Monday, March 28, 2011

Curb Appeal

Do y'all ever watch that show on HGTV? I am such a sucker for before and afters. I feel like the Curb Appeal crew came to our house. Y'all our yard was in sorry shape. As I mentioned in the tree killers post, we just have so many trees and so many leaves, and the summer drought in 2009 especially did our yard in. We've tried some things over the almost-three years we've lived here, but we decided this spring it's time to call the professionals! We got that big oak tree removed as well as the other tree on the side of the house, got new landscaping and also got them to put in sod. They took out about 15 bags of leaves just from the front!! They did a GREAT job, and we hope we can keep it up. Here are some pics - click on them to enlarge them, if you'd like.

Here's the bed in front of our living room/dining room. We brought it out a bit from the house and added a flagstone path. I think I am going to add some knockout roses or more pittosporums between the path and the oak tree.

The driveway bed was in bad shape with the haphazard ground cover and random elm tree that grew like Jack's beanstalk. I think the indian hawthornes and boxwoods look much better!

Yes, much better! Welcome Spring!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Happy 5-month birthday, Madeleine!

Oh Madeleine, where do I begin? You are 5 months old today, and you are on the go! You are getting very good at some things, and some things you are still learning. I love your little personality, and this has been quite the month of ups and downs!

In your fifth month, the weather finally started to warm enough for us to go to the zoo! We are using our membership as many times as we can before this Houston summer approaches, and you love to be outside with the big kids. You even showed off and held your own bottle right before we got to the giraffes. Trying to fit in, I see. :) You like picnics, and it was neat to get to show you the garden named for your Great Grandad Mike. He would've loved to take you to the zoo!

We also went to Waco to see your AJ in Sing. Did you know that's how your Mommy and Daddy met? You got to play with Emma - you're still too little to sit through that show. I think you will LOVE Sing someday!

You've been getting some good use out of your Texas onesie from Miss Allison - you wore it to a Micah and Archer's cowboy birthday party, you wore it on Go Texan day (to the zoo) and you wore it on Texas Independence Day. Here are you with some of Mommy's Texas books from when she used to teach Texas History. I think you will love reading them someday. We didn't take you to the rodeo, baby girl. I'm sorry, it just passed us by this year!

Some of the harder things about this month included your torticollis (if only I had a dollar for every time your Daddy and I said "Look left, Madeleine!") And also, Mommy had a cold and struggled to feed you for about four days. You are in the throes of teething, so that isn't very fun for anyone at our house right now. You are doing much better with your torticollis, we think. There are many times when you will crane your neck to the left, but you are very particular about when that is. I think you just prefer looking to the right. When I had a cold, my milk supply issue was no fun. NO FUN! One day during that week I had to feed you 11 times! I felt like you were a tiny newborn again, and I really worried that you weren't getting the nourishment you needed. The Lord always provided, through my frozen supply or frequent feedings. That week was full of praying, Mothers' Milk tea-drinking, fenugreek-taking and advice-asking...and not a lot of nap-taking! Thankfully it all passed once Mommy's cold went away. The teething has been so much drama, Madeleine. Thankfully it hasn't affected your nighttime sleeping, just your naps. Oh baby, you can wail! Thankfully taking you on walks can help you go to sleep, and Mommy's leg muscles get quite the workout when I need to bounce you to sleep. Some days you are your normal, happy self, and other days you are just a mess. I really feel bad for you.

Madeleine Talks About Teething from Allison White on Vimeo.

We tried rice cereal. Dr. Koush said we could introduce it, just to get you used to the idea. It's pretty much been a bust. Here's a video of one of your meals - not the first one - your rookie Mommy didn't even put a bib on you the first time. See? You're just wearing your Baylor onesie.

This time in the video is funny cause the cereal is really liquidy and it drips everywhere. You also startled Mommy by tipping the bowl! You seem to like it when we feed it to you, you just don't know what to do with it. Mommy was so encouraged one morning when it seemed to really be getting in your mouth. What I didn't know was that you were just holding it all in there, not swallowing it. Finally you spit it all out. Oh well, Madeleine. We will keep trying, but we are certainly not in any hurry.

Rice Cereal from Allison White on Vimeo.

Your AJ and Aunt Liz came home for Spring Break. Oh how they dote on you! Your onesie says "My Aunt is my BFF."

On a "normal" day (how many of those are there, really?) you take three 45-minute naps. This month has been rougher with my milk supply issue and teething. Some days you only get two, and usually you function okay because you are sleeping 7:30p-8a. You are starting to fight your 2nd and 3rd naps a lot more than you used to, but you really need them! You are the cutest, most peaceful sleeper, sometimes with your thumb and sometimes without, but always with your lambie love.

One fun thing you do during tummy time is make full rotations on your play quilt, reminding us of a little hour hand on a clock. You go clockwise (to the right, of course) and you will do several surveys of the room and just go round and round. It reminds me that you will be crawling before we know it. Please slow down. :) Speaking of slowing down, remember when you used to sleep in your Moby? Now look at you!
You are so generous with your smiles and giggles, but you get very serious for the cameras. It is so hard to capture them! You remind us of Michigan J. Frog on Looney Tunes. He is a frog that sings and dances when he's with his owner, but then anytime the man tries to show him off, Michigan J. turns into a normal frog and just sits there and says "ribbit" instead of singing ragtime favorites. You used to do the same thing in my tummy. You'd kick a lot, then I'd ask your dad to feel. You'd stop, and he would look at me like I was crazy. We got some smiles on camera, but not without a lot of work!

This is a video of you and your dad, just for fun!

