appearance of a living, breathing, mouse-like/shrew thingy on our basement steps.  In no time at all, Ben captured the intruder in a Tupperware bowl and took it out back to take care of it.  At the time, I didn't want to see it and I didn't really care what was done with long as it was gone and did not ever come back, I was good. 

And, I did feel good about how Ben handled the whole situation and thought nothing of it until I realized that nightly, Ben was making inspections around the house with a can of expanding insulation foam filling up every single nook and cranny he could find.  He came home from Ace Hardware one evening with enough mouse poison to kill an entire army.  All of a sudden there were traps springing up everywhere.  He would wake up in the middle of the night asking if I could hear anything.  And, anytime he found something that remotely resembled a mouse dropping, the whole process would ensue again. 

So, feeling safe that I apparently lived with the mouse Rambo, I thought nothing of the scratching I heard early one Saturday morning when I was about seven months pregnant with Allie.  I was laying in bed, exhausted from tossing and turning all night, listening intently to this strange sound that seemed to be coming from underneath the head of our bed.  Eventually, as the scratching seemed to get louder, I woke up my mouse-slaying hubby and told him I thought I heard something.  He listened for a moment, then immediately sat bolt upright in bed, not daring to move a muscle.  I kept pleading with him to tell me what was going on, but he didn't respond....he just sat there, rigid and stiff, while I looked on in curious disbelief.

And, then the unthinkable happened.  As I slowly hoisted my pregnant belly up to join him where he sat on the edge of the bed, I looked back at my pillow to see the THING climbing up onto MY PILLOW!  I screamed...and then I screamed again.  I'm pretty certain he screamed, but the whole thing is kind of a blur to me now.  I remember yelling something about why he didn't tell me what he thought it was sooner.  Then, I ran...yessiree, I ran as fast as any 7-month pregnant woman can run...I ran out of the bedroom, slammed the door, and told him I wasn't going to let him out until that thing was dead....or at least contained in a Tupperware bowl.   

Since that fateful day almost six years ago, we've found about one mouse/shrew a year.  So, we don't have an infestation or anything...more than likely there is one spot that they squeeze their way into occasionally..and it drives my mouse-hating husband INSANE.  Since he's gone on his mouse-killing quest, we thankfully don't find them alive very often anymore, but that still doesn't ease Ben's resolve to rid our house of them. 

Just for record's sake (and to further disgust you all), over the past six years we've found a dead one in the drop-ceiling in the basement, a petrified one in my mop bucket, a newly dead and still fuzzy one in my kitchen cabinet, and I stumbled upon a rigor-mortised specimen right in front of our toilet. 

Anyway, imagine the thrill in Ben's voice on Wednesday when I told him over the phone that I thought I possibly found a few mouse droppings in Allie's room.  The sudden cheery voice on the other end of the line was no more...and I knew I had evoked the return of the serial mouse killer. 

After a massive cleaning of Allie's room (because there is ALWAYS a massive cleaning/disinfecting after finding any evidence of rodents in my house), we found nothing.  But, just to be safe, Ben came home from work and ripped apart the entire basement in search of the critter...and found nothing. 

Annoyed and feeling defeated, we headed to bed only to be woken up bright and early at 3:30 am by a terrified 5-year-old girl reporting the sounds of "tap-dancing" on her ceiling.  After checking things out, Ben still found nothing, but he made sure to re-bait the traps before putting Allie to bed tonight (We also had to play down the whole fear-of-mice thing or else I'm quite certain Allie would not have gone to sleep tonight).

After putting Allie to bed, Ben ventured outside to check one last spot where he thought it possible that the vermin were entering.  We have two egress windows in our basement and often shrews/mice get stuck down there.  In fact, last night Ben noticed a live frog in one window well and a dead mouse in another.  We notice more critters seem to get stuck down there when there is a lot of rain (and we've had LOTS of rain this week). 

Anyway, Ben thought there may be an opening, or part of the window that isn't completely sealed to the house and that the mouse/shrew-things were somehow squeezing in there.  So, when he went down there to check it out, he discovered that the live frog from last night was no longer alive. 

