Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Retaining Wall Renovation: Part One

This is part one of a series that Roger is going to help me write about our retaining wall renovation project. These are the before photos. As you can see, the previous wall (which is who-knows how old...) is literally disintegrating before our eyes.

Starting tomorrow, our driveway will become a flurry of activity involving some sort of excavating device, 13 pallets of 80 pound-a-piece stones, sand, gravel, a huge dumpster, etc. Take your last look at the old, dilapidated thing, for it's days are seriously numbered. (I'd like to mention that what you see is exactly what was there when we bought this house almost eight years ago. It'was an awful gray monster then, too.)

On with the show!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Ian's Preschool "Moving On" Ceremony

We celebrated Ian's preschool graduation on Wednesday. It's really hard to believe we have a tot that's already done with preschool and headed to Kindergarten in August. Where has the time gone?

Ian with his teachers after the ceremony

In front of the school sign, spring 2012

In front of the school sign, fall 2010, when Ian started Preschool

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Triple B Farms- Pick Your Own Strawberries Pittsburgh 2012

The strawberry crop seems to have come in a bit earlier than usual this year. Our favorite local produce farm opened for pick-your-own yesterday. Ian was up with the rooster this morning and I could tell long before 8am that we needed to get out of the house. Berry-picking we went!

When you arrive at Triple-B Farms, go into the shop and tell them you are there to pick strawberries.* They will give you a basket (you can also bring your own basket, I think) or three if you're crazy like we are, and lead you out to the driveway. There you will find a nice man waiting on a tractor that's hooked up to a covered hay wagon. Climb aboard and find a nice spot on a hay bale and get ready for your wagon ride to the berry field! (This is included in the cost of the pick-your-own berries.)

Once you've arrive at the field the nice man on the tractor will tell you which rows you can pick from and, if you need it, give you a quick lesson on proper berry picking technique so you don't harm the berry plants while you're getting the goodies. When you're done, stand to the side of the fields and wait for the wagon to swing back around to get you and take you back to the shop where you will have your berry baskets weighed and you will pay. 

*This is the procedure for weekday berry picking. On the weekends I think it is a little different and it is definitely different during their berry festival. 

After you've put your berries into your car, you can head back over to the playground, to feed the goats (you need quarters), look at the chickens, calf, and honey bees (can you find the queen? she has a white dot on her back this season!) and enjoy some more time on the farm.**

During the weekdays, the tube slides are not open (except to school groups) and there are no bounce houses or pony rides so be prepared for that. There also isn't any hot food in the food "barn" area. I'm not sure if they have food on regular weekends or only during festivals, but if I find out I will definitely update with the correct information. You can purchase some baked goods, assorted beef sticks, cold drinks, etc. in the shop. You can also pack your lunch and drinks and eat them on several picnic tables they have.

Also, since I always try to mention this, the only toilet facilities open to the public are porta-potties. There are a lot of porta-potties and they are probably the nicest porta potties you'll come across (complete with a baby changing station and running (cold) water faucet to wash your hands), but if you're not into the porta-potty thing, you're going to have to plan to hold it for awhile.

It's a great morning outing if you have a chance to take a trip there! Enjoy yourselves and don't forget to save some energy for when you get home... to make shortcakes and jam of course! 

**This is, of course, just the order I like to do things. I like to pick the strawberries before it gets too hot in the morning and then play, but if you'd rather play first and then pick, that's totally up to you! Just have fun and get delicious berries, that's what's important!

Monday, May 21, 2012

On Child-led Weaning

It's no secret I've breastfed all of our children. I'll admit that I wasn't into extended breastfeeding when I was just starting out with Ian. I set my sights on reaching six months and told myself I'd reassess at that point. Six months quickly came and went and breastfeeding was all we knew how to do, so we kept going. "But we'll definitely be done at a year. I'll never go beyond that."

A year came and went and I was still nursing Ian. Not as much, for sure, but it was how he calmed to go to sleep and when he got hurt. Plus I really enjoy the mandatory snuggles.Ian weaned at about 15 months old, when I was more than half way through my pregnancy with Aaron. We were on vacation and he had been only nursing at bedtime. He would nurse a little then drink milk from a bottle, then nurse a little, then drink from the bottle... one night he just didn't nurse. I didn't force the issue and he never asked again. It was really nice.

