Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A really big snake.

We had just finished a picnic of chick-fil-a in our backyard.  I was slowly bringing things back into the house, folding the picnic blanket....cleaning up.  Rob is holding Caroline and calls me to come look at something above him.  He is standing under a pergola, which has a really massive Carolina jasmine vine growing over the top of it.  The previous owners had stapled this black netting under the top of the pergola so that when the leaves from the jasmine fell, they would not fall on their head, but be caught by the netting.  I'm thinking, "okay, honey, be right there...just let me..." when I hear him say with a little bit of panic in his voice, "Ian get inside right now.  Ian....get....inside!"  So, I grab up Ian (save the kid, ask questions later, right?  Maybe it's a yellow jacket nest!)  Toss him into the garage and start to close the garage door, and Rob is trying to get in quickly with Caroline at this point.  He tells Isabel to take over Caroline, so now I know there is something scary out there.  All the kids go inside, and I go over to the pergola and look up.

"Is that a snake?"  he asks.

When I start to realize what he is talking about, my mind recoils at the thought that this is a real live snake hiding up in the pergola....sure, we have seen a snake living up there before.  But this snake's belly was fatter than my arm. 

Oh.  My.  Gosh.

My mind tries to think of any other possibility of what this thing could be until I see it's scales.  And each scale is the size of a fingernail.  I am starting to think in expletives about now.  But I tell my husband that it is definitely just a really big rat snake....I know, because I saw something on the internet about how they can get really, really big....in strange cases.

He asks if I think the previous owners let loose a giant python.

We start thinking about the movie Anaconda.

When I say "big", it was a big snake.

By now, we are sure it is a snake, so we do the only possible thing to do.  We go inside and load as many guns as we can carry. 

I'm thinking, "if a snake that big is up in the pergola...."

Fill in the blank:  it could eat my kids.
                             does it have a mate hiding under the deck?
                             at some point, it was on the ground.
                            what if it had come into the garage?
                             that thing could probably constrict me!
                             what if a bullet doesn't kill it?
                             I wonder how far it can strike.
                            how are we going to get it down?

We are armed and he decides to poke it.  It doesn't move.

"I think it's dead," he says.

"There is no way it is dead.  It's just hanging out.  That's what big snakes do."

He pokes it some more and it doesn't move...he notices that it's belly looks collapsed.

Finally we are fairly convinced that maybe we won't have to shoot it up, and that it is indeed a really large dead snake. 

So he gets a ladder and climbs up with a gun at the ready, just in case....and starts to pull it out.

The skin comes apart in pieces.

That's when we realize that it is not in fact a black rat snake.

It's not a real snake at all.  Dang previous owners must have thought it was funny to scare someone senseless with a really big blow-up snake. 
We laughed about it.  Mostly in relief.  I sort of wanted to cry.  I didn't even want to touch the fake snake. 
Ugh.  I hate it.


Friday, October 18, 2013

Garden Mid-October 2013

In the garden, we currently have rutabaga, cabbage, pumpkin, squash, zucchini and okra in the ground.  We planted seed for broccoli, lettuce, carrots and onions along with some herbs, but I have yet to see those things come up.  Oh yeah, and the last 3/4 of the garden are full of cowpeas, aka black-eyed peas, aka crowder pea, aka southern peas.  Technically they are just a cover crop to enhance the fertility of the soil, but we are harvesting their delicious little peas as well.

Rutabaga seems to be doing great.  Cabbage did not start well, and is still very small....not even in a round head yet.  Pumpkin we got into the ground too late....I think it will frost and kill them before they set fruit. (yeah, we were wayyyy late with the pumpkin).  Squash and zucchini I planted super late just to see if they would produce anything this late in the season, and what do you know?  So far, they are doing great!  Eating fresh squash in October???  Yes please!  The okra is still producing.... that stuff has been crazy. 

(Above)  Rutabaga on the row to the left.  Cabbage is supposed to be growing on the row to the right.  It's pretty slow.  The day after we planted seeds we had a huge downpour and that washed some away, I'm afraid. 

Rutabaga (above), Squash (below)

Woohoo!  Squash in October! 