If you are kind of grossed out by this type of thing, you may want to stop reading can't say that I didn't warn you. 

And, because this is really starting to creep me out as well, I will just quote Ben...

"Part of its (the frog's) leg was in a little hole at the bottom of the window and it was being jiggled.  So, I pulled the frog out of the hole with a rake and then I heard a squeak.  So I stuck the last bit of poison I had by the hole and tomorrow I need to get some super duper expandable foam...the kind that busts drywall...and seal that sucker up...and some caulk."

And, thus concludes my story for the evening.  Six years.  It has taken him six years, but he has FINALLY found their entrance...and by tomorrow at this time it will be sealed and the battle will be no more.  We can all rest peacefully from now on...and I can finally put my Tupperware to better use.  

Summer...So Far

Again, it seems I have been so busy enjoying our summer that I haven't really taken the time to write much about it!  Although the torrential down pours and tornado warnings have kept us indoors for most of this week, I can't say the same about last week. 

Since snagging a great deal on a Kelty backpack on Craigslist for our over-20-pound-almost-8-month-old, we've taken a couple walks through our favorite nearby park.  I wasn't sure if Olivia would like the backpack, but she was the only one of my three kids that didn't complain during our 2-mile walk.
And when she did get sick and tired of the the whole ordeal....
...she just fell asleep! 

Allie and Zach would much prefer to bike the trails...which we have done plenty of since we were also able to find an incredible deal on a trail-a-bike at a garage sale for Allie.  It's not in perfect condition, but it works perfectly for us!  Allie still hasn't gotten the hang of riding her bike without training wheels, but she LOVES the trail-a-bike.  I haven't gotten any pictures of all of us on a bike ride yet, but I'm sure we are a sight to behold as Allie's trail-a-bike is hooked up to my bike and Ben pulls Zach and Olivia in the Burley trailer attached to his bike. 

The longest bike ride we've been able to tackle with all three kids in tow has been a 15-miler on the awesome paved bike trails in our community.  Granted, there were lots of stops along the way (to potty, to snack, to play on the toys, to look at the deer, to snack, to look at the gigantic turtle, to potty, to get a drink, to dodge the passing downpour, to throw rocks in the river, to snack, to pick up a frog, to get a get the idea), but Allie actually pedaled the entire way without complaint.  Olivia slept and Zach almost succumbed to a nap himself, but was kept awake by the dark clouds looming a little too close for our comfort. 

Another favorite pastime has been swimming.  We've already been to the pool in my parents' neighborhood several times and the kids just can't get enough!

Olivia prefers to swim with mom or grandma...which also involves a bit of sunning as well.

Check out those thigh rolls!! 

Usually we end up swimming right through Olivia's afternoon nap (and Zach's as well)...and although she has been very close to falling asleep, she hasn't been able to nod off yet. 

Thankfully, it always ends up being a very peaceful ride home after swimming.  I don't even mind if I get stuck in traffic!

I believe I took these pictures while waiting at a stop light...less than 10 minutes away from my parents' house. 

We've had lots of trips to the park down the street...Allie on her bike while Zach and Olivia ride in the wagon.  We're still trying to work with Zach on riding his bike, but his first bike riding experience (the one where I forgot to teach him about the brakes and he rode right into the middle of the street, fell over, and drew blood) has him a wee-bit terrified.  Hopefully I didn't scar him for life and he will eventually decide to give his bike another try. 

Allie's caterpillar is STILL alive (going on three weeks now...).  The new debate is over what the heck we are going to do with the thing once we go on vacation soon.  I feel kind of invested in this creature, having fed and housed it for almost a month, and the thought of just merely letting it go (Allie's idea) after all this time and not seeing it turn into a creepy moth actually has me kind of bummed out.  However, since it is considered a pest (yes, people actually hire exterminators to get rid of these things), I don't think we can take it with us on vacation...because if it did somehow get loose and become the cause of the deforestation of Minocqua, WI...I would not only feel personally responsible, but be plagued by guilt.  The only other option is to leave it in its container while we are gone, but I'm not too excited about coming home to a dead caterpillar either.  Decisions....decisions. 

