Sunday, May 31, 2015

I want to ride my tricycle I want to ride my trike

The other day Niko came across an old abandoned tricycle in the neighborhood and decided to give it a whirl.

For the first few days he just pushed it along with his feet, but before we knew it he was using the pedals. 

Atta boy.

the life-changing magic of tidying up

Have you all heard of this book? It's been kind of a huge deal lately. A friend of mine mentioned it the other day, and since I've been in a de-cluttering/spring cleaning mood, I thought I'd give it a whirl!

Little did I know that after finishing this book, I'd fall down the rabbit hole of getting out every single item in my house, deciding if it brought me joy, and then deciding whether to keep it or discard it (hint: if it didn't bring me joy, I didn't keep it!).

The process went like this:  

1) Remove all items of a single category (like clothes, books, papers, etc) from their storage place and lay them out in front of you.

2) Touch each item individually and ask yourself "Does this spark joy?" 

3) If the answer is no, place it in a donation/recycle/trash pile. 

4) If the answer is yes, decide on where you will store it, and commit to that place as where it belongs (i.e. my hairbands now belong nowhere except in the little box in the bathroom)

Here we are, getting out all of the books:

(Don't worry, Tina made the cut)

It's crazy, but this process has actually been sort of life changing for me. I'm naturally a cluttery/lazy sort of person with mild hoarder tendencies, which means we have a lot of stuff and a lot of times it ends up all over the place. But now that 1) I've gotten rid of the items I don't love and 2) I've decided that every single item I own has a specific place that it belongs, I don't have all sorts of junk to leave out, and I don't leave out the things I do have because I know where they belong. 

The cds we got rid of--about 80, if I remember right!

Something I had to try hard to remind myself was NOT to think "Will it be useful?" I discovered that if an item does not bring me joy, it will never be useful, because I won't use it! This was a sort of ground-breaking realization for me--that I don't have to keep an item "just in case" I need it (with the exception of items that are very expensive, rare, or hard to replace). 

It's so funny, we thought we loved all of the items in our home, but apparently we didn't, as evidenced by everything we found that didn't bring us joy.

In the end, I spent about 30 hours in the past week sorting through items, with the result being about 2 bags of trash, 3 bins of recycling, and 5 boxes of books (about 150) and 20 garbage bags full of items to donate. 

I would definitely recommend this book to everyone I know. That means you! Even if you are not a cluttery or hoardery person, it's very empowering to walk around your space and know that every single item, from the paperclips to the violin, brings you joy. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Me too

The other day, some of my Big and Tiny Beloved People were all hanging out on the floor together, so I had to take a picture. 

At which point my Small Beloved Person said, "Me too! Take a pitcher[sic] of me too!"

So I did.

Howl's Moving Castle

was essentially what we built the other day.

We were pretty proud of our creation (though not too proud to prevent a monster from tearing it down a few minutes later).

Friday, May 29, 2015

A memorial day tromp through the woods

On memorial day, we visited a local science center and bird refuge to show Jesse their birds of prey (how had I not taken him here yet?) and then headed out to the awesome trails behind the center for a little peaceful hike. 

It was incredibly serene and very beautiful.

The highlight of the excursion was seeing 4 turtles and one frog down at the Black Pond. 

Nikolai loved looking at that frog so much, he had a hard time leaving ;)

Free two one bwastoff!

This post is ages late, because I misplaced my little camera and only just found it (glory hallelujah! I thought it was lost and was much aggrieved). 

Anyways, when Jesse finished finals weeks ago, I wanted to celebrate, so we packed up our model rocket and took it out to launch a few times. Nikolai is old enough now to think this is THE BEST (he's totally right) so it was a really fun outing :)

Putting together the rocket:

And then blastoff!


Miriam: 3 months

Yesterday our sweet M passed the three month mark!

You guys, this baby has totally captured our hearts. She is the sweetest little person we have ever met and we are totally smitten with her! 

Sleeping patterns: Aaand she's basically sleeping through the night now! She gets sleepy around 10-10:30 and doesn't wake up until 7. Seriously, we're living the baby dream here. It's ridiculous.

Eating habits: Same old same old!

New discoveries she made: She can smoosh things into her mouth, kinda sorta.

Accomplishments: Rolling over onto her side, sleeping through the night, and giggling! (the best!)

Places she went: Bird watching, the zoo, the ER, the doctor, various was a busy month for our little miss!

Special memories: Discovering that if I sing "BOB the builder! Can we fix it?" at her, she'll giggle for us! (Don't ask why I was singing the Bob the Builder theme song at all....) Anyhow, it was the best :)

Saturday, May 23, 2015


The other day Nikolai headed outside after a rainstorm, wearing one shoe and the tail and jacket from his dinosaur costume. 

And I think he had a lovely time.

Friday, May 22, 2015


A few weeks ago, I posted about the M I stitched for Miriam.  Here's Miriam's M, framed, next to Nikolai's N:

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Let's eat a Cassowary!

After our morning of birding, we headed to the zoo!  

It was a pretty normal zoo outing--we saw otters and zebras and elephants etc and loved it! 

At one point, we saw a Cassowary, which Jesse described to Nikolai as a "dinosaur bird."

It really is though:

So anyways, then we had a conversation that went something like this:

Nikolai: We go in and see the dinosaur?

Catherine: *being silly* No, we can't, because we don't want it to eat us or think we're going to eat it. 

Nikolai: *totally stone-faced* Let's eat it.

Jesse: What??

Catherine: Did you just say "Let's eat it"?

Nikolai: Yep.

And then he proceeded to be VERY sad when we told him we couldn't actually go in there and eat it. 

In closing, some pictures of our boy being cute: 

"Take a picture mama!"