Fun with Dad from Allison White on Vimeo.

We love you, Madeleine!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Tree Killers

As our spring projects continue, it is Christmas in March because Cason and I finally get to give each other our 2010 gift - new landscaping! You know you're a grown-up when...right? So before we made the investment in new landscaping (our beds are done and they look fabulous - just waiting on them to re-sod the front yard.) we knew our new grass and plants needed more sunlight. Sunlight is hard to come by in a yard with six oak trees, so alas, we killed one. It was quite the process. It took them 5 hours, and probably half that time was just spent grinding the stump. This tree was so big/old that many times, a branch or a thick part of the trunk would fall and I could feel it in the house. As I mentioned on facebook, Cason and I felt like a mean character in a Disney movie...probably Pocahontas...the white man coming to kill nature and take the land! Yeah that was us. We are such a product of our Disney-influenced upbringing. How do you like the action shot of the branch falling? Haha.

Cason also took out this tree on our driveway. I actually really liked it - it was an elm tree. It started out as a little weed, we blinked, and it was taller than our house. It had really pretty leaves, and I liked it outside my sink window, but it could've really hurt the foundation/pipes. So my manly man took it out with a hatchet and shovel. That bed looks so much better now - no more old/tangled ground cover!

In other news, Cason wanted to prove he too could write on the kitchen chalkboard. If you haven't seen my husband's handwriting, it is atrocious, but I think he did pretty well here. :)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

DIY: Kitchen Chalkboard

I am just loving the springtime and the motivation I have to get projects done around the house. More on that riveting topic later, but if you were reading my blog last January, you knew that I wanted to make a kitchen chalkboard. Well, my friends, it finally happened.

On President's Day, Cindy and I went to a couple thrift stores in the Heights to look for frames. Lucky for us, Sand Dollar Thrift Store was 50% off because of the holiday, so my frame, which was normally $8.50 was only $4.25! I found a lovely pastel 80s flower and Cindy found a whimsical little puppy. Ha. Her idea is also to do a collection of framed chalkboards instead of one - quite artistic for someone who thinks they aren't creative. :) We then went to Lowes and had them cut MDF board that would fit in our frames. (Bummer: they made us by the whole sheet of it, but we split it so it was only like $13 each. Go with some friends and just split a big board, or save the extra for future projects.)

We were hoping to actually create our boards together, but we have babies, so it didn't happen. I went ahead and worked on mine this week. I did everything inside the house except for the first step, because again, Madeleine was playing inside and it was just more convenient. The first thing I did was empty that ugly frame and spray paint it black. After it dried, I painted the same red of our kitchen walls over it to give it a more interesting finish. I painted the MDF board with chalkboard paint. (Sidenote - the MDF board was a fraction of a centimeter too long to fit in the frame, just around one corner. I used a saw to shave it off a bit so it would fit in the frame. It was cut just slightly crooked at Lowes.)

MDF board is heavy, so I took the hanging bracket off of the frame and put it on the board, adding one on each top corner. Also, the MDF board was a bit deeper than the frame. I also used liquid nails to adhere the frame to the board.

We hung it on the wall using three nails - ta-da! It matches the kitchen perfectly, and I am so happy to have it - for Bible verses, sweet messages to our family, grocery lists - whatever!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Torticollis Schmorticollis

As I previously mentioned in Madeleine's 4-month post, she was having some neck muscle issues. It's called Torticollis, which literally means "twisted neck" (get it? "torti-" like tortellini or torque, and "-collis" like collar. I love Latin roots.) The torticollis is causing her to have plagiocephaly, or a little bit of a flat head on the right side ("plagio-" slanted or oblique, "-cephaly" which is a condition of the head.)

Even Dr. Koush wasn't too concerned at her 4-month appointment, but she is all about proactivity so that sweet Madeleine doesn't end up in a helmet. (And if she does, Ally, Tiffany and I have already decided that it would be bedazzled with rhinestones. :) Brandi, a friend of mine who is a physical therapist looked at it at small group, and she noted some tightening, but nothing too major.
Today was our appointment with the physical therapists at Texas Children's Hospital. The three of us arrived and got in the elevator. A really kind doctor noticed Madeleine's name tag on her diaper bag, and he talked to her by name. "Well you sure look comfortable there in your seat, Miss Madeleine. I sure would like to wear a onesie and have someone carry me around too!" He got off on the heart surgery floor. What a sobering moment for our little family. Coming here for PT is nothing like coming here for a heart condition or cancer treatment. Oh, Lord, please bless those sweet, suffering families.

We got off on the 21st floor and Cason fed Madeleine her breakfast bottle. Our PT Beverly met us in the waiting room, and right off the bat she noticed that Madeleine is already trying to hold her bottle. She commented on her well-developed motor skills, and I began to relax. We went into a really neat room full of colorful toys, mats and things to stimulate kids - walkers, tricycles, etc. Beverly started working with Madeleine. Thankfully she showed her that she can, in fact, turn her head to the left. :) She got on her tummy. "Do you do tummy time at home?" "Yes, usually is for about 30 minutes at a time." "Good, I can tell. She might be crawling sooner than you think!" I relaxed a little more.

All in all, it was a good visit. Beverly tried different things to test Madeleine's range of motion in her neck and showed us some massages and stretches we could be doing with her. I am so excited also, because my friend Sara Beth is a child life specialist at Texas Women's, and she is working on her infant massage certification. She asked me if she could come over and massage Madeleine this week for practice. Yes, please!

As we thought and hoped, we only have to go back once for a check-up around Madeleine's 6 month birthday, and by then, we hope to be soooooo over torticollis. :)