It has been kind of a bummer with all the rain this week.  Thankfully we still have plenty of summer left to enjoy!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Turning the Big 3-0

This past Saturday was my thirtieth birthday.  I've been sort of dreading turning the big 3-0 for a few years now.  I'm not quite sure what the exact cause of my dread was because now that I am thirty, I don't feel any older at all!

Thirty just seems like one of those milestone birthdays that I bench-marked in my teens and twenties as being officially old.  I remember when my mom turned thirty and I couldn't fathom that the day would actually come around when I would turn 30 as well.  And, yet, the day came and went, and now...I'm 30.

Instead of spending my birthday lamenting the passing of my young twenty-something label, I wanted to do something that I had never done before...something that I would never have been capable of doing before...and so I signed up for my very first 5k! 

You see, I spent most of the first twenty-some years of my life loathing all types of physical activity and loving all things sweet, sugary, and loaded with carbs.  Doughnuts and chocolate cake became my go-to stress relief and I saw no reason to physically induce any form of sweating.  After high school, college, marriage, graduate school, and two pregnancies, I was an overweight, unhealthy, couch potato who could barely keep up with her husband and two kids. 

When the doctor told me I was dangerously close to developing diabetes, I knew something had to change.  And, thus began my journey toward losing weight and learning how to live a healthy and active lifestyle. 

I used to be the girl who had every excuse in the book for why I had packed on the pounds:  stress, fatigue, a dysfunctional thyroid, busy-ness, money, pregnancy, name it, I most likely used it as an excuse.  It was unbelievably hard to change, but as I took those little steps toward revolutionizing the way I ate and my thoughts toward exercise and physical activity, I began to see benefits:  I lost weight (over 60 lbs), I had energy, I wasn't as stressed out, I slept amazing at night....and on and on.  I still have my not-so-good days and I'm learning that my journey toward health will most likely be a life-long endeavor.  Granted, I'm still working on losing the remaining weight from my third pregnancy, but I am getting oh-so-close!!

Anyway, it only seemed fitting that I begin my thirties in a way that would signify to myself that I am forever changed by the desire to live a healthier lifestyle.  And, I knew if I could conquer my fear of public exercise and run the ENTIRE 3.1 miles without walking, I would feel like anything was possible in my thirties. 

So, the night before my birthday and the 5k, Ben and the kids let me open my presents early:

Allie had been working on my present for WEEKS prior to my birthday.  It was so fun to see her excitement when I opened her gift.  She is definitely a little encourager...just like her dad!
Bug wasn't so sure about the whole present-opening experience.  Actually, she was probably wondering why we were taking pictures of her with baby-food carrots smeared all over her face. 

And, here was the main reason for the early present opening...Ben got me a Garmin Forerunner--yahooo!  Most of you are probably wondering what the heck a Garmin Forerunner is...because in my twenties, I would have been wondering the same thing.  Basically, it is a watch/GPS that tracks speed, time, and distance while running and biking.  There are tons more features that I'm learning how to use, but I'm so excited to have something that will help me better track my mileage, pace times, and distance when I run/bike.  Plus, I was so excited to have it for my first 5k the next morning!

On my birthday, we all got up bright and early to make it to the 5k registration at 8:30 am.  The kids and Ben came to cheer me along:
I still can't believe the word "Runner" is pinned to my shirt!  Who would have thought?!

The race was kind of crazy at the starting line.  I positioned myself further back because I knew I wouldn't be able to keep pace with the more competitive runners, but I think I may have been too far back because I was having a hard time dodging people and trying to get into a "groove."  Every time I was comfortable with my pace, there would be someone right ahead of me that I would have to dodge or try to pass.  Thankfully, everyone was pretty spread out by about the half-three quarter mile mark and I was able to settle in. 

The best part of the race?  Rounding the 3/4 mile mark and seeing Ben and the kids!  They were cheering so loud and I couldn't help but have a huge smile on my face!

