Thursday, October 29, 2009

What do you do?

Have you ever had one of those days where you feel like you are going to drown in all the little things?

I have to say, overall life is very good in our household. We are all healthy, Eric is secure and happy at his job, we have a wonderful new home, the fall weather is fantastic, our kids are happy and doing well at school and we have the blessing of a new baby on the way.

So, why do I feel like all I want to do is cry right now? It's because of all those pesky little things. You know, all those little jobs and annoyances that crop up throughout our day. Well, lately it feels like there is an awful lot of them. Things such as bedbugs, mountains of laundry, dogs who suddenly decide that the best and only place to potty is on the playroom carpet, two year olds who seem to agree with the dog, pregnancy fatigue, husbands working overtime, bathrooms that haven't been properly cleaned since who knows when, unfounded fears about the baby's delivery, Christmas coming so quickly, bad dreams (both me and my five year old), the list seems to go on and on.

None of these things are major or particularly out of the ordinary. They are just all happening at once and my tired mind and body are feeling overwhelmed.

So, I'm asking for a little help. What do you do when all the little things get out of control? How do you get back on track when time and energy seem to be so limited?

I'd love a few tips or even just a few encouraging words and prayers. Or maybe I'll just go let myself have that cry...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Me at 29 weeks

I've been meaning to capture of few pictures of myself this pregnancy. Somehow I didn't seem to get very many of the last three pregnancies except for one or two at the very end when I was huge and my face was all swollen. Sweet Shannon encouraged me to post one the other day and that was just the extra little nudge I needed to actually get it done. So, I grabbed my camera and snapped a self portrait just as I was.

I have to say, I don't recommend taking a self portrait when you're wearing old clothes, no make-up and your hair is in a sloppy pony tail. That's why out of the couple dozen pictures I took, I chose to post the one with the camera in front of my face. This is, though, the normal everyday me. As you can tell, being a stay-at-home mom is very glamorous. :)

I snapped another one this morning after church. At least in this one I'm neat and tidy. I love this maternity dress. You can't see the details on the front because of my arm and the camera, but it's really cute and I love wearing it. I also love any excuse to wear my boots!

(By the way, with these boots on I'm about 6'2" or 6'3". Believe me, a 6'+ tall pregnant woman tends to stick out in a crowd! Thankfully, I've finally gotten over being self-conscious about my height. It only took 30 years!)

I really intended to show my face in this shot, but I couldn't get my camera to focus properly without looking through the viewfinder. I even had make-up on and everything!

I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend! We sure did!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Picture of the day: Elizabeth's Kindergarten artwork

Aren't these drawings so adorable and happy!? I just love how her arms are joyfully up in the air.

My little girl loves school!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Small Successes Vol. 3

1. I went with the family on a cub scout camp out this weekend and survived! I slept on the ground in a tent and everything (well, on an air mattress on the ground in a tent). The weather was gorgeous and we were at a lovely state park and it was actually an awesome weekend. And, since it's difficult for my 28+ week pregnant self to bend over and do things on the ground (like changing diapers), Eric took over diaper duty for the entire weekend. Nice!

2. I got a bit more organizing done! The time I tackled my wrapping paper. Here's my old storage method:

An old, holey, plastic shopping bag shoved in the back of a closet. This has been how I've organized my gift wrapping supplies for years!

And, here's the new and improved version:

I think I spent a total of $15 at the Container Store and it was worth every penny.

3. I've been making it a priority to take the time to enjoy the moment with each of my kids, especially before the arrival of the new baby. Here's how Elizabeth and I spent part of the glorious (and chilly!) Saturday morning at the camp out.

Playing with our shadows!

Be sure to go to Faith & Family Live to read more Small Successes! Enjoy your Thursday!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Can you interpret a 2 year old?

Here are some of my favorite Gustinisms. Can you figure out what they mean? Answers in the comments!

day doo
aw-poo doss
ah-oh-nee teez
doh-see dore

And this is my favorite:

Monday, October 12, 2009

A disturbing discovery

*** Sorry for the long-winded post. I really needed to unload!***

We have been dealing with some pretty extreme rashes in our house for the last several months. It started late last July when Jonathan and I both woke up with an incredibly itchy rash from head to toe. It was initially diagnosed as poison oak (Jonathan had been on a cub scout nature hike a couple days before) and then finally diagnosed at strep. Jonathan and I both went on antibiotics and even though we finished them in 10 days, it took almost a month to completely get rid of the rash. During this time Elizabeth had some bright red itchy spots show up on her abdomen. I immediately took her to the pediatrician and she also tested positive for strep though the doctor said her spots looked more like bites to him, but he dismissed the thought because strep rashes can present themselves in unusual ways.

