Star Wars in my Kitchen, or How Jude Turned Eleven

Well, the last two weeks have been very busy, not least of all because Jude turned 11 last Sunday. To celebrate, we had a Star Wars-themed birthday party for him last Saturday, which was extremely fun--both to plan and to implement. He only had two of his best buddies over, but we went all-out anyway.

Star Wars characters

Of course, in somewhat typical fashion, I didn't start planning it until the Tuesday before--but decided to go BIG anyway. Well, BIG--but with shortcuts. I bought the awesome Star Wars Digital Printable Birthday Pack from SimoneMadeIt on Etsy to help me get started, spent some time trolling the 'net for other people's Star Wars Birthday ideas, and even decided that making Jedi robes for the men-folk of the family wouldn't be too much to tackle, with the help of an online tutorial to save me a bunch of the brain work. (Okay, there was still some involved--four robes in four sizes? I had to come up with my own pattern-drafting formula. Yay! Geometry! But that's okay, still saved me a ton of research. And for those of you who can count, Levi gets to be an Ewok, not a Jedi.)

Star Wars birthday balloons

Star Wars party food 3

Star Wars party food

Star Wars party food 2

Jedi birthday cake

I wasn't the only parent getting in on the fun. Jason planned an extremely elaborate--and difficult--obstacle course for the young Jedi-wannabes. And made them light sabres out of plumbing foam pipe insulators and coloured duct tape. They had to undergo training, then they got their meal, and as the "instructional video" section of the party, we watched the original, first Star Wars movie. (Episode IV. Yes, it's confusing. If you don't know why, I'm not explaining it here.)

Just part of the Jedi training

This was actually the boys' first time watching Star Wars, although they have played the Wii game, read the Encyclopedia, and are fairly familiar with the "world".

Star Wars characters gone crazy!
Putting their crazy faces on!

Okay, okay... I didn't get it all done. Jude's robe was mostly done--enough for him to wear, anyway. Last week, I finished Noah's, and am currently 1/4 of the hem away from finishing Jabin's. Jason's may have to wait for some other projects I have to finish up... but that's okay. There are six movies, after all, and as of this weekend, we are only finished two of them. :-)

My progress was severely slowed by a very nasty cold that I caught from Levi halfway through last week. I am well on the road to recovery, now, and thankfully, Levi was over the worst of it before I succumbed, but I guess I got what I deserved for all those late nights trying to finish robes on time for a party I didn't plan until the last minute!

I keep telling myself that I won't do the same thing for Jabin's party in two weeks...

I hope I'm right!

The Busy Princeling

Lately, I've been having a difficult time getting my butt in my chair to do any writing. Partly, this is because of the amount of yard work and things still needing to be finished before the snowflakes make their appearance. But mostly it is because Levi's skill at getting into trouble has increased significantly.

Even ten seconds unsupervised can mean he has pushed a chair to the nearest cupboard and started pulling down glasses, dishes, papers, pens, electronics--a continual and expensive fascination for him--you name it.

After a two-minute bathroom break this morning required a five-minute mop-up of the water he had poured out of the cooler while I was doing so, I decided that from now on, I'll have to strap him in his chair when I need to go that badly. Or wait until his naptime.

Our boy is busy, but he is also still pretty fun and cuddly. After breaking another tooth a few days ago, his attitude returned to its normal laid-back disposition. Thank goodness!

He has been attempting more words lately, but they are still pretty mangled. He tends to take the last consonant sound of a word and put it first. Thus, "egg" becomes "guh", "sock" becomes "kah", "cup" becomes "puh". At least he's trying!

Speaking of the little man, he's getting in trouble again... gotta go!!

2013 09 18_0677 crpd web.jpg
Why, yes, I am a little prince! How could you tell?

Jolly Holiday

Not this past weekend, but the one before, our family got to take a weekend trip that didn't involve a funeral. What it did involve was only a three-hour drive to get there, and a hotel with a pool! It was wonderful.

2013 09 14_0237 fxd web.jpg

We all had a good time in Fort St. John, B.C., especially since fall is the loveliest time of year along the Peace River Valley. The colours were slightly more advanced there than here, and on the Sunday, we had to take a drive out to a lookout to take in a new view of the Peace River before heading home.