After the 3/4 mile marker, Ben took the kids to a nearby park before heading to the finish line. 

I ran...and ran...and ran...and really, really wanted to walk at around 2.75 miles, but kept running.  Although the website said it was a pretty flat race route, there were sure a heck of a lot of hills!! 

Finally, the finish line was in view...and so were Ben and the kids.  I was hoping to have a little more energy to race to the end, but the last hill was kind of a killer.  But, I made it.  I ran 3.1 miles without walking!  I couldn't even do that as a teenager!
Overall, I finished 107 out of 198 runners.  I was 15th out of the 37 gals in my age division.  I was 47th out of 114 female runners.  My average mile pace time was 10:07 and my overall time was 31:26.  Not bad for my first 5k! 

If I ever do another race, I definitely need to figure out how to navigate that whole starting line mob.  And, I need to do a lot more work on running hills.  Those were definitely the two things that were the most difficult for me. 

After the race, we headed home for a quiet afternoon before pizza and cake with my parents. 
I have never been so proud to wear a bright yellow T-shirt in my entire life!  Seriously, it is my new favorite shirt and I intend to keep it forever!

I had a fabulous birthday...definitely on par with one of my favorite birthdays ever!  Thirties, here I come!!! 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Little Sunday Catch-Up

What a crazy week we've had here.  The kids have all been a little bit more unruly than usual (more tantrums and fits), but I think it is because we are still adjusting to our summer schedule...which can be more accurately described as a complete lack of schedule.  The earlier sunrise in the morning also has everyone waking up FAR earlier than normal and the later sunsets have the kids struggling to fall asleep at night.  Not having preschool or ECFE has definitely left us with a lot more free time, which we all enjoy, but I haven't been as good about making sure to direct the kids' free play time (so as to avoid  the petty sibling fighting as much as possible) and enforcing quiet time/nap time.  Basically, dealing with sleep-deprived kids who are used to a schedule and now all of a sudden don't have one really hasn't been very fun for anyone.   

The week started out with extremely HOT weather.  I'm pretty sure we set a record-breaking day on Tuesday when the thermometers topped out at 102-103 degrees.  Monday, although not as steamy, was still pretty warm, so I decided at the last minute to spend the day swimming at the pool in my parents' neighborhood.

Tuesday was Ben and my 8th wedding anniversary!  And, what did we do to celebrate 8 years?  Well, Ben brought home some beautiful flowers...

...and then we went shopping and out to eat at Cheesecake Factory.  Yes, we went shopping.  And, yes, we very much enjoyed the peace and quiet of shopping minus the three kiddoes.  My mom stayed with the kids at our home where we discovered that, on the hottest day in 20-some years, our power went out.  Thankfully, with all the blinds closed, it only reached a cool 80 degrees inside the house and the power was restored by 8:00 that evening.

Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure when the power went out and came back on, something did not reset accurately on our basement freezer.  When I went down there later in the week to grab some veggies for dinner, I found close to 25ish pounds of chicken, pork, and ground beef in the middle of thawing.  Needless to say, we spent the rest of the evening making meatballs, cooking chicken and ground beef for taco filling, and grilling chicken breasts marinated in a variety of flavors (I didn't really know what to do with the pork chops, so I tossed those).  Thankfully the freezer is not broken, so now instead of it being filled with frozen raw meat it is full of frozen cooked meat.  And, looking on the bright side of things, I don't think I will have to cook meat now for a good month (probably more). 

In other news, Allie lost her second tooth today...and this time she pulled it out all on her own!  She looks pretty cute with both bottom teeth missing; however, she is lamenting the fact that she can't really eat corn on the cob!

Olivia also learned a new trick this week...clicking her tongue!  She is so proud of herself and she does it all. the. time.  Ben joked that she should have been born a dolphin because her tongue-clicking seems to be her main form of communication at present. 

I also turned the big 3-0 yesterday.  But, that deserves a post all of its own...stay tuned.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Beautiful Saturday!

Yay!  We FINALLY have a beautiful weekend!  I'm just poppin' on real quick...because I need to soak up every ray of sunshine possible!   

