Monday, November 29, 2010

A Kitchen For Genny

After a day of living here at Christine's house, I realized that Genny needs a little more girl in her toy selection. She's done well using her imagination with construction cones as ice cream cones, and a cylindrical toy as a bottle. She did, however, need something a little more... I had thought about getting a few girly toys off craigslist, or checking out any garage sales in the area, but then something from Toy Story 3 made me think of making her a kitchen. In Toy Story 3, the boy uses boxes as space ships, stores, pretty much any large item. So I thought I could recreate the kitchen she has at home. With a cardboard box. It worked! She's used it several times since then, and baby Nickel loves to use it to climb on (much to the dismay of his mother).

This is just about the crudest kitchen you'll come across, but it does the job! (that's a microwave on top!)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

This Little Girl

Misses her Daddy.

She just wanted to be next to Uncle Chris tonight and in the second picture she's twirling his hair.

She's been very interested in Uncle Chris lately, and it made me tear up tonight to think of what love she has for her father and how enamoured she will be with him when he comes home; I can see her emulating that with Chris.

Thank You, Cherry Republic

One of the best things about Traverse City (or northern Michigan) is it's cherries. We have Cherry Festival every year around Independence Day and sometime in the years I've left TC they've acquired a store dedicated to cherries and their goodness. Cherry Republic is a store downtown TC and it features a variety of cherry products. From their traditional dried cherries to their spicy cherry salsa, you can find a gift for anyone (unless they don't like cherries!). I found gifts for a few people, starting with my aunt Kathy who hosted Thanksgiving this year and graciously let myself and my two children stay with her for a few days while we were visiting. With the help of my sister, I chose a few items for her, including the cherry salsa (something I would never try/like).

In the mood for giving, I chose some dried cherries and cherry jam for someone back home [California] but have since opened them both, enjoying the cherryness of this trip. I will no doubt make another trip to Cherry Republic before I go home!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Since I'm here in MI this year for Thanksgiving, and I wanted to see my IN family, we [my mom, sister, brother in law and I] decided to venture the 300 miles south to Griffith, IN for Thanksgiving at my aunt Kathy's house. My aunt Karen usually hosts holidays, but she recently (a few weeks ago) moved to her retirement destination of Arizona. One of Karen's children (my cousin, Emily) was unable to join her family in Arizona for Thanksgiving due to a career change from History teacher to Movie Star Hairstylist because she had to work on Black Friday. [wink and smile to Emily] So we had one of the Karen clan present to celebrate with. Emily also stayed with Kathy, as well as Kathy's daughter and her boyfriend. In a three bedroom house, we were snug but it was wonderful at the same time. It's been years since I've been able to be with that side of the family for a holiday, and I am so happy and grateful I was able to.

It was a day of giving thanks, and even though none of us verbalized our thanks, it was present in our laughter and quiet listening when one of us was telling a what-I've-been-up-to story. My grandmother (Genny's namesake) made a duck, and we all had traditional Thanksgiving food as well.

Our hosts for the day

My brother Adam (I hadn't seen him since I was pregnant with Genny!)

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Great Wide Open [Backyard]

My sister's new house is a dream. Three levels (thanks to the Michigan's soil they have basements here) and it sits on an acre in Long Lake Township. The backyard is a giant half acre and is fenced in. I look out the living room and kitchen windows every day I'm here and I think, 'Wow, that's a great back yard." Not to say that my back yard isn't nice, we just need to do something to make it a place where we can play.

Monday, November 15, 2010

There's A Mouse In My Toolbox [Kitchen]

A few short weeks after we moved into this house we celebrated our first Christmas here. It was a sparse Christmas with a lamp for a tree, but we were together, in our first house. That year Genny got her first Laurie Berkner CD, Rocket Ship Run. My favorite song on the CD is Mouse in My Toolbox. The CD also has several songs about 'going on a hunt'. Both of these songs have been in my head since first spotting the mouse on my stove before in ran and dove behind the stove.

Yes, we have a mouse. Scratch that, we have (at least) two mice. So I set a trap. It was a good idea, I put the mouse trap inside a paper bag (with something to prop it open). I wanted the clean up to be easy and quick. But he/they didn't take the bait. So I took my mom's advice and put some peanut butter on the trap, and set it out on the paper bag, this time on the floor next to the wall. It worked! I heard the SNAP last night at about 10:15pm. Then the fear of how I was going to get rid of the body without looking at it or touching it -or pretty much having anything to do with it- set in. So I texted my neighbor, Jake. I asked him to come over before he left for work to dispose of the body. I didn't think about the fact that I'm transitioning my family to Michigan time, so we're getting up pretty early. Had it not been for the carnage in the kitchen, I would have gotten Genny up at 5am. It took me a half hour to muster up the strength to cross the line into the battle field. I incurred a head ache from making interesting noises related to holding my breath and trying to psych myself up to the job of getting rid of the body. In the end, I did it.

Now I have to do it again.

