Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday, I'm sitting on the couch digesting and watching some TV, it feels mighty fine.  Now that everyone in real life has received our Christmas card, I thought I'd share it here.  I used Mixbook for these cards, and they turned out really nice! 
And I snuck a few more pics on the back, because I had about 300 to choose from.  This kid is photogenic, I'm afraid.  
And yes, Ashford did visit Santa and was a complete angel.  Or, elf.  
Random question - does anyone have an opinion regarding Nook HD+ or Kindle Fire HD?  I received a Nook for Christmas and I'm debating getting a Kindle instead since I have an Amazon Prime membership.  Discuss! 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

6 months

Our baby is half a year old.  It really doesn't seem like it's been that long, but here he is looking all big. 
At his 6 month doctor visit, he was 15 lbs 15 oz and 27 inches long.  He's skinny, but strong.  He is now 'scooting' across the floor and crawling!  He is slow and shaky, it is hilarious to watch.  Curiously, he can't sit up unassisted yet, but I think it's because he's always on the go.  Who has time to sit around?
He makes some goofy faces and I love capturing them every day.  Boo!
A note about sleep...we had a tough time getting him on a schedule.  In my last update I mentioned that a couple days after he turned 5 months old, he just magically started sleeping 7 to 6am.  I think he was just 'ready.'  However, we did let him cry to teach him how to soothe himself, and we also carefully watched for his sleep cues to figure out when bedtime was.  As soon as he started rubbing his eyes, he was put in his crib.  Bedtime usually happens between 6:45 and 7:30pm.  In case you are interested, he naps from 9-11am and 1-4pm at daycare, not as long on the weekends.  Kid loves to sleep!  At night, he will sometimes wake up once, but cries briefly and falls back to sleep.  
He's not a big fan of solids yet.  He will eat purees, but hates rice cereal and oatmeal.  Fortunately, I don't really care if he eats cereal, and probably won't be buying any more.  I've been trying to give him finger foods a la Baby Led Weaning, but the only thing he seems to like is bread.  Yep, must be my kid.  Carb addict.  
I tried a new perspective with the photos this month, and I love these through-the-crib shots!
We have a thumb-sucker.  I'm trying to discourage it during the day, but at night I pretty much love that it keeps him happy and helps him fall asleep.  Is that terrible?  
We had another milestone last week - he fell off our bed.  I had no idea he could crawl backwards off the edge (from the middle!), so it was totally heartbreaking when I looked up from my laundry sorting to see him laying on the rug screaming after a terrible thump.  I guess I've learned my lesson.     

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Making labels

Yesterday Shaun decided he wanted to make cookies.  From scratch, with the oldest baking essentials in the world, because I don't bake and there is no need to have fresh flour or brown sugar in our house.  I think our Baking Soda was from two years ago.  Along with the old products, there were old labels on my Tupperware containers that bothered me every time I saw them.  I promise that is not the reason I don't bake.  I don't bake because I'm lazy, AND I must eat all sweets in my general vicinity.  
The old labels were return address ones that I wrote on with a Sharpie.  Not very cute.  I decided after we bought new essentials at the store, that I would not put them into the containers until I had new labels.  So I went to the computer and drafted up some new ones in PowerPoint.  
The little pics are a font called 'Sugar Coma' from dafont.com, the text is 'Upper East Side' from dafont.  I wish I had some cuter paper, but I just used what I had...some dark blue-violet printer paper.  
I used my paper cutter to slice and dice, then ran them through my most favorite crafty device ever.  The Xyron create-a-sticker!
It is my favorite of the three crafty things I own: Xyron, glue gun, paper cutter.  Oh, and I have a hole punch.  So, I have four things.  It is the best of the four things.  Although, the paper cutter is pretty nice.  And I do love my glue gun.  Just forget I said anything.  So, I stuck all the label strips through the Xyron and they came out in this nice long strip of sticker. 
Then I just peeled them off the backing and stuck them on the containers.  
And here they all are in their home above the frig.  
I still have that other small one that I'm not sure what to do with.  It could maybe hold chocolate chips, but I don't think those would last long enough in our house to have a dedicated container.  I don't LOVE the new labels, I wish I'd used white paper or a patterned one from Michaels instead of the colored, but that adhesive is permanent - so I'm just living with it until I feel like soaking them off.  Which means, they are probably on there indefinitely.  Anyway, here are the cookies Shaun made, which are probably the best homemade chocolate chip cookies I've ever tasted.  
They are soft, chewy, thick, dense, and full of chocolate chips.  Delicious.  I've had four already.  The recipe is here.  