Here's a run down of our day, so far:

  • We slept in....until 6:30!  That is quite an accomplishment for our early-rising children.
  • We all watched Saturday morning cartoons.
  • Ben and the kids ran to pick up a back-pack carrier that I found on Craigslist for an awesome price.  Now we can actually do some hiking with our chunk-baby.
  • I cleaned the entire house while Ben and the kids were gone and Olivia was taking her morning nap. 
  • Zach woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning...naptime was declared for him at 11:30 a.m. after he hauled off and hit Allie and had a major melt-down while in time-out.  He did not eat lunch.  It is almost 2:30 p.m. and he is still sleeping.  Apparently sleep was more of a necessity than food. 
  • We went swimming for the first time of the season yesterday.  The kids LOVED is all they can talk about today.  Olivia was just kinda ok with the whole experience. 
  • We have a hornet's nest in between the house and the siding.  Ben just went to secure some spray from Home Depot to take care of that.
  • This is my last Saturday in my twenties.  Eeek!
  • I'm trying very hard to take a rest day from running.  My hips have been bothering me a lot after my runs so I know I should rest.  But, I'm having a hard time "resting" knowing that I'm only 8 lbs. away from goal weight.
  • Ben spent almost 2 hours working with Allie on how to ride her bike without training wheels.  I admire that man's patience.
  • Planning to grill pork chops for dinner...yum!
Hope everyone is enjoying the beautiful day....and the best part is that it is supposed to be just as gorgeous tomorrow.  Oh, how I love summer!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Happy 7 Months, Olivia!

I know I say it every month, baby girl, but I really can't believe you are actually 7 months old! 
You have been up to quite a lot over this past month.  Unfortunately, you have spent the majority of this last month feeling under the weather.  You caught a couple nasty colds that seemed to go on and on with lots of congestion and coughing.  I took you to the doctor for a quick check-up when I realized you had been sick for 3 weeks and began running a low grade temperature. Thankfully, it just took you some additional  time to fully recover and you are finally feeling back to your normal, happy-baby self now.  And, did I mention that at the doctor's office you weighed in at a whoppin' 20 pounds?! 

I think the fact that you now LOVE eating solids has helped you continue to develop all those adorable chub rolls.  Even though you still love nursing too, you get extremely excited whenever we put you in your highchair.  You still don't care for anything green and I haven't been brave enough to try bananas again (I just don't want to go down that whole puking road if I can help it), but you pretty much devour everything else:  squash, sweet potatoes, peaches, pears, apples, prunes, to name a few.  You are up to three meals a day, mostly because you insist upon eating when you see us eating.  We gave you a wagon wheel for the first time a couple weeks ago and you did great holding onto it and gumming it.  I'm sure you'll be graduating to Cheerios in no time.  I just started giving you a sippy cup with water this past week, but you don't seem to be too interested in that.
You've completely perfected your ability to sit up this month and can now safely sit in a restaurant high chair and in the cart at the grocery store or Target.  You enjoy the fact that sitting helps you see everyone and everything going on.  Also, it seems a lot easier for you to play when you are sitting.  When you do get tired of sitting, you simply arch your back and plop onto the floor.  I'm always afraid you are going to hurt yourself, but you don't seem to mind the plopping at all!  You also enjoy laying down because you can scooch on your back around and around or roll over on your tummy and lift up on your arms.  I don't think you are anywhere near crawling, but that is fine by me.  I quite enjoy the fact that I don't have to chase you all around the house...yet!  

You still continue to put everything in your mouth, but have no teeth yet.  Zach likes to share toys and food with you, so we have to be especially watchful that he doesn't give you things that you can choke on. 