It went the same way with Aaron. He nursed until he was 15 months old and I was already pregnant with Lauren when he ended his nursing relationship with just not doing it one night at bedtime... and it was over.

Lauren has been a little more tricky because, for one, I wasn't pregnant when she was 15 months old... I wasn't sure how I was going to wean a baby without being pregnant! While night-weaning was definitely mother-led. Weaning in general has been totally up to Lauren. We have been practicing the "don't ask, don't refuse" method and she slowly became interested in other things and got comfort from hugs and and cuddles instead of nunnies. Today, she broke my heart a little:

She was having a tantrum about something and crawled into my lap. I offered her nunnies and she pushed my shirt down and said, "NO! STOP IT! NO!"

She still comes back for a little breast check occasionally, like maybe once day, but she's essentially done. It's been totally up to her and it's been really nice. I makes me happy to know that I didn't have to do anything to get to this point either! She's done it all on her own. She's ready to be done and that's great! (REALLY great. I'll be the first to admit that I'm disenchanted with breastfeeding after nearly 5 years of it...but I do it because I believe in it.) Let's put it down in the record books... Lauren breastfed until she was one day shy of 22 months old.

Bittersweet. Weaning is bittersweet for sure.

Friday, May 18, 2012

17 Weeks with #4

I had my 17 week OB appointment with the midwife that works for my doctor's office. My blood pressure is a little high. I'm talking a little high, but they're watching it like hawks, I swear! I have three other children ages five and under and we had to be out of the house, delivered to preschool (on Ian's snack day no less, so with enough watermelon and mini muffins for 18 little kids), then to the doctor's office all before 9:15 this morning. To say we were running around like crazy people was an understatement, so in my mind, that's why my BP was a little high. In fact, they took it a second time while I was still in the office and it was 118/84, which is ok... so can we get on with the high BP talk for now?

I didn't gain any weight. In fact, I've lost 2 pounds since February.

My belly is measuring right on for 17 weeks.

The baby's heart rate was 155bpm today.

Everything else looks good and we'll have our 20 week anatomy scan/ultrasound on June 8th.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Product Review: Cool Gear Travel Potty

The Cool Gear Travel Potty is a great buy for parents who like to get out and about with a potty training child. Actually, that's limiting it's use. It's a great potty for parents with young children, potty training, potty trained, still in diapers, etc.

This travel potty uses gallon-size zipper storage bags (Ziploc bags) that you place inside the potty seat. Your child uses the potty and then you can zip the bag shut and dispose of the waste. The blue/green sides are actually storage areas to keep wipes and extra zipper bags (and plastic grocery bags if you want to be a bit more discreet). The green/blue sides fold down and slide across the white seat area to make the potty a compact package that you can store just about anywhere. It even slides into the basket of a stroller, trust me, I know! It is entirely plastic and easy to clean. My only complaint about it, if I have to name one, is that the carry handle on ours came off. It's not a big deal because we never really carried it by the handle anyway, but it is something to mention, I suppose.

We keep our Cool Gear Potty in our van all the time. I can't tell you how many times we have been out at a park somewhere when the preschooler calls, "Mom! I have to pee! NOW!" only to find either the park has no bathrooms or the bathrooms are locked. (Or worse yet, there is a bathroom but it is so foul that even I would risk getting poison ivy on my bum to avoid using it. Seriously. What is it about porta-potties that people can't seem to get their pee into the hole? I mean, if everyone used it like it was a regular potty, it wouldn't get disgusting and we wouldn't desire to not touch our butts to the seat. Gross.) So we bring out the go-go potty and all is right with the world again.

I can't say, although I've really considered it for myself a couple of times, how this potty would stand up to a heavier person trying to use it, but it works for our 40 pound five year old!

If you're looking for a good travel potty, this is it. I don't think you'll be disappointed!

Disclosure: This post contains a link to my Amazon affiliate page. Purchasing this product using the link provided does benefit me by giving me affiliate credits.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Ian's 5 Year Well Visit

Ian had his 5 year well visit today and he's healthy as a horse.

He weighed 40 pounds (with his clothes on) and was 41 inches tall (without his shoes).

He had a good blood pressure and everything else checked out fine. Hooray for a healthy five year old!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Big News!

I took some photos of the kids this morning!

Baby Vandervort #4 is due October 26, 2012.