They are covered in kudzu bugs because we have not treated them with anything.  The bugs apparently drink something from the plant stems, so we will see how many pea pods we can harvest before this starts to affect the actual peas.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Baby Sleep Hell 1 week update

I'm back.  Sleepy, but back.

So we moved Ian back into his room and he has been very happy with that.  Poor kid, now I feel bad that I ever thought it was a good idea to move him out- but all is well!  He won't remember it, and now he is in his new bunkbed.  Lower bunk, obviously.  The bunkbed arrived Tuesday.  Rob put it together and Ian was thrilled.  He had no problems with leaving the crib for his big boy bed.  I told him that there was only one rule with sleeping in the bunkbed and that was that he had to stay in his bed once we tucked him in, and in the morning when he woke up, he could call for Mommy or Daddy to see if it was time to get up.  I thought for sure, my strong willed child will never cooperate with this rule....I secretly wanted to keep him contained in a crib until he was 5.  I watched him as I closed his door to just a crack, and he instantly got out from under the covers and crawled all over his bottom bunk....but the kid didn't get out of his bed.....THE ENTIRE NIGHT!  And in the morning??? In the morning, he called for us to see if he could get out!!!!

Oh man....I was beside myself.  I was completely giddy that he had obeyed this one directive!

Night Number 2 went the same way. 

So, Ian is pleasantly transitioned to his new bed, which leaves the crib free for C, but she is  such a screamer that I think we are still going to wait until she outgrows (?) this screaming stuff before she moves into the room with him.

As far as C goes, I started with the first commenter's idea to wait to nurse C when she starts her usually nightly scream instead of right before I put her to bed at 6:30pm. 


It worked on the first night.  I fed her dinner, bathed her, got her ready for bed, put her in the pack and play and she cried for just 15 minutes.  And then she didn't wake up for another 3 hours.  There was no screamfest an hour into her sleep!!

Night Two, it started to work again.  In fact, she was asleep within 9 minutes and I thought we were homefree.  But she did wake up 45 minutes later screaming, so I nursed her then.  And she went back to sleep.

But then she woke up an hour later, and then an hour after that....almost every hour or two.  And she didn't want to just be held or shushed to go back to sleep.  She wanted to nurse. 

The next two nights were also like this.  Tiring for me.  Not so bad for hubby, since I just kept getting her up and nursing her.

Ugh.....I so thought maybe that was the solution!

But hey, I'm not done trying things.   Last night I tried nursing her around 6:00pm, after her baby food, then I gave her a bath and put her to bed.  Ummm.....that didn't work so well for the nightly scream.  She still woke up at 7:17pm (after going down at 6:30) and screamed until 8:07....yes, 50 minutes with 3 interventions.  But it does seem like she just gets more angry after we go in and pick her up.   After the third time we went in there, you could hear her cries start to wind down....but still that is one persistent baby to scream that long!   And why isn't she tired before an hour of screaming is up?  I mean as an adult, it's exhausting to cry for that long!  How does a little baby do it????

OH....but the good news about last night is that she did sleep for 3 hour stretches!  More or less.... she woke up at 10 something and nursed, 12 something and nursed and 3 something and nursed.  So that was actually a big improvement on the previous nights!

Thanks for the ideas.....I mean, she is doing small periods of CIO right now, but we may have to progress to just plain CIO since going in to comfort her seems to make it all worse! 

Friday, October 4, 2013

I'm in baby sleep hell.

Okay, so transitioning Caroline out of our bed and into the pack and play in her shared room with Ian went really well for about 2 nights.  And then it was a disaster.  She has never been an "easy" baby, so I don't know why I thought this would be easy!

She would cry, it would wake Ian up.  Or she would be asleep and then we would put Ian to bed about an hour later and she would wake up and scream, which would leave me mad at Ian for waking her up (and we all know that is fair, right? To be mad at a 2 1/2 year old for waking up a baby? Yeah.)

So at first we would swoop Ian up out of his crib and put him in a pack and play in our room so that C could fuss without disturbing him.  But he wasn't really sleeping that great in the pack and play in our room, and I think he might have even felt a little displaced...which in reality, he was!  So during the day he was starting to act out.  Sitting in time out, oh 6,000 times a day.  Ian is strong-willed as it is, so time out 6,000 times a day didn't do much for him.

I was frustrated...overall....with everything.