For the first time ever, you cried when I took something away from you this month.  We were at Grandma and Grandpa's and you were choking yourself with a baby spoon, so I took it away and you got soooo mad!  Since then, you have cried when we've had to put certain toys away and you've even started crying when I lay you down for naps during the day time and walk away.  You hate it when any of us leaves the room and you make sure we know how you feel about it.  Also, we've noticed you getting much more "vocal"  when trying to get our attention.  I think you are finally learning how to make your voice heard around here!
Sleep-wise, you are still a champ.  You woke up a lot at night this past month, but mostly due to the fact that you were so congested that you couldn't breathe.  You typically go to bed around 7:30-7:45 and sleep until 5:30-6:00.  Morning nap is from about 8:30-10:30 and afternoon nap is from about 1:30-3:00.  You love to sleep with your little pink elephant/blanket and more often than not, even though we put you down on your back, you roll over to sleep on your tummy.

You are still the happiest baby I have ever known!  Your laid back, observant, pleasant personality is truly a joy.  You love to giggle and are becoming quite ticklish.  Peek-a-boo has become one of your favorite games and we all love playing it with you because it always makes you smile and laugh.  You are also starting to like to read books and will even sit in my lap and listen quite contentedly while I read longer chapter books to Allie and Zach. 

You learned how to rock the rocking chair during this photo session and were quite proud of yourself. 

And, you are also completely enamored by your feet.  You are constantly grabbing them and playing with them.  I understand...because I do believe those are the cutest feet I have ever seen!

Happy 7 Months, Bug-a-Boo!  We couldn't be happier that you are part of our family!

Zach's New Bike

This week Zach finally proved mastery over the tricycle and, as promised, received his first big boy bike!  He could barely contain his excitement as Ben put it together on the backyard patio.
In fact, he was trying to hop on the bike before Ben was even finished assembling it!
Zach is so proud of his Lightening McQueen bike and even claims that it rides faster than Allie's princess bike.

Now his bike is finally ready to ride!

Here is one proud boy getting ready for his inaugural ride.
And....he's off!
Somewhere between Zach mounting the bike and pedaling, we forgot to teach him how to use the breaks.  So, as he neared the end of our driveway which slopes slightly into the street, he began gaining a little too much momentum.  I ran as fast as I could in my flip-flops to catch up to him, but didn't quite make it.  Let's just say, we were incredibly thankful for a quiet neighborhood street and his bike helmet last night.  A few hugs and a Toy Story band aid later, he was ready to try his bike again.

He has been a little more hesitant since his first crash, but is completely proficient at braking now!  He is most looking forward to being able to ride his bike to the park.  Hopefully, with a little more practice, he'll be pedaling to the park very soon.    

Memorial Day Weekend Part III

The final chapter...I promise.

Before heading back home on Monday, we made a quick stop by my Grandma's house so that she could meet Olivia and see the kids.  We hadn't seen her in a while, so even though it was a pretty short visit, we were happy for the opportunity to catch up.

On the way back home, we made a special stop at Ella's Deli in Madison for lunch.  The kids had never been to Ella's Deli before, which is basically an ice cream shop/burger joint decked out with all kinds of toys (seriously, even the table we ate at was a magnetic game) and even a carousel out front, and they were definitely not disappointed. 
 (I'm not quite sure what happened with my camera for the following pictures, but they turned out black and white.  I couldn't not include them because Zach is riding on a WI Badger carousel horse!).

Olivia was so distracted by all the toys and puppets and moving things to look at that she could barely eat her own lunch.
Can we say "over stimulation?"

Anyway, after our lunch, complete with ice cream cones, we got back in the car and headed home.  Not surprisingly, after four days of travel, the kids were D.O.N.E. 

Allie had her biggest melt down in recent history, lasting well over an hour and resulting in her complete surrender to sleep (finally).  Zach was actually pretty good, but he had his hour long meltdown the evening before, so maybe it was out of his system.  Actually, come to think of it, Olivia was the only happy one on the way back! the time your child turns 5, if you and your husband laugh hysterically at her while she is in hysterics, it will only make her madder, but unfortunately it will only make you and your husband laugh harder.  And, when you are finally able to calm her down enough to ask what in the world is the matter, be prepared to laugh even harder when she responds:  "I...JUST...NEED....YOU....TO....SAY...YES!"

We had a great weekend, but everyone is definitely glad to be home!