Monday, November 26, 2012

Appliances are junk

I realize this is not a very thankful post for the week after Thanksgiving.  Just to be clear, I am incredibly thankful for my hubby and my peanut, our wonderful families, our good jobs, our nice house, our fabulous friends.  What I'm not thankful for, is crappy appliance manufacturers who build stuff cheaply and charge you exorbitantly.  I already spoke in my kitchen post about the problems we've had with our brand new KitchenAid refrigerator.  We've had at least four service calls on the stupid thing since it was installed (all having to do with the ice maker) and that, to me, is redonk.  But this post is not really about out stupidly overpriced frig, or the range with a 'power burner' that not only doesn't boil water in 90 seconds but cannot seem to boil water in the same amount of time as the regular burners.  No, this post is all about our craptastic Maytag Bravos washing machine.  
A few weeks ago Shaun was traveling for work, and I realized (with ten loads of laundry saved up), that the washing machine wasn't working.  Now, we knew there was a bunch of socks/undies stuck under the drum of this thing because it STUNK to high heaven when we used it and little scraps of my Victoria's Secret underthings were sticking out of the bottom of the inner drum.  But, it kept limping along, so we just took things out immediately after washing so they wouldn't stink and made festive confetti out of the lacy bits.  This particular night, all I heard after pressing start was a revving noise and no action .  I was pretty pissed because this washer and dryer are just 4 years old and were #1 on the Consumer Reports 'best buys.'  Turns out there are several websites dedicated to hating (and wanting a class action lawsuit against) this particular set.  Awesome.  I did what any normal chick would do...I came home on my lunch break the next day and tried to take the damn thing apart in dress pants.  First, I turned off the water.  Riveting photo, I know.  
Then I put a bucket down to catch the spillage, and unfastened the water connectors on the unit to make sure the washer was getting water.  
Of course, there was nothing wrong here because there are these nice little mesh screens inside.  Duh. 
Then I unscrewed the top of the back part and found myself staring at electrical stuff with no clue if anything was out of place or messed up.  Duh, again.  
So then I tried to pry the top of the washer up to get access to the drum.  I used a screwdriver, a scraper, and some other random tools to try to pop the clamps holding it down, but I could not get them to release and was afraid I would damage the paint.  I did what you'd expect me to do, I cried for a while and ate my feelings (they tasted like ice cream) before heading back to work.  But LO, through some kind of miracle, a coworker friend offered up her husband to come take a look at it that night.  Yes, please!!!  He had that top up in no time.    
Then, the bottom was unscrewed, and the drum came out.  That's Jeff, the man who saved my sanity, and the best husband (that's not mine) ever.  
With the drum removed, you could see all the socks floating in the cesspool of old water at the bottom of the tub.  It smelled worse than a diaper blowout.  
And, I about died when this man I have only met one other time in my life pulled my destroyed undies out.  That would be the mess of pink elastic in the middle of this pile:
Oh, and all these socks came out of the water, too...
After all the socks were removed, he put things back together and ran a cycle.  
It ran for a while, and as it was going, I could see the drum spinning through the white plastic tub.  I find it strange that the only thing holding up that heavy drum is some cables and a plastic tub.  Jeff put the back panel back onto the washer and then, of course, it stopped running.
When the unit stopped again, Jeff tilted the whole thing forward and scouted around the waste water hose - and pulled out the longest sock I've ever seen!
That sock had completely blocked the waste hose and was preventing the washer from emptying, which in turn made the mechanical process stop.  The washer was sort of 'drowning' in old water, I guess you could say.  I'm happy to say that it's fixed now, but unfortunately there is not much I can do to prevent this problem.  There are no screens to prevent items from going over the sides of the drum, or into the waste hose.  For now, I've been making sure all smaller items are at the bottom of the washer so they can't jump ship, and all REALLY small items like baby socks and bibs are being washed in a mesh laundry bag.  It sucks that I should have to do that.  For once, I would love to just have something work without any special workarounds in place.  Do things like that even exist anymore?  
To close my bitchfest, here is a photo of me and peanut at the scene of the crime.  Yep, I have a mirror in my gross cinderblock laundry room.  It's so I can check out my fine self while washing clothes.  SNORT.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

