Thursday, April 25, 2013

Daddy Phase

Our June-Girl is fully immersed in a Daddy Phase right now. 

Michael tries to give me these little sympathetic glances every time she makes it known that I am chopped liver compared to him, but I know the truth. He's absolutely loving it. 

"No Mommy do it. Daddy."

"Can Mommy read you the book?" 

"No. Daddy do it."

I don't pout and in my heart I'm not sad at all. She's spent plenty of time in the Mommy Phase and I'm glad to know the happiness it brings Michael. 

Besides, I still get to pull her away for girlie things, like painting her toenails for the first time!

Also being in an independent phase, she wanted to do it herself. I'm not sure how it happened, but while I was preoccupied locating and tossing the old nail polish bottles whose innards had globbed into a useless mass, I suddenly heard an "uh-oh!" from right next to me. I look down and see half of her toes covered in dark purple and a few drops all over the floor. But the finished product turned out just fine! A little smudged, but fine. 


But back to the Daddy Phase. 


I hate to say it, but part of it is nice. Suddenly I can use the restroom by myself. On the other hand, Michael has a new friend to talk to in the bathroom. And suddenly I'm the one that gets to enjoy her hot coffee on Sunday mornings from the couch while Michael gets to roll June up in a blanket over and over again. Many a month have I snuck in sips of my tepid coffee before getting pulled back in to play Duplo blocks. Now I sit back and relax while Michael says his arms are getting tired from holding June upside down so many times. 


This morning I asked June who her favorite Disney Princess was. She said it was Belle. (Which was a shocker, by the way, since "'Punzel" is the one she always talks about.) When I said I liked Belle too, it was NOT ALLOWED because Junie likes Belle. However, when Michael mentioned that he too liked Belle, she was all smiles. The amazement! That she and Daddy would both like the same Princess! Destiny! She'll probably never even glance at another Princess again.

 

P.S. I have a sudden need to take her to Disney. Such a need.


That is, if she'd let me join her and her dad. :)

Friday, April 19, 2013

My Goodness, My Aphids!

Yard update! People not interested in yardthings beware!

The plants are doing well for the most part, meaning that my black thumb has not had its effect so far. The daisies are either dying or going through a bad patch but I don't mind so much since I just picked them up at Home Depot for $3.99 and called it a day. The nursery had been out of the desert-adapted ones that I wanted and I placed these in their spot as a filler.

The surprising joy-of-my-heart is the Hearts and Flowers, which is spreading spreading spreading and I love it. And then there is the Cleveland Sage. 

The sage is doing pretty well with some stalks shooting up and sprouting lovely purple flowers. Unfortunately new growth attracts little critters known as aphids.

Aphids are tiny little mindless bugs a little smaller than a sesame seed. They attach themselves to plants and leech out the good stuff, then secrete a honeydew substance that is like crack cocaine to ants. So the ants “herd” them, protect them and sometimes move them around. That…really creeped me out when I first read about it. Sure enough, whenever I go looking for aphids, if I see ants on a stalk, I’ll know that aphids are nearby.


I’ve tried some things to get rid of the aphids naturally. I boiled up lemon and garlic, let the solution sit overnight and then sprayed the plants. (The house reeked for a week.) I tried to manually pluck them off and smear their tiny remains around the base of the plant to send a "Ye Be Warned!" message to others. I tried sprinkling garlic powder directly on the plants and placing raw green onions at the base of the plants. Since the aphids still mocked me with their presence, I called in the big guns in the form of these lethal killers:


That’s right. Ladybugs. Or as they are called officially, Ladybird Beetles.

Turns out the aphids are like crack cocaine to ladybugs. And turns out there is a thriving black market of ladybugs out there (and by that I mean I bought them legally online from gardener.com). (This is only AFTER Michael and I went to look for them at Home Depot ON OUR DATE NIGHT, so much do these aphids bother me! Michael totally didn’t believe me that a place would sell ladybugs, and even though Home Depot didn’t carry them at the moment, I felt vindicated that they at least knew what I was talking about and claimed that they did sometimes sell them. Maybe ladybugs aren’t in season?) (More parentheses.)

Date night:

Ever wanted to know what 1,500 ladybugs encased in a mesh bag looks like?


BAM.

I followed my research instructions and put the bugs immediately into the fridge to put them into hibernation mode. The next day I watered down the plants (to make it inviting) and waited til dusk (to encourage them to stay in my lush, non-glaring environment) and loosed the hounds, so to speak. When I first took the bag of bugs out I was all, “Aw, cute. But they all look dead?” And then they started to move. Good Lord, they started to move. And then it was tough to keep my cognitive dissonance. “Cute…ladybugs…good luck… OMG THOUSANDS OF TINY BEETLE LEGS POKING THROUGH THE MESH.”

Gave me the willies.