Thank goodness for neighbors; another neighbor, Jim, just retired so is at home most of the day. I saw him at 'lunch' (lunch for us Alfords, 10am for everyone else) and asked if he would help me out when the battle of Who's House This Is takes another life. He seemed more than obliged. I am currently back in my bedroom, Genny is napping, and I'm hoping that the front lines will no longer be empty. This war will claim lives, and they won't be of me or my family!

The trap on the left is the one in use as of this post. The one on the right was down when we went to the park this morning but that stinkin mouse licked the peanut butter off it.

This is where they live[d].

The innocent children of the war

An hour after posting this I went into the kitchen to find that the mouse had somehow eaten the star and not set off the trap. So I set the trap with superglue under a cheerio, with peanut butter on top. The evasion techniques of this mouse are causing me to feel less guilt and more vengeful with each failed attempt at killing it.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Just Another Day

Today at lunch I just had to grab my camera. Genny was eating ice cream for dessert (a rare treat) and I heard her say, "Here you go, Genny." I looked over to see one of her hands 'helping' the other one with the spoon. So adorable. Below Genny you will see Glenn, this was his third outfit of the day. As of posting he's in his fourth outfit. I just heard him poop, so he may need a fifth outfit...

The other day I was talking to Thomas on the phone when I looked over at Glenn. He had fallen asleep holding his foot. Also adorable.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

San Juan Capistrano

Today we went to the Mission of San Juan Capistrano. We had a day filled with cleaning and going to the park planned, but Kate called while I was getting ready for the day and asked if we wanted to go. Deciding that fun at the Mission was a much better option than cleaning and going to the park, we said yes and got ready to go.

I'm not a history buff, nor am I Catholic. But the Missions are pretty interesting, not to mention gorgeous. Genny had a good time once she was allowed out of the stroller (as soon as we were inside the mission). She kept pointing to a horse statue and calling it Rhinoceros because that's what one of the horses was named when we went horseback riding. Scratch that, tried to go horseback riding.

After seeing the Koi fish and nursing, changing three diapers, and finding then putting on one jacket, I was able to appreciate a little bit of the Mission, but to tell you the truth I remember mostly what I've already recounted, and the beds that were made of leather and ropes. But it's good to get out and see some history, especially since we are dangerously close to calling ourselves Californians.

After the Mission, we went to Ruby's for lunch. Since seeing the Food Inc. movie, I've been against 'hate meat' (as I've termed it) and have asked in every restaurant I eat in whether they purchase hormone and antibiotic free meat. Ruby's doesn't, so Genny had a grilled cheese and I had a yummy Mediterranean salad.

We finished off the day with me nursing in the car and Genny pretending to drive. Then spent another two and a half hours outside playing. I have found my kitting needles, so am back to work on washcloths because all of mine are hard and old.

We got a package today from my in-laws. It had a plethora of clothes for the kids, as well as some gifts. I let Genny open two, but am leaving the other two for incentives...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Escondido Children's Museum

Today with our Meetup group we went to the Escondido Children's Museum. It was our first time going, and on the website it looks quite large, but is, in fact, one room with different areas of interest. I was a little underwhelmed when I first saw the size, but it turns out it was perfect after all. They have a gated fenced-in crawlers area that we stayed in the whole time we were inside (because Genny didn't want to leave my side). They also have a dress up stage area, music area and a huge tree house that you can climb up and see everyone down below. I believe they even had a fireman station where you could put on fireman's clothes and use a real fire hose to 'put out a fire'. Pretty cool!

Outside they had bubbles, bubbles, everywhere! One of the genius bubble stations featured a moat of bubble solution surrounding a platform that you stand on. Add in a hula-hoop and some string to form a pulley system, and you get a giant bubble that you stand in! Genny LOVED that one. I didn't get a picture of her in it, but I did take a picture of it forming a giant bubble.

They also have picnic tables so you can bring your lunch or snack, which was great because one of the ways some of these play spaces get me is when I have to order their food.

As you see from the photos, Genny got pretty wet. She found a watering can and decided she should water the giant bubble station, which meant spilling water all over herself in the process. She also decided she couldn't step over the two inch bubble moat so had to step in it to get to the platform. *sigh* But I've gotten pretty relaxed when it comes to the water and dirt she finds and immerses herself in when playing outside. Maybe it's having a second child, or maybe it's because it gets pretty annoying trying to control a two year old and how much dirt/water they get on themselves. In any event, when it's a specific play date or play area, I've stopped micromanaging her play. Thomas will be proud. As he says constantly, "She's two."

After coming home and changing diapers, we went back outside to spend a few more hours out there. I didn't bother trying to give her a nap today, since she's only taken one nap in over a week. She did get some relaxed time watching Toy Story 3 in the car on the way home (it took us about 45 minutes each way). And as I'm typing this, she's watching the Baby Einstein move about water. It's a perfect lure to get her inside since it's only a half hour so after that she plays inside. There's nothing that makes me feel worse than letting her watch a whole movie after she just spent 45 minutes in the car watching one. If I can help it I try to limit her TV time to a program in the morning while I'm getting ready for the day, and then one in the afternoon. Then again, I'm not perfect and have been known to use a movie/program to aid me in accomplishing tasks better done with out little hands to 'help out'.