We hadn't really fixed any problems.....we just traded one kid out of our room for another kid in our room. 

And things were going down hill fast.  I was beyond frustrated.  I was frustrated in the daytime with all the acting out.  I was frustrated in the nighttime with all the crying and settling, and resettling.  I thought I had all the answers for getting C to sleep since I had read the internet up and down. 

It turns out, I didn't have any answers.

The other night, when the baby was screaming, and Ian was displaced and not sleeping, I started screaming...at my husband. 

For doing exactly what I had told him to do.

Because what I told him to do wasn't working....my plan wasn't working....and I wanted to blame somebody.....anybody.

I am still so ashamed of how I acted.  I just cannot even believe it was me.  Of course I apologized and (thankfully!) he forgave me immediately.  But it was awful and I knew something had to change. 
What we were doing was clearly not working.  It was breaking our family.

So we made the decision to move Ian back into his own room and bring C back into our room in a pack and play.  And it has already been much better as far as Ian's behavior is concerned. 

But the problem with C remains this:  She screams for an hour or more (usually just 1 hour) around bedtime.

Here is what happens:

5:30ish C eats dinner (babyfood dinner, not just breastmilk).
6:00pm C has a bath- she LOVES bathtime
6:15ish New diaper, get into pajamas, nurse
6:30pm-ish Put her down in the pack and play, with the fan on for noise, usually sleepy but awake; sometimes asleep from nursing.
7:15-7:30pm Somewhere between 45 minutes to an hour later, C wakes up and starts screaming.
For the next hour at least, we go in every 10 minutes to comfort her.  But she is hysterical....I basically pick her up and she calms down and sometimes instantly falls asleep, and then I put her back down and she might stay asleep for a minute or two, but then wakes up screaming.

This is every night.  I don't know how to get her past the "1 hour past bedtime screamfest".  

After she finally settles down (usually after an hour of this screaming routine), she is asleep for another 3-4 hours, waking around 11:30pm to nurse and then wakes around 4am to nurse, and after nursing goes right back to sleep beautifully....and then she wakes up around 7:30am.  I'm totally okay with the 2 nursings throughout the night....but the screaming isn't about wanting to nurse....I just don't get it.

I don't know what to do.  She's got a routine, she usually goes down just fine....how do I get her to make it past that daily nighttime scream?

I need help!  Right now I feel like we're in baby sleep hell.  It's at least better since Ian is getting sleep again, and I know it won't be this way forever...it is a limited amount of time....just like her colic/purple period was. 

Did I mention she is 6 months old today?? 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Four F's

Fireplace renovation!

Falling asleep, Ian style!

Feast of St. Therese cake!

Finding my feet!

First, (gotta love alliteration), here are some before, during and after pics of our fireplace.  It was the boring old dark red brick with brass and glass doors....blah.  I didn't realize how much I didn't like it until we whitewashed the brick.  Before I was just happy to have a wood burning fireplace.  Now, I'm happy to have a really beautiful I-did-it-myself fireplace!

Before we moved in:

Whitewashing took about 2 hours.  We had to do 2 coats.  But super easy:  1 part white latex paint to 2 parts water.  Basically 8 cups of water and 4 cups of paint did the job with quite a bit left over.  We probably could have halved that. 

I have to say when I started whitewashing, Rob was outside and I thought that it looked like white mold all over my bricks.  "Great", I thought, "He's going to come in and hate this and say that it looks like I've made the fireplace look moldy!"  But as it dried, it no longer looked moldy ;) 
Thank goodness!

Here is the finished product.  It's not the best lighting, but you get the idea.  We are installing a wood-burning fireplace insert soon to heat our entire home!  Thus the gaping fireplace opening minus the old brass and glass doors.

And a little bit more of the room.
Meanwhile, during all the whitewashing, Ian fell asleep.
Like this:

Today Isabel wanted to make a cake to celebrate the Feast of St. Therese.
We made a cake recipe from The Pioneer Woman.  It was delicious.
Isabel designed it with a hand-drawn picture of St. Therese and she iced and "flowered" it herself.

She even let Ian help with the flowers.

Finished product.

And Finally, Caroline Found her Feet.
Got 'em!

Oh!  I got 'em!

Can I get them to my mouth???