“Michael, you want to see 1,500 ladybugs?”
“You need to get that thing away from me.”

Apparently I’m not the only one.

So I dumped a handful on each plant that has aphids. I physically placed several ladybugs on infested stalks and watched as they bugs gingerly crawled over the aphids in exploration. “WHAT GOOD ARE YOU, LADYBUG? YOUR FOOD SOURCE IS RIGHT THERE!”

I tried my best to seal up the mesh bag and place them back in the box and back in the fridge so I could release more today. I was not overly optimistic. But what did I see when I went outside this morning? At the top of each stalk where the aphids like to be was a bright, shiny ladybug. And that stalk where the ladybug had apparently ignored the aphids? Completely clear of all things buggy.

Ladybugs, my heroes! They aren't all gone yet, but it's already a lot better!

And speaking of bugging, listen to this. Last night while I was all nestled in on the couch, Michael went to the kitchen and opened the door of the fridge.

“JULIEJULIEJULIE LADYBUGS EVERYWHERE…THEY’RE EVERYWHERE.”

My heart jumped into my throat. Oh God, they’re going to be in all the food, how will we capture them all? They’ll fly into the house! They’ll establish a colony in the air vents! I made it halfway through the house at a sprint until Michael started laughing. He was just messing with me.

And now I plan my revenge. And I have 1,000 shiny red accomplices at my disposal. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Bye Bye, Binky

When the time came to say goodbye to the pacifier for good, I thought that nap time would be easy and bedtime would be tough. June has had the binks at bedtime every night since we started giving it to her. Nap time is another story - we sent one to school but found out that she didn't need it or use it there. For months now she's been napping without a pacifier during the week, though she did still use it at home. 

We'd been telling June that the binky was going to go away on Friday. We told her that babies needed binkies, and since she was a big girl and didn't need hers anymore, she could send hers away so babies could have it. So we addressed an envelope ("To: Babies, From: Junie") and left it on the front porch.

When she got home that evening, the envelope was gone and a little Nerf football was in its place as a "thank you" from the babies. 



I couldn't believe how easy that night went. (I joked with Michael that he totally owed me since he had a night out with friends that evening.) I put her down and didn't hear a peep from her until the next morning.

The nap on Saturday was ... not as easy. She cried and cried and cried. I'm not sure if it's because she was overtired, or if the little 10 minute catnap she'd gotten in the car had sort of taken the edge off, so then she wasn't ready for another nap? Or if it really was just needing the binky to transition to sleep time. Either way, we listened to her cry long enough to drive us both batty and then Michael went in to soothe her to sleep.

The pattern stayed the same that evening for bedtime and for today's nap, except I did the soothing routine of Hold Her and Sing Three Ben Harper Songs right at time of put-down instead of waiting for an hour of crying first.

So, how's it going, leaving Binks behind? I have two answers based on time of day. But I'm not discouraged and am proud that my big girl is leaving Binks behind, and am looking forward to not needing to pack it every time we'll be away from the house during sleeping times.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Pretty Picnic

Last night we had our first picnic in the new backyard! 


It was the second time we used our new grill, and since June and I were already playing on the blankets laid out on the grass, we decided to have a picnic instead of eating on our patio furniture.




And then the playing. All the playing.





All June wants to do these days is "run on my grass" and be held upside down and "go up in sky" (have Michael toss her up and give me heart attacks).  The number of times we do these things is never enough. We say "last time," and there's always a "do again?" or her saying "last time" to ask for another. The only way we can redirect her without crying is to loudly exclaim, "Are you trying to trick mommy and daddy?!?!" Which she finds hilarious.


























The yard is getting these little spring blooms and the weather is perfect once the sun starts to set. Really makes you appreciate these months in Arizona.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Big Girl, Big Changes

With June turning two, she's started the transition moving up to the next room at school. We've been talking to her about the change, about how she's going to play with the "big kids" and play on the "big kid playground." She's been excited about it.

The biggest change in this classroom is that they start potty training. 


We have a June-sized potty at home. We've been super casual about implementing it - we'll ask if she wants to sit on the potty and won't force her to. She's used it a few times I figured that it would be hard to really push it if they aren't also doing it at school. 

We have these adorable pictures from one night where June insisted on running around naked, climbing on her potty (it transitions into a little step stool to use with the regular toilet) and dancing/jumping off of it. I won't post them here because, you know...

So potty training will be ramping up too. 


We're also going to be saying goodbye to the binky. For almost a year now June has only used her pacifier while she sleeps.  We think it's time to cut it out completely for a few reasons, one of which being that I've read that it'll help with her ear infections (which she's still getting). 


So our big girl is going through some big changes! I'm sure there will be plenty of updates to post about soon!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Ain't No Party Like a Toddler Party

Because a toddler party ends with nap time!