Another kind tourist, seeing my frustrations trying to work the remote shutter on my fancy-pantsy new camera, kindly offered to take a family photo of us. Other than Levi being sick, grumpy, and needing a nap, it turned out pretty good, I thought. (At least we're all looking at the camera, for a change.)

2013 09 15_0716 edtd 8x10 web.jpg

Thank you, Fort St. John, for a great end to the summer.

Poor puddy tat.

About a month ago, we got a four-month-old kitten named Angel to catch mice. She sucks at it just yet, but she did show pretty good interest in playing with the baby mouse that wandered across the kitchen floor one night.

I ended up capturing that mouse and giving it to the dogs.


Levi loves the cat.

 And I mean, he LOVES her.

For some reason, she doesn't normally feel the same way.

Thankfully, the baby gate gives her a "Levi-free" safe zone. :-)

Crocs Rock

Levi has some of the widest feet I have ever seen on a baby. This makes it very difficult to find shoes for him.

Jude had a similar problem at this age--he had very chubby feet with a high instep. Different foot shape, same issue with shoe buying. That made summer great, because sandals--especially the kind with Velcro in two places over the top and one around the back of the heel--are so adjustable and forgiving. (That is, when you feel the need for shoes at all.)

Well... do you think I could find a pair of sandals like that when I took my little man shopping for some footwear about a month ago?

Not in this small town. But what I did find at Walmart were some of the knock-off cheap-o (YAY!) garden clog style shoes, only thing in his size, with--guess what?--very wide feet.

In the last few days, these have been Levi's favourite things to wear. He goes and finds them from the shoe stash in our entrance first thing int he morning, brings them to you (one at a time, sometimes), and stands there holding them out to you, making his little ascending-pitch "uh?" sound that is his general word whenever he has a question or wants something. Once you help him put them on, he is happy as a clam, proud as punch, and wears them for pretty much the rest of the day. (Mommy takes them off at nap times, so he has to go find them again afterwards.)

I totally understand the appeal of a great pair of rocking, comfortable shoes, so I guess I can't complain. And really, in the face of all that cuteness, who would?

BamBam's favourite clogs.

Everything's better with your favourite shoes on.

BamBam's clogs

BamBam sportin' his clogs.

Scrap a Little More...

I have a new battery for my laptop. Okay, it's not new anymore. But it lasts a really, really long time when it is not plugged in.

That meant that on my way home from Sylvan Lake yesterday, since Jason was driving, I got to scrapbook some more. That's a first for me, scrapbooking in the van. :-)

Settling In

The last two weeks have had their ups and downs, but fortunately, there have been more ups than downs.

Levi is starting to feel more at home, both with us and with the actual house. This was evidenced by how he kept pushing boundaries as much as possible beginning two weeks ago. While this is completely normal for a child that has just learned to walk--since the horizon is suddenly three feet higher--there is even more of this here, since he hadn't had any previous boundaries established at crawling height to start from. Not only that, he is still early in the process of attaching to us as parents, so he is also pushing against our boundaries.

The worst casualties of this experimentation are our school bulletin boards in the hallway, since there was really no place to relocate those things that they would still be useful to us. Several centuries of history have been obliterated from the timelines, and key figures from the early stages of humanity have been demolished. Has anyone you know winked out of existence, lately? If so, my sincerest apologies. ;-)

This week, despite several interrupted nights that have made for long, tiring days for all members of our family (the paper-thin walls, hollow doors, and ankle-high gaps under them in our trailer don't do much to slow down the transference of sound between parts of our house), Levi seems to be fitting in more and more as a family member instead of a guest. Last weekend, Jason and I were discussing how we still felt like the babysitters... this week, I started to feel more like his mom. He would do cute things to get our attention, he would play and wrestle with the boys more, and he would be more easily comforted by Jason and I. He has become less clingy (a sign of a more secure attachment).

We have also seen Levi's natural happy-go-lucky, laid-back personality start to re-emerge, which has made him much more pleasant to be around. The sudden changes in caregivers, diet, and environment combined with teething meant that the first few weeks were mostly spent carrying around a fussy, insecure baby. The shift has been encouraging.