"I'n a snake!"


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

For the birds

The last two weeks, Jesse was (sort of*) on break between finishing finals and starting his internship, so we had some time to play! 

*By "sort of," I mean he finished finals at the beginning of the first week, but then had some journal citations to correct and has been substitute teaching early morning seminary for some friends of ours that moved, so I'm not sure how restful his "break" was ;)

A few weeks ago, I got an email from the Toledo Zoo informing me that May 8-17 was going to be the "Biggest Week in Birding" for Northeastern Ohio. Because it's migration season, birds are winging northward, and lots of them (especially warblers) stop on the edge of Lake Erie to rest and refuel before heading further north. 

Obviously, this was something that Jesse-son-of-Dave-the-wildlife-biologist would LOVE, so I planned a little day trip for us! 

(Ok, I'm pitching this as something I planned for Jesse, but let's be real, I loved it too! Also, planning things that make Jesse happy makes me super happy, so that was a bonus too ;D)

As soon as Jesse got back from teaching seminary, we got the kids up, ate the quickest breakfast we could manage, and hit the road!

The morning was cool and refreshing and the parking lot was packed with senior center vans and cars bearing stickers that announced cheerily "I'd rather be birding at Magee Marsh." 

Masses of people stood silently on boardwalks, binoculars in hand, peering serenely up at the foliage above. Our resident 3 year old did a great job keeping quiet while we scoped out the birds.

Me with Miri in the baby carrier.

We saw lots of pretty Warblers, along with some gratuitous woodpeckers and red winged blackbirds.

My favorite part was that a large portion of our little walk looked like this: 

So lovely!

After about an hour an a half, our little birder was pretty beat, so we called it a day. On the way back to the car, though, we took a quick little path to say hello to Lake Erie.

Though we've lived in Michigan for 2 years now, this is the first great lake that we've visited! Here's hoping we stay in the region post-graduation so we can visit them all :)

Sunday, May 10, 2015


For your Sunday enjoyment, here is videographic evidence of our beautiful Miriam's smiles:


Saturday, May 9, 2015


Spring sprung here a few weeks ago, which in Michigan means lots of alternating rain and sunshine. When the weather is nice, Nikolai has been chomping at the bit to get out and play! Miri still naps a lot, and sometimes I'm disinclined to move her so that I can go outside with Niko. As such, we've started letting him play outside (either right in front of or right behind our apartment) by himself.  

The jury's still out on if we're comfortable with this arrangement or not. On one, hand it's very convenient for him to be able to play outside by himself, and he gets a lot more outside time than he would if I always had to be out with him. On the other hand, while I feel our neighborhood is very safe, I'm still concerned about his safety. I'm right inside, and I come to the window every few minutes to peek out at him, but still.

Friends, what do you think? Is he too young, maybe? Conversely, how do you talk to your kids about stranger danger? Give me all your advice!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Real sick or pretend sick?

Nikolai has recently discovered cough drops, and thinks they're candy/medicine.

Here he is, asking for one that we took away from him, and accidentally calling it candy every time: 


While we're on the topic of being sick, I should mention that we had to take Miriam to the children's Emergency Room on Sunday. She had a low-ish fever, but at her age the on-call nurse at our doctor's office recommended we take her to the hospital to get it checked out. 2 catheters, 2 blood draws (they messed each one up the first time, because she's so small!) and 4 1/2 hours later, they said they couldn't find anything wrong with her and sent us home!

Also, in case you're wondering, having to take your child to the emergency room (even for something as moderate as this) is no fun at all. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Grease Monkey

A few months ago I got the oil changed, and the mechanic noticed that we had a crack in our radiator. It was on the top (as opposed to the bottom or sides), so it meant replacing wasn't urgent, but it was inevitable.  He quoted me what I felt like was a reasonable price to fix it, and I went on my way. I knew it was something we'd have to get done before the summer, because Jesse will be using the car to commute to Detroit for an internship 4 days a week for 10-11 weeks (if you haven't heard about his internship yet, ask him about it! It's going to be awesome!).  

With Jesse being a student and me staying home with the kids, car repairs are something that are really hard to fit into the budget. A few weeks ago, I was mulling over how and when we'd get the radiator replaced, when I had the thought: what if I could replace it myself? We have a lot more time than money, so replacing it myself would greatly reduce the strain on our budget. I immediately texted my dad, wondering if this was something that might be within my abilities. He's always been a big fan of fixing things yourself when possible, so I knew he'd give me an optimistic but practical answer. To my excitement, he told me he thought I could do it!

Anyways, to make a long story short(er), I found the new radiator online, bought a socket wrench set (oh boy, was that exciting!!!), and watched a youtube video of someone replacing a radiator on our make and model of car (after which I carefully typed out everything they had done). 

Finally, yesterday the stars aligned (by which I mean Jesse was finished with finals and could stay home with the kids, and the weather was nice enough to do it outside) and I got to work!

The new radiator:

The hole where the old radiator was:

The old radiator:

The whole process only took about 2 hours from start to finish, and part of that time was spent dealing with a few hangups, namely 1) Getting a bolt stuck in the socket head and having to pry it out and 2) Realizing that the new radiator had 2 extra hose spots, and troubleshooting whether or not I could still use it (side note: it turns out it's a one size fits all sort of radiator, and those extra hoses are for automatic transmissions--but this took probably a good 30 minutes of calling my dad and the store I bought it from to confirm!). 

All in all, it actually wasn't that difficult! It turns out replacing a radiator on our car is fairly simple--mostly it was a matter of jacking the car up, unbolting the whole thing, removing a few hoses, and then reversing the process to put the new radiator in :)  I've been greatly encouraged by my success and I'm hoping to learn how to fix more things on our little car in the future!