Friday, May 26, 2006

A lesson in embryology

I've been patiently watching the nesting box for the last week. I'm not sure exactly when momma robin finished the nest and really started spending time in it, but I do know for sure now that there are eggs in the nest.
While it's difficult to tell from the picture (I couldn't get the camera at a good angle to capture all the eggs in the nest), there are three perfectly beautiful baby blue eggs in the nest. The momma robin is still pretty skittish when the kids and I are in the backyard, so I've been trying to keep the amount of activity near the nesting box to a minimum. When we had the house sparrows in the box, I never really paid much attention to the timeline of how long it took to hear peeping in the nest, but this time, I wanted to know about how long it will take until we have baby birds, since they will be more visible. I found a really nice journal here that details a brood of babies last spring. According to a link on this site, it should take around 14-16 days from the time the last egg was laid for the babies to hatch. The new chicks will stay in the nest for a couple of weeks, and then they'll be flying off.

While I've been checking into bird embryology, I've also been doing a little research into human embryology.
Yes, that would be our little peanut. Turns out we're expecting a third baby sometime right around the new year. Liam has already requested that this one be a girl. I told him he needed to talk to his father about that.

Needless to say, our little peanut has put a kink in many a plan (though I'm actually quite excited now about having another baby). I was in the midst on working on Butterfly in the hopes of wearing it this summer, but I've now decided to knit the next larger size and hope that it stretches enough to keep wearing it as my waist expands. So far I've gotten one of the hems done.
I also posted about picking up the One Skein and a secret book for a secret project....well, here's the secret book:
I haven't decided yet which things I want to make from this book. I was mostly hoping to use it as a planning tool to modify other patterns to make them more "belly friendly." I've also decided that I must make several of these from the One Skein book, and if it turns out to be a boy...well...he may just end up wearing them anyway.

I also picked up a copy of the Summer Interweave Knits. Oh so many things in there I'd like to make. One being this:

There are also a few other things in there that, if modified for length, might work quite well with my expanding figure. I'm very glad that empire waist and crossover tops are quite the hip thing at the moment, as they work nicely with my shape at the moment, which is beginning to expand, but not yet looking pregnant.

I apologize for the flash in the pictures, but it's raining here AGAIN, and I didn't want to wait any longer to post. On top of my new-found pregnancy-induced fatigue, I have a head cold, so I've been slow to get much of anything (particularly knitting!) accomplished lately. Afternoon naps have become my new best friend, and will likely continue to be so for another month or so until I get into my second trimester.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

A bird in the box is worth...

Everyone here is finally starting to get better. Hubby was still pretty miserable last night, but seems to be doing a fair bit better today. He's actually planning to go back to work tomorrow after an entire week off. Not the week's vacation he was hoping for by any stretch. Apparently this nasty digestive virus has been making the rounds around here, as the neighbor girl has now come down with it.

The rain has FINALLY stopped here. It's rained the past two weeks every day for the better part of the day. The back yard is a swamp. So much for the raised bed I'd been working on. It's going to need a good couple of weeks of dry weather to get to the point where I can get anything planted.

The wet weather has not, however, deterred the rest of Mother Nature from carrying on regularly scheduled duties. The birds have been quite busy nesting lately, and our nesting box is no exception. For the past couple of years, we've had at least 4 broods of house sparrows. They insisted on trying to build a nest on the lip of our awning every spring, and not having much luck at it because it was too shallow, so I went out and bought a nesting box for them to try their luck at.

The house sparrow nest is like a little cave. They build it so that there's a little hole big enough for them to get in and out of, and both parents spend a lot of time going back and forth to feed the little chicks. I never got a chance to see the babies (though I did get surprised by one flying out when I tried to take a peek inside...scared the bejabbers out of me!) or even see them leaving the nest, but I could hear their little chirps when I was out on the back patio near the box, and it was always fun to watch the flurry of activity when they are building and nesting.

I always make sure to clean out the nest after each brood to make sure that each new brood has a healthy start. This year after cleaning out the box, I expected to be treated to another set of sparrows bringing in twigs, dried grass, and random fluff to make another nest, but was surprised to see a different bird this year.

A robin has decided to make our nesting box home for the spring. She started bringing in grass and twigs a week or so ago and has been diligently tending the nest for a couple of days now. I'm hoping that means there are eggs. Because the box is near the house, I can watch out the kitchen window for activity, but that also means that we have to take care when out on the patio, else we might get dive-bombed. She's given no indication yet that she would do that, but I want to be careful not to provoke her!

I'm hoping that she'll leave long enough for me to get up close and get a photo of the eggs, but I have a feeling that won't happen. We'll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, I tried to get up close to get a picture, but I was so afraid to disturb her. Because of the shadow in the box, you can barely make out her beak (click on the picture for a larger view).

There has been some knitting progress, and I'll be able to post some other fun knitting things in a few's all about the timely unleashing of the secret....