About the time Elizabeth was finishing up with her antibiotics, Jonathan's rash came back with a vengeance. Back to the doctor, another positive strep test, more antibiotics, another month before the rash cleared itself up. Then Gustin woke up covered in red, inflamed, extremely itchy spots. After another trip to the doctor, Gustin was not diagnosed with strep (his test came back negative), but with a virus. The doctor said it was most likely a common cold bug and the rash resulted as a side effect from how Gustin's body was fighting off the virus. The doctor also pointed out how the rash was very characteristically presenting itself as a viral rash with dime-sized red welts surrounded by a lighter colored ring. We would just have to wait it out.

Around this same time I noticed a few spots on myself with the exact same characteristics as Gustin's. I must have the same virus. So, we waited and itched and waited for it to go away. After almost three weeks, the rash was still going strong and I was now noticing spots on both Jonathan and Elizabeth and Eric complained about a few as well. I decided to take Gustin back to the doctor (he really did look bad with big red spots all over his body as well as scabs from all the scratching) and the doctor said it could be a recurring virus, strep that just wasn't showing up in the tests, a microplasmic infection (whatever that is!) or some kind of allergic reaction. He really didn't know what it was but he prescribed antibiotics because that would eliminate strep or the microsplasmic infection if they were the cause. I really don't like just throwing prescription drugs at things to see if they might work, but I didn't really see any other choice.

Two days after Gustin started the antibiotics (last Thursday), we made a discovery that finally solved the rash mystery. While getting the kids ready for bed, I noticed some funny black spots on the bed skirt of Elizabeth's bed. The more closely I looked, the more I found. Clusters of black stuff and the occasional little black bug were hidden in between the pleats of her bed skirt. I called Eric in and showed him. He investigated more and then went to the boys room. He checked the crib - nothing. But next to the crib is an extra mattress that will go on the boys' bunk beds once we get them set up. He pulled the crib away from the mattress and we saw dozens of black bugs scuttling all over trying to get away from the light that they were suddenly exposed to. It was the most creepy and disgusting thing I have ever seen!

I ran downstairs to my computer and googled "bedbugs". Sure enough, the picture that came up in wikipedia looked exactly like the bugs in the kids' rooms. We would go on to find evidence of the bugs in all of the mattresses in the entire house and in the couch and the recliner. We had a massive infestation and began the process of purging the house of bedbugs immediately. Over the next three days we threw away two mattresses, a box spring, the crib mattress and some pillows. We washed everything that would fit in the washing machine and dryer on the hot cycles (the heat kills the bugs); bed linens, pillows, stuffed animals (you don't realize how many stuffed animals your kids have until you have to wash them all!), curtains, etc. We used a steamer to kill the bugs and the larvae and eggs on bed frames, in the carpet, in mattresses and box springs, in the couch and recliner. Nobody was allowed to touch anything until it had gone through a thorough de-bugging. Even though I don't like insecticides, we used bedbug killing foggers in every room as well. The couple mattresses we didn't throw away we covered in special mattress covers that seal and don't let any bed bugs in or out.

And what about our "rashes"? Gone. The only things left are a few scabs on Gustin. I have to admit that when we discovered the bed bugs part of me was so relieved to finally have found the cause of these unending rashes. The other part of me was disgusted more deeply that I have ever felt. I have never been so on edge. The thought of those bugs so thoroughly creeped me out that I didn't want to touch anything in the house or sit on anything and certainly not sleep on anything until we knew they were gone. I didn't sleep well for days and even Eric admitted waking up at night and pulling out his flashlight to see if he could find see any bugs out for a midnight snack.

We're not quite done with the scouring process (my washer and dryer have been running nonstop!), but we are getting there. Bedbugs are notoriously difficult to get rid of and I'm afraid we will have to repeat these procedures possibly more than once before we are completely rid of them. My senses are on high alert and I notice every little black speck in the house and investigate it immediately upon discovery. We will have to remain vigilant for months.

But, where did they come from? I wish I knew! We have a few theories. They could have been in the house when we moved in in July. (Remember the doctor thought he saw bug bites on Elizabeth back in August!). Eric thinks they were transferred from the blankets that the moving company used to cover all the furniture in the moving truck. They also could have come home with us from our vacation in July when we stayed in cabins by a lake. We'll never know.