We have also managed to get his diet figured out a little better. We are back in the groove of creating baby food, keeping regular feeding schedules, and have started to work out just how much lactose this baby boy can handle. (Not much. Too much lactose=unpleasant diaper changing experiences.)
Rubber bands--pshaw!! Rules were meant to be broken, right?

Beets=fun baby photos.

Speaking of diapers, I began my adventures in cloth diapering this week. So far, I haven't made Jason deal with any of the cloth ones (oops, except a wet one he took off as he was prepping Levi for bed one night), as there was about a two-month supply of disposables that came along with him we need to use up (so they stop "using up" space in our house!), so he's been in disposables at night. However, cloth diapering is way easier than I thought it would be, and I still haven't even gotten any of those flush-able paper liners for them--although I am looking forward to having them!

I got started fairly cheaply, buying most of what I needed from a friend who is past the baby stage. She had sewn the diapers herself from a kit she bought on Etsy, but had several purchased covers and other accessories that came with the package--all in all, it would have cost well over $350 to buy all that new, and she gave me a super deal at only $50. The diapers are similar to these. So, I only had to buy a few things like new fasteners (bye-bye, diaper pins! Check out the coolness of modern diaper fasteners!) and some boy-themed and slightly larger diaper covers, as the smaller pink hearts she had for her little girl aren't so stylin' on our little man. :-) I was glad to find a SAHM in Grande Prairie with a "local" online business that I could support to fill in the gaps. (www.ClothDiaperKids.com)

Cloth diapering, even only during the day for the last three days, has already had the desired effect--less garbage going out. We went from throwing away a half-to-one 22-L bag of garbage a week B.L ("Before Levi"), to a full (stinky!) one every 2-3 days after we got him, especially when we were working through the teething and lactose issues, to now going back to pretty much what we were at before. We don't have a dumpster or a burn barrel, so disposing of garbage for us is kind of an inconvenience--we have to take it to the local dump for our area, but there are only two time blocks a week that it is open, and it is about 20 minutes away in a direction we rarely travel. We prefer to save it in a couple of garbage bins until they are full, and make the trip every few months. Thank goodness, we won't be filling those up once every two weeks anymore!

Thankfully, we didn't have to sink any money into buying any disposable diapers before I got going on this. A quick trip down the baby aisle at the grocery store reminded me how outrageously priced they are, all to wrap your baby in chemical-laden plastic and paper that is inconvenient to dispose of and harmful for both the baby and the environment! I wish I would have taken the time and energy to figure out cloth with my older three boys. Oh, well... never too late to start, I guess. :-)

Enough about diapers...

In the last two weeks, Levi's preferred form of transportation has gradually morphed from crawling with a few occasional steps to walking full-time. He's getting faster and more stable, but still trips and goes "kerplunk" on his butt fairly frequently. Good thing those cloth diapers offer extra padding! (Okay, last time with the diapers. I promise.)

While most of the excitement in our home has centred on our most recent addition lately, Jude did get to go to his buddy Ethan's birthday party last Saturday. The activity for the party was that Ethan's dad (an accomplished career carpenter) helped the boys create medieval weapons from plywood.

Jude designed a rather menacing-looking sword. And posed with it.

Jude, April 2013 (Age 10)

The more things change, the more they stay the same, right?

Jude, July 2006 (Age 3)

Cardi Love

I am so in love with this shrug:


I desperately want to make it, especially since one of my few wardrobe items that resembled it has felted to much too small for me this winter because I was too lazy to handwash it. Apparently, that was a bad idea. It used to look like this:

Bulky Cabled Vest 3.

Now, it doesn't. :-) (It is much more of a shoulder-hugging shrug now than the original Cable Vest, actually--which, by the way, is a brilliantly simple design by Sarah Punderson.)

The only problem is how very little knitting time I am getting these days. Less that blogging time, apparently, and that hasn't happened in a few years. :-) On the rare day when I do have a chance to sit on the couch with my hubby at the end of it, my hands are just so happy to be empty, and my arms are so thrilled to not be holding anything in them, that I will sit and watch an entire episode (currently on Season 1 of Smallville) without so much as opening my knitting bag.