5 months

I'm a little late here, Ashford turned 5 months on November 5, but he's still 2.5 weeks away from 6 months, so I guess it could be worse.  
He gave me so many cute poses and funny faces this month, that I accidentally took (and had to go through) almost 600 photos.  My eyes still haven't recovered.  The 5 month mark was a big one when it comes to a very important thing: his sleep.  The day after he turned 5 months, he went down for the night at 7:30 without a peep.  His body hit the mattress, he rolled to his side, and lay quiet immediately.  Say what?!
I thought he had dropped off into a baby coma or something.  I think it was just his time, because I didn't do anything differently that night.  We'd been letting him cry for up to a half hour, as long as he wasn't hysterical and was safe, etc.  Lately, we have been watching for his tired signs like a hawk, as soon as the 'eye rub' or 'avoiding eye contact' happens, he is hustled into his crib before you can say "epic meltdown."  
Yep, we are on to his game.  For the past week, Ash has been sleeping from about 7:00pm until about 6:00am without waking during the night.  Again, say what?!  It's so awesome.  He also naps for about 4-5 hours during the day.  Kid likes his sleep.  
On Nov 1, he was 15 pounds 8 ounces, still a skinny little guy for his length - almost 27 inches already!  He's still in some 3 month clothes but is wearing more 6 month stuff.  Heartbreaking to pack things away.  New Ashford activities: rolling front to back and back to front, sleeping almost exclusively on his belly, rocking on his hands and knees trying to crawl, looking for things that he drops, and sucking his thumb.  
What we're still working on: sitting (he just likes to move too much) and laughing.  I do my best comedy routines and I get a big smile and a little 'heheh,' but that's about it.  He only truly laughed continuously one time in September, and we've been trying since then to repeat it.      
Until then, I'm enjoying his smiles.  And some better sleep!  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Our finished kitchen - 9 months later

It's 9pm, I have a cold, my baby is sleeping, and I should be, too.  But I can't go to bed because I've been meaning to share the official 'after' pics of the kitchen for over a week.  Finally, here is the finished kitchen!  
Here is a before, just for funsies.
We mostly finished it in February and since then we had a baby, realized we hate our appliances, procrastinated on putting up the shelves, and lived without switchplate covers.  
I wouldn't change anything.  Except our KitchenAid appliances, which are crap!  That range is supposed to have a power burner that boils water super fast, but I swear it takes longer than a regular one.  This next picture is the best representation of the paint color, Behr Lotus Leaf.  
Here is a before of the sink wall.  Yikes.  Notice the sweet trash compactor.  Hello, 1980!
Our faucet is so good looking, and it only cost me $85!
The counters are a quartzite called Phantom Green.  It is pretty much black, but the veining is a slightly aqua-tinted white.
We hate this KitchenAid counter-depth refrigerator.  We have had four service calls on this thing (the ice maker, of course) in the first 5 months we owned it.  Unacceptable.  
I can barely remember when the frig wall used to look like this!
The lighting is all from Rejuvenation except for the can lights and under cabinet lights.  
Our gorgeous shelves!  I couldn't be happier with them.  All of our daily white dishes fit perfectly and we use them so quickly there is no way they will get dusty.  Well, maybe the small plates will - who really uses those, anyway?   

We LOVE our Sharp drawer microwave, by the way.  This is the best place for a microwave, in my opinion!  This counter is raised up to 42" to make it easy to use.  The Restoration Hardware Lugarno pulls and knobs on the cabinets make me giggle with glee, they are so shiny and beautiful.  I am not even mad that I had a mental breakdown installing them.     
We spent a lot on this kitchen, but walking into the room and loving what you see is worth it to me.  
Last details - I have to actually make the curtains (right now it's just fabric pinned to the rods) and I'd like to cut the table down to a more reasonable height and get some stools.  
Until then, I'm enjoying walking in the back door and seeing our finished space!
If you have specific questions about stuff in the kitchen, I'm sure a search on the blog would find it for you - but I love getting emails/comments, so send them my way!