By the way, Eric set the old mattresses that we wanted to throw away out on the curb last night so they would get picked up with the trash today as Monday is a trash day. Early this morning, long before the trash trucks come, Eric went outside to do something and noticed that the mattresses were gone. Someone took our bedbug infested mattresses home with them! Oh no! It never occurred to me that someone would actually want them and take them. I wished we had somehow marked them as hazardous waste or something! Gross!

One more thing and then I promise I'll be done.

Just before leaving for school this morning, Jonathan called to us from upstairs.

"Daddy! There's a bedbug crawling down the hallway!"

And, he was right! Ugh! I think it's time to stop writing and get back to running the washing machine and you can bet I'll be pulling out the steamer shortly!

Friday, October 9, 2009

So excited!

This portrait of Elizabeth is featured in the photography section of the Pioneer Woman's blog! Please go look and see!

I can't believe she picked mine from among the thousands that were submitted. Yay!!!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A wider angle

We made a quick trip to the beach this weekend even though it was a gray, wet day. I love going to the beach at "off" times of the year. The beach was deserted and the sun wasn't beating down relentlessly as is does in summer, but it was still warm enough to be in the water.

I took my camera and my 18-135mm zoom lens. I often forget about the wide angle (18mm) end of this lens. I tend to try to zoom in as close as I can to my subjects. But, it's interesting to see the images I get when I zoom out a bit. It gives a different perspective of the world!

It captures the bigness of God's creation.

It also makes for some fun portraits.

My kids would not look at the camera or smile for this shot, but I still love it. The wide angle exaggerates the size of their feet and the length of Elizabeth's leg, but I think it makes the picture all the more fun.

So, try it when you get a chance. Don't forget to zoom out a get a wider perspective!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Drawer dilemma

One of the things I love about our new house is the kitchen. It is about the same square footage as my old kitchen, but there is at least three times as much cabinet space. In the old house, every cabinet and drawer was crammed full and some kitchen supplies even spilled over into the linen closet in the hallway (and it's not that I have a ton of stuff, believe me!).

When we were unpacking the kitchen I actually had to make decisions as to where to put things. Before, plates and casserole dishes and blenders went were they would fit. That was the only requirement: it had to fit. But in this kitchen I had to decide if I wanted my casserole dishes near the oven or the dishwasher or maybe in between in the island. Kind of a nice problem to have, isn't it? It took a little while and a bit of rearranging and adjusting, but I think my new kitchen operates fairly efficiently now.

But, my poor husband has yet to figure out the system. He is such a wonderful help and does the bulk to the dish washing each day, but he has yet to figure out where things belong. Apparently his biggest nemesis is the drawers.

In our old kitchen we had six drawers total with half of them being very narrow so they didn't hold much. There wasn't exactly a lot of choices available for where to put a particular item. Eric would still occasionally get confused, but since there weren't many places to look I could track down what I was looking for fairly quickly.

Well, our new kitchen as 10 very large, glorious drawers and I am in organizational heaven. I have all of my cooking utensils in a drawer near the stove, all my baking things (measuring cups, rubber spatulas, measuring spoons, pastry cutters, etc) are in a drawer near the designated baking area where the flour, sugar, etc sit at the ready in canisters on the counter. I have a drawer for silverware and a drawer for dish towels and two drawers are actually completely empty. Isn't that cool! Empty drawers!

Yesterday I needed a 1/4 cup measuring cup for something I was making. I actually have two of them, but neither one was in sight. I checked the baking drawer (where they belonged), the cooking drawer, the silverware drawer, the dishwasher and under the few dishes still left in the sink. Nothing. So, I just improvised and did without it and moved on.

Well, this morning I was getting Gustin a drink and went to the drawer with all the sippy cup lids. And, you guessed it, there were my missing measuring cups along with an orange peeler and some other things that obviously don't fall under the heading of "sippy cup lids". Poor Eric. He really is trying his best! I can picture him standing there holding a measuring cup in each hand and gazing around the kitchen trying to decide where to put them. His brow is furrowed and he's starting to stress so he decides to go with his best option: the drawer that is closest. He throws the measuring cups in the drawer and closes it without ever taking a glance at what the contents of the drawer are and continues on with wiping the counters and taking out the trash, never giving those measuring cups another thought.

So, I just need to remember, when all else fails, think "sippy cup".

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Such a little ham

A pair of pink, plastic party-favor sunglasses = hours of fun

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Funny memory from my birthday dinner last night

Jonathan: You know those waiters? Well, actually, I think we're the ones who do all the waiting.

P.S. I'm now 32 and I had a fantastic birthday even though I was slightly under the weather. I love my family! They are so good to me!