Not to mention, I'm in the middle of three knitting projects already.

Still, the Forest and Frill pattern is calling me... It's so darn summery... and those other projects-in-progress (double-knit cheetah balaclava/mitt set I'm designing, thigh-high chunky cabled socks I'm designing, and green lace socks I'm not designing) all seem to be dragging into rather unseasonable seasons.... well, with the exception of the lace socks. Which, in my defence, is what I have been working on lately, when I have been knitting at all. (Although I know I need to finish the other ones so the patterns can be posted at the beginning of the appropriate season!)

Cables and lace, how I love thee... especially when combined in a perfect crop top and a delicious chocolate hue...

Bulking Up

This winter, Jason has been doing some training, as he is planning to enter the Spartan Race in Edmonton this July. There is a kid's version of the race, too, and the boys are stoked that Daddy let them enter it. Thus, they have been diligently doing karate, swimming lessons, walks or Nike Plus (Fitness XBox Kinect program) on non-class days, and with the nice weather lately, they have added "trampolining" to the regimen.

All that hard work has really been paying off.

Honest, we don't let our kids use steroids, or anything! Maybe there was a radioactive spider around the place, somewhere...


Levi: Week Two

The second week with Levi in our family has seen some significant changes, not the least of which was the little man turning one!

Before last weekend, we had not yet had even one whole day home together as a family. However, thanks to a four-day weekend that Jason got over Easter, that was rectified. At the beginning of the weekend, Levi was still ultra-clingy to me, exclusively. However, by Monday, he had decided that this "Dad" guy was okay to be with, too.

He has been more and more settled as the week has gone on. Also, I think the tooth that has been bothering him has gone up a little. That irks me, since I know we'll have to go through all those symptoms of teething (including clinginess) again, but it has given us some temporary relief from the Cry Baby.

The rest of us, too, seem to be finding our new groove with a baby in the house. It has been helpful that for the most part, he has been sleeping through the night for the last week. He goes to bed at about 8-8:30, and has begun sleeping until 6:30-7:15. That's exactly what we were hoping for.

Sleep training during the day is not going so well. He still wants to be held or rocked to sleep, and as soon as he is put down, wakes up and fights it. As many of you know, I don't have time to hold a baby (nor the strength to hold a 26-lb. bundle!) for an hour and a half so he can sleep. One day, he had three short naps of 20-30 minutes each. Yesterday, he slept for five minutes, and refused to sleep any more. That cherubic photo at the beginning of this post was taken in his carseat on Wednesday, when he fell asleep in town and had a rare, 1 1/2-hour nap.

So, he is still learning how to self-soothe. However, as long as he is sleeping at night (so the rest of us can sleep, too!), handling a fussy, tired baby during the day becomes a lot easier to do.

All in all, after two weeks, I feel like we are beginning to discover what the "new normal" is. Even though our lives remain full, as I did not have time to do the normal "weeding-out" of activities that would have happened had I been having a baby the traditional way, he has begun to fit right into it like he has been there all along.

In other news, Jude is taking a belt test for karate today, going for his yellow belt. Unfortunately, it is in Grande Prairie, and the weather is not that great. Jason is supposed to let me know what the roads are like when he gets to work--I'm not sure whether I hope he says that they are fine to travel, or I should stay home! At least if we go, Levi should get a nap! ;-)

Happy Friday, friends!

First Birthday

Levi turned one yesterday. To celebrate, he spent a couple of hours with his Nana and birth mom/"Auntie". Then when he came home, he had fresh oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

Last night, I gave him a haircut. I don't think it was his absolute first, but it may have been the first all-over cut. (This boy came out with a lot of hair, so he's probably had a trim or two before.) Here he is today, sportin' his new 'do. It's a bit choppy in places, but for a baby haircut, he did amazingly well. I've just got a couple little pieces I need to even out later.

Today, we had errands to do in town all afternoon. Despite that, this was the happiest, most settled day that he has had since he came to be with us. It also followed the longest, most undisturbed night of rest he has had yet.

Every day, things are getting just a little easier.

We are so looking forward to what the next year brings. Love you so much already, little man!