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Hubby is now down with the plague that's been going around starting with Liam. We went to the grocery store to get supplies, as poor Mother Hubbard's cupboard was definitely bare, after picking Liam up from school. This meant that the little guy did not get his usual afternoon snooze. The kids were surprisingly well-behaved in the grocery store (usually by the end of the trip, I'm ready to tear my hair out), but I knew Jonah was feeling sleepy. After helping bring in the groceries and gobbling down his sugar cookie reward, he headed downstairs with big brother to watch some Fraggle Rock. I thought it was awfully quiet down there which means one of a short list of possibilities: either they are disassembling the laundry that I'd carefully sorted or were climbing the barstool in an attempt to get to the top bookshelf, or they were sleeping. Sure enough, I sneaked down the stairs to find this:

After tossing all the laundry I'd sorted off the futon and onto the floor, he must have tackled the cat. Dots loves ANY attention, and she usually welcomes someone wanting to scuff her. Little did she know she was going to have to play pillow for the next hour or two. Luckily Sleep is her middle name, so she probably wasn't really planning on going anywhere anyway.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Who needs a sandbox when....

He opened the lid to the dog food and put his trucks in all by his little self. And yes, that carpet is grass green.

Love to all you momma's!

Mother's Day is one of my favorite holidays. Not because I might get to sleep in (though I chose not to this morning) or the boys make me breakfast or even because I get to do pretty much whatever I want that day. I love this holiday for the reminder (and I do need it occasionally) of how special it is to be a mom, and how it's the best job I ever got.

I think every mother has at one time or another proclaimed the "mother's curse" on her progeny. "I hope you have a (or more, depending on how angry she was) child just like you." While perhaps said in a fit of anger, what mom didn't know was that curse was really one of the best things that ever could have happened to me. I not only got one...but two children just like me (well in some ways, anyway), and they are the most precious gifts I've ever been given.

As a woman, I'm lucky that I get to bear children. Some women may not share my glee when I describe how wonderful pregnancy and birth can be, but I truly loved being pregnant. I loved my round shape, loved feeling that little life inside me rolling around, loved hearing the "tickita-tickita-tickita" of a little heartbeat through the stethescope.

When it came time to birth those two babies, I was in awe of my body's ability to work hard, to bring forth life, and once the babies were in my arms, I was so impressed that I could do that, not to mention being totally in love with those little things that had kicked me in the ribs for so long. Then I got to soak in their brand new smell, nurture them at my breast, and listen to them in their sleep. I still love their sleep sounds.

Every day after their birth has been an adventure. Getting to know who these little beings are, seeing their personalities develop, seeing the bits of me and the bits of Cliff, and loving every inch of them. They are free entertainment. The things they come up with, either in thought or action, sometimes boggles my mind. Part of why I started this blog was so I would have black and white reference to some of the things they've said, because the memory sometimes gets lost in the sieve that is my brain.

Needless to say, I have more respect now that I am a mother for every woman that has gone through this before me, including my own mother. I always thought I was close with my mom before I had kids, but I think my love for my own mother grew the day I became a mother myself. Because then I understood. It all made sense. All the things she used to say, how she always knew what was going on, even though I may not have said a word. And the look. You know the look. It could either be that disapproving look when I was about to do something I knew I wasn't supposed to or that look of pure adoration when I'd accomplished something.

So today on Mother's Day, I have to say I love you, Mom. Thanks for giving me the strength as a woman to do this sometimes very hard but oh-so-rewarding thing.

SouleMama is a daily read for all her beautiful things, and her Mother's Day Montage is no exception. It would take me a long time to go through all my photos and put one together of our family, but here are a couple pics that you all may not have seen in a while.

Pregnant with Liam

A 3-year-old Liam (how could you NOT love those feet!!)

Brand new Jonah

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Rain, rain...go away...

After a pretty long bout of some really decent weather (lots of sun, fairly warm temps), we've been tossed back into gray dampness for the last few days with no end in sight. I'm thinking of constructing a boat and marching the animals onto it if it does not let up in the next couple of days. I looked at the weather report, and it calls for cloudy with rain showers for the next 7 days. Maybe we got translocated (I do live with an engineer after all) to the Northwest when I wasn't looking.

On top of the gloom, the elder Mr. Man has been suffering from a bout of gastroenteritis that hit last Friday and continued until yesterday early morning. Poor guy had it at both ends. Just in time for finals week and Daddy's trip out of town. To top that off, he shared his lovely germs with Grandma and Grandpa, so they all were down at one point last week. Somehow the younger Mr. Man and I narrowly escaped the dreaded scourge. Iron constitutions, I tell ya. I am thankful for missing out on all the fun, particularly with the big tests last week. Somehow we all made it through. Thank heavens for the in-laws.

So now that everyone is on the mend, I'm in planning mode. What to do with my 4 months of freedom from schoolwork? Oh, the reading I could do...and the knitting. Need a to do list. Maybe not...might get overwhelmed with all the things I need to do.