We had June's birthday party on Saturday morning. I showed up at the park an hour and a half early to make sure we got the pavilion right next to the playground because that's a thing that happens when you are a parent? 

We really didn't want to go over the top so we decided to have a little gathering down at the park. We invited some friends and a handful of June's classmates and had a super casual party letting the kids roam as they pleased. 


Something I learned about June: she is into hugging. WAY into hugging. For each and every friend that showed up, she ran up and insisted on giving them at least one hug, sometimes against their will. 


The kids were so cute playing with each other. I don't get to see June playing with kids she knows very often, so watching these little ones talk to each other and interact was the best.


The water at the splash pad had been turned on, so the favorite of the day was the little ones playing in the puddles.


Here's a June jumping action shot:


Then we herded the kids to the pavilion for snacks and cake.


I think this next picture is my favorite ever.


The funny thing is that June had been waiting for this all week, singing "Happy Birthday to...ME!" but as soon as we started singing, she clammed up and put her hands in her mouth. (Nervous reaction? Can't blame her. Some of us over-share, others put their hands in their mouths.)




After eating, we loosed the kids to play again. 



We had a great time and I think the whole thing went well. June seems  to think so, though the thing she keeps talking about when we bring up the party is that she had "chips." The only bad thing was that one of the more powerful jets blasted June and she got soaking wet. But after some consoling she was back to playing with her friends, posing for pictures and giving hugs goodbye...and then another hug...and one more, hold still Ethan, LET ME HUG YOU.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Junebug, Junebug, Let Down Your Hair

For her birthday, Grammy and Papaw Fred got June a Rapunzel doll and matching dress. It was a great fit because I recently showed June parts of the movie "Tangled" and now she's constantly asking me to sing the "Pun-sul song." 



Waiting (patiently?) for Papaw Fred to free Rapunzel from her box:

Love at first hug:


Finally modeling her new dress and her new baby:


Thanks for the great gift, Grammy and Papaw Fred!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Yard Befores and Afters

Here they are, here they are! The plants do look a little small since they still need to grow into their surroundings, but I am so excited about how it came together and how I think it'll look in the future. So without further ado, I present the before and after pictures of our yard!

Back yard...

Before:

After:

We have two ground cover shrubs called Hearts and Flowers, and one Yellow Bells shrub we plan on growing onto a trellis like a vine. In the far corner we have our new Meyer Lemon tree. (This replacement probably seems the most unusual...taking out a full-size orange tree and replacing with a baby lemon. So a quick explanation - the oranges were duds, they remained small and hard no matter how long we left them on the tree. We'd use lemons much more often and hope to one day invite you all over for some homemade lemon bars and lemonade!)

And though I don't have a before picture of it, this is off to the right of the above pictures, up against the house:

That's salvia clevelandii, or Cleveland Sage. It smells wonderful and produces beautiful purple flowers. And I'm currently locked in a battle of wits for their safety against a swarm of aphids (bugs).

Before:

After:
Here you can see our new grill (though it's covered) that was our reward for all of the work we did!

Front Yard...

Before:

After:

Up front we have a little low-laying shrub called dwarf pittosporum. In the back we have three green cloud sage plants that should produce some nice purple flowers and grow large enough to give those windows a little cover.

Before:

After:

What a big difference! To the left we have a rosemary shrub that is fragrant and edible and can be left to grow wild (with light blue flowers) or be trimmed and shaped. To the right we have another pittosporum and some yellow daisies. The tree is a Chinese Elm. The tree was the one thing we had the hardest time picking out, wanting something without thorns, that stayed evergreen, with low litter, that was the right size... We finally settled on the elm, even though it will lose its leaves for a while in the winter, and so far we love it. 

A detail shot:

Before:

After:

This side is my pride and joy. Mostly because the riverbed was my idea and I sort of had to convince Michael to let me attempt it. And then, even after he had NOT given me the go-ahead, I just sort of started digging it anyway, and said "Is it okay that I'm doing this?" when he came around, and then he said, "What does it matter, you're doing it."? So I felt the pressure to make sure it turned out right, and I now it's maybe my favorite part of the yard.

If you can't see, there are also two new mounds to the right and left of the riverbed (and a third little one toward the back).

The little shrub to the left (on the mound) is trailing rosemary, which we plan to let take over the whole mound so it's eventually a big mound of green and light blue flowers. On the right/back mound are more daisies and Hearts and Flowers, which will also sort of trail down the mound. (Mound. Moundmoundmoud. I keep typing the word mound.)



Another after piece: our new path back to the side yard. I'm most excited about this from a practicality standpoint... no more trying to pull our garbage cans over rock and dirt! No more getting work shoes dusty every time I take the garbage back in! Michael did this whole thing, from leveling the ground to lining the pavers up and laying them.

Thanks for taking the tour! Come on over and hang out on our new grass!

Mound!