I ordered a couple of books off Amazon yesterday. One is a knitting book that will stay a secret for a while...I love secret projects! The other is the One Skein book by Leigh Radford. After all, who doesn't have a skein of luscious yarn that they just need a little something to do with it...that's not a scarf. Sometime this summer, I'd love to get my sister-in-law working on something other than scarves. Maybe a purse or something. I'm sure she'd love the felted bowl that is in the book.

I've also promised myself that I would make a list of my UFO's and get them done posthaste. I have the list on the sidebar that's been languishing for a long time now and really needs to be done. Mostly because I have a whole laundry list of knitting I'd like to get going on....and that Bond USM that needs to be used!!

For now, there's cleaning to be done. The carpet cleaner comes on Monday, and I feel a big purge coming on. Spring cleaning, here I come!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

School's's out....

D.O.N.E. Finito. I officially clocked out of spring '06 as of 3:00 this afternoon. Thanks to taking up residence on the 6th floor of the library (the only floor with real cushy office chairs as opposed to the bare wooden prison chairs) for the past two weeks, I think I've survived. Chemistry went fairly well, but thanks to staying up too late and not having a chance to eat lunch (yeah...whose bright idea was it to schedule 2 hour 15 minute tests...with only a 15 minute break in between?) I didn't do as well on Molecular. I should still have an A wrapped up in the class (I hope). I did, however, nail down a big fat A in organic lab.

I somehow managed to clean out my locker out today and stuff a semester's worth of collected junk in my silver tote, making it like carrying another child back to the car. So I now have no excuse to go back to campus until the fall. Woot! I feel free! All I can think about is how much fun I'm going to have and all the things I'm going to catch up on and all. the. knitting.

I'm too pooped to party tonight, so I'm heading to sleepytown. I'll update later on the sickness that has invaded our collective households (mine and the in-laws) over the past week. Suffice it to say that Liam ended up with a "Get out of School Free" card for the entire week. Fun.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

So sick of studying

Only 5 more days until finals. I've spent this past week on campus studying my brains out for organic chemistry in the hopes that I can pull my grade out with the final exam. My professor drives me crazy. He's about as clear as mud, makes mistakes on the board, and doesn't clarify what he really wants from us. Frustrating! He's a nice guy, don't get me wrong...but nice guys don't always make the best teachers. This guy is a total frameshift from last semester's organic teacher, who was a lovely mix of Paul McCartney and Dana Carvey. I loved being in class just to listen to the accent, but he also was so eloquent in his explanations, gave clear and concise expectations, and made sure we knew exactly what to expect from him, all the while delivering it with a great sense of humor. He was easily one of the best professors I've ever had. He certainly didn't spoon-feed us the info, but he delivered it with style while helping us to do some critical thinking.

Needless to say, teaching oneself organic chemistry from a text takes some time, so I've been MIA, and will likely continue to be for the rest of the week. I still have Molecular to study for, so that's going to have to be fit in somewhere too.

The boys are doing well despite all the craziness this week. Hubby is getting ready for a conference in Boston, so he's been pretty busy too. I've decided that once this week is done, there will be much rejoicing and recreating. I'm thinking of many trips to the zoo, lots of digging in the dirt, and plenty of knitting.

See y'all later in the week!!

Monday, May 01, 2006

A trip around the May pole many pictures to share today! Today is May Day, and at Liam's school, they always have a celebration. Last year Liam was in the 3-day preschool class, and they had their own May Day celebration where they only danced around the May pole. Since he's in 5-day this year, he got to do the big celebration with the entire school.

There was a scavenger hunt in the meadow to open the festivities. Each child found several things from nature hidden among the green of the meadow and the trees that border it. Then came the snack. Lemon cupcakes with creamy frosting. Jonah, I think, enjoyed this more than anything else. After the sweet treats, each class danced and sang around their respective May poles, and the older children also did some other ring-dancing, singing, and music playing. Finally, the students took turns swinging at the pinatas that they had made, one for each class. The preschool pinata proved to be a little tougher than we'd all anticipated, so the parents eventually took turns whacking at it. Jonah was the most excited about the prospect of swinging at the pinata that he went so far as to find his own stick. I helped him swing, so I have no pictures of that to show. Once the pinata finally broke open, there were treats inside for each of the children of wooden figures and candy. When the pinata for the other preschool class was knocked down, there was a unified squeal of delight and a mad rush for the bags of goodies that had been knocked down. The children's joy was just so wonderful.

Part of what I loved so much about today was just the timeless nature of the whole event. The children dressed like little Christopher Robin in galoshes while running about. Many of the children were wearing flower wreaths with ribbons streaming from the back. One class had made theirs from a felt band decorated with felt shapes. So many of the girls wore simple smocks or skirts that could have placed them in any time period from now to back around pioneer days.

The weather for today's celebration was perfect. Hazy sunshine and then patchy clouds with temps in the mid 60s. I'm so loving this spring we're having so far!!